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webmaster
6th December 2007, 09:59 AM
From the Himalayan Times today



THT Online Pokhara, December 6

Maoist cadres beat up a foreign tourist at Birethanti of Kaski district on Wednesday who did not pay the "donation" demanded by them.
Swiss national Steve Jan, returning from Tatopani of Maygdi district, was accosted by two Maoist cadres in the Annapurna conservation area for payment of "tourist fee". When he demurred, they beat him up badly. Talking to this daily, Jan said he had sustained injuries in his head.
The Maoists are charging each tourist Rs 100 per day. Jan said, "I read in the newspapers that Maoist chairman Prachanda had said that his party's policy forbade extortion. I told his two cadres that I would personally go and give him my contribution."
Jan said the Maoist cadres flew into a lather and started hitting him with bamboo sticks on his head. He added that the Maoist cadres had demanded Rs 1800 from him. He was 18 days on the mountain trail along with a guide.
Jan was taken to a local clinic where he received two stitches in the head, said trekking agency representative Mukti Pandey.

Suginami
6th December 2007, 10:11 AM
That's bad that is exactly where I hope to base myself for about 4 days on a birding trip. Still, I would pay up and put up with it.

yakshaver
6th December 2007, 12:52 PM
If the tourist was with an agency (as it seems), then he was very badly advised. Like Suginami, I would also pay. My guide would have immediately assessed the situation, if there is a chance to get away with paying or not - and advised me accordingly. But then, who knows how exactly the scenario panned out? Why would you risk your holiday? The 100 rupees per day has been the Moaists policy for some years now in the Annapurna area. Just that it has been applied patchily, dependent on who's had the ascendency, the Nepali army or the Maoists. Usually during the times the Army decided to "show muscle" the MaoMao went away. Now they are supposedly on the same side, though only notionally, it seems.

It seems a bit foolish to decide to visit a foreign country, who's culture and mores you don't know a lot about, and start playing by your rules, instead of theirs. The situation with paying "donations" to the Maoists is an old one now, known to everyone. Tourists going trekking in these areas should have seriously considered their approach 50/50 possibility of being asked to pay to the Maoists. And having considered it, decided in favour of paying if the situation demands it - any other attitude would increas the chances of trouble. Why would anyone go for trouble during their holyday? If you're against paying, on principle, or simply because you don't want to part with your money, maybe travel elsewhere.
The last situation like this (someone decided not to pay and being ruffled up), that we know about, happend about 3 years ago on the Jiri to Lukla stretch, with a Dutch tourist who also decided not to pay and got into a "political discussion" with the cadres.

Then again, maybe we need to know more abotu how exactly the scenario developed in this situation.

Escher
6th December 2007, 01:02 PM
The last situation like this (someone decided not to pay and being ruffled up), that we know about, happend about 3 years ago on the Jiri to Lukla stretch, with a Dutch tourist who also decided not to pay and got into a "political discussion" with the cadres.



Weren't there three Poles who went missing for a day or so, below Lukla somewhere, who refused to pay? I think that was in Spring 2005. They turned up safe and sound after they decided to cooperate.

yakshaver
6th December 2007, 01:09 PM
Weren't there three Poles who went missing for a day or so, below Lukla somewhere, who refused to pay? I think that was in Spring 2005. They turned up safe and sound after they decided to cooperate.

Correct, but I don't think they dissapeared. They were detained in that village until they paid, the following day. However they managed to keep in touch with the rest of the world (they were allowed to make phone calls, apparently) and this is how the rest of the world know about the fact they were held. I guess I was talking about beatings...

In 2004 (I think...) a French expedition to Makalu has been held for a day or so until they paid up, and the sums were much bigger than what is being asked for trekkers. The rationale must been that climbing expeditions are well resourced. After some negotiations they paid something or other and went on their way.

PFC
6th December 2007, 01:59 PM
WOW!
What a situation, still it's like being extorted by local kids who "mind your car" while you go shopping etc, you know you don't want to pay, but what are consequences if you don't (and yes that does happen in my home town!). Extortion isn't exclusive to Nepal; saying that I will do everything possible not to pay (on principle) but your right, why ruin your plans for a few Pounds. Seems to me like a classic case of Hobsons Choice.

Just smile and go on your way!!!!!

PFC:

yakshaver
6th December 2007, 04:59 PM
WOW!
What a situation, still it's like being extorted by local kids who "mind your car" while you go shopping etc, you know you don't want to pay, but what are consequences if you don't (and yes that does happen in my home town!). Extortion isn't exclusive to Nepal; saying that I will do everything possible not to pay (on principle) but your right, why ruin your plans for a few Pounds. Seems to me like a classic case of Hobsons Choice.

Just smile and go on your way!!!!!

PFC:

PFC, the car scenario you describe just happened to me a couple of times during this year, as I spend a lot of time in Bucharest (my home town incidentatly...). Feeling very uncomfortable and slightly annoyed, I gave the local gypsy kids one Leu (about 35 Eurocents). When I lwas leaving they politely helped me then to back out in heavy traffic, making sure there's no car comming as I was backing out without much visibilty... The services you get for 35 cents... Value for money, I'd say ;)

PFC
6th December 2007, 06:27 PM
I'm coming to Bucherest! the local kids just don't burn your car out for 2. sounds like a cheap deal round your way. saying that, i'm assuming the stadard form of transport round your way is the four legged variety.They must think your Mafiosa if you can afford a car!? thats why you get such good service.


PFC

Suginami
7th December 2007, 04:11 AM
Wear a Mao T=shirt just to prove that these people are not Maoists. I am sure they won't recognise the face. I have an old Mao plate and a watch maybe I could trade them at Birethanti.

yakshaver
7th December 2007, 11:58 AM
I'm coming to Bucherest! the local kids just don't burn your car out for 2. sounds like a cheap deal round your way. saying that, i'm assuming the stadard form of transport round your way is the four legged variety.They must think your Mafiosa if you can afford a car!? thats why you get such good service.


PFC

PFC, you'd be very surprised if you come to Bucharest... Romanians will just eat bread and butter only if then need to, but will buy the most expensive cars. A bit like the Swiss. Unlike the Swiss, there's some of them who'll eat very well thanks, and steal them. You'll see more Ferraris and Lamborghinis Murcielago in Bucharest than in London or Rome. Dan Petrescu, the former Chelsea right-back commented on that upon his relocation from London to Bucharest a year or two ago.

Everyone has an BMW x5, it is just standard. So my Audi A4 is simply a run of the mill car.

yakshaver
7th December 2007, 12:08 PM
Lars is reporting on another section that he's managed to avoid paying to the Maoists during the 25 days trekking in the Annapurnas. Met them three times, and managed to get away with not paying.

Good stuff!! I suppose if you've trekked there a number of times, like Sharon, Lars and others, can understand the situation better, understand the locals better, and be able to assess what you can get away with, and when.

I guess I am loath to give advice in the direction of "avoidance" or "refuse-to-pay", as someone might get really hurt, like our Swiss tourist. I would not be happy at all if that happens.

I keep telling people to go to Nepal, despite the Maoists, bandths, etc. But to also advise them to highten the risk by refusing to pay when asked by some men with AK47s or bamboo sticks, I don't feel comfortable in doing.

Not having had to confront the Maoist extortionists ever until now (lucky me!) I don't know how I would react. I would probably assess the situation on the spot, consult with Santaman, and do whatever I feel at the time. I don't think there is an easy formula for dealing with this.

Boulia
7th December 2007, 03:43 PM
Sorry guys, I see a big difference to "extortion by kids minding your car". These thugs belong to and act in the name of a supposed political party that is part of the interim Government of Nepal albeit I assume their appointed ministers are still "resigned". Unfortunately the current situation with Maoist 'activities' is not well reported.

PFC
7th December 2007, 05:36 PM
Boulia,

Your right of course. I just think sometimes with situations that you can't really change, except maybe by boycotting Nepal, that making light of a situation is all you can do, I think that was the point that Yakshaver and I were trying to make; It doesn't matter about the circumstances of the situation you just have to accept it as it is. the rights and wrongs of situations are never simplistic, but the crux of the matter is, Do you want to Trek in Nepal, if you do then Maoists "donations" is as part of the experiance as travelling on buses, planes or Yak(?!). That doesn't make it right it just make it what it is.

PFC

webmaster
8th December 2007, 05:07 PM
The government says they have arrested two people in connection with the incident. Here's more.



Kathmandu, Dec 8 - Even as a red-faced Nepal government arrested two Maoist guerrillas after the tale of their assault of a Swiss tourist hit the headlines worldwide, complains started pouring in from more and more foreigners about their harassment at the hand of the rebels, whose leadership takes pride in saying no foreigner was ever attacked during the 10-year armed uprising.After it became known that Maoist cadres had beaten up and injured 31-year-old Swiss trekker Steve Jeanneret who was on the way to the Annapurna mountains, a popular trail for trekkers, for refusing to pay them 'donation', another group of Swiss visitors said they were harassed by the rebels in the same area.A team of Swiss journalists, who had gone to the Annapurna region about a week ago, ironically to write about the tourism potential of Nepal, are alleging Maoists forced them to pay NRS 2,000.'We were harassed by the Maoist activists and eventually, had to pay NRS 2,000,' Lorenz Kummer, foreign editor of Swiss daily Der Bund told the Himalayan Times daily.'We argued that the (Maoist) leaders had said there would be no extortion,' the daily Saturday quoted Kummer as saying. 'But they did not let us pass.'According to the report, the group was accosted in Birethanti village, about 150 km northwest of Kathmandu, the same place where Jeanneret was attacked.A gang of young men calling themselves Maoists stopped them and asked for NRS 2,000 from each.'They did not attack us but we had a very bad time,' Kummer said.Eventually, the tourists agreed to pay NRS 2,000 after being told that their Nepali porters would be in trouble if they refused to 'donate'.After they made the payment, the group was handed a receipt with a flourish.Written in English, it was signed by Amar Tamu, self-styled convenor of the Tamuwan State Committee, the regional wing of the Maoists.The Himalayan Times said they were also given a press handout signed in the name of Baburam Bhattarai, the No.2 leader in the Maoist hierarchy.
(c) Indo-Asian News Service

yakshaver
9th December 2007, 03:30 AM
Thanks webmaster. It looks like only publicised incidents like this might spur the Nepali Government into action. Hopefully the government may get their act together, at least in popular trekking areas like Annapurna, and do away with these extortionists.

The issue goes deeper than some thugs gettinb money off happless tourists, irritating as this may be. The social - economic situation in Nepal, unemployment, corruption, are the deeper causes for all this stuff.

Suginami
9th December 2007, 10:13 AM
I shall be spending about 4 nights in Birethathi so I should get up close and familiar with these guys. Yuck.

yakshaver
9th December 2007, 01:30 PM
I shall be spending about 4 nights in Birethathi so I should get up close and familiar with these guys. Yuck.

Pick up a consulting job with them. Maybe you can get them to learn some customer service, have a customer-centric attitude. If you're screwing someone over for money, may as well do it with manners, like we do it in the "civilised world". It is unseemly to beat people, there are nice assertive communication ways to do it.
Ah, I would love the opportunity!

yakshaver
9th December 2007, 01:59 PM
In fact, Suginami, here are some thoughts expanding on the statement above, maybe we can do something indeed....

I am thinking about setting up a consultancy to teach these people how to display a more customer-centric attitude. If you're going to screw people over for money, you may as well do it with good manners, politely, using assertive/yet/friendly communication skills and techniques - like we do in the "civilised world". Beating people is unseemly. Maybe not in Nepal, but in certainly causes the chardonay/latte/machiatto tourists to make dissaproving noises while making polite conversation over tea.
I am going to try an put together some training material, which, if applied properly, will transform the Maoists from "bloody extortioninsts" to friendly "servants of the public". Much the same as the clean-pressed uniformed people who charge you 80 Euro to drive up some interesting valley in the Alps in Italy or Switzerland, or 160 Euro to hop on the train to Jungfrau. Everyone pays these sums without blinking, even smiling at the nice friendly people asking them for the money. Why can't the Maoists do that? With a bit of polish I believe the Maoists could earn this kind of money, not the puny 20 Dollars or so they're asking for now...
They're certainly not maximising their earning potential, and creating a bad image in the market place.
Some basic good strategic plannining, coupled with some image polish, and good application of processes and procedures which can bring the new strategy into practice - all these would make the shabby mob asking for "donations" into the darlings of the tourists, much like their French, German, Swiss or Italian counterparts are.

What do you think? We can get a percentage of the profit for the next 10 years, say. 20% is what I'm thinking.

PFC
9th December 2007, 04:08 PM
Yakshaver,

I think you may have a point, the only problem with you rationale is that these "people" have already had all the customer training service they're ever going to need. they have obviously been to England! hop on any train, subway or eat at a service stop and some surley,miserable person will grunt at you as they extort a ridiculase amount of money from you for a no doubt second rate service. As a Brit living in Europe (yes even the Germans) the service industry is efficient and usually value for money. The Nepalese are no different from any other "third world country" corruption and extortion is almost the norm! I wonder where they learned such valuable comodaties, maybe we should look a bit nearer home!

yakshaver
10th December 2007, 12:54 AM
Yakshaver,
. As a Brit living in Europe (yes even the Germans) the service industry is efficient and usually value for money.

