Nepal. Kathmandu, First Three Days

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November 12th 2010
Published: March 1st 2011
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This narrative embraces the first three days of my stay in Kathmandu and the last few days I spent there after the trek.

I did a good job – I’ve backed up in three different sources my texts and photos of the first 5 days in Nepal and was stupid enough to delete all the three back-ups. What a disappointment! I did want to have the text written there, in Nepal, without recollections, and now I’ll again have to sit and remember. It’s not that I don’t like recollecting, I’m sad because the text will be different.

I’ve just posted short note about Pokhara, Patan and Kathmandu’s two religious sites, and now turn to Kathmandu again. I remember that my deleted texts were rather large, and emotions so fresh!..

I decided to go to Nepal all of a sudden. I was recollecting the trip to the Altai Mountains and somehow it occurred to me to read about the Himalayas, and the neurons in my brain output the word “Nepal”; I looked some information up in the internet and ... Well, then there was some hesitation because the trip to such a faraway country does not cost little. I wrote an e-mail to a travel agency in Kathmandu and they answered me promptly giving all the information required, so I raised the money and bought the air ticket and then paid the booking fee to the company and thus the trip to this land of mountains was ensured.

I have chosen to join the trek to Everest Base Camp. Just I was reading its description, I was amazed at the opportunity to see Everest closely and from that moment on my soul and body were anxious to start the trekking.

That autumn I lived in St. Petersburg for a while, staying in a hostel and then with some good friends of mine. It seems that our then communication with a girl is leading to a deeper relationship, and I’m happy that I have her in my mind. Perhaps, soon my stories will be written about two persons, who knows. I write this story dynamically, rereading and rewriting for several days running, so now I can officially announce that me and my girlfriend decided to be together. It’s euphoria, you know. But, enough lyricism for now.

I came back home to Birsk for one day only, to
Another AircraftAnother AircraftAnother Aircraft

i love planes!
gather my things, and then took a train to Moscow from where my plane was to leave. Before the flight, I visited Sergiev Posad in the Moscow Region. See the corresponding entry here. I was to fly via Doha, Qatar, with Qatar Airways. It was on November 10. Roughly, the whole flight time is about 11 hours split almost in two halves. The flight from Doha to Moscow is longer than from Doha to Kathmandu.

During the flight Moscow to Doha, I enjoyed some videos related to travel, about Prague, Argentina etc. The Boeing aircraft was so big, the biggest I ever flew in. Doha airport seemed to differ from all the other airports I’ve been to in that the road from the plane to the passenger terminal was very long.

Russians travelling in transit via Doha are not requested to have any visa. So, there was no trouble concerning the formalities. In Doha airport I felt happy, so to say, and I liked the airport so much. It is not too big, it’s simple and good-looking, neat and has a free wi-fi spot. I failed to use the wi-fi because the plug of my laptop was in
Room in Vajra HotelRoom in Vajra HotelRoom in Vajra Hotel

I told the Vajra Hotel manager that I liked their hotel and will surely be back there. It has its style and atmosphere
the luggage. I had a bite in one of the cafes and simply sat for four hours before the connecting flight to Kathmandu, reading a book and listening to music and sometimes observing the different people. Guess what I read – it’s certainly Wodehouse, P.G.

Day One November 11

I arrived to Kathmandu at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. After leaving the plane, I was stricken by the mental realization of how long away from home I was. To get the visa, tourists have to fill in two copies of a questionnaire, give 2 photos, the passport, and a certain sum of money, 40 USD in my case, a visa for one month. One couldn’t imagine it to be any simpler. No hassle, no trouble, no extra questions, stamp your passport, welcome! Namaste to Nepal.

Then, I was a bit embarrassed what to do and where to go. The travel agent was to meet me at the airport, so I looked round the building, but found no travel agents. However, there was an information desk and the man there told me that the people are waiting outside. So, I went out and was pleased to see a person with a board and my name on it. Voilà!

The company car took us to the office of Royal Mountain Travel where I met Amir, the manager with whom I had e-mail correspondence. He gave me some papers, air ticket to Lukla, some advice, and took my 300 Euro, the remaining payment for the trek, after which me and my luggage were safely and quickly transferred to Hotel Vajra, where they showed me my room, and I even gave the man a tip for taking my backpack to the room, though I’d prefer to do that myself.

