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October 9th 2011
Published: January 25th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

ThamelThamelThamel

Looking down from our perch at Hotel Potala...
October 9, 2011

Ah Kathmandu; mythical city, muse of Bob Seger, couldn't wait to get there...Nepal has been a top five destination for me for years, and I was excited to arrive and start exploring...

First, the flight from New Delhi to Kat was very cool; about halfway there you could start to see mountaintops poking above the clouds, and coming into the valley during our descent you could see the low sprawl of Kat unfolding before you...

The contrast was virtually immediate when we arrived; friendly! (Think we heard "Namaste" more before we exited the airport than we did the entire week we were in India). The plan now was to hang in Kat for a couple of days, head down to the Chitwan Jungle for a three day/two night jungle lodge package, then head to Pokhara for a four day camping trek before returning to Kat and home. As we tend to book very little ahead of time when we travel, we decided that due to the amount of things we wanted to see, the short amount of time we were there (less than two weeks) and the fact that it was their major holiday season
Buddha StupaBuddha StupaBuddha Stupa

...at Swayambhunath
we didn't want to run the risk of missing something...so certainly a more rigid trip than others but fantastic nonetheless...

We had booked a budget hotel in the backpacker area of Thamel and they were gracious enough to send a car to get us, perfect! So after weaving our way through the chaos that is Kathmandu traffic we arrived at Hotel Potala, our stop for the evening (and if it was decent then we'd hang there for two more nights)...location couldn't be better, right in the heart of the action of the Thamel area, crazy!

Once again, friendly! We were greeted by the owner/manager Rishi (not really sure what his title was, a little vague on that) and were immediately shown to our room...well, not exactly fancy and a bit run down but for $15 a night it was fine...and the staff, hospitality and especially Rishi more than made up for the rooms, I can't say enough about them! They had a tour/travel agency there as well (obviously...haha...) and hooked us up with transportation, a mountain flight tour and just general tourist advice for our own meanderings...

Our flight from New Delhi had been delayed a couple of hours and we lost the better part of the afternoon that day so we decided to get settled, find a pint and just check out the immediate area...turns out the second floor balcony of the hotel's patio was a perfect perch to watch the zaniness, we basically had "our table" by the time we left Nepal...lol...

Dinner at KC's that night (a local institution right across from our hotel) and some pints on the terrace to finish off our first day, an all-around success...Kathmandu pretty much shuts down at 10-11pm so not much nightlife but fine nonetheless...

The following day after a late start (which seemingly would become the norm) we hopped a cab and headed for the hilltop temple called Swayambhunath, or Monkey Temple. A bit of a hike up a long staircase, passing hawkers and rogue macaque monkeys along the way…the vistas of the Kathmandu valley at various stops were breathtaking, but the reward was certainly the temples at the top...

Beautiful doesn't begin to describe it; it is an absolute must-visit if in Kat...the centre stupa with the four faces of Buddha staring out across the valley, prayer wheels around the base and
Our PerchOur PerchOur Perch

This was a good spot to watch the madness at Hotel Potala...
the various other temples and religious monuments surrounding the stupa all make for a fascinating visit. The views are amazing, and along with the sights and smells of incense and butter lamps the place had a most mystical quality to it, we really enjoyed poking around the site…picked up some prayer flags and then decided to hit Durbar Square...

Durbar square is the site of the ancient palace where the city's kings used to rule, and as such is still considered the heart of the old town. Plenty of temples to get lost in, with beautiful architecture to soak in; it's a great place to just sit and watch the comings and goings of locals and visitors alike.. We just wandered around the squares, stopping for a bite to eat and a couple of pints at a rooftop terrace with great views. It was late afternoon at this point so started to make our way back to the Thamel area on foot, getting lost a few times but losing ourselves in the chaos that is Kathmandu...loved it...

Hit a local institution called Thakali Kitchen for some authentic Nepali food that night, first time trying both Momo's (kind of
Mountain FlightMountain FlightMountain Flight

Ah the Himalayas, magnificent...
like a dumpling stuffed with either vegetables or meats...I am absolutely addicted they are so good...K prefers them steamed, I really dug them deep fried but either way is tasty) and Daal Bhaat, a trad dish of steamed rice and curried veggies, mmmmmmm....

Next day was an early start as we had booked a mountain flight to see the Himalayan range and get a closer look at Everest itself...Flew on a small prop plane from Yeti Air which took us up and flew parallel with the mountain range, the peaks were spectacular...we each then got a turn to go up to the cockpit to see mountains in front of us, and this is where I saw Everest for the first time, couldn't believe it! Unfortunately not everyone (including K) got up to the cockpit, the pilot shut down that part of the tour just after I was in there and we started heading back to the airport...it was supposed to be a one hour flight, but we were back on the ground in a little over half an hour...no one seemed to say anything, so when we got back to the hotel we chatted about the abbreviated tour with
Mmmm...Mmmm...Mmmm...

Pretty dang good beer... (KC)
Rishi, who agreed that this wasn't right...he was kind enough to contact the airline to find out what had happened to the tour, and when he returned he informed us that while the airline had admitted nothing, he got the impression that something was wrong with the plane and they had to get back...would have been nice to have been kept informed but ultimately we were okay with the “safety first” path taken (especially as a Buddha Air mountain flight had crashed a couple of weeks before we arrived)...

Had some breakfast and then hopped a local shuttle to the medieval city-state of Bhaktapur, reputed to be one of the best preserved in the area (about 30 mins. from the Thamel area). We heard it was a great place to spend the day wandering the cobblestone streets and soaking up the atmosphere, and it far exceeded our expectations, highly recommend it. It was the perfect place to get out of the hustle and bustle of Thamel and really just wander around at our own pace checking out the streets, temples, vendors and squares...

Once inside our first stop was Durbar Square, full of temples (amazing architecture) and statues…we
View from the stairs...View from the stairs...View from the stairs...

Prayer flags and Kat in the background..
then made our way down some wonderfully narrow streets to Taumadhi Tole, a large square again stocked with temples, the most impressive being the Nyatapola Temple (reputed to be the highest temple in Nepal and the tallest structure in Kathmandu)…we hung out at nice little restaurant to get out the heat, with great views of the square and temple…

Next stop was a smaller square, the obviously named Potters’ Square…you guessed it, plenty of shops all making pottery, kinda cool but we just did a quick tour and then set out again…the best part was wandering along these ancient streets in between the squares, where life it seems hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years…we then rounded a corner and arrived at Tachupal Tole, the original centre square of Bhaktapur, and the centerpiece Dattatreya Temple, which dates back to the 15th Century…

Poked around the square a bit, then had a bite to eat and a couple of pints at the Peacock Restaurant while watching daily life unfold before us before slowly making our way back to the entrance and hopping the shuttle back to Thamel...

That would bring us to the end of our first
Ah yes...Ah yes...Ah yes...

...that's why it's known as the Monkey Temple...
leg of Nepal…We were off the next morning to Chitwan Jungle and then Pokhara, but would return to Kat and Hotel Potala for a few days to finish off the trip and pick up some last minute souvenirs...


Additional photos below
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Entrance to SwayambhunathEntrance to Swayambhunath
Entrance to Swayambhunath

And the mulitude of stairs..
Finally...Finally...
Finally...

...the top, with the Buddha stupa keeping an eye on us...
Dorje...Dorje...
Dorje...

...or the Great Thunderbolt...
Scene from above...Scene from above...
Scene from above...

Kat down below...
Views from the Rooftop in Durbar SquareViews from the Rooftop in Durbar Square
Views from the Rooftop in Durbar Square

With Swayambhunath in the distance...


12th March 2012

Kathmandu
This is an absolute golden words that you have posted in this article. This article is very nice which can impress anyone and tempt to post a comment.
19th March 2012

Thank you, glad you liked the post...

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