Arriving in Kathmandu
Arriving in Kathmandu was a whirlwind. We arrived with no visa, no guidebook, no reservations, and no clue what we were doing.
So getting a visa at the airport was not too bad, and then we proceeded outdoors, only to be hounded by taxi drivers and immediately turned back around and went in to decide where we were going.
Some guards helped us out and some how we made it to Thamel- where all the tourists stay, to the Kathmandu Guest House- the only place I could remember from the guidebook that I had looked through in the Hong Kong airport bookstore.
It was about 10 pm and the streets were dark, armed police were walking about and we were exhausted, all contributing to a quick retreat to our room…
Kathmandu Guest House
Kathmandu Guest House is the oldest hotel and so it is used as a reference point for every other place in Thamel; everything is just two minutes from KGH…However, the room was less than great, so the next morning we headed out in search of a more suitable guesthouse.
Many touts later we found a great little place, “Namaste Guest House”, where we would comfortably spend the next week. We continued our errand day with laundry, bank, internet etc. and walked around the dense Thamel area.
The bustle was so different than that of China- the streets were narrow, lined with shops and restaurants and there was constant movement. The bigger vehicle always wins and the walker will always end up walking on the edge of the street, almost in the sewer channels.
It was still polluted, noisy and foreign, but nevertheless it was refreshing. Most of the people speak English and the change in diet was especially refreshing.
We were no longer limited to fried vegetables and rice- now we had Nepali food, Tibetan food, Indian food, and in Thamel- all the Western food that you can think of.
For dinner we had our first Daal Bhat- the typical Nepali food. It consists of a plate with lentil soup (daal) which you pour on white rice (bhat) accompanied with a side of curry (mostly potatoes), veggies/pickles that vary, and a papad (thin fried cracker that you’ve probably had at an Indian Restaurant).
Exploring Kathmandu Durbar Square
The following day we explored Kathmandu further, walking to Durbar (palace) Square. We saw a new part of the city, and having gotten used to having kai shui (boiling water) at all times, invested in a kettle of our own.
We explored the old buildings of the square, had our first delicious street samosas, walked through the Asan Tole food (mostly vegetable) market and really got a feel for the city.
The poverty is quite overwhelming; it is quite apparent in the people, the shops, the roads, the buildings. The city is low (no high rises) and yet somehow incredibly warm with people that are genuinely friendly greeting us with “Namaste”.
Things to Do in Kathmandu
Boddinath: important Tibetan temple where you can circumambulate with the pilgrims; if monk tries to take you around temple be aware that he will ask for a “donation” of 200 Rs minimum or U.S dollars; delicious coffee and cake at Flavor’s. go to the rooftop for a spectacular view of the temple..
Monkey Temple: possible to walk from Thamel; good viewpoint over Kathmandu valley
Durbar Square (Kathmandu): need to get a visitor entry card with a picture so you can come back again without paying twice. nice temples, a palace with a museum of the royal family; in the palace (250 Rs) there is a watchtower where you can get a wonderful overview of the city. unlimited pass costs 200 Rs
Durbar Square (Patan): the actual square is similar to the one in kathmandu, it’s about an hour walk from thamel and you will see a lot of kathmandu on the way. very relaxed.
Accommodation in Kathmandu
New Namaste Guest House: email: [email protected]; phone: 977-1-4233734 clean big comfortable rooms; double room with bathroom (425 Rs); only rooms, no lounge or restaurant here; off of Jyatha Chowk road down a small alley;
Where to Eat in Kathmandu
Fire and Ice restaurant: delicious pizzeria; next to the main Himalaya bank on Tridevi Marg (main road); have a pizza for heaven’s sake; don’t share, it’s that good
Tashi Delek Restaurant: great little place to grab some Tibetan breakfast ( champa porridge) as well as a filling set breakfast (potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, toast, etc)
Janesi Restaurant: like eating in someone’s home; get the nepali set meal
Weizen Bakery: after 8 pm half price pastries; get there at 7:50 and fill your tray. restaurant is good too (cheese sticks)
Organic Cafe: didn’t try the food, but they have an “all you can eat” salad bar. nice place to relax
Himal Restaurant: good place, good prices, good food. try the thukpa (veg soup) and pakoras (fried veg fritters)