Hotel Vaishali is pretty good, clean, there is a hard to describe smell in the bathroom which I assume is a mixture of the cleaning products and plumbing/water, the beds are what you would call ‘solid’ which I quickly found out when I sat down!
I met with Achut the owner of the tour company I am with ‘Manakamana Tours’, we went through the visa admin for Bhutan, Tibet and China Tibet and then he takes me on a whistle stop tour Thamel (basically walks me to his office!). Thamel is pretty much where all the tourists are, some streets are ‘sort of’ pedestrian only. The one thing you certainly notice about Kathmandu is the traffic, dust (lots of dust) and bustle of the city its none stop its hard to tell at what point it is rush hour.
Most people wear face masks to protect them from the pollution which its pretty awful, everyone seems to have a cough of some kind, even visitors a few days in seem to be heading that way, so I don’t think i will ever complain about London smog after this! The city is also still suffering the aftermath of the earthquake in 2015 with building damage and rubble everywhere, but it does have a certain appeal to it, and I am enjoying this start to my trip.
We get to the heart of Achut’s tour operation, a little office at the back of his tour shop. Its funny to see his old computers propping things up, I half expected a plant pot to be sitting on one of them, but don’t think plants would survive in Kathmandu! I seriously hope he isn’t going to test my navigation skills by sending me back by myself! We have some Nepali Masala tea, basically its a milky chai tea, lots of cinnamon and quite tasty.
He arranges for me to meet KK , who will take me on a tour of the city later in the day. Having not had anything to eat since breakfast I am treated to a Chicken Mo Mo lunch with KK, quite tasty. We then meet up with 4 others on a trip having come back from Bhutan and we wander round Kathmandu on a whistle stop tour, taking in the key sights around Hamuman-dhoka Durbar Square and the palace which was severely damaged in the earthquake. After looking round the temples, and learning about Hinduism, and some of the carvings, some talk about Karma Sutra carvings on one of the temples.
We next head to Kumari-ghar where we wait along with many others (jam packed crowd!) for the living goddess (Kumari), who is basically the living incarnation of Taleju. For many years now she has been chosen by priests as a baby for her perfect flawless features, likened to the goddess beauty, she then lives in this building, looked after by her guardian priestesses until she reaches puberty and then is replaced by the next Kumari, As such she comes out to be viewed at the window at intervals each day. Today however she is sleeping so can’t make it!! Well after all she is only 3 right now.
Rush hour kicks in and the streets are wall to wall which makes walking back a bit of a mission, but we make it back and I make it to the hotel with time to spare to get ready for dinner. Dinner is at the old presidents house, which is now a tourist restaurant, we along with a hoard of buses arrive for dinner. Served 7 courses starting with something I never would have guessed as an appetiser …. popcorn, and rice wine! fried potato, bean soup, good old mo mo’s and a main course of rice, chicken curry, soup, fried fish, mushroom curry, vegetable curry, spinach. Rounded off with coconut yoghurt and ending on Nepali tea. Very nice indeed. In between courses there is a fun floor show of traditional dancing and music, all very entertaining!!
Sadly that was were the fun ended, within 7hrs I was violently ill and pretty much wiped out for the second day, so sadly no more Kathmandu sightseeing! Although I believe the weightloss programme is going well!! Anyway, I am thankful this happened now at the start rather then before I have to fly to Bhutan in the morning, 24hrs and I will be back to my old self (2 hydration sachets and 2 pro-biotics tablets later!) and ready for some more culture tour and a bit of hiking!