The afternoon in Bandipur was quite fascinating.
While J&R took a nap (well, J was faking a nap, he actually slept a bit in the car), I walked around, and since this village is not that big, a came across David and we decided to see how a not so cold beer might be.
What we found amazing was, that even without any electricity, people kept busy, kept their shops and bars open and seemed overall in a good mood.
We settled in a little bar with very comfy chairs and ordered an Everest beer. The temperature was not what we had hoped for, but acceptable, the problem was, upon opening that bottle, the Everest turned into a volcano and about a third of the content just became beer fountain.
After the clean up action we were not even offered a new bottle, but we were not to grim about it. Instead we talked a bit with the bar lady who knew very little English, but wanted to know our names and where we are from.
Since there was really not much else to do (I had hoped for a cyber café to finally get online, which does exist there, but without electricity, no can do online) I had the great idea (just like last year in Turkey) to find a local barber and get a clean head and face shave.
What an adventure, when the bar lady finally understood what I wanted, she actually walked me to the place, some open door shag, but a very skilled barber in there, who spoke no English, but there where people around to help out and he spent a lot of time on massaging my scalp, scraping the hair off, then lathering my face for 20 minutes … After that I thought he offered me some after shave, but as it turned out later, I just had agreed to a face mask.
By that time Ritsu and Julius had found me (the place is really small and local kids knew that some foreigner is in the barber shop and spread the news) and Ritsu was wondering what I had ordered. My honest answer: “I don’t know” … But the barber was already scrubbing away on my face and used pretty much every utensil and cream and ointment in his arsenal. Even some girly kind of foundation afterwards (as my face was red like a baby bottom) and some powder. Total damage for 1 hour of facial treatment: 400RP (5 EU)
The little girl that had lead Ritsu to the shop (I would guess around 10 years of age) spoke English surprisingly well, and while I suspected she will ask for money any time now, she was just being nice and bonded with Julius. She followed us around, gave us some info and asked occasionally if she can come along. Very polite. The backlash came later when she asked if I like water melons, and the she said she needs to go home, and there is a shop next to her house that sells them for 100 RP and if I would buy her one. In context .. Kids in Baktapur have asked for 1 or 2 RP, or the more fluent ones even asked for 10 … But now this girl who had been such a delight, suddenly asked for 100 (bit more that 1 EU) .. And when she noticed that I was reluctant she was ok with half a melon for 50RP ..
At some point she realized that I don’t want to take part in raising the next generation of beggars (though her act, if it was one, was very good, not too obvious, spending a lot of time on bonding and being ‘just friendly/curious’ first) and she headed off to some other tourists who said they had met her the day before. Those tourists even bought her new flip-flops …
But enough about her, more about Bandipur. This is an amazing place, a small mountain village that somehow got a lot of help to turn into a beautiful place. Cars and motorcycles are not allowed in the main area, around 6 PM, the community building opened its doors and handed out playthings for kids (feather ball, hacky sack … ) the main stretch turned into a play area (sun was down, still some light, no electricity) and everyone was out in the street.
From time to time, as rumors said before, the power came back on, but just for a few minutes, and then was gone again. It was fun to listen to the common cheer when that happened.
At 7 we had our included dinner at our hotel, which is right next to the very popular ‘Old Inn’, it is a fairly new place, and for reasons unknown, besides the power-out, we were the only guests. And as a chef at heart, I acknowledge the extra work it is to cook for only 2.5 people, while not having light, or fridge. I think I might have even seen the chicken that went into our curry alive just a few hours before.
The food was good, as was the service (keeping in mind that 4 people catered to a hotel occupied with only 2.5 people). I would have liked my curry a bit more spicy, but they probably cooked it milder with J in mind.
After dinner, it was very quickly doors closed, lights out … (as there was not much else to do anyways) .. The only other thing was that we had mosquitos in our room and Ritsu asked me if I can ask for some help (if there is a ‘reception desk’ I have yet to see it) … And the help I got once I went to flights down in PJs and found someone was incredible. First some spray, then then found an electrical repellent which they plugged in (in case power comes back, then mosquito coils (the good old smell of Fiji) and then we even installed a mosquito net over the sleeping Julius and Ritsu (which included hammering in some nails). Superb service.
On the other hand, what I did not get, they gave us free drinking water for the room (1l for 3 people) … But charged us for water when we asked for it over dinner (50RP) … Hmmm