5 days - October 2018
New flights, new country!
The flights and change in New Delhi went smoothly.
Funny to see in New Delhi, all trekkers already wearing their trekking gear in the plane ;) (besides , they were all over 60 yo, funny when usually we are the oldest travellers and by far! )
Namaste Nepal !
We arrived in Kathmandu without a visa, just with Indian Rupee and the immigration accept all bills but Indian Rupee.
The change officer didn’t want it either and the ATM was out of bills. So we were stuck there. Lucky us 2 groups of travellers were willing to give us some cash to pay for the visas, thanks again to you guys!
Based at 1,400m , it’s a bit chilly in Kathmandu and we can’t complain after the Indian heat!
We shared a taxi with a fellow German backpacker and discovered Kathmandu: the mess, the traffic and the pollution (you can’t breathe properly and my asthma cough came back...).
We also discovered that electricians don’t really matter to hide cables or fix issues: they just come and add a cable to the pillar ! We saw one with honestly at least 2,000 cables hanging around . (And I asked cédric for 5 years to hide 2 cables in our apartment: new perspective !)
We spent 3 days before the trek and 1 day after in Kathmandu.
Our first 3 days were busy finding which trek we wanted to do, finding a guide/porter for our trek, finding a clinic to get my 3rd Anti-rabies injection and enjoy the city.
Speaking about anti-rabies injection in Nepal: I had to give the name and consent of my guardian. I told the nurse I was 30 but she still wanted Cedric to fill-in the paper for me and sign ... 2018 in Nepal ;)
We had our first Mo:Mo, some little dumplings filled with whatever you like (vegetables for us) and our first Thukpa (a nepalese soup).yummy!
After all the admin stuff we had to do and buying the last things we needed for the trek (in Thamel, the Mecca for trekkers where they cohabit with old hippies) we still got to see a bit the city.
We started with the Bodnath temple. The stupa of the temple is one of the biggest in the world ! What’s a stupa you will ask me ? (We didn’t know before landing in Nepal ;) )
It’s an hemispherical structure containing relics (usually from Buddhist monks) and is used as a place of meditation (thanks wikipedia).
Buddhist people do their circumambulation (another new word for us!) here. It’s a ritual where you need to turn three times around the stupa as a gesture of respect and you turn the prayer wheels as you go.
We followed the flow and we did circumambulate with the local people watching the impressive gold stupa, the Buddha eyes looking at us, the many multicolour prayer flags (that we will see everywhere in the mountains !), all under beautiful sunset light.
It’s unclear when it has been built but it’s more than a thousand years ago!
We have been surprised to find so many Buddhist temples in the city and in the mountains while 82% of the people are Hindu in Nepal.
The day after we shared a cab with some American backpackers (17 kms in 90 minutes...!) to go to Bhaktapur literally translating to “place of devotees”.
It used to be the capital of Nepal. The city in itself is a massive temple! You can’t walk more than 20 meters without seeing a new temple. Our favorite: Nyatapola Temple which is a 5-storey pagoda. We also saw many local merchants in the Pottery Square.
Unfortunately the city suffered many damages from the 2015 earthquake and many temples got totally destroyed... we still liked our day spent there and our initiation into Nepalese culture, Buddhism and temples.
We came back to Kathmandu after our trek and enjoyed (many pizzas with new friends) Diwali festivities: the Hindu new year (happy new year 2075 guys!). So many people singing, dancing in the streets, many candles in the streets, flowers, people wearing nice outfits. Lovely atmosphere.
We had one day left and visited Durban Square and the monkey temple. It’s like every Hindu living in Kathmandu gathered there to make offerings to gods for the new year. Durban Square has still many buildings but really suffered from the earthquake as well... Most buildings have props to sustain them (but only at the bottom which made us wonder why and we didn’t stay too close !). We unfortunately didn’t see the living Goddess (Kumari- a young girl considered as a Goddess until her first menstruation).
Then with a taxi (there is no tuktuk in Kathmandu!) we headed to the Monkey temple (or Swayambhunath) which is the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. It took us quite a bit of time to walk the 360 steps (still recovering from the trek) and we tried to avoid the attacks of the monkeys (I have an history with dogs, let’s avoid monkeys who carry rabies as well!) We got to the top and we had a view on Kathmandu mess !
The stupa is really nice again and full of Buddhist doing their circumambulation. We loved the atmosphere ! We saw a little monkey stealing the givings from the devotees ! And a dog with a Bindi on his forehead. Couldn’t be more local!
And this marks the end of our stay in Nepal!
Back to India now.
# we liked all our visits but the city suffered badly from the earthquake. Besides it’s soooo polluted that it gets hard to breathe.
# Bhaktapur and Durban Square have entry fees of respectively 1500 and 1000 roupies
# we stayed at Kathmandu peace home Guesthouse , just outside of Thamel. Good value and good bed in a calm environment - 12 USD per night only.
# Monkey temple: 200 roupies
# we had the best post-trek pizzas (in reality we had 3 ;) )at Roadhouse Cafe Thamel.
# we really liked The Kathmandu kitchen in Thamel.
# from the airport: 600 roupies to reach Thamel
# from Delhi, the cheapest flight is with Nepal Airlines but be careful it's blacklisted... We took Air India instead.