If I thought the trip to Darjeeling was long, it was nothing compared to our 26 trip across the border into Nepal. After a five hour jeep down the mountain due to landslides, we jumped into our second jeep and asked to go to the Nepal border. We ended up at the airport, that was 45 minutes in the wrong direction. We then only had two hours to get to the border, apply and get our visas, and get on our pre booked bus and it was supposed to be an hour journey from where we started. Thankfully we made it, got our visas then had a few minutes to stretch our legs before getting on at 16 hour bus to Kathmandu. We had arranged a ‘super deluxe’ bus – which was neither super nor deluxe. With no air con and apparently no suspension it was quite an uncomfortable journey. We did however get treated to a Bollywood movie – of the dodgiest quality – and 16 hours of Hindi music. Good times.
One of the worst things about the journey is that we weren’t particularly looking forward to our stay in the capital. Friends, guidebooks and fellow travellers had all told us to get out of there as soon as possible and onto more exciting things in Nepal. This meant that we didn’t really rush out into the city to explore – unsure of what to expect. I’m not sure about James but I quite enjoyed the place! It was calmer then any Indian city, its infamous smog and pollution was barely an issue and it had some pretty interesting places to explore. It did however rain continuously.
Once we got in the touristy mood we ventured out to Thamel – which is basically tourist city. Every second place is a trekking shop or travel agent and everything else sells typical Nepalese looking souveniers. The best thing about it is the shopping and the vibe of being near other adventurers. As neither of us have a great interest in trekking – it was wasted on us a little but it was a good way to get used to the hustle and bustle after a quiet Darjeeling.
We continued to wander down to Dunbar Square which is basically a plaza filled with temples, museums and government buildings. We were a little surprised you had to pay about £6 to get in (most expensive entry fee so far) but when you can enter dozens of buildings you can understand why. We went straight into a museum about their royal family which was enjoyable until we got bombarded with school children on a field trip. It was a beautiful building, all wooden staircases and tiny rooms with an outside of white brick, but it was a bit like walking through IKEA – you have to follow one direction until you get to the end with no alternate way out. Thankfully we found an escape route by jumping a roped barrier and exiting through a courtyard. Otherwise we may seriously still be in there – it was 9 stories high in some places.
With our new found freedom we decided to only visit outsides of buildings so spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around and checking out different places. There were lots of little shops and market stalls that kept me occupied while James was doing his photography thing. We decided to do what the locals do and climb up to the top of the high temples and sit and people watch for awhile. We spent ages watching a man on a bamboo ladder paint a monument with a brush made out of sticks. It was so rickity but he managed to swan around on it, occasionally with just one hand or one foot. It was edge of your seat entertainment for me though.
After that, we pretty much gave up on Kathmandu, knowing we would come back through on our way back to India so we figured rather then trudge around in the rain we would save it for another time. Even with the short time we were there, we quickly fell in love with Nepal and we were looking forward to exploring a bit more over the next two weeks.