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Particularities of Nepal
In an effort to differentiate itself from the rest of the world, Nepal has come up with the only non rectangular flag in the world. That would be tantamount to one country issuing 3,5 local-currency coins, but once you are in Nepal, certain things will cease appearing weird to you...

Nepal has 8 of the 10 highest summits in the world. Actually, no one knows why people have inhabited a place that mainly consists of a part of Mount Everest, and another part of Mount Everest... Even in Kathmandu, where you are supposed to be in a valley, you may have trouble finding a flat surface to lie your tired body as long as you venture in the outskirts.

More than 10% of the people who have reached Mount Everest have died. Most lie on the way up to the top, and as climate changes, one sometimes gets to actually count the bodies that have not been removed. However don't bother saying “cheese” when you shoot your freaky pictures: they have long since become part of the silence of the mountains.

Consisting of more ice than earth, Nepal may be flooded when the ice melts. It will then become the first landlocked country to disappear under water, together with other mainly insular countries like the Maldives, Tuvalu etc. The positive side being, while melting it will produce some electricity:

Nepal suffers from a seasonal lack of energy. Depending on the water resources for the production of most of its electricity, it is in a state of blackout for most of the winter, when there is no ice melting. This makes walking one of the major hazards in Nepal. You can of course always carry a power generator in your rucksack, but they are quite heavy to carry and work on fuel, which is by times a rarity as well in Nepal, since the state buys it all to lighten the presidential palace, where the seriously reduced royal family no longer lives: in 2001, crown prince Dipendra went on a drunken rampage slaughtering almost the entire royal family during a dinner party. No one really understood why, but the Nepalese version is that it was supported by the Indian secret forces for being reluctant on allowing an Indianisation of the economy. Given the state of Nepal compared to India, a regional superpower, one wonders what makes Nepalese believe that there are better ways available for the development of the country.

As I have already said, Nepal has one of the worst airports in the world. Corruption and a foul smell really give a bad impression at the very beginning of entering the country. Of course, one should always try and see the positive side of things: landing at Tribhuvan airport will give you the chance to meet a lot of people at your first step in the country. All of them stubborn taxi drivers and menacing porters. In case it gets weird, pick up your mobile, pretend it works and that you are in line with the ministry of foreign affairs that is sending a limousine for you. Then try and make surreptitiously your way through the crowd and get the hell out of there...

Another very dark point of Nepal are the strikes. Of course strikes are never well seen by travelers. They can easily ruin your holiday, and there are times when one has no clue as to if the return to the mother country will ever be possible again, once the plane has flown away. And this is probably why tourists routinely walk for kilometers with their luggage, on roads where one can barely walk without luggage, to reach the airport during strikes (bandh is the Nepalese word). During these strikes, the streets fill with red communist flags (Maoism is alive and kicking in Nepal), people go berserk and the best one has to do is stay at the hotel and eat spicy rice or watch on the TV funny gurus give lectures in Nepalese. For some reason unfathomable to a Western mind, things seem to get systematically and totally out of control when strikes occur. Always carry a foldaway scooter with you to use and cross the frontier to India, which may seem like Switzerland after a strike or two in Nepal.

A particularity that one would better avoid experiencing while in Nepal, is trying cow dung for medicinal purposes. This is a thing one should try exclusively in the context of a macrobiotic, recycling approach: using dung to get healed, one may as well become dung. Ashes to ashes, and dung to (ashes to) dung.

Nepal is the only purely Hindu country in the world. It may look the same to you as Bhutan, or India, all strange monasteries and candles, but this is only because when your guide was giving a speech on one or the other weird deity with an even weirder name, you were more concentrated on this or the other pretty tourist of the other group.

Last but not least, two more dazzling facts: Literacy in Nepal is 45%. For a country with 92 different languages, this is tantamount to saying that there is one language per village. And 40% of the women that get married in Nepal are under 14. The rest are considered too old to find husbands.




It takes two to tango:The Nepalese flag






Nepalese woman trying to establish connection through the smog








Always good to know