Tag Archives: kathmandu guest house

Driveby Banana-ing in Bucharest

This kid will not take no for an answer. I’ve been trying to shake him for blocks now, but in his thuggish persistence he’s latched onto me like a burr and won’t let go – not until I cough up “uno leu.”

He’s small, clean, well-dressed, with designer sneakers and a tricked-out baseball cap. His dark eyes contain more than a hint of malice which he tries to cover up with upturned eyebrows and a begging pout.

“Per favore” he begs, pressing his palms together in supplication. “Uno leu, uno leu!”

He’s mysteriously Italian, which makes me wonder if there’s a pocket of expats somewhere in the city cooking up something slightly more edible than the unlucky slop I’ve encountered thus far in the old town of Bucharest.

“No money” I say again, smiling at him. I should really stop smiling, because he seems to take that as a sign of encouragement.

It is 7am on a Saturday morning and all the shop doors are closed. The streets become increasingly empty as we walk north toward Herăstrău Park.

Unfortunately this tasted as questionable as it looked.

Unfortunately this tasted as questionable as it looked.

Something about this kid scares me, and my awareness of the deserted streets stokes a growing flame of fear. He can’t be more than ten years old, but he’s tough, hardened by some sort of evil upbringing.

“Where is your mother?” I ask in English.

“Mia madre è morta” he replies in Italian, then immediately regrets it.

He’s just slipped and revealed that he understands every word I say.

“Ah ha!” I say, pointing at him, grinning.

I’m slightly terrified that a) he’s packing, and b) he has a group of 10 hoodlums waiting around the corner to mug me and beat me with their tiny fists, but I like him just the same.

We seem to have an understanding – I understand that he has to beg me and follow me, he understands that I have to say no.

That is, until I bust out the banana.

This has gone on way too long, we’re too far from the safety of my hotel, and there’s not a soul around to hear me if I scream. Self-protective mode kicks in to overdrive.

I face him and step back several feet so that I can reach into my bag without the risk of him trying to do the same.

There will be no one to hear you scream....

There will be no one to hear you scream….

I fish around with my hand, keeping my eyes on him the entire time.

“I’m not going to give you any money” I repeat for the umpteenth time, “but if you’re hungry, you can have my breakfast.”

I pull out the banana I’d grabbed from the hotel.

He looks at it, looks at me, and his eyes roll back in his head like some sort of Italian-Romanian demon only found in ancient folklore.

Wanting desperately to appease the devil, I thrust the banana toward his hand, which has gathered into a trembling fist.

“Here, take it.”

He does. And then proceeds to raise it above his head, rear back, and throw the banana at me with all the force and magnitude of a 7th inning pitcher.

The banana splatters at my feet, fibrous strands and mush flying everywhere, and I’m backing away, sputtering, as if I’ve just been shot.

He backs away too like a lightning-fast crab, scuttling back towards the hotel.

And then, to add insult to injury, my little friend, the one I understand, the one with whom I have a connection, the one whose soul concerns me greatly, issues the following curse in absolutely perfect, accent-free English:

“FUCK YOU!”

He holds out his middle finger for good measure, and continues to scream, with a bellowing force, “FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!”

Over and over again he screams, until my heart is ready to crack my ribcage wide open. I command my legs to move, move!, to create as much distance between us as fast as I possibly can.

Not where you want to be when a terrifying child is threatening you with a banana

Empty streets – not where you want to be when a terrifying child is threatening you with a banana

I glance back over my shoulder, terrified he’s right behind me with a weapon, with his brother, with his pimp.

But he’s dwarfed by the distance, growing ever-smaller as I break into a full-out run.

There is no one to hear the pounding of my steps on the pavement, no one to see the tears streaming down my face.

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

1. Just because someone's a sweet-looking kid doesn't mean they won't throw at a banana at you.

2. If someone is following you, walk TOWARD the crowds of other people, not away from them.

3. Be extra careful when opening your bag or purse in the presence of a stranger - especially a stranger who has asked you for money.

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!

HOTEL REVIEW: The Holy Lodge Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel

(this post is my overall review of my stay at the Holy Lodge Kathmandu Guest House. To find out what happened when I first arrived, check out Part 1 here.)

WHAT I PAID

Why is it that so many hotel reviews NEVER INCLUDE PRICES?

I think it’s because many of the people reviewing are getting kickbacks from the hotel or something. If those people list prices, it’s bad for the hotel because they can’t charge more.

