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July 23rd 2008 by Aaron & Tina
The Price of Petrol

Posted under Nepal

This post contains a reference to recent medical problems with our pregnancy while traveling through China and Nepal. We originally omitted the stories so as not to worry our friends and family but since the pregnancy has come to an end we have decided to share the details of our saga.  We have added some additional posts and have pre-dated them to appear in chronological order.  To follow the story from the beginning, start with “The Grand Finale” and the story of our visit to a Chinese emergency room.

We returned to Kathmandu on an air-conditioned minibus, still anxious to leave Nepal. Due to our medical issue, we’ve been confined to Nepal’s two major cities and their nearby medical facilities, exacerbating our anxiety. This precluded us from trekking in the Himalayans or going on safari in Chitwan National Park to stalk Bengal tigers, but it was our reality. After the relative peace of Pokhara, Kathmandu was like a splash of cold water on our faces. The incessant honking horns and chaotic, traffic-filled streets made us reluctant to leave the serenity of our room at the Tibet Guest House. On the occasions when we did venture out, there were shopkeepers who expectantly greeted us as we passed their stores, hoping we’d stop to look at their tired wares. And there were beggars and rickshaw touts and trekking guides and a laundry list of others eager to separate us from our remaining rupees. After spending five of the last seven months in Asia, the majority of time in poverty-stricken developing countries, our patience and tolerance has worn thin. It’s unfortunate that our “Asia fatigue” has so negatively colored our last month of travel through China and Nepal. We’ve both agreed that had we visited Nepal or China as “two-weekers”, or without the anxiety of managing an impending miscarriage in a Third World country, our perspectives might have been different. C’est la vie. So with the exception of a quick day trip to the ancient city of Bhaktapur – the oldest and most pedestrian-friendly of the three cities in the Kathmandu valley – we hid out in our room, forced to bide our time until our flight to Paris.

But our time in places like Nepal has given us a different perspective on world affairs. Like everyone else in the world, we’ve been anxiously following the subprime mortgage debacle and the US economy spiraling downward into a recession; banks are defaulting on loans and deposits and gas prices have soared to record highs. We certainly aren’t immune to these affects even as we travel; the exchange rates of the US dollar to many major currencies are at all time lows, the interest accrued on our ever-shrinking pot of travel money has slowed to a trickle, and the cost of petrol has made every mode of transportation more expensive. We are, in fact, planning to return to the US by the end of the year, shortening our intended itinerary, because we’re over budget, though it is as much attributed to our own decadence as to the fuel prices or dollar’s decline. But let me paint a picture for you of how the fuel crisis is affecting Nepal, this tiny country on the other side of the world.

The increasing global oil prices have created a nightmare for one of the world’s poorest nations. The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is a state-run company and the sole supplier of petrol products for the country, sourcing the majority, if not all of their oil through contractual agreements with India. But with rapidly rising oil prices, the cash-strapped corporation has been unable to continue purchasing petrol from their Indian partners. The result of this price increase is unbelievable. Petrol stations in Nepal are closed during the day, opening only in the evening; and that’s only if the daily petrol truck arrives. Lines begin forming early in the afternoon and swell throughout the evening, lining city streets and congesting the already narrow roadways. Drivers wait in lines stretching more than a mile long, often waiting five or more hours for their turn at the pump. Traffic slows to a crawl on the crowded streets. The lines are guarded and traffic is tightly controlled by the Nepalese Army – tensions are high.

If a driver actually reaches the pump and petrol is available, it costs the equivalent of $9 per gallon – double what it costs in the US – with the price increasing each week. And that’s if it’s even available! Our last week in Nepal, the NOC announced that they no longer had enough cash to continue purchasing petrol and they were trying to secure interim financing just to continue operations. As a result, less than one-third of Kathmandu’s normal petrol needs were being met, crippling Nepal’s infrastructure. For a nation already dependent on handouts from the world to keep it functioning from one day to the next, the immediate future doesn’t look very bright.


12 Responses to “The Price of Petrol”

  1. Amy Arnold on 23 Jul 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Hi Tina and Aaron,

    I’m so sad about your news. I’m so sorry. I am praying for you!

    Much Love,
    Amy Arnold

  2. Andrew Leonard on 24 Jul 2008 at 8:00 am #

    My heart is saddened by your news. I can’t even begin to imagine how the two of you are feeling, but can only offer words of love and hope. I know that you will lean on your faith through this difficult time. And in time, He will provide the answers to your questions. Know that you are not alone, and never be afraid to lean and confide in those who love and support you.

    As always, you are in my thoughts and prayers. If there is anything that I can do, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Love you both,

  3. Jolynn on 24 Jul 2008 at 11:38 am #

    Tina and Aaron,

    We’re sorry to read about your sad news. We’ll keep you all in our prayers. Take care and be safe.

    With love and friendship,
    Jolynn & Dominic

  4. Ashley on 24 Jul 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m sorry that the last few weeks have been so rough. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care of yourself!


  5. Jean Nelson on 24 Jul 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    Tina- Em and I are reading your posts and crying at the same time. We are both so sorry for your loss, but you will have a baby- rest, take your vitamins and after you get back to a normal world, have lots of sex!!! We love you both.

  6. saba on 26 Jul 2008 at 8:03 am #

    Dear Tina and Aaron,

    I’m so saddened to read about your loss. You are both in my prayers that the you may be comfortedin this time of sadness and difficulty.

    With so much love,

  7. Kelli and Paul Smith on 26 Jul 2008 at 11:48 am #

    Paul and I are so sorry for your loss. We will keep you both in our prayers and look forward to your return. Safe travels!

    ~Kelli and Paul

  8. Ollie SimpSon on 26 Jul 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Aaron & Tina, I’m soooo sorry to hear about your loss. Lean & I are praying for both of you that God will bless you and we keep you in our prayers that your hearts will be mended fast and he will protect you throughout your continued travels.

    With much love to the both of you,

    Ollie & Colleen SimpSon

  9. Meredith and Mark Rooney on 28 Jul 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Dear Tina and Aaron,
    We are so sad to hear the news. We are thinking and praying for you both. We send you our love and some big comforting hugs.

    Love, Meredith and Mark

  10. Catherine Rodgers on 29 Jul 2008 at 9:07 am #

    Dearest Tina & Aaron, I was so saddened this morning to read of your loss. Please know that you are in my daily thoughts & prayers. May you both find strength & peace during this difficult time. May God bless & keep you throughout the coming months. All my love, Catherine

  11. mike farmer on 29 Jul 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Hey guys,

    I have not checked in to your site in a while. sorry to hear the bad news. You are both young and have plenty of time. I am sure God intends to Bless you with many,many little ones. Hurry home and drop a loine when you get a chance.


  12. Ed Maroon on 12 Aug 2008 at 10:31 am #

    Hey Guys,

    I am really sad to hear the news. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Not reallysure if there is anything anyone can say to make you guys feel better. If there is anything I can do, just let me know.