What Cant-Man-Du in Kathmandu?…

…See the mountains! Well, not in the low season anyway, as we found out! We’ve been in Kathmandu for three days now and no sign of the mighty Himalayas. It’s just too cloudy here at this time of year, so that’s been a bit of a disappointment! There are daily morning flights around Mount Everest, but none of them have actually flown since we’ve been here because of the weather, so no glimpse at the highest peak in the world just yet. Richard had actually booked in on one of the flights up to Everest and went to the airport at about half 5 in the morning, only to find that his flight had been cancelled. Really disappointing considering that Mount Everest is probably the main attraction, but we can’t control the weather! (Note: If you want to go to Nepal – leave it until high season when the clouds have disappeared and the monsoon rains have finished!)

We’ve seen plenty of the mountain range itself – like the Annapurna from Pokhara, but are looking forward to seeing more of them when we go overland to Tibet tomorrow.

I think people have a romantic view of Kathmandu because of where it is and the fact that it is surrounded by stunning scenery, but unfortunately when you take that away (like in the low season), the city really isn’t the magical place you’d imagine. Instead it suffers from what we call ‘shitty city syndrome’ – it’s dirty, noisy and has far too many pushy rickshaw riders and hash dealers for our liking! We get the impression that instead of being this ‘mystical’ city that people flock to, it’s actually more of a base to explore the real gem of Nepal – the Himalayas. Otherwise, it really is just like any other city.

The district we were staying in – Thamel – appears to be where all the action is. The tiny streets were simply teeming with shops, bars, cafes and places to eat. Wandering around could have been made a lot more fun without the cars, bikes and taxis weaving their way around us however. Outside of Thamel, we were reminded slightly of India, as the pavements disappeared and the piles of rubbish reappeared, along with the smell. Traffic as expected was mental yet again, so we didn’t venture far out into the main city. At this point, I think we’re both craving a bit of peace and quiet, away from the beeping horns and screeching tires!

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We spent most of our time in Kathmandu just exploring the back streets. There hasn’t really been much for us to do, but again, this is mainly due to the time of year we are here but I’m sure that coming here in the high season, we’d have a lot more choice and a lot more chance to get out and about amongst the mountains.

It might sound like we didn’t enjoy Kathmandu much, but that’s not true – we have had a great time, but just at a much slower pace than some of the places we’ve been to. On the first night we went out for a lovely meal – the street past the Kathmandu Guest House is chock full of restaurants and bars – most of them catered towards the many Westerners that head this way. We also managed to catch another great live band here, who were perhaps even better than the band we saw in Pokhara. I think they played their whole set with their cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, but it didn’t seem to hamper their skills!

We spent our last afternoon buyin down at Kathmandu Durbar Square, an interesting area not far from Thamel which is full of temples and palaces that have been built by various Kings over the years. Everywhere you look in the square you’ll find a unique piece of ancient architecture or little Buddhist temples hidden away. Unfortunately, we felt that, although classified by UNESCO, the place had been ruined over the years through the hundreds of polluting vehicles racing around the square every minute, the numerous vegetable or fish stalls set up within once beautiful temple walls and the insanely annoying ‘guides’ and rickshaw drivers who don’t understand the word ‘no’ when you say it.

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It would have been a much more impressive place if it had been properly preserved, shut off from traffic and the fantastic looking buildings not left to crumble! A shame, but we could imagine what it must have all looked like before motor vehicles and human greed took over!

Once we’d wandered around the square enough – spotting a huge orange monkey leaping across the buildings – we got a taxi back to Thamel then headed out for something to eat at the Electric Pagoda. This is a really cool bar / café just round the corner from the Hotel Tradition where we were staying – we had already had lunch there and just had to go back for more! It plays really chilled out lounge-house music and the food was so tasty. Staff there are really friendly and we’d definitely recommend going there if you want somewhere really cool and chilled to have a few drinks or something to eat.

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As our time in Nepal comes to an end we can now say 100% that we’ll be back here! The whole country (with the possible exception of the slightly disappointing Kathmandu) has more than exceeded our expectations. It is such an adventure even to travel across it from one place to another as the scenery is jaw dropping. Beware of some of the mountain roads however if you’re not good with heights – particularly the main road up to Kathmandu which took my breath away for more reasons than one – the views and the really scary sheer drops!

Nepal is a great mixture of exciting, adrenaline inducing experiences and chilled out hideaways. The people here are also some of the friendliest we have met and are very multi-cultural. If you ever get the chance, or are bored of the ‘usual’ holiday destinations like Spain or Greece, give Nepal a go and we guarantee you won’t regret it!!

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3 Comments

  1. August 23, 04:28 #1 Ian [EagerExistence]

    Love the post title guys 😉

  2. August 21, 11:31 #2 margaret D.

    Can’t see you both enjoying 9 to 5 job after this adventure!!!Enjoy the rest of your journey and take care


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