Day 120: Kathmandu (加得满都) – October 15th

Due to the strange time zone we’re in, the sun rises extremely early at 5ish, but also sets around 4pm. This sort of explains why people wake early and also sleep rather early. Waking up, Jiajia felt better after a 15hr nap, so we attempted to grab some food at a local cafe. After Jiajia ate a half piece of toast, we started walking around the area of Thamel where most tourists are located. Running some random errands, we got a pay as you go prepaid SIM card for a staggering 50Rs, which was about $0.60USD!!! The more we travel, the more we realize how ridiculously priced North American mobile fees are! Another cool part, is that there is a lot of good stuff on television. They have movie channels showing decent movies around the clock (good for burning time in the hotel), and at night Discovery and Animal Planet shows make a perfect companion to falling asleep…

Jiajia was still unable to eat, so we wanted to get some fruits. In Thamel, the fruit-stand to North Face shop ratio is about 1:22, so after a 20min walk I managed to hunt down a fruit stand… WTF people don’t eat fruits? The bananas helped the upset stomach, so later in the afternoon, we finally headed out to see what Kathmandu was all about.

Following the Lonely Planet bible, we took a guided tour which, without it, you would walk past all these little gems without knowing the history or the fact this random thing on the ground came before Columbus. Leaving Thamel, Kathmandu quickly turns into a very vibrant and busy city. The narrow alleys of shops and busy squares, or chowks, full of people selling produce and local foods. Small temples are scattered throughout the city, but show very little signs of religious use, unlike the temples full of followers back in Tibet. In fact, they just look like abandoned buildings and locals just ignore them, or the most use we saw were kids that playing around the statues and pigeons pooing on them (the statues, of course).

Another strange thing about Kathmandu, is that there are these strange entrances in the wall, that takes you into a totally different world compared to the outside. Sorta like opening the door to Narnia, a much dirtier and less magical Narnia. Off the streets of the city are small squares, or bahils, and feels like a totally different world with lots of space and very little people, two combinations not very common in tourist-heavy Thamel area of town.

At the end of the walk was Durbar Square, or palace square where historically the rulers of the area would be housed. The massive square contained very impressive architecture, and the large space felt great compared to the claustrophobic feel of what we’ve seen so far in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the square the sun almost set, so we decided to do a more in-depth visit tomorrow and started our way home. This brings another strange thing, is that despite being very laid back people, traffic jams still do occur! Cars aren’t really why there’s traffic jams, but instead people, mopeds and rickshaws are the main reason for the jam. And as we dodge bikes to our left and cars to our right, out of nowhere this COW (a real moo cow) comes rushing through the small space we wanted to squeeze through.

What an interesting place…

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