Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Everyone Has Their Price



(You Choose)

The trek continues. Some 50 hours ago I began the herculean effort to return to my love. It actually began the prior day as we heard rumors of a general strike by the Maoist in Nepal. The strike, of unknown purpose, was set to start at 7:00 A.M. would impact all motorized transportation except airplanes. I believe they let the pre 7:00 buses get out of Pokhara but I don’t know how far they made it.

As my stay in Pokhara moved towards its eventual conclusion I needed to decide if I would bus or plane it to Katmandu. The plane can cost between $40 and $100 depending on how well you know your “travel agent,” any local shop owner or guest house manager. Everyone can sell anything and everyone takes a cut. I hadn’t fully decided but was leaning toward air, even though the bus was $6. I had had it with unending bumpy roads and didn’t really look lovingly upon a 6 hour drive to Katmandu. Determining to get a ticket, the strike sealed the decision, I tried to track down Sipna the owner of the Guest house.

I finally found him through his sister and he was quite upset. The late notice put him in a tizzy, with the strike and all. He didn’t know if he would be able to even book a seat. Everyone was in the same bind and flying was the only certain option but there was a limited number of seats on the given day. Fortunately he knew a manager at Agni air who had saved a couple of seats to scalp and I got one of them paying list price of $98. No barter here. It was a seat on the 9:00 A.M. flight and the machinations of how to get to the airport began. The airport is an hour’s walk from the guest house.

I am a strong proponent of leaving extra time so I insisted we leave at 7:00 and Sipna assured me there would be no problem. I gave him 1,000 rupees for the porters for wing and suitcase, two big bags, and he was happy. – 500 rupees is the cost for one day for a common laborer in Nepal so someone was making out well. Turns out it was Sipna, which was just fine with me as he has been a lovely host and very helpful.

6:15 the sun woke me and out the door I went to my local breakfast haunt. Leaving, I told Sipna where I would be and he said he would meet me at 7:00. 6:55; I paid my bill and on cue Sipna, his son and an unknown friend show up on bikes, the unmotorized kind. He had one bag lashed to the back of each porter bike and I was told to take charge of the third bike while riding his son side saddle on the frame. It worked fine, after 5 minutes I stopped to adjust the seat to a semi western leg length and the remaining 20 minute ride to the airport was a breeze.

The flight to Katmandu was packed though uneventful as was the transition to the flight from Katmandu to Bahrain. There was a 7 hour wait in the Katmandu airport and a need to come up with 12,700 Rupee, about $150 for my second bag. It was $180 going the other way from Seattle. Compare this to my hotel bill for three weeks: 7,000 Rupee, or $4.00 a day.

I got a bulkhead for the trip to Bahrain and the Bahrain to London. In London I hooked up with my niece who is at the London School of Economics. We had a lovely visit at the Hammersmith tube stop Starbucks. The East one, it turns out there were 4 to pick from. As long as one of us stayed put eventually the other made the connection. By the time I got back to Heathrow it was about two hours before my flight to Seattle. – The agent said the plane was over sold and I would have to wait about an hour for volunteers to make space. – He also said the going rate for giving up a seat was $600 Euros and asked if I were interested in the offer. I told him I would think about it.

It didn’t take long to figure this one out. $600 Euros is about $810 US dollars. I don’t know if I would have gotten that if I waited and chanced being bumped but a bird in the hand argument suggested that if $810 was worth waiting a day including a paid for hotel room, breakfast, lunch and dinner along with transit fair I ought to grab whilst the grabbing was good. So I made the decision that $800 was the price for a days extension of my wife's and my continued parting.

Unable to consult I hope I made the right decision. In any event if the same “problem” happens today I figure I will be having bangers and chips for dinner tonight, pocketing the extra 500 quid to help pay for this trip.

Everyone has their price.

The best to you all and thanks for following the blog. I hope to fill in some of the gaps with future bloggings and videos but for now it is 9:00 in London and I must think about heading to the airport to see what the market will bring.


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