Dark. Grey skies, light rain. No power, dark shops, dark restaurants. A thousand signs hanging over narrow streets from a thousand hotels, trekking agencies and shops.
Desperate. Perhaps we see 50 other tourist faces (high season we would see thousands). Even with children we are targets. Hello. Hello. Chess set? Rickshaw? Jewellery? Rupee? Marijuana? Hashish? Hello. Hello. Mister. You come my shop. Taxi? Come! Come my restaurant! Badly disfigured beggars, tiny children beggars, mentally disturbed beggars.
Gridlock. Five way intersections at peak hour with no power thus no traffic lights. Wailing ambulance can't get through. Black exhausts coming in through vents and taxi windows stuck ajar. Minibuses with 20 or 30 occupants, some holding sliding doors shut. Rusty hole-ridden cars with doors wobbling on hinges. Two way traffic weaving through hundreds of pedestrians in single lane roads, stopping for no-one, roaring away when presented with 20 clear metres.
We visited (independently of each other) in the 80s: Thamel was traffic free and relaxed. Helen visited in the 90s: Thamel had a traffic problem but it was still a pleasure to walk there from Durbar Square. We visited in 2000: Thamel was unpleasant, we retreated to Bhaktapur. 2013: health hazard beyond compare.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom