Pokhara to Kathmandu, Nepal – Got up at 5.30 a.m. and finished packing my bag. I was finally leaving Pokhara for Kathmandu. Met both Som and Ram who hung around and chatted to me until my mini bus left. When the bus finally pulled up, I said my final farewells to the boys. I know I will make it back there and see them again some day.
Had a rather uneventful bus ride to Kathmandu and arrived in the capital city in the mid afternoon. Hired a bicycle rickshaw to take me to the Thamel section of town, the section where all the travelers hang out. Found a hotel no problem, but it was expensive, 250 rupees a night, but it had its own bathroom with 24-hour hot water, worth the splurge for one night. Once I had put my bags away, it was time for some food and a look at the real Kathmandu, not the tourist section of the city I was staying in.
Met Mike Gavin this journalist I trekked on and off with for a few days and he gave me his address in Hong Kong to look him up in a couple of weeks. Grabbed a bite to eat, then headed towards Durbar Square, the center of old Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is a bustling city with cars, rickshaws, bicycles, and pollution all flowing up and down the ancient narrow streets. Made it to Durbar Square and that is when it hit me. This was the Kathmandu people usually talked about. Durbar Square is literally surrounded by temples. It almost seems like they were constructed in a haphazard mish-mash fashion all over the Square and outlying areas. All that I can see are the towers of temples over the Square, so cool and so bizarre. I had a walk around the Square and what you know just my luck another festival was starting. I noticed the wooden cart with the 15-feet high Christmas tree on it, decorated I might add, being prepared to be pulled through the Square and celebration of the Seto Machhendranath festival.
I walked around taking pictures and eventually ended up taking a seat on the Trailokya Mohan Narayan “Vishnu” temple facing the Square waiting for the festivities to begin. It turned out to be a non-event with the military men marching down the street, playing music followed by the Christmas tree chariot being dragged along by about 50 kids. No denying the chariot was not impressive. One of its wheels was taller than I was and people sitting near me were tossing coins at it as it passed, but it definitely was not as exciting as animal sacrifice or anything like that.
Once the chariot had passed, the Square emptied of people so I could wander around at my leisure checking out the ornately carved rafters under each temple’s eves. Many of the temples had some definitely erotic carvings, so I took half a dozen photos to show people at home. Once I had had a decent look around the Square, I walked through the narrow streets of Nepal to get a feel for the city before heading back to my hotel to use that hot shower I was paying for.
Went down to the Central Telegraph Office around 8 p.m. assuming they had AT&T direct and was told there was no collect call facility to the States from Nepal. On top of it, many of the places here charge you 10 rupees per minute for a collect call anyway. So you are paying for the call twice. Guess I will be calling the folks from Hong Kong then.
Out to dinner at one of the famed Thamel restaurants, the Four Seasons, and ended up sharing this table with a British girl from London. Had a great time chatting away to her for the next two and half hours while enjoying the best pizza and beer since I have left America. I do not know who came here and taught the Nepalese how to cook, but they did a hell of a job.