After relaxing in pokhara, we headed back to kathmandu before leaving for Sumatra. The first time we were in Kathmandu, I wasn’t overly impressed with it but was prepared to give it another chance. We decided this time to stay outside of the madness of Thamel in a quieter hotel. It was a little far out but i think we made the right choice as it felt a lot less polluted than the Thamel. Seeing as we only had a few days in Kathmandu we hired a driver for the day to take us to the main sites as recommended by the hotel owner. We were totally shocked at how impressive these sites were. Amidst the chaos of Kathmadu, they have some of the most interesting city sites I have seen to date. We first went to a big Buddist temple Boudhanath that has one of the biggest stupas in the world. It had a really nice atmosphere around it and was a good place to start our sightseeing day.
After this we headed to Pashupatinath. This was a very interesting place as culturally it was so different to Ireland. It consisted of one very big hindu temple that we couldn’t enter but the most interesting thing was the public cremations that were taking place along the banks of the river. There were about 5 pyres set up with bodies burning in the open air. We both found this very surreal as it seemed so public with lots of tourists watching from the other side of the river. I was anxious it was disrespectful but we had a guide who said that the locals don’t think of it as disrespectful to have tourist onlookers, this type of cremation is their way of life.
Following this we visited two fascinating ‘old cities’ Bhaktapur and Patan City that exist within the massive area of Kathmandu. These towns have been preserved over the years and are really lovely to walk around. They are still functioning towns with many people living in them but tourists pay an entry fee which goes towards preservation etc. Both towns had wonderful architecture and temples with small quaint streets.
We were also lucky to be in kathmandu at the same time as Diwali (the festival of lights). After our sightseeing day, we went walking around it was lovely to see all the lights put up around the houses and the children running from door to door singing and dancing. It reminded me a lot of our christmas mixed with halloween. After these few days in kathmandu, I can say that my opinion of it changed. Its definitely a very interesiting place and there is a lot to see for a wkd with some great bars dotted about but it is a bit of a crazy city. Especially the traffic and the amount of motorbikes. I'm not sure I will ever get use to the constant beeping that they seem to love all across asia!!!
Summary of Nepal
There are loads of companies to choose from with varying prices for guides and porters. The companies will organise everything for you if thats what you prefer - as in a package. You can also just hire the guide the porter and pay for everything else as you go along. Make sure to ask lots of questions of the company you choose and also meet with the guide before you set off on a long trek with him/her. we went with this company who we can highly recommend trekking company
The roads in nepal are not so good. Bus journeys can be very long and if you get the local buses, they can also be very packed and sometimes dangerous. They have tourist buses too that go to and from the main trekking areas. The other option is to fly internally. This is more expensive but it saves a lot of travel time. Some people think its a little scary. Personally, I really enjoyed the internal flights. Within the cities there are various taxis and tuk tuks. The taxis tend to be very old cars but get you from A to B. I found some of the driving to be a bit mad so the best approach is not to look at the road ahead too much!!!!
They have local nepalese with the famous Momo's which are like dumplings. They also have Dhal Bhat which is a rice dish very popular with the locals. Then in pokhara there are lots of places serving western style food. Some of them are very good others are just average. Overall, the food was ok. We found it a little bland but then we had just come from India. I really liked the sizzling momo's.
This hotel is in the center of Thamel it has basic facilities but its very nice for the price. Hotel Ganesh Himal
This other hotel is outside of the centre and is very nice if you want somewhere quieter.Hotel Melungtse
There are lots of places in pokhara so its worth shopping around. We like the North Lakeside a better place to base yourself. We really liked the rooms in Hotel Greenpeace but we had to move due to noisy neighbours in the next guesthouse.
There are lots and lots of things to do from trekking, rafting, paragliding, canyoning, kayaking etc. If you go to pokhara you will be able to organise any of these from the numerous agents there. Its also possible to book anything like this from kathmandu also. I would just make sure that the company you pick has good reveiws and a good safety record.
Dodging Mosquito Status: Pretty good in Kathmandu. I guess the city is even too hectic for the mossies!!!!!