Category: Asia

Nepal Trekking Permit Fees

Permit fees in Nepal are pretty complicated. The people over at the Great Himalaya Trail just published a list of permits in the Himalaya.

I have finally been able to compile a list of current trekking permit fees, especially since the many changes in Nepal – I’m beginning to think there isn’t anywhere you can trek without a piece of official paper!!” – Robin Boustead

Soldier logging my permit in 2009.

Recovery

I’m back from my first post surgery recovery. I learned that I’m the new caretaker of a plate and six(!) screws. Got my stitches out and my shoulder looks mostly normal again. I have to wait three more weeks until I can even start physical therapy. Then I do that for 3-6 months, twice a week. I have to keep my sling on for at least another month. There is a 10-15% chance that the bone won’t heal.

I’m disappointed and at a loss as to the future. I can’t sit on my parents couch much longer and wandering around SF has been done so much. I need something substantive to do.

I feel…

How my trip to Asia ended in injury.

So what has happened in the past few weeks? Well, the biggest one is that I ended my travels in Asia six months early and came back to the states. After I went to a good government hospital in Delhi, I was convinced by my brother to go somewhere better. So I went to the Apollo. The place routinely described as the “best but too expensive”. It was $14 to talk to a senior specialist. It was immediately clear that I needed shoulder surgery. Uhhhhhh….. oh no! My world!

I knew immediately that staying in India wasn’t a good option. I didn’t want surgery in that hospital. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know what I’d do for months recovering. So I decided to come home. I was on a plane that night back to SF. $700 wasn’t a bad deal at all. Leaving the trip was a disappointment. And that’s what the situation brought.

Basically I like to carry a backpack. And I can’t. So as soon as possible I’m heading to the sierra with a fanny pack. Dayhiking here I come. My dad is up for helping me slackpack the Tahoe Rim Trail. That should be fun. In the mean time I hope to reconnect with as many people as possible!

Medical care in New Delhi

i went to a hospital in delhi today. government run, free, dirty but seemed good. i sat next to a doctor from the hospital last night on my plane ride. i think it is one of the best government run hospitals in the country. efficient too, i didn’t wait at all. could have gone to a more western hospital but i don’t think it was needed.

there was a slew of orthopedic doctors and they even answered my questions. 4-6 weeks recovery. i definitely broke the end off my clavicle. surgery is generally not advised and i’m not having it. they also cleaned off some medium sized abrasions on my back that i didn’t even know i had. can’t believe that the first doctor didn’t clean my wounds! and i’ve also been wrapped very tightly, pulling my arm up to my shoulder. it’s very uncomfortable. and it covers some newly raw wounds, so quite painful. i’m walking around at a snails pace like an invalid.

but the wrap and sling are supposed to help with resetting the bone. the doc told me to definitely not try pushing it back in to place. i got to see again the nasty purple lump where the bone was sticking up.

i’ve got a decent room in the tourist area and i’m going to try to go nowhere for a few days. bumps on the road hurt. so, lots of tv, internet, eating and reading! my neck is sore so tv position is perfect.

today is definitely the most pain that i’ve been in, but it’s doctor induced, so hopefully good. i really hope to make a full recovery as i don’t think that my shoulder mechanics are effected.

Kidnapped

The closest that I’ve ever come to being kidnapped (I believe) was when I was, well, kidnapped in India.

I took a photo of the guy. I was held for less than two hours, so I’m not sure that it counts.

My auto-rickshaw flipped over

i broke my collar bone yesterday and i’m stuck in indian travel hell. i’m in a bad mood for sure.

i left varanasi on a 2.5 hr late train after a 4am wakeup. i was heading to bodghaya, the place where buddha meditated for enlightenment. got off the train and shared a moto-rickshaw with a japanese guy. part way there the two drivers in the front seat switched. why i’m not sure. my guess is that the 2nd guy was just learning how to drive but i don’t know. i didn’t object because they spoke no english, the country road wasn’t chaotic and he was driving conservatively. then another rickshaw was for some reason driving right at us on our side of the road. my rickshaw turned to sucessfully avoid it but tipped and crashed. everything fell on to my side. japanese dude (unhurt landed on top of me), rickshaw pined me, windshield fell out. scrambled out and away quickly because they couldn’t turn the thing off. i imediately saw that me shoulder was broken. looked like it was a near compound fracture by how stressed the skin was. a nice suv stopped to gawk and i ran over to them, and basically demanded that they take me too the hospital. i saw that the rickshaw driver was all bloody and i left.

the guys in the suv were a great help and also not. in gaya, they took me to the “specialist”. tiny two rooom clinic where i was breezed past the massive crowd waiting. the doctor told me that i only dislocated my shoulder, which was true and i also broke something. i told him i broke it (you can see the deformity! and he again said no. dude was very unhelpful, not asking about anything, nor helping me to rest my shoulder. got some immediate xrays (w/ like 15 people in the room. broken. not that it was explained to me. he gave me a shot, three different pills (one is calcium, two others i don’t know), then pushed on the bone a little bit. i have no idea whether he successfully reset it, doubt it!. didn’t even give me a sling. but i do have a strange style wrap on that has some plaster too. the medical care was free though.

