Traveling to Nepal? Uncle Sam says think again

More depressing news….

Empty Street in Thamel


From the US Government:
Message for U.S. Citizens: Travel and Fuel
October 8, 2015
We recommend that travelers evaluate any upcoming travel plans in Nepal.  Due to the nationwide fuel shortage, due to blockages at the border with India, many of the safety measures that would normally be relied on in an emergency situation may become unavailable.  These measures include air medevacs and local hospitals.  As of today these services are still operational, but service providers are facing dwindling supplies.  If you are planning multi-day travel the situation could change drastically during your trip.  Please consider that if you are trekking in a remote area and become injured, there will be limited options for you to be rescued until the fuel situation returns to normal.  Tourist facilities continue to operate in the Kathmandu valley, but levels of service may be lower than normal.  It is estimated that the fuel situation will not return to normal until 2-3 weeks after the border supply lines are fully restored.

When the Grinch Stole Dashain

Dashain, a time of sacrifice and festival in Nepal is a huge holiday. It is a time families from throughout Nepal and abroad come together. In Kathmandu, more than half of the population goes “home” to the family village. It is even more important this year, after the double earthquakes of the spring. But this could be a sad Dashain.

The new generous gift of this year’s Dashain, 250ml of petrol

There is a continuing blockade on fuel and other goods into the country. But the Nepalis continue to be a generous people in a time of hardship.

Young Nepalis are tired of their energy dependency on India and want solutions. Social media sites for ride sharing have popped up. There is a shortage of bicycles in the shops, so maybe a new mindset will prevail after this crisis.

The fuel shortage has and will continue to restrict movement.

Few vehicles = crowded rides
I hope they are watching for low hanging wires!
An Electric Bus, over flowing with people.
One of many lines of empty vehicles waiting for diesel fuel.

The vehicles that should be taking people to their homes for Dashain, sit idle.

After the second world war, my father started a taxi company in Ontario, Canada. It failed. When I see these vehicles on the side of road, I think of men and woman, like my father, who took a chance and invested in either a truck, a van, a taxi, or bus. A down payment, and a loan to provide a better life for their families. But first mother nature and now a nation, is strangling that dream. For them it must seem like some twisted version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the “Grinch.” However, few in the world seem to care.

I don’t see a happy ending, but wish for one.

No Diesel, No Petrol, No Relief – Dependencies Part III

No Diesel / No Petrol

We went downtown today. We passed a long line of taxis, abandoned in front of a petrol station.

Each day we check the papers for some sign of relief for the Nepalis, but headlines offer none.

No End in Sight – An Article in today’s Kathmandu Post

A few fuel trucks have crossed the border, but it is literally a drop in the bucket compared to the need. If it is bad in the Kathmandu Valley, it must be worse in the countryside. I can imagine that some of the hill towns are wondering about the supply of propane for cooking, or fuel for their tractors. I have also read stories about a shortage of fertilizer for crops.

All of this scarcity is happening at a time that is the equivalent to Thanksgiving and Christmas in the west. The weeks leading up to Dashain are usually busy with shopping and preparations (see our post here: http://willises.org/2013/11/01/a-rainy-visit-to-bhaktapur/). It will be a different, and more difficult, holiday for Nepal this year.

Dependencies Part II

I keep checking the local news outlets looking for the “Everything is Resolved” message, but all I see is more of the spiral of pain for this landlocked country. Even with this going on, Nepalis continue to be generous as the tale below explains.

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Imagine you were in one of those lines you see above, or facing one of those lines when the tank nears empty. Yet here is a tale from our most recent visitor, Ben.
Ben walked down to Thamel. On the walk back in the dark, he lost his way and asked a shopkeeper for help. The shopkeeper said sure, I’ll take you. Soon Ben found himself on the back of a motorcycle and delivered safe and sound at our gate. Think about that, the next time someone needs help. What is your excuse, when a total stranger can help a lost American without a second thought using his very precious fuel in the process.
Meanwhile it is time to fix up the bikes….