We arrived in Kathmandu after a short one hour flight from Delhi to realize that there is a 15 min time difference to India, where again there is a +30 min time difference to Pakistan and -30 min difference to Bangladesh! It is remarkable to what extend nations will go to declare the difference to their neighbors. Our guide picked us up from the airport and drove us through heavy traffic to the Hyatt Regency, probably the nicest lodge in the city.
The first impressions form Nepal are positive. Obviously this is a poor nation but certainly it looks more organized and cleaner than in India. You cannot fail to notice the many people wearing masks to protect against serious doses of dust and pollution. This seems to be quite a problem and wearing a dust mask seems to be part of the local dress code. More on this here.
My gastroenteritis wouldn’t let go but I did not come all the way from Greece to spend two days in bed. I got my fever and diarrhea medication, got some rest and loaded the camera bag to go to the city tour. First stop at the Swayambhunath, the monkey temple, a Buddhist complex on the top of a hill, overlooking the city.
Next, we drove to the city center and walked through a chaotic architectural ensemble of narrow streets, old buildings, tiny shops and temples, crowded by locals, tourists, street vendors and beggars.
We encountered two of the sweetest Kathmandu girls after their baptizing, wearing beautiful red dresses and looking like proper young ladies.
The Durbar Square, home of the old royal palace, a complex of buildings and temples of different architectural styles. We climbed to the top of the Vasantapur Durbar, all nine floors, through the ultra narrow stairways. I was exhausted by the fever but the view from the top was absolutely rewarding.
We continued to the main market area, a maze of narrow streets and crowds of locals and tourists. A sensory overdose of colors, smells and sounds. The people in Nepal look like a fusion of Indians and Tibetans. Our guide explained us that Nepal tolerates different religions and it is very common for Hindus to prey in Buddhist temples and vice versa.
We returned to the hotel in the afternoon as I desperately needed some rest to recover and stayed there for the evening.
Next: Bhaktapur and Patan