Pies must be good in Germany!! Yes, you maks sense. I was just practicing some wooden/weasel words from my corporate training manual. Management speak is great. Says nothing, or worse, sucks real meaning out of speach. I love using it in jest. In fact jokes are probably the only onorable way that one can use management speak. Preferably dirty jokes. Maam could I possibly study you closer for feasibility, so that I can move forward on you. It will be a win-win situation, provided we're both on the same page.

Regarding corruption, I am doing some business in my coutry of birth. Corruption/bribing etc is the oder of the day, if you want to build some houses, for example. I had to re-learn this habit. It works amazingly well, and I learned to suppress my disgust and guilt at doing it. From a prude New Zealander who could not give a tip at a restaurant if his life depended on it, I am now an expert briber. I could in fact open a consultancy helping Kiwis to learn how to give tips and bribes. It is a useful skill.

Suginami
10th December 2007, 06:13 AM
Nepal is like Africa. Nothing is done without a tip or money under the table so none of the tourist dollars go anywhere except on fat b*****rds. India is the same. Try and get a telephone or a whatever and you better know who to bribe. No more of 'look what the white man has done to us' they do far worse to themselves.

No lessons needed.

Think of how many people were kidnapped in Nepal. Imagine that. Kidnapped and forced into training. Slavery.

Direct taxation.

Per
12th December 2007, 09:56 PM
Maoist cadres beat up a foreign tourist at Birethanti of Kaski district on Wednesday who did not pay the "donation" demanded by them.

hmm, precisely the kind of adverticement Nepal needs at the moment.

From what I know Birethanti used to be buisy stop on the trail, a mixed village with a couple of thakali hotels, a tailor, a black smith, a few shops, etc. Of course trade has gone down when the new road head was established at Nayapul. I wonder who is doing the robbery? In the past there was a string of robberies in the area, between Ulleri and Ghorepani. Finallly, a Japanese tourist was murdered. Then, the police came in and some people from a small village north of Ulleri were convicted.

In any case maoist threats are strong disincentives for going to Nepal :(

Yakshaver: I have often thought that the Swiss have a very polite skillful way to make you part with your money, unlike for example the Kashmiris, but in my view it is a far throw from the maoists. The maoists rather remind me of high way robbers, of "dacoits", as they say in India. You get absolutely nothing in return for your money. Their only possible excuse is that they follow the bad example of their own government. Nepal, has, unlike most other countries, been charging tolls, there has been fees for trekking permits, peak fees, and fees even to visit some parts of Kathmandu and Bhadgaon.

yakshaver
13th December 2007, 01:51 AM


Yakshaver: I have often thought that the Swiss have a very polite skillful way to make you part with your money, unlike for example the Kashmiris, but in my view it is a far throw from the maoists. The maoists rather remind me of high way robbers, of "dacoits", as they say in India. You get absolutely nothing in return for your money. Their only possible excuse is that they follow the bad example of their own government. Nepal, has, unlike most other countries, been charging tolls, there has been fees for trekking permits, peak fees, and fees even to visit some parts of Kathmandu and Bhadgaon.

I know. I love to push some points pricking our cultural comfort zone.

Per
13th December 2007, 02:40 PM
I know. I love to push some points pricking our cultural comfort zone.

Yes, I had a good laugh at your "women and drinking will kill you in the end" ;)

In any case reports of Maoist tolls are really bad news for Nepal. What the country needs is new first time visitors who go trekking and decide they want to do it again. A lot of people, especially those that have not been in Nepal before, are scared off.

yakshaver
14th December 2007, 02:48 AM
Yes, I had a good laugh at your "women and drinking will kill you in the end" ;)

In any case reports of Maoist tolls are really bad news for Nepal. What the country needs is new first time visitors who go trekking and decide they want to do it again. A lot of people, especially those that have not been in Nepal before, are scared off.

I guess what is annoying these days is:

a) the randomness of the phenomenon. Now it happens, now it doesn't, and you can't exactly tell. People may have gone to Nepal with the expectation that the habbit has stopped, and they were dissapointed.

b) the fact that the Maoists are supposed to be part of the legitimate political landscape now, and should have stopped the stuppid stuff...

csommer
14th December 2007, 02:07 PM
I guess what is annoying these days is:

b) the fact that the Maoists are supposed to be part of the legitimate political landscape now, and should have stopped the stuppid stuff...

