Here go some more notes from Nepal as I log miles in the country during the Great Himalayan Drive:
*Managing the 15 minute time zone difference: For some reason, India decided to be 5:30 hours ahead of GMT; until recently, many softwares and gadgets did not even carry that time zone. And then Nepal decided to do something even weirder: it chose its time zone to be 5:45 hours ahead of GMT. Preferring to maintain my India time while in Nepal, the 15 minute did not matter as I did most stuff according to my watch – but it was still awkward comparing times with locals especially when I had to do some things at a fixed time.
*Sunrise and Sunset times change as I moved east: As I moved towards Koshi Tappu near the east end of Nepal, I got a feeling the days were getting shorter when they should be getting longer. Only to realize I had moved east with the time zone still the same as further west. The day would also start earlier consequently. It is not so much of a difference here as in India with its single time zone: When it would still be dark in Delhi, the sun would be shining bright in the north-eastern states. Someone needs to relook at India’s time zones policy.
*Call rates can really vary: When using public phones in Nepal, choose where you call from. I have paid between Rs. 3 to Rs. 50 for each minute of calling to India. It all depends what kind of a network these guys use. Your own mobile? You have to pay international roaming charges even if you come from India.
*High speed internet only in Pokhara and Kathmandu: Don’t depend on the net too much if in Nepal. The only places I got reliable, fast and easy to access net connectivity was in Pokhara and Kathmandu. Most other places were not to be depended on due to both network quality as well as power cuts.
*Power is a serious issue here: Power in Nepal comes for a few hours a day at best all over Nepal. Even in Kathmandu. Most establishments including many quality hotels cannot afford to provide back-ups with generators and inverters for too long either. Plan on going to bed early, and using as much of daylight as possible. And charge cameras, phones and laptops at every opportunity. The poor economy of the country means limited income opportunities – and many of these are further diminished due to lack of consistent power.