The first and the strongest impression of Kathmandu was that of crazy road traffic and overall impression of craziness. In the hotel I talked with the travel agent who gave me some advice on trekking and the general information about the trip. In the evening (it was the next day), I met the guide who instructed me further about the trek. There would be two of us, tourists – me and a man from Australia, the guide, and the porter. Four in total.

After a short rest I had my first walk and was a bit puzzled by everything I saw. I encountered many temples of mainly small sizes very often, as well as statues of gods.

In the vicinity of Vajra Hotel there flows a river, and people successfully use it as a landfill, which renders it very dirty and smelly. There is a landfill near the bridge across the river, but generally the river, as I saw it, was polluted everywhere. The city was dusty because there were no rains for a long time.

One fact about Kathmandu cannot be but noticed at once – hundreds of travel agencies almost everywhere. I have read that the Nepal economy to a large extent depends on tourism. I must say that I think the country uses its natural beauty to a good effect; there are many national parks and preserved areas.

The room in the hotel was very good indeed; the Vajra Hotel has style and unique atmosphere, and its interiors are very well decorated. The hotel has a good restaurant and a third-floor open-air bar where I would go to eat and enjoy the view on the city.

My favourite dish in Kathmandu was ‘chicken fried rice’, I’ve also tried chicken cream soup, home fried potatoes, Tibetan momo (steamed and fried), masala tea, and vegetable chowmeins. I liked each of them immensely. As for some other products, I would usually buy some biscuits and juice and fruit to consume in the evening.

Day Two November 12

In the evening of the previous day, I decided to go to Swayambhunath Stupa – it is located very close to the Vajra Hotel, only 20 minutes on foot. Quite often, I am a bit unsure whether to go to a certain place or not, but then I overcome my laziness.

Having reached Swayambunath, I was impressed at once by the fence magnificent in its colour scheme and the singularity of the images, the mysterious cylinders rotated by people as they walked by them, the coloured flags designed for some purpose unknown to me… Later I learned about it.

It was a most spectacular moment for me to watch several monkeys eat, and then they stopped eating and ran away, I kept observing them. Then I saw one of the monkeys come to another monkey, and that other monkey began looking for fleas in the back of the other monkey. It takes a bit of going up to reach the Stupa. The cash officer let me in for free, I happened to have only Euros and an insufficient sum in rupees to pay for the entrance ticket; I offered her to take the insufficient amount of rupees I had, but she said I can go for free.

The walk round the Stupa need hardly be described, I was just going here and there and taking pictures and observing the people and the monkeys. The latter were funnier than the former, and the former were engaged in playing some music and also walking and turning prayer wheels; people from all over the world can be encountered in Nepal.

The Stupa is located on a high hill and provides a good panoramic view over the city. I did not spend there a long time, because I also planned to go to the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Tourists have to pay and entrance fee.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is included into the World Heritage List of Unesco, and really it deserves it. The square has so many different temples, palaces and other buildings. It is architecturally perceived as a unified complex and I think it is harmonic in its arrangement and outlook. The square was crowded with people of different trades and different nations. Many were simply sitting doing nothing on temples’ steps.

Day Three November 13

This day I went a bit off standard tourist routes and outside the city’s centre. First of all, I went via Tridevi Marg to the Royal Museum Palace. I read a notice on its gates stating that photography inside and near the palace is prohibited, so, given the fact that I do not like visiting places without taking pictures of it, I simply passed by and went to Durbar Marg. The walk on Durbar Marg revealed some remarkable sights such as the clock tower – I liked the colours of it; Rani Pokhari, with a white temple in the middle, reflected in the quiet waters of a long and rather wide pond, and the Ratna Park – very dirty, with garbage all over and a crowd of people gathered for some purpose. It’s such places, most likely, that the tourists are not satisfied with, they’d rather have a neat and clean park.

Two other major attractions were the Shahid Gate and Dharahara tower. The entrance to the tower cost some 200 or 300 rupees, if my memory serves me right; go there to look at the whole city from above, it’s more impressive than from the Swayambhunath.

By the way, I’ve just realized that mine is a very good route. I’m not boasting. Look, first you go to the Narayan Palace, then proceed via Durbar Marg to the Shahid Gate, the tower, and finish with the New Road, visiting some souvenir and handicraft shops which are abundant in that area. Be sure to experience the walk on the crowded narrow buy-and-sell streets.