It seems to me that it did stop for a while but started again when they pulled out of the government.

yakshaver
17th December 2007, 09:37 PM
It seems to me that it did stop for a while but started again when they pulled out of the government.

Indeed. But the phenomenon is a bit more complex. They has so many people living of extortions and "donations", from both locals and tourists, for years. Now, without any real effective program to integrate them, or without a willingness or all sides to do so, they return to the ways of the past.

Lars
19th December 2007, 06:38 PM
They [the Maoists] has so many people living of extortions and "donations", from both locals and tourists, for years. Now, without any real effective program to integrate them, or without a willingness or all sides to do so, they return to the ways of the past.

I just read "Blood on the snow", an account of the palace murders in Kathmandu 2001. In that book the author also write about the Maoists, and that they extract "donations" not only from villagers but also from monasteries and *schools*. The problem with their "local custom", as Yakshaver have described it, is much more far reaching than many trekkers understand. It is like a mafia, that takes heavy measures to root out.

Lars
Chennai

yakshaver
21st December 2007, 08:09 PM
I just read "Blood on the snow", an account of the palace murders in Kathmandu 2001. In that book the author also write about the Maoists, and that they extract "donations" not only from villagers but also from monasteries and *schools*. The problem with their "local custom", as Yakshaver have described it, is much more far reaching than many trekkers understand. It is like a mafia, that takes heavy measures to root out.

Lars
Chennai

Yes, interesting book indeed...

Santaman, who is trekking in the Annapurnas right now, emailed me saying the Maoists are still collecting 100 rupees per trekking day/ trousit. They have moved their collection centre in Ramhgai, follwoing the Swiss tourist incident in Birethanti.

csommer
4th January 2008, 06:27 PM
In that book the author also write about the Maoists, and that they extract "donations" not only from villagers but also from monasteries and *schools*.

Businesses are also targeted by the Maoists. There is - or was (not sure) - a government tax and a "Peoples Tax" at various levels.

peteris
17th January 2008, 12:16 AM
I could in fact open a consultancy ...

I will be your student (hardworking one), yakshaver! :)

Seriously, interesting thread. From porters' attitude to maoists I saw that "donations" is more serious problem than I thought at start (when I met them for first time on AC I was disposed not to pay). On EBC trek we met "tax inspectors" near bridge in Phakding, in morning there was aprox. 25-30 trekkers and aprox. 4-5 "inspectors" - this time I was sure that if all trekkers say "no", all trekkers would go without "honorable obligation". But everybody thought about own skin and all paid separately. We managed to pay for 7 days instead of 25 ("just to Tengboche")... On way down inspectors were just there; one of them call me to show my "identity card" but I simulate that my English is even worse than it is in reality, I said something like "not understanding" in my language without really stopping and passed on. I cannot say that I was fearless, but I had some anger and he saw this. It went ok and there was many others near on trail. But always in such situations I took into consideration lodge owners and porters which maybe could have problems (I don't know) if I refuse to pay.

yakshaver
17th January 2008, 12:34 AM
I think I posted my recent experience with the MaoMao at Lukla. They where there, oposite the police post, asking for donations from our guide. The group (including me) were really noisy and overbearing, selfabsorbed in signing and being totally stupid. The guide told the Maoists to ask us personally if they want money. They did not dare... I believe our obnoxiousness worked in our favour this time. My guide related their request some minutes later, when we have already left Lukla. I did not even noticed the "donation seekers"".

On the way back from Gokyo, they no longer occupied the table oposite the police post in Lukla. They were gone.

As I have never personally encountered maoists seeking donations in my last 9 treks happening over the last 10 years, I tend to think that they are the invenion of imaginations fuelled by maryjoanna and altitude sickness... Really. Put yourself in my position. Apparently they were there, two metres away from me, and did not have the guts to ask me for money. Rame swears he talked to them, and has a 100 rupees receipt to prove it. I tend to think he's playing tricks with my mind. The Maoists just don't exist, as far as I am concerned.

The only thing making me doubt this belief is the red hammer and sickle flag in the pine tree, and another one near the airstrip in Lukla...

Incidentally the Nepali government will call the Lukla Airstrip the Hillary Tenzing Airport.

Per
19th January 2008, 03:39 PM
The group (including me) were really noisy and overbearing, selfabsorbed in signing and being totally stupid.

Talking loudly in Swedish refusing to understand much less speak any other language would probably also work.