Kathmandu. It is hard to put into words what this city is like unless you actually visit there. But I will try hard to describe the scents and the feel of the city.
For starters Kathmandu is located in the country of Nepal. Nepal is known to be the land of the Himalayas and much of the country is located well over 10,000 feet. (Kathmandu is around 5,000 feet).
I took a flight from New Delhi airport to Kathmandu. The flight was short and I was on the airport ground in around 2 hours. I was already a day late thanks to my problems I had back in the United States and so I had been traveling close to 2 days at this point.
I was relatively tired but I was filled with adrenaline as soon as I was off the plane.
First off, Kathmandu is filled with pollution in its skies and it’s most definitely hot in the spring/summer time. (Fortunately not as hot as New Delhi which was at around 110 degrees at the time.) But the pollution is pretty bad and your lungs will definitely feel it.
And Tribhuvan Airport is not a modern airport at all. Once you get off the plane you are escorted by bus to the arrivals/customs area and it is pure mayhem. If you are reading this and by chance going to Kathmandu and looking for tips… make sure to keep going to where it says “Foreigners. ” This area is very disorganized but you must fill out a form to enter the country. It’s an area with stands, pens and forms. And make sure you have the money to enter the country as well, that is if you’re obtaining your visa on the spot. (Nepalese people fill out a separate form and the line for them is pure hell so be thankful you don’t have to go through that line.) After that you are free to get your luggage or leave. I would exchange any money you have to Nepalese money (because it’s legit at the airport and most likely a good price to exchange) and then prepare yourself for the outside.
You will walk through a walkway and you will see people staring through a glass. This is the waiting area and where the locals wait for people they know. And then you will turn left and be introduced to your first sights of Kathmandu. It is important to have money ready and a price you are willing to pay to go your hotel. You can expect to pay as little as 300 Nepalese Rupees to as high as 700 Nepalese Rupees. The exchange is roughly 10 to 1 to the Dollar. I would never pay anymore than 10 dollars for a taxi to the city. There will be several people vying for your services so you have the luxury of choice. Just make sure they know where you are going, speak English, and have a semi-decent car.
When I walked out I was looking for Matt and I couldn’t find him anywhere. I was being approached by several men who all wanted to take me to the city and I kept telling them “NO! I don’t want to go into the taxi… I’m waiting for my friend.” I shouldn’t have told them anything. I should have just said I don’t speak English or something because they keep on bothering you even if you say no a thousand times. It’s quite frustrating and I can’t describe it that well until you have experienced it yourself. All you can do is just know your plan, how much you want to pay and stick with that.
But I was still looking for Matt and I had looked everywhere but he wasn’t there. I was a little shocked because I had traveled alone for 2 days straight and I was tired, and stressed out and he hadn’t shown up. (and I was a little pissed). So the guy that kept bothering me knew I was looking for someone and eventually led me to a phone so I could call the hotel. I called and somehow I was able to find Matt there. So now I knew he hadn’t come and that I was going to have to go downtown by myself. So the guy that was helping me out before offered to take me and at this point I was just like Sure. Great. Whatever. Take me! That was really my mistake.
So we left the airport and the ride to downtown was only around 20-3o minutes. Kathmandu has all the classics of a third world country. Animals like cows and dogs just randomly in the streets, poverty on a whole new level you have never seen, weed growing (because it naturally grows there), roads that are torn up, trash everywhere, stench from the river/trash, buildings torn up, people who seem to be accustomed to this type of living and electricity that can go off during the day. It truly is an unique experience the first time you experience it. And a bit overwhelming.
I reach the hotel finally and the guy overcharges me 20 bucks for the cab ride. I knew this was going to happen when I stepped into the car and I should have been more careful. But I was tired and flustered and forgot to set a price before I left so I kind of figured I had done this to myself. And I wasn’t about to argue with the cab driver. I didn’t want my first experience in Nepal to be a really really negative one.
So I paid the money and felt bad afterwards for getting scammed right off. But I was finally at the hotel and I was finally reunited with Matt.
And first things first. I had to shower. I had to wipe the filth and the grossness I had felt during the last 2 days off of me. Water was cold and so I had to do it really quickly and no it wasn’t comfortable at all. But I was able to put down my heavy backpack and finally get to explore some more of Kathmandu before we set out to the mountains the next day. I knew I wanted to see the monkey temple, Boudha Stupa, Thamel, the Royal Palace and Durba Square. Those are really the main attractions in Kathmandu to see and Kathmandu is a relatively easy place to get around. (The roads are bumpy and traffic is everywhere but it’s like chaos that is somehow organized.) At least when there is not a protest going on!
And I think I will end it there today. I have a lot more to say and so little time to do it so I will keep the next section of my day for my next blog. I will tell you though of a little of what is to come… Goes something like me getting ripped off at a temple or impressive stupas all over the city to figuring out whats to eat!
It’s late on a Sunday night and I think this is enough for now! But join me back on Tuesday when I explain more about those experiences in detail. I think you have already gotten a since of what it’s like arriving in Kathmandu.
images by: shawnvoyage.com