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Published: December 12th 2010
The last time I was in Nepal was 16 years ago, when I did a short 7-day Annapurna Panorama trek; and blimey a lot has changed since then. The pollution & air quality is so horrendous in Kathmandu (now nicknamed 'Crap-mandu') with all the taxis & motorbikes, that it's really hard to breathe. You develop this hacking smoker's cough, and feel the urge to spit like the locals (but hold back because it's totally festy). There's a loss of innocence too with the myriad girly bars, just like a mini-Bangkok. One thing in it's favour is that the food has improved considerably with lots of Western food choices - no more dal bhat for every meal.
The reason for my visit was to undertake a trek with my London hiking buddies to the Langtang Valley, north of Kathmandu and close to the Tibetan border. I was supposed to head over the Ganja La Pass, but my insurance wouldn't cover me if I used support ropes (considered mountaineering). Major bummer! Ended up spending my R&R downtime in Crap-mandu, waiting for my Indian visa to get approved, taking in the sights again with some of my fellow trekkers, gorging & tasting the
culinary delights, and going on a spectacular Everest mountain sightseeing flight. Eventually the pollution (and boredom) drove me mental, so decided to escape to Pokhara.
Now for the Gus Good Food Awards for Thamel (drum-roll)
Best steak - Everest Steak House
Best pizza - Roadhouse Cafe
Best dessert - Sizzling brownie with ice-cream at the Roadhouse Cafe
Best Nepali thali (dal bhat) - Curry Kitchen
Best Tibetan - Hotel Utse with great veggie momo's & tibetan hot-pot
Best beer - Koblenzer (german darkie) at New Orleans Cafe
Best burger - New Orleans Cafe
Best roast veggie plate - New Orleans Cafe
Best juices & shakes - an awesome hole in the wall called 'Just Juice & Shakes'. They also do a nice cheese omelet & cheese toastie (good brekky).
Best coffee - Himalayan Java Cafe. Not the one in central Thamel, but the one upstairs near the main road with comfy lounges.
Best brekky - Pumpernickel Bakery; and Just Juice & Shakes.
Best sandwiches - Pumpernickel Bakery
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