Kathmandu – Nepal Home of the great stupas!
Finally! We were going to Nepal and we have a month to spend here. We feel we need vacation from our Indian holidays, it’s been overwhelming.
We rode a really insane bus, which passed the speed limit, drove both the right and left side of the road, had really loud Bollywood music on and was super overcrowded! I sat right at the front, next to the driver. I don’t even think that was a seating spot, but the place was so overwhelmingly crowded, I decided to stay as far as possible from the crowd.
Besides, being female traveler in roads less traveled by tourists, I have to watch out for my back. In very crowded areas, sometimes you can feel a hand on your butt, so… better safe than sorry!
We got to the Indian Border where we had to fill out some papers and sign we were living the country, date, passport information, etc.
We were told that there’s a lot of corruption over the Nepali border, that they usually charge more, sometimes even the double or triple of the normal visa price. We were aware of that, and guess what???
They really did it! They tried to charge us more, but we kindly replied we only had that money. So they stamped our passport and let us go.
The Nepali border was a really dusty town, with nothing interesting to see. People don’t speak so much English, as they didn’t have centuries of British domination, but it was still easy to communicate. People were nicer and more smiley on this side of the border.
A few guys, who were there, helped us finding our buses to Kathmandu, since nothing was written in English.
The ride was long and boring; the bus drivers here are totally crazy! It felt really dangerous to be in that bus. Along the road, we stumbled across many accidents and buses or trucks that fell out of the cliffs. The trip took a few hours, with stops along the way for drinks and rest rooms.
We finally got to Kathmandu, a really busy city, full of car pollution and crazy traffic. Still, it was cleaner, friendlier and generally nicer than India. We booked a cheap hotel, hotel Lai Lai, near the Thamel area, but still far enough to be away from the chaos a noise.
|The rooftop of Hotel Lai Lai, a big buddhist stupa at the top the hill|
We were surprised by how nice and clean the hotel and rooms were. It seemed clear to us that the Nepalese culture was radically different form the India, even though these are neighbor countries. Although our hotel was very cheap, it was very pleasant.
It had a great rooftop where we could appreciate the view and see the mountains around us.
We found an amazing local little homey restaurant right next to the hotel, It was not popular with the tourists, or at least we never saw one during the whole time we spent there. The food was amazing and incredibly cheap. That’s one of the many perks of eating where locals eat. Besides having the real sense of the food that is prepared the way locals eat; it’s cheap and you get to know which places to go. Just go to wherever the locals flock. You’ll save a tremendous amount of money and have a real experience. Here you could have a whole meal for less than an Euro, whereas in touristy Thamel, you’d be paying the double or triple for the same thing.
|Yummy vegan noodles|
Our week in Kathmandu was relaxing. Really relaxing, almost a detox from 5 stressful months in India. No one chased us trying to sell us a billion things we don’t want, no one grabbed us, it was so nice in here!
Kathmandu is filled with little stupas, statues of Buddha and some Hindu temples as well. Seems like these two religions converge here in total harmony.
We were told that Nepal is primarily Hindu, but to be honest, I experienced a very Buddhist city, or at least, there were way more Buddhist dedicated statues, stupas and temples, than Hindu ones.
All in all, Nepal is the real birth place of Buddhist and you can feel it. It was basically dead in India, but very much alive in here.
We walked everywhere, even though Kathmandu is a big capital, is still small enough to walk, or at least, most touristic interesting spots are easy to reach by foot, making Kathmandu a very affordable destination.
Every inch of this city was filled with history, every corner, every building, every house. It was really amazing!
It’s interesting how the old and new converge in here. We have the tourist hub of Thamel, filled with souvenir stores, restaurants, guest houses, adventure sports agencies and everything else you can possibly imagine to please the tourists. Although it looks overwhelming, Thamel is actually really nice and interesting. If you’re into radical/ adrenaline sports, this is the place to find an agency who organizes this kind of thing. If you’re into trekking the same thing, go to Thame and you’ll be able to compare the prices of the different agencies. Sometimes, prices really vary.
|The streets of Thamel|
I wanted to see the great stupa at the top of a hill, also known as the monkey temple.
In order to go to the Monkey temple you have to cross the older part of Kathmandu, walk through little streets. It’s a nice walk, 30 + minutes, but well worth it!
If you’re hungry, you’ll find really nice and cheap places to eat on the way. The further you stay from the little tourist ghetto, the cheapest everything costs.
We found an amazing little restaurant, super cheap and offering a superb variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
With our bellies full, we got ready for the long walk up hill.
*featured photo: commons.wikimedia.org