Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Hi all,

Well, I'm still in Kathmandu and busy (?) working on designing the lodge website - at least as busy as an old laptop with Windows 98 and practically no software at all will allow me to be. But at least I have found copies of Photoshop in internet cafes here and there, and can now show you Eco Wildlife Lodge's logo which I've been busy adapting from a photograph I took in India last year. So here it is. I think it's pretty good, but then I'm biased :-)

Other than that, I've been round the market and various shops with Bhakta and his wife, looking at curtain material (haven't seen any I like yet) and mattresses and pillows and carpets and blankets and stuff like that. Ason market is quite interesting because each area of it is devoted to different wares, so all the tv retailers are in one place, all the material sellers are in another etc etc with little street stalls selling vegetables or incense or other things in between. Which is fine if you only want to buy one thing, but if you've a lot of things to buy it can mean a lot of trailing about. It's good for comparing prices though - you just have to hop from one shop to the next!

I've also had the dreaded Asian stomach which had me snuggled down in bed for a day feeling generally under the weather, and it's still lingering a bit, though thankfully not enough to make me want to stop in bed again. As I said before, the beds where I'm staying aren't particularly comfortable and every morning I have to give my back a really good stretch to get the kinks out at the bottom.

And now from backs to banks. I know our banks want to save us from theft, but I don't think they've yet realised how incredibly difficult (and expensive) it is to 'phone them from Asia. And if you 'phone them before you go, they don't want to know. Both Jill and I have had long conversations with our respective banks trying to get them to unlock our accounts so that we could carry out transactions that we normally carry out over the internet, but which they've now put more security on so that to confirm the transaction they need to ring you up! And unsurprisingly they can't because we're not in the UK. I was reminded of this this morning because there was another unfortunate UK national who was trying to persuade his bank that he was who he said he was, and that no, they couldn't ring him up because he wasn't in the UK, and no, he didn't have his telephone banking details because he didn't use telephone banking. When I rang a bank which shall remain nameless they wanted to know how much money I had in my account (no idea), when and where I opened the account (I know where, but when is anyone's guess), and when I couldn't answer those questions they told me to go into my branch to get my internet account unlocked. So I explained for the umpteenth time that I was in Nepal and wouldn't be back until December and after many more questions they finally decided I was who I said I was and unlocked my account. I thought the whole point of an internet account was that you didn't have to go into a bank, but obviously not. Anyway, rant over for today. No doubt I will come across exactly the same problem if I want to use my debit card!

Anyway, although this all happened the week before last, I was reminded of it again today, not just by the bloke who wanted his money and was ringing his bank, but also because I went into the Himalayan Bank in Kathmandu to pick up a charger for the laptop from Bhakta's wife. It was so different from Western banking - different departments for different kinds of transactions and you take a ticket and go to the relevant counter for each. So if you have more than one transaction to carry out you might spend the whole morning there going from one department to another. Bhakta's wife, Shobhana, works in the cheque department which is where, if you want some cheques, a cheque book is put together for you while you wait (or so it appeared) and it's all written down in various ledgers. The woman who was at the counter for a cheque book while I was there signed for it with a thumb print, which made me wonder how she could issue cheques to other people if she couldn't write? Or maybe she could write and the thumb print was just some sort of security? Who knows? Something to ask Shobhana when I see her.

Well, my hour is nearly up on the internet, so I had better go. I may get the time and opportunity to post another blog before I'm back in the UK, but that depends on where I am going to be next - if I'm in Chitwan there won't be much of either!

Take care of yourselves.


Vivienne xx

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