Okay, I thought the phrase "never leave home without it," really meant that! Well, after paying my hospital visit bill I needed to get some emergency cash. After being driven all over Kathmandu 4 days ago, I finally called AMEX and let them know my AMEX. Card would not work in any of the ATMs or at any of the banks Keshab drove me around to. I was told that AMEX does not have a presence in Nepal.
Thank goodness I had a backup card, I called my WF Visa and they were able to make a transaction happen at a local bank in Kathmandu. Keshab, one of the people from the trekking co, had to interpret everything at the bank because they only spoke Nepalese. I did get to observe Nepali banking, for we were there for over an hour and the place was packed with customers. Watching the different transactions compared to my own company gave me a perspective about customer service that I had not seen, but more importantly; customer service and culture at work. The tellers and Bankers move at a different pace, they move faster when they are influenced by the customer, no effort to influence, you wait until they get around to you if the place is busy. Secondly, customers can be pushy, but not rude if this makes sense. Thirdly, a smile goes a long way here.
I would have been fine if Visa had not come through, I had enough Nepali Rupees to make it, and Visa seemed to be the card to "not leave home without."
One other observation, every ATM I went to in the city had a guard outside it, and they would open the door to a small booth and let one person in at a time to conduct their transactions in private. You wait until the person comes out before you can go in and use the ATM, this was consistent throughout the city.
Speaking of armed guards, every day I went to the hospital to see Alena, right across the street is the British Embassy protected by military personnel; no smiling, not even a wave, just stern faces with the look if readiness on them.