For all those armchair travelers who are worried about missing their creature comforts in exotic places…do not despair. Trekking in the Everest region between Lukla and Everest Base Camp , one passes shops like this one almost every thirty minutes, offering the same stuff that’s on your shelf of your local 7/11 or supermarket – unless you live in Pyongyang. Nepal is by no means unique in this way and should not be blamed. I am surprised every time I go down Khao San Road, Bangkok’s backpacker ghetto – invariably a new international franchise has displaced a local shop selling noodles or incense or something else made locally. Burgers, soft drinks and bits of plastic chicken have declared war on us, everywhere, and no one minds or even seems to notice. Perhaps it’s no longer worth going places – you’ll get the same stuff on the Roof of the World as you do back home. This is the new mantra: Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite, Coke, Kit-Kat, Mars and Snickers….Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite…
A a consequence of all this ‘stuff’ everywhere, it has become – for most people – both easier and more pointless to leave home in search of new experiences. “Easy and pointless. Book your adventure now!” A post modern travel slogan? For those searching for genuine local culture and personal growth, of whatever kind, while traveling, the world still offers plenty of corners where the easy and pointless travelers don’t dare to go. As does Nepal, incidentally.
For a real adventure story set in Nepal, check out The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, my 2006 novel about three friends who travel from London to Kathmandu in the 1970s, do a huge drug deal and promptly lose the money. 25 years later, they receive invitations to return to Nepal and claim their share of the loot. You can also still buy print copies of the book, check the side bar of this blog for details and a link.
I have recently set up a Devil’s Road facebook page, which will soon feature news on the up-coming republication of The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu.