The journey from Varanasi in India to Kathmandu in Nepal was an uncomfortable one, fraught with a long delay in the night due to dangerous road conditions and a tricky border crossing when our newly acquired US dollar bills were not accepted as they were too crumpled. Thankfully a friendly border agent and a nearby currency exchange counter meant that we were able to cross into Nepal by exchanging all our leftover Indian rupees and our new Nepalese rupees too, we had to take a hit with the expensive fees. 25 hours after setting off by bus from Varanasi we arrived in a busy and dusty Kathmandu to start the final chapter of our journey which had reached 10 months. I wasn't sure what to expect of Nepal, the catastrophic earthquake of 2015 was mentioned countless times in the updated guidebook that we had. I wasn't sure if the city of Kathmandu was going to be one big pile of rubble. I was glad to see buildings still standing and life going on as it always seems to despite shattering disasters, there were piles of bricks and building materials abound but rather than focusing on the destruction it seemed to suggest rebuilding instead.
Our bus left us on the side of the road nearby a temple. We navigated crossing the insanely traffic laden road to get to an ATM so that we could afford a taxi as all our pre-prepared currency had gone on the visa fees. With money in hand and taxi's aplenty we made our way to Thamel, a popular tourist district where our hotel was based. The streets in Thamel were narrow, muddy and full of character. With a muddle of electricity wires hanging over our heads and colourful trinket shops on every corner I had flashbacks of our time in Vietnam on our first backpacking trip, despite the city being brand new to us there was something so familiar about it that I didn't feel as overwhelmed as I have in other cities on the first visit. We checked in, the hotel staff seemed very friendly. We had a cup of tea on the rooftop terrace and looked over the higgledy-piggledy buildings and streets before venturing out to find something to eat. Rather than brave some local cuisine we decided to treat ourselves with pizza at Fire and Ice; an Italian restaurant that wouldn't feel out of place at home. We decided that this would be where we'd have our last supper before flying home.
We woke up after a decent nights sleep which we were thankful for after our long journey. The room however seemed to be very damp, we weren't sure if it was the room itself or our damp trainers and clothes which we'd had to hang up as they were still soaked from the downpour in Varanasi. We moved rooms which was also a little damp proving that although our wet things didn't help they weren't entirely to blame. I'll be glad when we get to leave depressing hotel/hostel and guesthouse rooms behind us, we have certainly had our share of horrible accommodations on this trip. We got ourselves organised and booked our flight home for the 22nd July which gave us three weeks to explore Nepal. We then donned our heavy waterproof walking boots and headed out to see the city. We vaguely followed the Lonely Planet Old Kathmandu walking tour although we stopped short of going into Durbar Square, the city's most famous square due to its 1000 rupee entrance fee which worked out at half a days budget. We could see a lot of the temples from the outside and so we took a few photographs and then doubled back to check out some more of the streets, Kathmandu had a vibrancy to it that was captivating and I couldn't help but take dozens of photographs of the street scenes. We had some more places in Kathmandu that we wanted to visit but decided to save them for when we returned for our outbound flight, we were keen to see a more peaceful side to the country and hopefully catch a glimpse of some Himalayan mountains and countryside too.
Our next stop was to the quiet village of Bandipur, a few hours away by bus.
Have you been to Kathmandu? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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