Kathmandu : Busy, noisy, messy, chaotic, full of colour and life...I love it!
Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 66 of 268 › view all entries
Maybe as apt an introduction to Kathmandhu as any other is the city as a tapestry of sound. Noise. Arriving just as the final scraps of sunset run for cover behind the mountains and experiencing a power cut almost as soon as I touch down (during the queue for my visa) it is mostly sounds and darkness that wil impart first impressions to me.
Lying in bed. Room to myself. Tired. Falling asleep but never qute entirely. My first night in Nepal is a passably goodnights sleep but not too deep owing to the legendarily cacophonous nature of the Thamel district of town. Sleep perforated hour by hour by the minor street symphonies of 24 hour urban activity.
First the loud wrench and metal-grinding clatter an screech of shop shutters drawn down. The putter, popping exhausts and "toots" of mopeds and motorikes snaking their way around pedestrians as they pass through the streets. Hungrey street dogs yappin, barking and growling with often a purposeless, incessant persistence. Cars, taxis and cycle rikshaws honk horns in the distance. the action scenes and dance numbers of the hindi movie being watched in room 303 across the way occasionally erupt, adding to the general chatter and bustle of the Hotel Florid as its many inhabitants continue to defer turning in for the night. More chatter and shouts in the streets below. Up here whole communities of pigeons pool together on window perches, rusted balconies and antennae cooing gregariously about their days activities.
Today, a gentle stroll around some starter points of Kathmandu. East from Thamel district down Dhoki street towards the Swayambhunath buddhist Stupa; the largest and most revered of its kind in the Kathmandu Valley and wider Nepal.
The stupa is a splendid introduction culturally and aesthetically to Nepal. The brash golds of the main cube and wooden formations of its main stupa 'tower' construction; the luridly beautiful eyes of the all seeing Adi-Buddha painted on all four side of the stupa and the large white adobe-looking dome upon which it all rests with the ochre-coloured arcs of colour washed onto its surface by monks to denote the petals of the great lotus leaf of Nepalese Buddhist mythology.
The surrounding grounds of Swayambhu contain smaller stupas and littered everywhere many and varied votive shrines to the near infinite pantheon of Gods in Nepalise and Buddhist mythology all of them spattered colourfuly with orange marigold petals, red 'abhir' paste and rice grains. Tall trees are nearly unrecognisable for the sprwling knots and spiderweb of coloured strings of prayer flags that run across the skies in all directions.
Back down to laaaaaarge amount of steps earlier surmounted to gain the grand eastern entrance of the Stupa I walk back to one of the main town intersections I'd made my way from earlier and this time turn in the direction of Durbar Square. This large public space contains a great wealth of pagoda-style temples and shrines.
Although this is a public access transit area of Kathmandu you still have to pay 200 Nepali Rupiya (NPR / approx $3.60) to enter. Your initial ticket is date stamped for 1 day only but just walk right to the Visitors Site Centre and at no extra charge they will supersede this and issue a ticket for pretty much as long as you want.
I spend most of my day walking around these areas. Heading north east out of Durba is a fabulous fabulous street run leading to Indra Chowk this whole area being where the Nepalese locals have a lot of their bazaar stalls and shops. It's so much fun, and such a sensory overoad ambling through this part of town I can't recommend it too much. Brightly coloure saris everywhere, people crounched on curbstones selling all manor of wares, motorbikes and cars trying in vain o o progress past the dual currents of colourful humanity flowing in either direction.
My first day in Nepal has been an unadulterated sensory joy! I've seen loads AND managed to be organised too! I've bought a jumper so I don't freeze to death on a trek and found'n' booked a good priced ticket to Bankgok for later December already.