It’s amazing how well I always knew what kind of areas in the world I would love to see in the future. Nepal was on my list as a very first country to visit since I was very young. Something was always telling me that it is probably one of the most fascinating and astonishing places in the world. What I wasn’t sure about was if I will ever be able to go there. Fortunately, I did get a chance to visit this truly diverting land with the highest mountain range in the world. I wasn’t mistaken at all, as I found there everything, I always image I would discover in Nepal. Even that I was in Kathmandu during the earthquake, it didn’t change my experience in any way. I witness how Nepalese truly helped each other during and after the disaster. For this, and loads of other reasons, I consider Nepal as a small country with the big-hearted people.
Landing in Kathmandu and getting around.
When it comes to the international airport, it is probably one of the oldest and smallest I’ve ever seen, but then the size makes it easier to find your way around. I arrived in April from not so warm Europe, so the heat struck me straight away. After 2 hours in the long queue to get a visa, I was finally able to see the other side. I picked my bag from the floor somewhere, and I left, happy and glad it didn’t get missing. Stepping outside, I quickly spotted how overcrowded and chaotic this city is. This helped me to make a quick decision on not trying to work out how buses run, but just to take a taxi. The situation on the road can be really shocking for someone who has never been in Southeast Asia before. The jam, noise, unclear driving rules and no traffic lights makes you wonder how on earth Nepalese getting around on a daily basis there. The car or motorbike can drive everywhere where it fits, even through a tiny tiny streets, so better have your eyes around your head. Watch out also for what locals transport on their motorbikes or bikes, as It can be something 4 times of a vehicle size, so be aware of the situation around you to avoid being knock down by it. I wouldn’t recommend walking while listening to your music either to avoid any accidents.
I would definitely suggest to get your accommodation in Thamel. It is the most touristic area in Kathmandu. I always trying to stay away from this kind of places, but there is way way different. You can meet loads of amazing backpackers, trekkers, travelers and volunteers to talk to, to share your experience with. Locals are very friendly too, you definitely won’t get bored or lonely there. Shops and restaurants are on every possible corner, but always have cash with you. It’s very unlike to pay by card, maybe just in posh hotels and restaurants. Also if you will see a cash machine, use it. There’s not so many of them around. Some of them may not work, and some may not accept your card. I’ve had a Visa and MasterCard, and I wasn’t always able to use the first one, but with the second I’ve had a better luck. Try to sample as many new things as you can. For me everything was very delicious, packed with wonderful flavors. It is a heaven for Asian cousin lovers, like me. People who sell meals on the street really mastered their cooking skills. They make it very local, very unique, always fresh, and usually made in front of you. I have to add that, I’ve met few travelers that complained about experiencing some stomach problems after, but not me. So maybe try to find a golden line between cleanliness and vibe of authentic local street food. Momo`s are definitely must eat there. They are very traditional and delicious, and you can have them with many different fillings and sauces. I am from Poland, and they do remind me of our dish called pierogi. I wonder if that’s how they came to us through the Russia first. Apart from them, rice and noodles are probably most popular. It’s like a fusion of Indian and Chinese food. They all come in good vegetarian range too. If you like a late meal you will get even a better choice, as loads of street stands are open only in the evening. It’s good to have a supper around that time, as you will meet loads of travelers too. The only problem there is lack of the streets light, so visibility depends only on shops and restaurants`es neons. It could be a problem sometimes, as often on some streets I’ve had to walk in total darkness….alone.
If there are loads of things you want to see in one day, hire a motorbike. It really is very cheap, around 10£ for a day, and can save you loads of time. You can get a bike too, but it can be difficult to ride it on all these small streets full of people.
If you are looking for some trekking experience or any other trip, you can find all you need in Thamel that is packed with agencies. You can book your bungee jump, see some caves, discover the area around Kathmandu Valley, book a plane to see some of 8000 peaks. I did buy few, but they all been cancelled after the earthquake. Especially I am sad that I`ve missed a fly around the Himalayas. If you have a few spare days, go to see the Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage site since 1984. Its is a jungle with rich range of fauna and flora species, also a Bengali tiger. Loads of Nepalese, I’ve met, were pointing this wildlife area as a number one to see. You can stuck up on proper gear too there. If you like a good brand staff, they are a little bit cheaper in less touristic areas.