Quirky Kathmandu.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2018


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

Flag of Nepal  ,
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kathmandu - it sounds exotic and heady as it rolls off the tongue. Visions of holy men, breathtakingly beautiful mountains, hardy Sherpas and hippies spring to mind.

It is this, but much much more. It's quirky and full of contradictions. The sounds, colours and smells assault the senses. The many UNESCO World Heritage sights are bustling and full of Nepalis going about their business, rather than being overloaded with tourists.   

Kathmandu is amazing, intoxicating and exhausting! 

We arrived at the airport after a 5 hour flight from Dubai. The visibility had been amazing and we lucky enough to see massive snow capped mountains on the way, before we dipped into the Kathmandu Valley and its surrounding shroud of city smog. Kathmandu's airport is stuck somewhere back in the 70's for infrastructure and capacity to handle the amount of people coming and going (more about than in another story later!). Once outside, we were beset by touts wanting to take us to accommodation or to a taxi. Pre-empting this we had booked a hotel and a pick up, so in a matter of a few minutes we had dived through the mass of touts and found our names on a held up piece of paper – we LOVE free airport pickups! Soon we were hurtling along narrow twisting traffic clogged streets amid an out of tune orchestra of tooting horns and mass humanity. We passed many cycle rickshaws with old gnarled men pedaling stoically away, and we seemed to be a mere hair’s breadth away from knocking them off their rickshaws.

It is not the tourist season at the moment as it is Winter, and many of the trekking mountain trails are closed, however the weather was sunny and soon we were shedding our thick jackets. We were later to learn that the sunshine and warmth is on a definite time frame of between 10am and 3pm only. Outside of these hours it is COLD! 

On arrival at our hotel, we were given a cup of coffee while checking in, waiting for our room to be cleaned, and also waiting for the vague possibility that the power might come on. Yes power!  We had read about ongoing power cuts in Nepal but we were to find it is not so much power cuts, as dealing with no power the majority of the time with occasionally the power coming on! It was fourth floor again with no lift and twin beds but with beautiful big thick feather doonas and an electric heater which, on the odd occasions when the power was on, warmed us nicely!

We soon headed off out into the streets of Thamel, the general area most travelers stay around in Kathmandu and found ourselves a restaurant for a late lunch. A full meal for both of us with drinks cost us around $5A. Then it was to a bookshop where we found ourselves a fully photocopied Lonely Planet on Nepal for around a quarter of the price normally paid (with a promise of a 50% refund if we returned it). Now we were set to go out exploring!

The next day was a full day spent out on foot exploring Kathmandu. I think we probably walked at least 12 kilometers! We visited the amazing Buddhist temple complex of Swayambhunath high on a hill. It easily earns its nickname of "Monkey Temple" as monkeys are everywhere, showing off and scavenging for food. We shared museum and Art Gallery viewing with groups of excited and giggling school children in perfect uniforms who wanted to practice their English on us. We got “interviewed” several times by keen and interested students who wanted to know what we thought of Nepal and why we had chosen to visit. One museum, the Natural History Museum, took our fancy as being the quirkiest we have ever seen. Lots of stuffed strange animals, snakes and animal embryos in jars and then a picture board with a newspaper cutting with a picture of a huge Boa swallowing a man! We asked some students to interpret for us and the gist of it was “Can a Snake Swallow a Man? Yes!”. The story was from Thailand so not sure why it was in a Nepal museum but loved it anyway. (See picture).

Our final visit for the day was to Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. Durbar means palace and this was, until a century ago the home of the ruling king of Nepal. Most of the buildings are of 17th century and have masses amounts of intricate wood carvings (some of an extremely erotic nature  - too erotic even, for this family rated blog!). the whole area is UNESCO World Heritage listed but life goes on as normal for those living and working there and we hardly saw any other western tourists there. One final thing before bed was to check out our route for the morning as we were to catch an early bus to Pokhara, another city, and while the bus stop was walking distance we would be doing it in the dark with our packs on so we did what we like to call a “dry run” to time ourselves and know we were going to get there on time.




My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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