Saturday, 21 February 2009

Electricity, and how we take it for granted

The Lonely Planet guide to Nepal is useless. It is useless for many reasons, but here is the main reason for its utter crapness:

"Electricity, when available, is 220V/50 cycles; 120V appliances from the USA will need a transformer. Sockets usually take three-round-pin plugs, sometimes the small variety, sometimes the large."

That's it. That is all it says about electricity in Nepal.

Nowhere in the 420 pages does it tell you that electricity in Nepal is very limited. Nowhere does it tell you that there is about 6 hours of electricity in Nepal each day.

To be fair, living without electricity is not that big a deal and I haven't had time to it. The hotels we have stayed in in Kathamndu and Pokhara both have generator lights that provide a dim light in the bedroom so that hasn't been too bad when we have come back in the evenings. Head torches have most certainly been a blessing.

It's kind of fun when your eating dinner and the power cuts in the restaurant. It's funny to watch the waiters fumbling around for candles and matches.

What isn't fun is when the power goes when you are using the ATM.

Definitely not fun.

At most of the ATMs that I have used in India and Nepal you simply enter your card and then remove it, then you deal with your transactions with your card safely in your purse.

This was the case when I came to withdraw money when we arrived in Pokhara. Except as soon as I selected to withdraw 2000 rupees, the power cut. Dead. No electricity. Kaput.

Bugger.

Panic.

Had the transaction gone through? Would the power come back on?

I sent Emma out of the ATM booth to find out from someone what would happen.

As I waited for the machine to come back on I was at first relieved that my card had not been gobbled, (imagine the stress of that!), but then I began to panic about the money. Had the transaction gone through?

The response from the local shopkeepers was a simple shrug.

I've just checked my balance online now, the transaction went through. Bugger.

But at the end of the day it was money for both of us so we can take a tenner each on the chin.

Lesson learnt: it is wise to withdraw small amounts from ATMs in Nepal.

I might write a letter to Lonely Planet.

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