A September 2001 trip
to Kathmandu by Leesa
Quote: Flying in, the semi-rural suburb I spotted turned out to be Kathmandu. The sea of low-rise red brick towers was reminiscent of the maze-like mud brick towns I’ve seen in North Africa. For all the hassle I found it a fascinating city of old & new jostling for space.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 23, 2001
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 23, 2001
Acme Guest House
Hotel | "Kathmandu Guest House"
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 23, 2001
Kathmandu Guest House-KGH Group
Po Box 21218, Thamel
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on November 23, 2001
Thorong Peak Guest House
Yin Yang Restaurant
Attraction | "Boudha"
I was surprised to learn you’re allowed to walk part of the way up the stupa, and in your shoes providing they’re not leather (nothing else leather seemed to bother the monks when we mentioned our camera case). There’s no view, but you do get to stare into Buddha’s eyes.
So close to Kathmandu and the airport Boudha, quite literally, seems to rise above the chaos.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 7, 2001
Attraction | "Pashpatinath"
Banks of the Bagmati River
Attraction | "Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)"
Even as you approach Swayambhunath it is cunningly hidden from sight so you still have no idea what to expect. Walking up from Thamel it is buried in a mass of trees with just the tippy top of spires peeking out. At the base of the hill that the temple stands on, you are met by a steep set of stairs, gaudy statues, and mild mannered stallholders. Only as we’d slogged our way to the final few steps, after I called several rest stops in the name of admiring the view, was the condensed temple complex and its accompanying hive of activity revealed.
For me, Buddha’s rainbow eyes staring out over the brilliant white stupa and the constant turning of prayer wheels where quite simply what I came to Nepal for, let alone the maze of smaller temples that surround the stupa. And with all my senses stimulated by the humid heat and the hubbub, bells, incense of daily worship, the unfathomableness that had perturbed me at the outset began to be so part of Nepal.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2001
Attraction | "Kathmandu's Durbar Square"
Point made, at least in our own minds, we returned to Durbar Square a few days later. Our first true tourist attraction in Nepal, we were amazed at the constant stream of young men persistently insisting that we needed a guide. Sadly we began to get a little cynical of anyone striking up conversation, as invariably a pleasant chat would end up being a guiding proposal. Rather wearingly, we couldn’t stand or sit still in the square without someone petitioning us. Some may have been genuinely knowledgeable, but how would you tell?
We found a relatively guide-free refuge at the top of Maju Deval temple, from where we could see out over the array of temples, and watch the local people come and go. Later, at sunset this was a great vantage point to watch the people reclaim their square from the tourists, setting up vegetable and flower garland stalls on the temple steps and platforms.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 20, 2001
Attraction | "South from Durbar Square"
Walking through these southern streets a month or so later in the early afternoon was a perfect foil to the historic sights. Here people went about their daily lives without a thought to tourism. Yes, the children did shout ‘hello’ and beam at us, but vegetable sellers spread out their wares in the squares, the butchers carved up their meat with an eager swarm of flies, and daily noises spilled out of flimsy buildings. In our hours’ walk we saw one other European couple, but no would-be guides, and none of the nagging traffic that attempts to squeeze its way through the lanes to the north of Durbar Square. Unplanned, we arrived back in Durbar Square at sunset as it was transformed from tourist photo gallery to a mass of vegetable stalls.
Walking on Freak Street
South from Durbar Square
Attraction | "Patan’s Durbar Square"
The wooden carvings, too, to my mind were more accessible. We spent 20-30 minutes in the first courtyard we came to (Mul Chowk) admiring each intricately carved roof strut, depicting Hindu characters such as a two-foot eight-armed Ganesh, in turn.
Plagued by a few would-be-guides, and with no temples accessible to non-Hindus to climb out of the way, we found a rooftop bar overlooking the square watching the dusk fall against the twinkling temple lights below.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 21, 2001
Brighton, United Kingdom