Crikey people, this country is AMAZING! I am so so grateful that we’ve had the chance to do this one last mega-trip before settling back down to normal life again. This place is just crazy.
This is the first chance I’ve had to post about the hol since leaving Kathmandu a good few weeks ago, as we’ve been rushing around trying to fit as much into the trip as possible, invariably in places with zero internet access.
To an untrained eye, Kathmandu is basically a chilly and slightly less manic version of an Indian city: INSANE (in a good way) busy-ness, millions of people everywhere, tuktuks and exhaust fumes, motorbikes zooming around holding an entire family (Dad at the front, sari-clad Mum sitting sidesaddle at the back, and three tiny kiddies aged 3 to 6 balanced precariously between them), such intense noise and smells (good and bad) everywhere, lots of religious elements like Buddhist monks walking through the streets at dawn chanting, and cows having the run of the road as cars and buses have to swerve around them (it’s a predominantly Hindu country, so cows are VIPs here).
You literally cannot walk more than 6 metres without seeing yet another incredibly ancient and beautiful temple/shrine/normal building – after such a huge drought of architecture like this in Cayman, they seemed even more breathtaking.
We sprinted around the city trying to see all the important sites, such as the incredible 16th century Kathmandu and Patan Durbur Squares, holding ancient palaces and temples (pics above).
We also hired a car for the day and checked out a bunch of incredible Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu sites in the beautiful Kathmandu Valley:
This is in Bouddha, one of the largest Tibetan temples outside the ‘country’:
At the ‘Monkey Temple’:
And there are SO MANY beautiful Hindu shrines all over the place – this is Ganesh, my fave:
It is definitely the poorest country I’ve travelled in – the only other place I’ve experienced power ‘load-shedding’ (ie. huge daily rolling electricity blackouts across the country) is Cuba, and once we got outside Kathmandu and into the countryside we realised really how under-developed the place is. But something else that struck us was the happiness and friendliness exhibited by very nearly everybody we met or saw, even – these happy chappies are a representative example:
We stayed in the Hotel Newa Chen, in the Patan area of the city. It’s a historic traditional Newari house, full of heavy teak furniture, gorgeous carved wood window frames and doors, and covered in a riot of marigold garlands. The pics on their website are pretty bad, so here are a couple of ours:
I literally could not get over the incredible carved wood EVERYWHERE!
What else? Oh, the shopping. The Shop-hop-hopping. As you may have realised by now, I have quite a few weak points when it comes to interior design. Two of these are carved wooden screens/doors and patinated brass pots. And guess which country seems to be the world’s largest exporter of said carved wood and patinated brass?! You guessed it. They also produce absolutely amazeballs intricate Thanka artwork (more on this later this week!)
Alistair and I have already had numerous (ahem) ‘discussions’ about the amount of stuff we’ve shipped from Cayman to Hong Kong, but folks let me tell you that things are about to get a whole lot worse…