The past three days sucked.
The first day, I checked into a hotel in Nagarkot – unassuming on the outside, but with fantastic views of the valley from the balcony. My room was quaint, on one of the top floors, with sweeping views from my balcony.
Not bad, right? Wrong. This turned out to be the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at.
My room was a haven for moths and there were lots of them! Behind the curtain, on the bathroom walls, on the wooden panels on the ceiling. The hotel sent staff over three separate times to get rid of the 40 or so moths in total, but like annoying ex-boyfriends, they would keep coming back.
It was sick. I was sick! I got switched to another room. They tried to reassure me that this second room was insect-free but when I went in, I spotted only one moth but a few spiders and flies. I’ve stayed in Costa Rica’s tropical climate where over 100,000 types of insects exist and didn’t have an experience even close to this! After they vacuumed up the insects in the second room, I was about to get cozy and I noticed yet more spiders. Yuck. I hate, hate, hate spiders. I hate insects in general, but I especially can’t stand those damned eight-legged little monsters. At this point, the tour guide came and told me he found another room for me that was more well insulated and should be less likely to harbor insects. By now it was 11pm (I spent the whole night identifying bugs in my room as they switched me from room to room). The third room was better, but we still spotted an insect or two. Not knowing if the creepy crawlers were around me, I barely slept that night.
The second day, I switched to a hotel back in Kathmandu and woke up to over fifty insect bites on the back of my neck. AHHHHH! I am not sure if the bites were from the hike I did the day before or if the hotel had bed bugs, but the insects went to town on my neck. The combination of 50+ bites itched like mad; I couldn’t even think of anything else other than how friggin’ itchy my neck was and how badly I wanted to scratch it!
(Here is where a picture of my beaten up neck would go but I didn’t want anyone to vomit at the sight so you lucked out.)
When there’s an itch you’re dying to scratch but you can’t, well, it’s like hell. The good news is that I was headed to a different city that day and would have another hotel room. The bad news is that after dealing with the 40+ moths and now the 50+ insect bites, I was both shaken and paranoid.
Even though I wasn’t sure if it was bed bugs, I wasn’t 100% certain it wasn’t either… so I researched bed bugs online all night, checked the entire mattress for signs of these pests, thoroughly examined my luggage, and scotched-taped any small insects I found in the room. Then I examined the bugs I caught in the tape trying to figure out if it matched the descriptions of bed bugs. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if what I was looking at was an insect or just a crumb so that made the whole process all the more trying. Clearly, I freaked myself out and again, I barely slept that night.
The following morning, I headed out with my guide who wanted to show me a cave that led to a view of a waterfall. I don’t mind caves since they are usually cool inside and it was hot outside. But when we stepped foot into the cave, I saw a snake slithering down the steps and just about screamed.
Of all the reptiles out there, snakes are my least favorite. In fact, when Mr. T and I went to a cobra show in Thailand, I just about ran out and cried when the cobra “tamer” swung the snake like a lasso at the audience. Yea, I’m that much of a baby. Snakes are nasty and evil – long, slithery, and scaly. No thanks! The guide had to calm me down and convince me to keep walking because I was ready to bolt out of the cave. When we finished our visit (which btw, was nothing to write home about), I was sweaty, fidgety, and basically, a wreck.
After the past three days, I decided I had enough. I was sick of dealing with the non-stop insects in this country. They are everywhere (which doesn’t surprise me considering the amount of filth everywhere). Completely unrelated to insects, I also decided I was tired of power outages at hotels and the constant lack of hot water (I’ve been having cold and luke warm showers here). I was supposed to continue on to Chitwan, the Nepali jungle, and ride the elephants to spot the famed one-horned rhinoceros, but I’ve been to Africa before and I’m positive any experience in Chitwan would be second to an African safari. Besides, given that Chitwan is well over 100 degrees right now, I’m willing to bet my life it will be rife with more creepy crawlies. Add to that the power outages and the lack of AC and you have the makings for a migraine.
With that, I’m back in Kathmandu now. At a nice hotel. That actually has elevators. A back up generator. Clean sheets. HOT WATER. Even a welcome drink. And most importantly, not a damn insect.
I had a pleasant conversation with the hotel manager today. I was relieved to hear that he’s worked in hospitality for 18 years all over Europe. Naturally, I pried a little more to figure out what the heck is up with the abundance of insects in Nepal’s hotels. He confirmed that hygiene and sanitation are severely lacking in Nepal and most hotel owners simply don’t care to upgrade their hotels (the furniture is often worn) or pay for proper sanitation. They’d rather have paying customers; they don’t have the foresight to see the potential returns they could get if they invested in the hotel quality. That explains everything.
Mr. T keeps asking if I regret coming to Nepal now. No, I absolutely do not regret it! I never regret going to any country. Not in the past, not now, and not in the future. Although Nepal is one of the poorest countries I’ve been to and far from a luxurious destination, it has been illuminating for me beyond words. In such a short amount of time, I’ve learned so much about the Nepalese culture and about myself, and I am reminded to appreciate everything I have at home so much more… and I love that traveling does that for me. So, no regrets. Ever. Just lessons learned (and a bunch of travel advice to give to anyone headed to Nepal).
I’m using the next few days as a retreat to recover from all the bites on my neck (it looks like I have wretched skin disease now), practice yoga, and attend meditation class. Incidentally, I’ve been having the most enlightening mornings with my meditation guru! He calls himself the Karma Yogi of Illusion. What a name, right? This random turn of events is now the perfect opportunity for me to discover the spiritual side of Nepal! I’m blessed.