My review is totally unbiased – I have no affiliation with the Holy Lodge and I didn’t receive any kind of discount to stay there.

I paid 800 rupees (about $8 USD) per night and stayed there for a total of 3 nights.

I booked the room through HostelWorld.com. I paid $2.40 deposit to hold the room, and paid $21.60 when I checked out.

I’m really glad I had my booking printed out and with me when I checked in. The staff seemed to have my reservation, but they also seemed surprised when I told them the rate I was guaranteed online.

At first, I thought this was because they had hoped to charge me more. Looking back, I now think it was because I could’ve gotten the room for less – there was sort of this energy of “Um….well, ok, if you want to pay more than we would’ve asked for, fine by us.”

kathmandu-guest-house-

WHAT I GOT

800 rupees per night got me:

  • My own private room that had two twin beds. This was perfectly fine with me, I used one bed for my stuff and the other for sleeping.

  • A shared bathroom on my floor with a hot shower and a Western-style toilet. The toilet was separated from the shower, which was nice because you could still use one if someone was in the other. (p.s. scalding hot water is a friggin’ LUXURY in Nepal, and this shower never disappointed, even in the middle of the night)

  • Free WiFi that reached my room – not lightning-fast by any means, but totally usable.

  • A great location in the heart of Thamel within walking distance of everything I wanted to do and see

  • Assistance booking a tourist bus to Pokhara – I got a pretty good deal (700 rupees) and a guaranteed seat on the bus.

WHAT I LOVED

  • I really ended up liking the staff, even though we got off to a rocky start. The guys working at the Holy Lodge are all young Nepalese dudes, and they never really get a break. They are at the hostel 24/7, and switch off taking breaks and sleeping. There was always someone there to answer my questions, help me out, make recommendations and give me whatever I needed.

  • Most of the staff spoke excellent English – we couldn’t exactly have a conversation about Chaucer, mind you, but they understood what I was saying and were able to communicate enough to get the job done.

  • The way the building is set up, there are only 4-5 rooms per floor, and they wrap around in a way that gives you a good amount of privacy. This place did not feel like a hostel to me – the other people staying here were couples in their late 20s/30s, couples in their 50s/60s, solo females, etc. I didn’t get a party crowd vibe at all, even though the location is in the middle of Thamel.

  • They have a great rooftop terrace with nice views of the city during the day and the stars (if you can see ‘em) at night.

NOT MY FAVE

  • My room was opposite a rooftop bar that had live music every night. I don’t know if you can stay in Thamel and get away from the noise, but man – it was as if the band had set up their amplifiers underneath my pillow. Thank God for noise-canceling headphones and prescription Valium from the plane ride.

  • The restaurant downstairs. Overpriced, and the food is just so-so. I asked where I could get a decent bite to eat at the front desk, and – duh – of course they recommended their restaurant. It’s fine for when you’ve just arrived and are still getting your bearings, but once you’re ready to venture out, you’ll find much cheaper, tastier fare outside.

  • I didn’t love how I was offered airport pick up for “only 650 rupees!!” – like that was some sort of deal. The airport to Thamel costs locals 350-400, and tourists shouldn’t pay more than 500. When I found this out, it sort of left a bad taste in my mouth.

View from the roof of the Holy Lodge Kathmandu Guest House
View from the roof of the Holy Lodge Kathmandu Guest House

MY RATING

Would I stay at the Holy Lodge Guest House Kathmandu again?

Definitely. But only with industrial strength earplugs.

Have you stayed at the Holy Lodge? How was it?

additional photos: nepalhotelrooms.com, hostels.com

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

The Holy Lodge Guesthouse is located in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal. It's a great choice for solo female travelers, especially those looking for budget accommodation without the "hostel feel."

Holy Lodge Pvt. Ltd.
7 Corner, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone no: + 977-1-4701763
Mobile: 9851036785/ 9851082990/ 9851040518
www.holylodge.com
info@holylodge.com

1. The Holy Lodge is a clean, comfortable guest house in a great location. It has the three essentials I look for wherever I stay: my own private room, hot water, and WiFi.

2. Only book your first night online to secure the room. After that, negotiate in person. The longer you stay, the better rate you’ll be able to get.

3. Skip the restaurant downstairs and venture out into Thamel for tastier, cheaper fare

4. You don’t need them to pick you up from the airport - there are plenty of cab drivers waiting at the airport who’ll bring you to Thamel for less than 650

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!