Name-dropping. Shameless, sycophantic name-dropping. Why didn't I think of that before? The Dalai Lama wasn't important enough. I had to go over his head, with this visa thing. Anyways, not to speak to soon, but looks like we have some progress on that front.
I continue my survey of wireless possibilities in Kathmandu. Of course, now the problem is catching them at a time the electricity is on.
This morning I met a Californian who's opening a new wireless cafe here in Thamel's 7 Corners area, the Electric Pagoda. He says next week power cuts are going from eight hours a day to eleven (that's 11, as in nearly twelve).
My love affair with Hotel de l'Annapurna (referenced last August, "Wireless in Kathmandu") is officially over. Last year their wireless was free in the coffee shop. It has since gone from free to 161NRs per hours - quite a jump.
Now I'm typing from Dechenling Garden, a new spot on the side road by Kesar Mahal in Thamel. Wireless is still free here; you might have a problem finding an outlet that works, but the garden is beautiful.
The Roadhouse Cafe now features free wireless during daytimes, from opening till 5pm, but have raised their evening prices from 40NRs/hour to 45. Himalayan Java's service for 40NRs / hour continues as always, though the food and drink prices have all gone up. Cafe Galleria, opposite the Road House in Thamel, now charges 25NRs per hour but has the same sumptuous surroundings and professional service. And, I must say, excellent french fries.
There's a notice in the paper every week announcing that a place called Cafe Britain has free wireless all day long. However, they neglected to provide an address for the place. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost....
In the five-star category, the world famous Hotel Yak & Yeti will provide wireless for everyone, including outside guests, for 1000NRs (or about $15) a day. Pack a lunch! Hotel Shangri-La's is beyond the pale, at 275NRs (or about $5.00 US) an hour.
The Kathmandu Guest House is now wireless throughout the building, 24 hours a day, with battery backup. Whoo hoo! However, you must purchase the service in one or 2-hour increments during office hours, and it's 75NRs (a bit more than $1.00 US) per hour. And, make sure the power outlet in your room works (mine doesn't; the building is from the 1800s and the wiring is from the 1960s).
I still haven't tried out the wireless service at Dreams Garden. It's 160NRs to enter, and the wireless is then 30NRs per hour. You'd have to make a day of it to make the entrance fee worthwhile.
Oh, and another thing, every single establishment in town appears to have added a mandatory 10% "service charge" to everything. Three guesses as to who's behind that, and the first 2 don't count (it's been a Maoist demand for ages). The hotel workers I spoke to say they actually don't receive it. Hmm....wonder who paid for Prachanda's Qualis?