Following a few days of recovery from trekking and some time to heal George’s dodgy stomach we were feeling ready to take on Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu. A 6 hour bus journey took us to Thamel the backpacker area of Kathmandu where we were once again greeted by our good friend Min who chaperoned us to our hotel ‘happy home’.
Kathmandu is a very typical Asian city – busy, over crowed, smog but on a clear day you can see views of the alpine mountains over this dusky city. Thamel has a feel of Ko San Road in Bangkok as the streets are crowded with travellers from all walks of life, it has tons of restaurants and bars many on the rooftops of the windy streets and shops selling all kinds of travellers tat – everything from yoga bags, bangles, Tibetan antiques, Buddhas and tee’s. The city smells of burning popcorn and incense sticks and in the evening shops are candlelit due to the daily power cuts.
We spent our time in Kathmandu visiting some of the many Buddhist/Hindu temples around the city. We managed to visit two famous stupas ‘Boudhanath’ and ‘Swayambhu’ also known as the monkey temple due to the holy monkeys living there – A stupa is a structure containing buddhist relics, these stupas have Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, there is something painted which looks like the nose – but is the Nepali symbol of ‘unity’. Both Boudhanath and Swayambhu are considered to be the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhist Newars. We also visited Durbar square the plaza in front of the old royal palace of the Kathmandu Kingdom and Pashupatinath, one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati River.
In the evenings we ate into some nice restaurants Third Eye, Or2k and Alchamy but had the most delicious meal with our new Nepalese family the Thapa’s. This has to be the best meal yet – Dhal Bhat with chicken curry and sausage, veg momo’s (Tibetan dumplings), home made chips and Everest Beer. We also had the opportunity to meet Min’s wife Gyanu and 3 lovely children Suju, Sujan and Sujin who were over the moon with their England T-shirts. This really was a home away from home, we can honestly say in all the years we have travelled we have never been made to feel more looked after and welcome! We will definitely be keeping in touch with Min (Mongolian Trekking) and his family.
On the final day George finally got chance to cure the bike addiction – booking himself a days riding with local guide & shredder Bikash from Himalayan singletrack (it would be rude not too!) whilst I did a spot of last minute tat shopping with Suju.
It was time to say goodbye to Nepal – We will miss these stunning views and the lovely new friends we have met. Next stop Thailand, we’re both very much looking forward to some beach time.