Killing time in Kathmandu

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Tibet Kathmandu
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Nepal  ,
Sunday, December 9, 2012

After 16hrs of travel I arrived in Kathmandu in total darkness. Unlike most cities that have city lights, Kathmandu doesn't (at least not that many) and so our approach to land seemed very bizarre to me for the mere fact I didn’t see any evidence of a city. But it was there as I found out after negotiating with a taxi driver and getting out of the airport.  The taxi was this really old beat up car, a Lada I think, and I really didn’t think it was going to make it, especially when we got on the streets of Kathmandu; basically the streets are chewed up blocks of cement, or you could say there are more potholes then cement.  And I also quickly found out that there are very few rules of the road that I’m aware of and dark alleys are indeed proper streets.  Feeling happy to have made it to the hotel alive, I celebrated with a beer and some chow mien and had the pleasure of meeting my new roommate Zoe, for the upcoming trip.  After a nice chat with her, including making plans for the next day I was off to bed because I hadn’t really slept for 24hrs.

The next day Zoe and I walked over to the Thamel district and made our way down to the Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square, a world heritage site.  The streets have a whole other meaning of chaotic in the daylight.  There are no sidewalks so people, motorbikes, cars and trucks share the road and often very narrow roads at that.  We learned quickly that you can’t be timid walking along the street else you will never get anywhere.  The walk was a sensory overload with the constant honking of motorbikes and cars making their way through the streets, and always needing to watch where you are walking.  Once in Durbar Square we decided to retreat to a rooftop café for a cup of tea (Nepal teas which was more like hot sour milk).  Viewing the city and square from the rooftop was definitely more peaceful then being down on the street.  From the roof you also got to see how the people live as in the city there is mostly apartment buildings.  The city of Kathmandu seems to have a constant haze which I think is primarily due to pollution.  Many of the Nepalese wear masks on their face as they make their way around town and I understand why, just having been out for a few hours.

Ready to brave the streets again, we walked around Durbar Square and took in the various temples and statues that are a mix of Hindu and Buddhist built between the 12th and 18th centuries and renovated in 1934, after the great earthquake presumably.  While walking around we got to see locals pray and perform their rituals to the various gods.  Leaving the square we walked down Freak Street, most famous street from the hippy overland days of the 1960s and '70’s.  Returning back into the square, we were invited to enter one temple but then quickly got hassled to take a tour of the whole square.  After politely declining and leaving the temple, we decided we had enough and made our way back home doing some shopping along the way.  Not having enough warm clothes with me I bought a pair of North Face pants and a fleece for $60.00 CAD.   You could barely get the pants for the price back home.  Since I’m returning to Kathmandu I may have to restock some of my clothes. At these prices it’s a no brainer.

That evening we had our tour group meeting which was the official kick-off of our trip.  There are 19 of us to start and 7 of us our doing the full circuit; Kathmandu to Kathmandu.  Seems like a good group and a wide variety of ages and nationalities.   This tour operates a little differently than the Africa one in that we don’t have a local guide, driver and cook.  We have two drivers, Amanda who is the driver-guide and Ben who is the driver-mechanic (training to be a guide).  So they will share the driving. Then there is "Josh" our 28 year old truck who has definitely seen some action but is still going strong.  Reason for the older truck is that they are easier to repair and get parts for here as opposed to the newer computerized trucks. The final and youngest member of the crew is Flappy, (Her FB page – Flappy Indiechick) a six week old chicken who was given to Amanda about 4 weeks ago when stopped in a queue on the road transiting the truck back up to Kathmandu.  She has already done one smaller tour and so knows the ropes when it comes to truck travel.  The group has immediately adopted her and was passed around the meeting for a little cuddle.

After a quick run to the grocery store for water and snacks for the truck we went for a meal in the hotel with some of the group members and called it a night as the early mornings begin again with a 7am departure.
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JoJo on

Cant imagine how a hot sour milk would taste!

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