Kathmandu

Kathmandu Travel Blog

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Kathmandu skyline
 

By 9:00 a.m. our cramped and battered Nepalese bus began rolling north from the India border. Within an hour, tall mountains materialized before us like a looming wall of snow-capped granite. The straining bus whined and wound, lurched and leaned; tackling the Himalayas one hill at a time at twenty miles per hour. By five o'clock, our sluggish transport leveled onto a high plateau and clattered into Kathmandu.

 

The first of February brought a new month and a new world ... Nepal: "The Roof of the World." During summer months, clouds veiled the Himalayas and made glimpsing the peaks an intermittent event. But in winter, countless summits soared  into crisp blue skies and  towered above the lush Kathmandu Valley.

Kathmandu beggars
Daytime temperatures were surprisingly pleasant, in the sixties (F.); nights, near freezing. We took room 22 at the Kathmandu Guest House for forty Nepalese Rupees per day (about US$2.50).

 

Narrow cobble-stone alleyways wound through the old, southern, part of Kathmandu. Many of the buildings were built of red brick and ancient timbers and they leaned and bulged precariously. Easy-going traffic was made up of bicycles, pedestrians, bicycle rickshaws, and a few human-powered carts. Cars tended to be found more in the northern, modern part of the city.

 

Durbar Square was the heart of the old city. That open-air plaza contained more than fifty shrines, towers, and multi-tiered temples of both the Hindu and Buddhist religions.

Durbar Square
Detailed sculptures of gods, goddesses, and demons guarded the entryways of elaborate ancient palaces. While travelers strolled, merchants and farmers sold a wide variety of goods neatly displayed on colorful cloths spread out on the ground; carpets, shawls, pottery, wood-carvings, Gurkha knives, jewelry, spices, and seasonable fruits and vegetables. Shoe-shine boys, barbers and dentists all practiced their trades on rickety chairs in fresh air under the sun. The colorful square bustled but never felt over-crowded.

 

Food in Kathmandu, like in India, was excellent. A common meal consisted of rice with dahl, a soup-like topping of lentils; steamed vegetables; and chapatis, a flat bread. Available meat included chicken, pork, goat, and buffalo. We usually followed meals up with a Yak cigarette and a glass of chai.

Spice salesman
I was happy to find Aunt Jane's still thriving. The wife of a Peace Corps Director who had disappeared, and rumored to have been murdered, Jane opened the restaurant in the 1960's or 70's; offering hearty, home-cooked western meals. Chris and I stopped often for chocolate cake and real coffee.

 

We spent nearly two weeks in Kathmandu. Exploring on foot and on bicycles, every day in the old town surprised us with new places to discover and new eateries to try. Since my first visit in1976, those few remaining hashish outlets of the 1960's, along Freak Street, had been replaced by souvenir dealers, restaurants, and trekking shops. I was curious to see if Monk's Pleasure Room was still there. That dark and mellow, candle-lit den had three walls lined with pillows and low tables. A young boy shuffled to each, then knelt to spin joints of hashish and marijuana for laid-back travelers listening to Pink Floyd or the Moody Blues. But, like that summer of '76, it was difficult to remember just where Monk's was.

SolitariusI says:
I bet it was hard to remember....LOL
Posted on: Aug 26, 2007
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Kathmandu skyline
Kathmandu skyline
Kathmandu beggars
Kathmandu beggars
Durbar Square
Durbar Square
Spice salesman
Spice salesman
Many crafts were of Hindu gods.
Many crafts were of Hindu gods.
Street musician
Street musician
Never mind the dog!
Never mind the dog!
Kathmandu
photo by: sharonburgher