Shopping in Kathmandu Nepal
Tuesday 17th January 2006.
Shopping in Thamel, Kathmandu.
After lunch I walked into Thamel to go shopping and sightseeing. There are many tourist oriented shops in this area. It is now the off season for trekkers and tourists and it shows. There seemed to be very few foreigners and being white (and a little taller than most Nepalese) I stood out like a beacon. Nearly every shopkeeper invited me into his or her shop. Telling them â€œIâ€™m just lookingâ€ only seemed to spur them on. â€œVery cheap pricesâ€ is a very common catchcry.
I ended up buying two photographs of mountain scenes, including one of Ama Dablam. I also bought several more pieces of batik, another notebook and a DVD called â€œInto Thin Air.â€ Iâ€™m taking a risk on it being compatible with our player but at $5 itâ€™s not a huge risk. Various members of the trekking group raved about this DVD. Along the way as I was walking down a laneway I was approached by three trekking guides. They appeared to be very friendly, with a good command of English and asked me lots of questions. I think they were desperate to get guiding work. When I said Iâ€™d just returned from a trek they more or less lost interest and melted into the back ground.
I tried several places for some trousers similar to those I took on the trek. Kane said he bought some for about $12 (compare that with $60-80 in Australia). I couldnâ€™t find any cheaper than about $20, even though I tried bargaining with shopkeepers. I also couldnâ€™t find exactly what I was looking for anyway.
Begging in Kathmandu
Sadly I was pestered by at least four beggars today. They are very persistent but one just has to turn away and walk quickly. Mothers with babes in arms asking for milk for the baby is a common approach. I felt mean but all the guides tell one not to give to beggars here in Nepal.
A different approach to begging
Walking back to the hotel I was approached in a different way. A young lad, perhaps 12 or 13 years old, was leaning on the wall of a building with several friends. He started walking alongside of me and struck up a conversation. I was astounded by his general knowledge of the world. His specialty was capital cities of the world. He knew all of the Australian cricketers and many place names in Australia. He said he didnâ€™t go to school but had learned everything by reading books and using the internet. Then came the sting; he asked me for money to buy a drink. I steadfastly refused and wouldnâ€™t give him a reason, even though he asked several times.
I just kept on walking and gently but firmly told him he should go back to his friends. Eventually he did leave me. Twenty steps on I looked around and one of his friends had been following us. Had I given in there may have been far more to contend with. I didnâ€™t feel unsafe; I was just being very cautious. Lesson learned!