what to do? i decided to try to fly to delhi and was told i could do so that night from patna, 3hrs away. the guy lives there and would drive me. they were super generous, buying me food, water, not accepting gas money, paid my phone bill home… drove one hour, then detour to pick up one guys wife (who he ended up trying to get with, i think to impress me). i don’t care! i broke my shoulder. then a very strange stop at the “school” that he owned. there are many many of these private “universities” here. a half dozen students were there taking a test and i was paraded in front of them for photos. and it turned in to over an hour where i had a “minder” and was told to sit in a room (which i didn’t do). it was pretty shady. later, when i felt trapped i started making a fuss about being in pain and wanting to go to patna. then they good naturedly told me that they weren’t going to patna but that they’d take me to the local train that went there. are you fucking serious?! ok, lets go, it leaves in 10 min. at the station, they turned out to be going to patna and would take me for $20. i decided to make my break from these semi-helpful, yet shady dudes and go by train.

lonely planet describes the area that i’m in as the most dangerous in the country, w/ banditry, lawlessness, violenence and an attitude that its ok. great. so i’m standing at a rural local train station that likely never has tourists. of course i’m a scene w/ 50 people staring at the guy with an arm in a homemade sling, road rash and torn clothes. somebody gives me a train ticket for free. the a guy that speaks a little english comes over and is a friendly face. thank god. he sticks by me and carries my bag. finds me a seat. its a 2hr ride. at the station it’s a dense mob of humanity pushing each other. but a batallion of big men surround me as protectors. thank god. and the guy carrying my bag stays w/ me for the next hour as i go to 9 different counters trying to get on a train. they’re sold out til the next night, the same time as the next plane. grrrrrr… india is overcrowded and even w/ doctors permission, and 5 diferent officials helping, there is no way. so in to town i go.

then the nightmare of patna. at night the streets are extremely crowded and i have the usual rickshaw driver who is scaming me. i refuse his hotel that is expensive b/c me gets a big commission. we head out and i find only a dozen “full” hotels. rumor is some don’t allow tourists. and the others are full of indian tourists. so i go to the lying rickshaws scam of a place. it’s excessively unfriendly. fuck you hotel wellness. but at 9 pm, after 7 hrs of post injury travel i settle down to room service.

this morning i’m dumbfounded by patna. not a single friendly person and no businesses open at 9am.

i’m going to delhi. have a real doctor reset my bone tomorrow. a broken collar bone is a minor injury. i can get rid of most of my stuff and travel light. but i don’t know what i’ll do. monsoon is going to make anywhere that isn’t the mountains shitty. and i can’t carry a pack for at least a month. i need to escape the hell of urban india. i’m going to have to make some decisions in the next few days.

fuck fuck fuck

What? Why?

India is proving to be hard. I’m basically in a third world travel crash course, even after all my travel experience. For instance, I went to mail a package. Hardly even a package. Just two DVDs of photos. But instead of going to the main post office, which I was discouraged to do because it was far, I went to a closer branch that dealt with packages.

It’s the first post office that I’ve ever seen that didn’t have a business attached to it to help with packaging. So I was sent to a store to find card board. Then I was sent to another store to buy a whole roll of tape. Then a friendly local started helping me out. Locals make India. Everything would be infinitely more challenging if there weren’t over a billion people, many of them happy to help. So with help, I then walked for fifteen minutes to buy a special fabric that I had to cover the box with. It’s at that point that I gave up. Because after the fabric, I had to walk to another shop to buy thread and a needle. Then sew it. Then on to another shop to buy wax and a candle to seal the stitches with. From the first time I asked someone where the post office was, I spent 1.5 hours on the task. And I only got about half way. India is hard. I’m just going to wait for a smaller town to mail the package from.

Buying train tickets has been exponentially harder. I won’t go through the whole saga, nor will I explain what I’ve learned about how the process works. But I did spend at least 6 hours, waiting in lines, talking to heads of the station, researching online, trying to buy online, changing my itinerary,… SO many trains are full. And that’s totally normal. I can ride “jumping class”, aka the cattle car, which I did the first time and is best avoided. I’ve been supremely flexible with where I want to go, when I want to travel, etc, etc And yet, I’ve still delayed my departure by two whole days just for a four hour train ride. Oh how I miss having buses that you can just jump on. Finally I moved on to the next stage of my railway education and went to a travel agent. And booked my tickets!

Varanasi is a good place to linger in. It seems like there are many other travelers that are spending much longer here than me. I think that’s a difference with India. Travelers slow down and get stuck in places a lot. Also, being the low season there is a different crowd around. Like the french heroine addict that I’ve met passed out twice. Once in a store with the store owner telling him to go back to his hotel to sleep. Once on the stairs by the river, just waking up with the help of a crowd of locals and another traveler. He had lost his hotel the night before and ended up all scraped and bleeding and totally out of it. Bad times.