First day in Kathmandu with Eric as tour guide
Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
March 9th 1990
We arrived in Nepal with so much expectation for an exciting adventure full of unusual cultural experiences, we had spent some time on the plane teasing Eric for studying up his Lonely Planet Guide so we sort of expected that he would know just where to go and what to do once we arrived.
We were taken by bus to Kathmandu to the Hotel Shanker, which would be our home for a couple of nights.
Hotel Shanker is a real character Hotel; it had been a palace at one time so was quite luxurious in its way, a huge sprawling building rather like a rabbit warren.
I hope I don’t get lost!
Today is a free day, no touring arranged so we can do just what ever we want.
Once we had dumped our gear in our rooms, I am now rooming with Sharon a very nice young Australian girl, we headed out to the lounge to meet up with the rest of our gang, Dave, Eric, Sandy, John and Julie came along too. Eric said well he was heading into town anyone wanting to come, could follow him! And so we all did.
He did indeed know where he was going, down the street past the Kings Palace, past the American Embassy round a corner and there before us was the Market selling mainly hand knitted woollen jerseys some plain but mostly covered in colourful Fair Isle patterns.
Not to be out done, I decided to buy a jersey myself, I chose a lovely sleeveless jerkin in Blues and greens and purples a really pretty garment in soft, well spun wool that had never been anywhere near a Yak.
Sharon was interested in wall hangings also made with some Yak wool and other odd things, she bought a lovely one to go on her bedroom wall at home. Safer on her wall than on her back I think.
We wandered around among the stalls buying little bits and pieces as souvenirs, there was so much that was new to us and interesting.
Eric led us on into Dunbar Square the centre of Kathmandu with all of its fantastic temples and shrines and unusual buildings all built of timber in the most interesting of construction methods, for instance lots of them had wooden shutters instead of glass windows and all had carvings and fancy woodwork, mainly they were a low two storey high, Nepali people are not very tall. We climbed up all the stairs and sat at the top of Temples mixing with tourists from all over the world, learning about the shrines and things to do and see.
Tomorrow, we were told there is to be a big festival, a festival of Paint and Water, and just to get into the fun of the event the local youths were already throwing water over everybody, that explained why we had been sprinkled with water from water- pistols as we walked around. Apparently Nepali young lads are not allowed to touch the young girls in any way ever except for this one day in the year when they may sprinkle them with water and stroke paint on their faces, girls have the same privilege for this one day, already there was a great deal of laughter on the street and they all seemed to be armed and ready for tomorrow! I got soaked in water several times before this day was out, it might be fun tomorrow, I had better be prepared to get wet, seems these youths rather like foreign ladies to touch as well.
Next Eric led us to a small restaurant called KC’s that he tells us is recommended in his Lonely Planet as the best place to go while in Kathmandu, so ofcause we all went with him. He tells us we must start with Yak Butter Tea a great National delicacy we had to try. I don’t drink tea as a rule but this sounded different so I gave it a go with all the others. It took exactly one sip each to know that you have to be Nepali to enjoy this delicacy; a large bowl of slops of a dark brown colour with a thick layer of melted rancid Yak Butter floating on top, along with assorted odds and ends that just happened to be in the butter! Tasted as lovely as it looked and sounded I assure you. Well ok already, said Eric next we have to order Lentil Soup another great delicacy he tell us and this is the place that makes the best Lentil Soup around. It had to be better than Yak Butter tea and it was, the soup was thick and flavoursome, we all enjoyed it and decided to eat plenty of this soup while in Nepal. Next thing to try was a sticky cake that I can’t remember the name of or much about except it was very sweet and yummy. Our table, was the rowdiest in the restaurant, with much laughter and shrieks, we had so much fun. Eric was the centre of attention something I rather think was quite unusual for him, I wonder why we didn’t think of following along with him before!
Before we headed back to the Hotel Shanker, to rest a while before dinner, I decided to buy a special outfit for tomorrow’s festival, since we will be smeared with paints and soaked with water I decided to buy a bright red T shirt and a pair of dark Purple cotton Nepali type trousers that tie up around your waist, the idea being I couldn’t get any more colourful and the paint might not show or ruin them, Sharon and Sandy bought some too. So we are all set for tomorrow. Sharon is really not feeling very well and Julie also doesn’t feel well, neither are interested in food at dinner time and go to bed early. I feel great but decide to have an early night too.