I don’t cope well with heat…searing heat that is…maybe it’s because I am from the North East of England…maybe it’s because I have a heart of ice…but whatever the reason, I can’t stand hot weather. It completely confounds me that anyone can put up with (let alone enjoy), standing under a giant ball of fire for a sustained length of time. I mean, it sounds just totally mental to me – the theory is you’re supposed to just lie back and marvel as your skin transforms itself into more radiant hues, like some kind of diseased chameleon…slapping on lotions and potions to help with the ordeal, which you could actually just avoid altogether by staying indoors and streaming a movie on your laptop, whilst eating ice cream that won’t turn to liquid instantly…
I’m a certified Grade A burner…so I am probably just very, very jealous of all you tanners out there.
Anyway, Nepal is a place where this sphere of flames appears to be approximately three times as pissed off as it is anywhere else. It is completely and unfathomably, unbearable. I felt like screaming “I’M MEELLLLTINGGGGGG!” every second of every day, even indoors (I know, I KNOW! WHAT WITCHCRAFT IS THAT?!), where the WIFI was often unreliable – so therefore using my own solid gold advice was well and truly out of the window. Dammmit.
So invariably you venture outdoors, but the sheer abrasiveness of the heat leads you to becoming slightly insane, and making ridiculous impulse decisions when out wandering – “IT’S THIS WAY!!! NO…THIS….YES, I AM SURE IT’S THIS WAY, COME ON, COME ON, ARGH – WHERE AM I?! I HAVE LITERALLY NO IDEA – AH, I THINK IT’S THIS WAY…COME ON, COME ON, I’M SURE I SAW A – ARGHHH!” you twist and turn, wriggle and writhe, pulling yourself through the unfamiliar maze like streets – that all tend to look identical, but just appear to have different names…often very similar names actually, probably just to make the whole process even more confusing for you.
To make matters worse, the suncream I had lathered all over myself had met with the heavy amount of sweat that was now leaking from my body – making for a hot, sticky nightmare. I rubbed my brow, cursing the sky as it beamed down with an unforgiving intensity – that’s when I felt the first sting of suncream run into my eye sockets – “YOWWWW! ARGHHH – FACK, SHI! IT’S IN MY EYES!”
Eventually it comes down to this; you will either pull your eyes out and use them as makeshift ear muffs (two birds one stone!), jump on the next motorcyclist who honks his horn and tear him limb from limb, or you will get a taxi and be transported to your destination with relative ease. Naturally your mental state is somewhat altered by the intense heat, so this decision takes a little longer than it normally would…but you opt for the taxi ride eventually…well this time anyway.
Once inside, despite the dirty interior, you start to relax a bit – you know take in the sights “…ahhh, look! A man coughing his guts up as he stirs a huge pot of curry! Oh, wow! Look! That woman is being sick directly into the gutter! Jesus Christ – are we nearly there yet?” You have no idea…but you do know you will get there eventually, so that is a vague comfort, and the slight breeze the movement of the car produces is somewhat refreshing on your reddened face. It certainly beats your situation five minutes ago. That was a version of hell.
After ten minutes or so the car stops. “HERE IS THIS!” announces the driver…it doesn’t look like the pamphlet you have in your hand…you are quite certain that it can’t be…wait, what? So the taxi driver has not taken you to the palace that you had pointed to on the map, but instead decided you would enjoy the museum of aviation a whole lot better…fucking hell, and to add to this absolute MESS, the sun cream I had applied previously was still stinging the shit out of me, forcing me to squint uncontrollably, in between vigorous rubs, to try and alleviate the pain.
Arghhhh, just pay the man regardless, and get into another taxi as soon as possible.
“How much is it?”
A creepy underhand smirk forms in the corners of his mouth –
He rubs his hands together as if he is the Nepalese version of Fagan…this is completely normal unfortunately, you should just take it for granted that people will try to rip you off at every turn. You are the clueless tourist, and they attempt to bank on that fact whenever possible.
“500? Naaaah-no, no, no -”
“Okay, okay – 400.”
“No way! I paid 200 for a journey that was twice as long yesterday!”
He stared back at me blankly, I was suddenly aware that I was massively pissed off, not sure where that had came from – as although this guy was ten a penny, he had just became a manifestation of all that was crooked and wrong with certain parts of Nepalese culture towards visiting foreigners…the sun was still unrelenting, the heat horrendous, and the cream began to sting my eyes until they were reddened and crazed beyond all comprehension.
“Okay, okay – 300.”
“YOU HAVEN’T EVEN TAKEN ME TO THE RIGHT PLACE! THIS IS THE AVIATION MUSEUM!”
More blank stares. I tried my best to reel in the Mr. Hyde side of my personality that seemed to have burst off the leash without my consent.
“Right, listen there’s 200, thanks very mu-”
As I placed the money into his hand he immediately pulled me back – attempting to stop me from leaving…despite the fact that I was overpaying him for taking me to the wrong location…madness.
I stared back at him – completely and utterly enraged.
“Naaah…nerr…NO. LOOK – (taking one of the 100 notes back) – do you want 100, or 200? Your choice…”
This was fucking MAD. What the fuck was I even doing? I don’t do this, this isn’t me – I don’t really stand up to people in this way…even if I am definitely being wronged…I usually just do the very English thing and apologize profusely and complain about it later to a close friend…perhaps he would realize that and beat me to death in the street for attempting to fool him…I had to stay strong, remain in this Mr. Hyde character no matter what.
“Okay…your choice…100 it is.”
I began to walk away with a faux manly confidence – he immediately stopped me again.
He stared at me, clearly weighing his chances, testing my mettle…I stared back straight into his, trying in vain to look as close to Wolverine as humanely possible; but my eyelids were still red with irritation, and out of nowhere tears started to flood down my cheeks despite my best efforts to squint them away…not very errrr Wolverine-ish…I stood my ground regardless….who would give up first? That’s really all this would come down to…usually it would be me, but not this fucking time.
He grabbed the money and drove away. It was a minor victory, but it felt HUGE.
The joke was on me though…I then had to walk all the way back to the hotel (fearful of more taxi driver stand offs) in the searing heat. Absolutely gross.
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