Posts Tagged With: Kathmandu

Day 149: Bhaktapur (Nepal) – November 13th

Sleeping in the comforts of our sleeping bag, we dared not venture out into the chilly and darkly lit room until 9am. We were very lazy. Walking outside, the hotel chef greeted us and we ordered breakfast. There, sitting atop a balcony overlooking the centre of the hotel where woodworkers were busy putting some final touches on some delicate wooden tables they spent the last month working on. This hotel may lack some of the amenities others have, but it makes it all up with pure local charm and comfort. And the food is great!

Spending the morning curled up with a book on the balcony, we had some local Newari cuisine for lunch. Despite being in Nepal for so long, we’ve pretty much stuck to a western diet with the exception of dal bhaat and momos. This time though, we were in for a treat! We had a ‘Nepali pizza’ called charapati, and a dish of bitten rice (fried and flattened rice, crunchy and chewy!) with a multitude of sides. Not only was it cheap (compared to the tourist-prices you pay elsewhere) but it was very good too! In general, there aren’t many ‘restaurants’ around the cities we lived in which catered to locals, and if there were they don’t look appetizing or even sanitary enough for our stomachs.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the streets of Bhaktapur, buying some local souvenirs and eating some more yogurt! The streets were literally overflowing with grains, as it was harvest season and it seems like everyone was working hard to dry the grains. Shrines, temples and any town square was filled with woman wafting and sifting through piles of grain that just lay on the ground. Until now, we’re still not quite sure what exactly they’re doing as they move grains from one pile onto another, while others use a simple basket and toss the grains into the air and some would fall onto the bare ground, and this process continued until all the grain was on the floor. Extremely confused! There were also a lot of chickens running around, and they’d just have a feast standing atop of piles of grain and pecking at all the food they’d want! It is a bit strange, as even though this town is full of people and even tourists, if you walk about 500m out you can see farms and cremation pits and all sorts of strange stuff you wouldn’t have imagine existed! And the way the streets are designed, it seems like there’s always a surprise waiting for you at the other end of the turn or past a narrow alley. It’s like a constant treasure hunt!

And since it is Deepavali, today was the ‘big day’, where people worship the goddess of wealth and fortune, Lakshmi. Lights are lit all around town, and within the hotel we stayed at we even participated in a bit of the fun, lighting up candles for the whole house. They also drew a line from the doorsteps and into the building using a thick clay, as it shows Lakshmi the way and because it is said that she does not like dirt so this ‘path’ is pure for her to walk on. Outside, music was coming out of the temples and kids would run around singing and dancing for the locals who would offer them a small amount of goods/candies. Sort of like trick or treating!

The rest of the evening we spent chatting it up with the hotel owner and a volunteer at a local NGO who was staying at the hotel. We even drank a bit of the owner’s homemade raksi, which is Nepalese for homemade moonshine, and had once again another fabulous dinner at the hotel. If anyone ever comes to Bhaktapur, we really recommend this hotel! Unfortunately though, we’ve seen all that that can be seen around here and will be heading out to our last destination in Nepal tomorrow.

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Day 148: Bhaktapur (Nepal) – November 12th

Wandering around the streets of Patan, we found a restaurant that is within another UNESCO restored Newari building. Thinking it’d be similar to our hotel we stayed in previously, we wandered in and was amazed at how uninteresting the whole place was, with a garden that can barely pass as comfortable, and we had the whole place to ourselves! The food wasn’t that great either, but it was nice and quiet and away from the hustle and bustle, which is not easy to find in any tourist area in Nepal.

Taking a local bus to our next destination of Bhaktapur, which was the last of the three states within the Kathmandu city area, we passed through several markets that was crowded with people despite it being a Monday morning. It’s probably the festival, as everyone seems to be shopping for some festive goods and neon-coloured powder for blessings (or cooking? We saw a lot of neon-pink donuts). The bus stop is very busy and strange to navigate, it also doesn’t help these people keep giving different amounts for the bus fare. The driver said 50Rs, while the attendant said it was 30Rs, but in the end I handed him a 50Rs note and he just took it and didn’t say anything! In the end we found out it was only 20Rs each, hahaha. You can seem to haggle for everything in Nepal or get gypped in everything from buying coke at the store to a bus fare…. Continue reading

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Day 147: Patan (Nepal) – November 11th

By 5am, the locals have started their day already. Our room, facing outward onto a small tole (city square) with a few temples, Hindu pilgrims were busy paying their homage to their respective deities. And since it is Deepavali at the moment, it seems like everything is working on a slightly different schedule. We managed to block out the noise and slept in on the comfy tatami-style beds.

Breakfast was decent, but eating in the courtyard was a great little treat. The courtyard was square in shape but sunken by about knee-high, so you can comfortably sit on the edge and eat on the table provided. The morning glow shun atop the exquisite wooden carvings made the whole place sparkle in dark mahogany tones. Unfortunately, they were all booked up for the day and we had to pack up and move to another cheapo hotel. No more luxury!

