The posts that I have done so far are about activities, places that I have gone, gotten a coffee, had dinner… But, I thought of writing about Kathmandu in a different format: my experiences there by day. I will assure you from now that each post will be a little bit long, but hopefully you will enjoy the stories that come with each day.
I went to Kathmandu the first week of September, when the monsoon (rainy season) was coming to an end in Nepal and the best time to go starts. Kathmandu is certainly not a place that everybody would like to go, starting from the fact that is a Recondite Place on Earth, but also because we all have different perspective of the places we would like to visit, some look for very tourists places, some look for places to go templing, to relax, and some of us go to places that look like beyond the frontiers. I wanted to go to Nepal since the moment I found out AirAsia has a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur; I thought “why not going to Nepal? What’s stopping me?” Nothing…got this feeling of traveling and getting to see the unknown to enrich my soul and life.
My plan was to arrive on Thursday at the end of the afternoon and come back to KL on Sunday, and in that way take advantage of another holiday weekend in Malaysia (we had three long weekends in September!). For every day, I had planned different activities in advanced: a short tour around the market in Kathmandu, a long tour around Kathmandu Valley including temples, helicopter tour to see the Himalayas, and ending the trip seeing the sunrise from Nagarkot.
The trip from KL to Kathmandu was really nice, almost 4 hrs 30 mins. Immigration was quite fast: I filled out the application online and just had to do the payment upon my arrival. The driver was already waiting for me outside, and this is my first recommendation: if you don’t want to go through the hustle of trying to bargain with the driver, get one through the hotel – much easier!… Going through the hotel from the airport gave me the chance to get a general idea of what the city is about: an interesting mixture of people, heavy traffic and dusty streets…
Arrived at Hotel Shanker, a beautiful hotel which used to be a Palace, located quite close to Durbar Square and Thamel. The hotel is surrounded with beautiful landscapes, full of trees and flowers. The staff was super nice from the beginning of my stay, and welcome me with opened arms sort of speak…all I could hear was “Namaste, Namaste”. I was already delighted! When I arrived, the hotel staff told me they have talked with the tour guide taking me to the tour in the market, so everything was settle to start with my holiday! : )
I was picked up at the hotel by my tour guide and first thing he asked was “Are you Ok with going to the market in a motorcycle?”… That’s where the adventure in Kathmandu really started! Going in the motorcycle really gives you the chance to see the city as it is, to be in the middle of the traffic, go through the small streets, go through the unpaved roads with people walking on the sides, and one or two cows taking a nap in the side of the road.
The tour guide parked the motorcycle, and we started walking in Thamel, which is Kathmandu’s commercial neighborhood and city tourist center. Then, we continued walking to Asan, which is the main Kathmandu market, not so much for buying souvenirs, but for finding anything that you could and couldn’t imagine as well! Asan is one of the historic sites in the city, famous for its bazaar, festivals and strategic location—and 6 streets converge in this site, giving a more chaotic feeling! In Asan you can find vegetables, metal vases to cook, thousands of spices, religious artifacts, textiles, jewelry, and even animal hair that they told was to keep away the “bad vibes”—and many other things that to be honest, I couldn’t describe! We continued walking and we made it to Aksh Brairab Temple, after seeing Ganesh and Asanmaru Ajima Temples (The Abundance Goddess).
It really amazed me the mixture of cultures, a combination of Buddhism and Hinduism that I have never seeing before, or that even knew existed. The co-existence of both religions and understanding of the fusion of both, gives Kathmandu a higher level of spirituality. Moreover, the narrow streets, buildings dated from the 12th century with beautiful wooden details in the windows, and the reconstruction of a city that endured such a deadly earthquake just a couple years ago, is a combination that I cannot really described with words, or that can be shown perfectly in a picture.
Following our walk, through a small passage almost hidden from the passers, we found the beautiful Shree Gha Buddhist Stupa in Thamel. After all the “madness” in Asan, it was amazing to find such a nice and quiet place. On one side of the Stupa a Buddhist monastery, students coming in and out, and in the other side a Mandala store where I was explained in detail the KalaChakra Mandala. A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe, representing the Cosmo symbolically. Nowadays are used beyond religious reasons, more as a relaxation technique… so in case you are feeling a little bit stressful, just google “mandala” and start coloring it. : )
The walk around Thamel and Asan was ending, when I saw this man sitting down in the courtyard of his house… A very peaceful+perfect sight to end my first day in Kathmandu.
Let me know what you thought about this post! — Next one will be about my full day around Kathmandu Valley! 💖