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Travel Image Nepal was just a small break for me before I got too busy with opening the new restaurants for y company, Burgundy Restaurants. Probably the next chance I will have after the second part to Laos will be in late October or early November, so I wanted to take a little break while I could. There is also a bit of a family history, as well as a country history with Nepal that made me very keen to visit the country. Firstly there was one of my countrymen who conquered the mighty Everest with the Sherpa Tenzing on 29th May 1953. A good date, just three years early from when I came along! Last year this hero of our country passed away, a great loss to both Nepal and New Zealand. Then there is my aunt Kate and her husband Bruce who are keen visitors and social workers in Nepal and have sponsored a Nepalese boy as well. I do not know how many times Kate has been across to Nepal, but it has been a few times I know. So, it was good to be here and taste a little of the country myself. Maybe it was the wrong time of year, but with all the haze around, the great scenic photos that you see in all the magazines and books was just was not there for taking! Never mind, I solved that problem with a couple of flights up to the mountains and got a small taste of what it could be like on a clear day. I came to realize that there are actually policemen who have a harder time of things than their Indian counterparts. Amazing how they try and control the chaos we saw on the streets. While there is not so much traffic as India, and people do tend to stay in their lanes, it is a chaotic mess in most places with small narrow streets and try and navigate and no real lanes to speak of in moist places! One good thing with Nepal is that while prices are charged in US Dollars, it is good that Indian currency is also widely accepted here, so was able to use up a bit of that to pay for some of these side trips. In Vientiane it is also a mixed currency with most of the tourist places showing the prices in US dollars as well, but accepting Baht, Kip or Dollars! Not bad and makes the distribution of spending from various accounts, Indian or foreign, quite easy. Nepal itself has had a bit of a chequered history with people from china and India coming into settle in various parts of the country during various stages of its past. Rajasthan fighters came fleeing the Mongols, they have been subservient to the Chinese at times and they have been fragmented into various kingdoms until finally coming together late in the 18th century. The result is a country full of various ethnic groups that all add colour and flavour to this quite poor country.

The land goes from near coastal jungles close to the Bengal border through highland valleys and up into the highlands and then the mountains themselves. The crops are grown two or three times a year and so food does not seem to be an issue but just a general poorness found around the country. Now the Marxist are in power after deposing the King recently last year and the country is now a Republic. It seems to be still in political upheaval and will take time no doubt to settle down and for the people themselves to reap some benefit. Apparently the previous King was a popular person but his son who took over after the family killing spree in 2005??? Was not and imposing a ban on parliament and democracy did not help his cause at all. Now they are as common people with no royal rights left.