Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
23Trip End Ongoing
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After negotiating for taxi I headed for an area called Thamel to find accommodation
The following day I left my hotel early in the morning and walked to Pashupatinath. Arriving at 10 am the place was already filled with an ever-growing, eclectic crowd of worshipers, cannabis smoking Sadhus (Holy Men) from India, tourists, local teenagers (also smoking cannabis), artists, performers, food vendors, security police and plenty of monkeys. In some areas people were waiting in long lines to enter various temples while in another, by the river, dead bodies were being cremated on stacked wood funeral pyres. The place certainly had a great deal of local color and was an enjoyable place to spend the afternoon.
That night I visited the impressive Durbar Square, the temple district in Kathmandu
I spent several days in Thamel but upon my return to Kathmandu I moved to an area called Jochhen, also known as Freak Street from its popularity as an anything goes place where hippies on the Asia circuit stayed in the late 60s, which had unsurprisingly more relaxed atmosphere than Thamel. It also was a good base of operation to use for exploring a few other places around the Kathmandu Valley.
The first place I visited was Patan, basically part of Kathmandu today but once was a separate Kingdom in the valley. It also had its own Durbar Square but was less crowded and many of the temples here seemed to be in a little better condition, and quieter, than those in Kathmandu. Next, I spent a day marveling at the huge Buddhist stupa in Boudhanath, the largest in Nepal and even more fun because you can climb on it and at sunset join the hundreds of people endlessly circling it in a clockwise direction.
The final place I visited in Kathmandu Valley was Bhaktapur for the start of the Nepali New Year. It is considered the oldest city in the valley and is also the best preserved thanks to a hefty $15 entrance fee levied on tourists. To kick of the multi-day celebration a lively game of tug-o-war is fought between dozens of local youths.
All-in-all Kathmandu was a wonderful, head first dive into Nepali culture and an interesting and chaotic place to begin my exploration of the region.