Kathmandu Durbar Sq
Visa on arrival at Kathmandu requires a passport photo and US $, though other hard currencies are accepted at poorer exchange rates. Unfortunately, Julie had packed her photos in her checked luggage but there was a photo stall in the immigration hall and it was not long before we were in a taxi heading for Thamel.
More by luck than judgement, we find a good hotel on the edge of Thamel opting for heating for an extra $3 a night. The hotel owners welcome us with a cup of tea and a soft sell on a trek in the Annapurna region, which I politely decline. Whilst it was still daylight we set out to explore the town and get our bearings amongst the confusing Thamel streets.
As soon as the suns sets the cold hits and we are grateful for the warmer clothes we have carried through Thailand and for the room heating, but Kathmandu has “load shedding” meaning that power is cut for 6 hours a day on a planned schedule (the hours varying each day), so the heating is at best intermittent. We find a good restaurant and have curry and beer for dinner before searching our way by torchlight back to a candlelit hotel.
The next day we book our bus tickets to Pokhara and walk to Durbar Square. It’s a cold, grey, wintry day and the cold bites. The square is impressive in an odd sort of way, but strangely almost devoid of tourists. The inner square is guarded by a soldier and appears not to be open to visitors, but the outside is good enough and after an hour or so we are keen to find a warm café and a hot drink.
Kathmandu is a place of contracts, not enhanced by an obvious police/army presence and the lack of electricity. A surprise is that there are plenty of cashpoints so we have no problem with money. Thamel is full of mountain equipment shops selling mainly “The North Face” (we call it North Fake) branded gear; I buy a cheap fleece and hat as I need it in this cold. We price check a few hotels in preparation for our return here later in the month and discover Momo, dumpling filled with veg or meat, and Thupka, Tibetan noodle soup. I am not risking the water here even for cleaning my teeth.