My arrival in KAthmandu did not begin well. I saw these amazing mountains towering into the sky and felt a thrill of excitement, but then as the plane landed I realized there was a sprawl of tiny little houses that looked like toys, and it was quickly apparent that I was once again back in a developing country.
I had been warned about the visa process in Nepal, which is actually pretty easy as long as you bring American dollars and some visa photos with you, but no one warned me that the visa application forms would be out.
seriously, there were no visa forms anywhere and people were freaking out. I finally found some on the floor, scratched out some dudes name, and put in my own info. An hour later an unsmiling Nepali woman stamped a visa onto my passport. I went down to one of the 3 luggage carousels to get my backpack… and then waited. 4 hours. I did eventually get my bag but not before I debated stealing someone else’s backpack or just booking a ticket out of the country. Its often a good thing I don’t have 3G on my phone while travelling.
Kathmandu was a chaotic dusty place that was slightly intimidating at first but eventually grew on me. My favorite moment was while walking through a temple a man offered to be a guide to my friend and I. We politely declined and he suddenly thrust his left hand at me and demanded I shake it. It seemed wet and it was weird so I just walked away. Suddenly he was chasing us with something red on his hands, screaming that I had hurt him and should give him money. I just walked into a big group of old European tourists and hid behind them
While I was constantly dodging holy men trying to “bless” me for a price, avoiding cows, and trying to not get run over…. I really liked Kathmandu. It was crazy chaos but it kept my attention. Thamel, the tourist area, was annoying and boring. It was almost nothing but stores selling hippie pants and trekking gear, but I did buy everything I needed for my trek in one day, for less then $70, so its a useful place to set up a trek.
I did amazing little in Kathmandu which is kind of disappointing. The two days I was there before my trek were just about getting ready and the 4 days I was there before flying out were mostly occupied by a demon baby that took up residence in my stomach and made my life hell. I did take a cooking class (which was boring and I’ll never do again), I did a lot of yoga, ate a lot of curry, and spent a lot of time on the deck of my hostel reading a book.
We did venture out to the Monkey temple, but during a festival so while we saw very few monkeys, we saw a ton of candles being lit, rice being thrown, and chanting monks. It was incredibly crowded and yet really fascinating to literally wade through another piece of culture. While it was a Tibetan Buddhist temple, it was far different from what I’ve experienced in China and its also revered by Hindus.
Kathmandu is a bit hectic, it has constant power cuts since electricity is rationed out in Nepal, and the day after I left there was a big transportation strike that made life tricky for people. I didn’t feel 100% safe walking around alone and never would have ventured out at night alone, but still, I ended up liking the city. It wasn’t boring.