We started off our day exploring Durbar Square, and spent quite a lot of time inside the Patan Museum, a collection of the area’s many interesting artifacts. It also helped that they have a lot of explanations in English on all their topics, making it easier for us tourists to make sense of what the heck we’re looking at. It was another field-trip day again, and the typical museum-style silence was quickly smashed to pieces by the bus loads of elementary school students. We were hit with a few swarms of kids, but the cutest part though was all the kids would say “HELLO!” to us. One kid even put out his hand for a handshake, which we politely shook, but then about 8 other kids did the same. Haha, kids are fun.

Stopping our sightseeing, we walked out to the “expat” area of Patan which is filled with great looking restaurants spanning from Japanese, Italian to even a Korean bakery! We ate at a Singapore restaurant, and according to Jiajia their food was quite authentic! Authentic Singapore food, in small towns of Nepal. Strange, but delicious!

In the afternoon, we took a walking tour of the town following a page off of the Lonely Planet. Surprisingly nobody seems to like these tours, as they’re rather interesting. Walking off the main streets, you wander from neat little Buddhist temples to small shrines devoted to all of the various Hindu deities. In general, anything with historical significance is generally religious in nature. And it’s pretty crazy, as you have these temples/shrines built before the 1500s, but people are selling fruits and veggies right at it’s footsteps!

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Day 146: Patan (Nepal) – November 10th

Waking up in the moonlight, we were on the tourist bus back to Kathmandu by 6am. Unlike the local buses, tourist buses are a bit more comfortable, don’t allow any standing passengers in the aisle and costs only slightly (~10%-20%)more. Trust us, it’s more than worth the money.

So between 6am and 4pm when we arrived in Kathmandu, we pretty much drifted in and out of consciousness for the whole time, reading a bit while we can. We stopped for lunch at 10am at a seemingly tourist trap, but the food (everyone had the same thing, the national dish of Nepal, Dal Bhaat) was pretty decent for the price. Arriving in Kathmandu, we quickly packed our bags and headed for the city across the Bagmati river, Patan. Continue reading

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Day 123: Kathmandu (加得满都) – October 18th

Alright, our time of slacking has come to an end as we continued being the good tourists we are. Jiajia is still recovering but the main motivation is we booked our trek to the Annupurna Circuit. Annapura is another 8000m tall mountain, but it is nearly impossible to climb with a fatality rate of over 40%…. we’re trekking around the mountain ranges, and this trek is rated as one of the best all around treks for its vast scenery!

Hankering for some Chinese food, we went back to the same place for lunch before heading to Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred Hindi temples in the Kathmandu Valley. No foreigners were allowed in the temple, but the surrounding areas were just as interesting. Situated on the sacred river of Bagmati, the temple is a shrine to Shiva where a sacred lingam resides in the temple. Walking into the temple, an overwhelming smoke smothers the area (more on this later). Photogenic sadhus sit around, welcoming anyone to come for a picture, but for a small donation of course. Sadhus sit there from morning til dark, contemplating the deep spirituality of the world and legally smoking pot to help them relief pain and to aid in meditation. No comment…..

Since the main temple was banned for us foreigners, we can only stroll around the riverside and take in the interesting history, lingam temples and architecture that lays here, in addition to the dead bodies. Continue reading

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Day 121: Kathmandu (加得满都) – October 16th

Today is a good tourist day.

Kathmandu is really small, and almost everything is within walking distance. That being said, our walking distance has now extended to anything within 5km. It’s just nicer to take a walk through local neighbourhoods and see what they look gives us a better pulse on the city.

Walking from our hotel to Swayambunath, aka Monkey Temple, we got a feel for the city and we aren’t too keen of what we see. Going westward from the tourist district the city does not get any more inspiring, with the continuation of the 70s looking stores (sewing machines, old car parts, craggy paint but no North Fake gear). Crossing over a bridge and over a river, we see an unpleasant stream of water full of garbage, and pigs floundering at the shores. Eagles (or falcons?) soar around the river, occasionally dipping down for a drink or catching flies, we aren’t sure. Continue reading

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Day 121: Kathmandu (加得满都) – October 16th

We’re not very good tourists.

Waking up, we had breakfast in the cozy hotel courtyard and then began our day searching for a suitable trekking company to provide us with a porter for our 2-week hike through the Annapurna circuit. The number of travel agencies in Thamel was told to us to hover around 400. That pretty much means when you walk through Thamel, for every 5 stores there are 2 fake North Face stores, 2 travel agencies and one random store…. it’s ridiculously overwhelming.

Hiring a porter isn’t as easy as it sounds, because you don’t want to be stuck hiking for 17days with some guy you don’t like. Prices also varied from a quoted $12/day to $50/day!!! W T F? After meeting all kinds of different people, the uncle of a fake North Face shop owner, a pro-salesman who wouldn’t let us meet the porter, a crazy outdoor junkie who sits on the Nepal rescue team board and was busy with the aftermath of a guide who died on a peak, and finally we settled with this guy whom we ignored twice on the street until the third time… Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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