So as promised here is the second installment of my Nepalese adventure, a lovely follow-up to this little gem over here.
Oh, and be warned there might be a fair amount of whining throughout…as well as my huge appreciation and love for the experience now that I am looking back on it! (and if K is reading these posts, yes I really did have an amazing time…mind you I didn’t have to listen to my whining, for which I apologise!!!)
Anyway where did I leave off last time? Ah yes day 1 in Kathmandu…
…waking up was a bit surreal, had kinda forgotten where I was for a second, but one look out the window seeing a couple of faint mountains in the distance I was soon dressed and ready.
First things first, we had to buy a face masks to help with all the dust caused by the manic traffic on the dirt roads, without them you just end up with the taste of dirt in your mouth which ain’t no picnic.
When it comes to crossing the road over there it’s all about timing, there are no lovely zebra crossings you just have to use your judgement…or in my case K’s, who was a pro by now and just grabbed my hand at the right moment to leg it across. It’s like real life frogger, where we were the frogs.
Walking through the streets of Thamel, the commercial district of Kathmandu, it’s a hub of tourists and travellers all haggling with the shopkeepers to get the best price. To say it is crowded is an understatement and is overpowering at first, I have to say I felt safer than I thought I would, but that’s prob because I had my 6ft2 bodyguard leading the way.
Even through the sea of chaos and derelict buildings from the earthquake, the scooters speeding between the crowds, electric cables all over the place and street dogs everywhere…it is kind of beautiful in it’s own way, with vendors showing off their pashmina shawls, jewelry, Buddhist paintings, and prayer beads outside their shops to tempt you in. Plus the more specialised shops with antiques and unique pieces, with ornate singing bowls, Tibetan-style prayer boxes and precious turquoise encrusted jewelry and chests that can’t help but catch your eye.
I still regret not buying one or five of those pashminas, they were beautiful and a right bargain!
We made it through to Durbar Square, a palace with surrounding buildings that are decorated with stunning elaborate wooden carvings. Many of the buildings are falling apart due to the 2015 earthquake, with some walls being propped up by large bits of wood. You can’t walk anywhere without a street seller coming up to you with their goods. Now shockingly enough it was me the shopaholic that managed to resist their charm, but K was lured by a man and his handmade flutes and chess boards. After a fair few minutes of haggling we walked away the proud owners of a mini, circular chess board which to be fair is pretty cool. Oh he also bought me and his sister handmade purses which are gorgeous, bless him.
Along with the street sellers, there is also the odd cow just hanging around chilling in the sun and all the street dogs, obvs I asked if I could take a couple home…shockingly the answer was no. Started to get a bit peckish so we headed to one of the roof top cafes, which had a great view of the city and the square.
In the evening we went to the hotels rooftop bar area for a drink, watching the gorgeous sunset then looking at the stars which sparked a good half an hour if not longer, discussion as to whether it was mars or venus we could see…google to the rescue it was venus!
After some gentle persuasion from K, we went to a local bar that had a band playing. We sat with a couple of locals, one of which I am pretty sure was some kind of local celeb or so they said. This is where it started to go slightly downhill for me and where K will say I started to get a little difficult, which looking back I was, but after a couple of drinks I started to feel a bit emotional, guess the culture shock hit me a bit. Plus have to bear in mind I had literally never been anywhere like Nepal or spontaneously travelled almost half way across the world (poss exaggeration there but I’ll go with it) alone to see someone I missed, so to say I felt completely overwhelmed was an understatement.
Well anyway, the next morning I woke up to what I thought was the mother of all hangovers, nope I was wrong it was water poisoning from the ice in my divine vodka lemonades! I was so ill, I couldn’t keep more than a sip of water down – this was not how I’d hoped to spend my days in Kathmandu, I was so upset and felt so guilty for not being on form. I literally looked like a zombie, I mean I am pale anyway but is it possible to be translucent? ‘cause if so I was. Luckily I had my own knight in shining armor who stayed and nursed me through it. Drawing me an amazing bath that slowly returned me to the land of the living, tracking down some apple juice and a straw for me, my cure for everything. This only lasted a couple of days…but felt like a lifetime for both o us, seriously can’t thank him enough for looking after me and not moaning instead letting me moan!
I survived, so we extended our stay in Kathmandu an extra day so we could see a few more sights, now again I was a little hesitant when K suggested we go to see where the locals burn the bodies of the deceased…but I am so glad I did, as with most things on this trip he was right (can’t believe I just admitted that in writing). First thing we saw was pigeons, so many pigeons it oh and the odd cow (standard by this point), the locals were fascinated by them! They loved running through them making them all fly off en mass. Heading into the temple area we were expecting to hear family members crying or singing at the side of the pyres but in fact there was hardly anyone actually around them, and I did not feel as uncomfortable seeing the open pyres as I thought I would…even with K saying ‘Lish I think that’s an arm, oh maybe that’s a head…’, what a muppet!! It was a little surreal seeing a young boy selling candy floss and another selling popcorn to people.
Then there were the monkeys, so many monkeys, hence the name monkey temple! The babies are adorable however some of the adults are slightly aggressive and I’m not ashamed to say at one point we both scurried away from a menacing growl and exposed fangs! But when we found an area of slightly more placid ones, K decided to get some of our crackers out…that was it, the monkeys started to gather bit like the ducks at Saumarez Manor – so we did a sort of throw and dash to watch them munch from a safe distance, a few followed for a bit but got bored.
We walked to our next stop for the day which was Boudha, we only got a little lost on the walk but K’s natural sense of direction got us there. This is one of Asia’s largest stupa with thousands of pilgrims gathering to make a kora – a ritual circumnavigation. The dome is surrounded by shops, restaurants, guesthouses and temples…everyone walks in a clockwise direction. Many are saying chanting with their prayer beads as others are haggling at the shops. We went into one of the outer temples, where a monk talked us through their artwork depicting the different Gods, some of which were pretty vicious. They were getting ready for a special service or festival and had carved these ornate candles, which K nearly knocked over accidently…I tried to hide a fit of the giggles as he got a little telling off from a monk, I failed.
It was at one of the roof-top cafes watching the world go by and talking about the upcoming trek, I tasted chicken Momo for the first time, and it was delicious, it is basically a chicken dumpling, yummy.
After such a packed day sightseeing we headed back to the hotel, packed as quickly as possible, carb loaded on some spag bol, then headed back make the most of our glorious hotel room watching the last episode of Westworld and enjoying the last bath for a couple of days. Looking back it was a pretty special last day in Kathmandu…
…and on that note I think I’ll leave it there for now as our short Langtang Trek definitely deserves its own post, especially considering how much I can prattle on!
Hope you are enjoying reading these mammoth posts, if not then umm soz maybe check out one of my other posts.