• Meeting the Maoists in the mountains

    One of the biggest fears (read also expectations) that backpackers have while trekking in Nepal is to bump into the Maoists. In the past there have been several reports about violence and assaults against tourists but nowadays they just ask politely for money. We had the pleasure of meeting them just before reaching Tal, on the Annapurna’s range. After an exhausting climb of a very steep slope, we saw a table and four people seating on chairs just beside the trail waiting for the tourists to pass along. The communist red flag was standing behind them. They were asking for donations for the Maoist’s cause and seemed to speak seriously about getting them. It is funny that they called it “voluntary donations”, as the rate was fixed per person and day of the trekking. Tourists had to pay them a total of 2,000 rupees if they were doing the Round the Annapurna’s Circuit. After a good half an hour bargaining, we could finally reduce our “donation” to 500 rupees for both of us. They even gave us a receipt and then let us continue. Later we found out that some people had paid the whole amount because they were scared and some others didn’t pay at all with no consequences.

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