I walked on the New Road and then turned to some narrow trading street; it’s pretty easy to get lost in the maze of short streets. I did get lost one day, it was after I returned to Kathmandu from the trek. I rarely buy any souvenirs, but books are my passion. I switched on my photo camera while walking and shoot a video of this beehive of a street.

One of the days I bought a textbook of the Nepali language and now I’m trying to learn it. It’s rather easy to study its grammar and grasp the structure, because I’ve spent several years learning Hindi, and the two languages are alike and their vocabularies also have many common words. I think in a year or so I will be able to talk a little in Nepali.

The hotel has a small internet room consisting of one rather old computer where I managed to get some very good viruses for my computer. The virus did not hide itself – it created a copy of each folder I opened, in exe format. I had no antivirus program then. The laptop did work almost properly, but it suffered because of the virus.

Just now I remembered, those three days I was also involved in translating a text from English into Russian.

I visited almost every bookshop I saw and bought some good English classics for me. The final story will describe the trek November 16 to November 26, and the stay in Pokhara has already been told about, so we immediately proceed to:

November 28

This day I did nothing, except visiting the Qatar Airways office to change my ticket for an earlier date. Had not enough money for amusements and accommodation to last

I am very poor at photoing people. It advised to aks their permission before doing so.
for the remaining ten days. There was a long queue in the office; I spent about one and a half hour. Fortunately, my ticket to Moscow was successfully exchanged for an earlier date (December 1); if it might be of any use to anyone, I say that Qatar Airways office does not accept rupees from non-Nepali citizens, only dollars (or Euros perhaps). Tomorrow I’ll just do nothing and the day after tomorrow, perhaps, go to Bhaktapur, my final destination during this trip. I bought books again, damn me. Didn’t go to Bhaktapur because of money lack. The last sum I spent on the exchanged ticket (100 USD). Though, Nepal is far from being an expensive country to live in.

November 29

Today I am looking forward to getting to St. Petersburg to see a good girl friend of mine. Doing nothing today, only translating a small text. Feeling completely satisfied with trekking and sightseeing, but a bit disappointed because I did not see Everest. I do not remember now what I did that day. Forgot to say, I bought myself the Lonely Planet guide to Nepal Trekking. A wonderful book, recommended to all.

November 30

Doing translation, have no money left for amusements. Power blackout has just occurred, which is not infrequent. While staying at Vajra hotel, several times in the morning there had been power blackouts. They are very regular, especially in winter. I am crazy about books and bookshops – so many various books. I bought perhaps 15 books all in all.

December 1

Flying to Doha and then to Moscow. Reading in the Doha airport and spending much time in the free wi-fi spot, finally talking to some of my good acquaintances. Also, I booked a hostel in St. Petersburg for two weeks. By the way, I can recommend this hostel to anyone traveling to St. Petersburg – Planeta Hostel (Moskovskaya Metro Station, about 20 minutes on foot), the only disadvantage of it being located somewhat distant from the centre, oh, but closer to the airport! However, it’s a new hostel and has good rooms for approx. 10 Euros per night (4 beds in room).

Sleeping a little, or better say trying to sleep. The whole night I spent in the airport. I would need a visa in order to get outside it. It struck me as unusual that I did not perceive the night as very long, may be because I listened to music and read the grasping Wodehouse’s earlier novels about sports and colleges and was not bored.

A thought has just occurred to me that travel for me is a means, a sort of, self-realization. I am now more often thinking about mountain tourism and trekking, this is perhaps the best means for me to develop stamina and, let us put it this way, manly spirit. I almost never guess where I will go next time. But plans are being made, and tickets have been bought. This year I will do several excellent trips. It’s time to start thinking about future, now that I’m head over ears in liking with the girl.

My hearty love to Nepal and Himalayas.

Additional photos below
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12th April 2011
Ratna Park

Hi there I am a research student. I just want to request you that if i can use the photos from your blogs for my research. I would be more thankful for your permission to use some of the photos. Looking forward your response Sincerelly Sangeeta
16th April 2011

Hello, you may use some of my photos, but you must understand that you should not use them for commercial purposes. I hope you like those photos.Cheers!

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