Kathmandu traffic is a melee of 2, 3, and 4-wheeled vehicles (and cows) that honk (and moo) at each other while belching out black smoke. How do I navigate this? By riding random or questionably road-worthy vehicles with people I don’t know.
Example 1: I got on the back of a motorcycle with an unknown 27 year old man and careened around the city for two hours looking at apartments. The man was a random real estate agent who I met the day before. I was not wearing a helmet. I have never ridden a motorcycle. I literally brushed neighboring cars with my elbows. I was breathing in black exhaust the entire time. I did not die, which I consider a success.
Example 2: I rode halfway across Kathmandu in an off-duty Nepali ambulance. Have no fear, I was not sick or injured—the ambulance just happened to be the fastest way to get across town. How did I snag an off duty ambulance? Lucky for me, my friend Dr. Pukar Shrestha is a leading kidney transplant surgeon in Nepal. After dinner with the lovely Shrestha family, we called up the organ transplant hospital, ordered an ambulance, and away I went. So much simpler than a taxi.
Example 3: Tempo busses are three-wheeled, eight-seater rusty sardine cans that run on natural gas. They’re driven by bad-ass Nepali women who bump and honk their way through Kathmandu traffic like it’s a Sunday stroll in the park. Like sardine cans, Tempos have zero suspension and are not built for 5’10” American women with long torsos (I hit my head with every bump). Unlike sardine cans, Tempo drivers do not pack the passengers in—drivers refuse to stop if all the seats are filled. This makes them the safest option for women, who generally don’t want random men sitting in their laps on the bus (this happened to me).
Meet Jessie Moravek
I am a 2018 Fulbright Scholar at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Studying for an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. Click here to learn more about me!