Travel Snapshot: Nepal Tripping Day 1-4

It was a really spontaneous decision to go to Nepal when Nette asked me if I was interested. Almost no prior planning was done beforehand but I thought I'll take three days of leave over the National Day long weekend to spend 7 days in Nepal.

Nepal seems like an unusual destination for a holiday, but it was precisely that. It sounded exotic. Very eat-pray-love. So jokingly, I wrote this out of office message:  "I am currently in Nepal finding myself and a yak cheese sandwich." Turns out it is partially true. In fact, the yak cheese sandwich was found on the very first night in Kathmandu.

Landing in Kathmandu airport brought back memories of time in Delhi, and my FYP a few moons ago in a state bordering Nepal at Uttarakhand. Perhaps the smell triggered it.

We drove into the city after driving a hard bargain with the taxi driver in a rickety white Maruti car. Later i found out that all Nepali cabs are the same - minute in size, painted white with no air conditioning, no automation and floors so bare you are just a metal board away from the chugging engine. The only difference is how hard a bargain do you drive for the fare since all trips are based on a mutually agreed price.

It was an eye-opening welcome into the heart of the largest city in Nepal. The damp monsoon air carried equal parts cow dung and clouds of dusty exhaust. It was also bustling with activity - school children in neat uniforms walked amongst sari-clad women carrying something, and men in light-colored shirts, while countless stray dogs and the occasional cow laid around. Rocks, mud, and debris everywhere.

We went first into Thamel - the most popular tourist district that embodies everything that Kathmandu can give to tourists seeking for something, anything. From trekking shops selling waterproof North Face bags to panels of pashmina shawls (all claiming to be 100% real - it will be remarkable to actually see a sign that says "may contain pashmina wool" instead) and book shops with photocopied Lonely Planet guides and maps, to  bronze statues, walls of Thanka paintings, turquoise beads, wooden carvings and signs of restaurants, hostels and hotels - all packed into a small district crisscrossed with alleyways.

Dinner that day was momos!

There! The Yak Cheese sandwich I set out to find!

Part 2 of dinner - chicken tikka masala and all sorts of gravy goodness with naan at this place called McDonald in Thamel. Super delicious!

Satisfying end to the night, except for a minor incident on the way back where we accidentally stepped into mud/sewer/shit by the side of the road trying to get into a cab.

Day Two - Patan

This was breakfast at Mike's, an american diner, before we set out to Patan.

Apparently there are 3 big cities in Nepal - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. We visited Patan bright and early on the second day. Patan's the city of arts and culture.

Thanka paintings abound. They are supposed to help you meditate.

 We also visited the Patan museum.

Patan's lunch was the only time I had the local Nepalese food when I was in Nepal - the Dhal Bhat, consisting of rice and dhal (chickpea soup), some chicken curry and vegetable curry.

Many cafes around the temples to cater to tourists.

We sat in one of them, on the third story, and had some tea/coffee.

The square had vendors selling souvenirs, statues, masks, trinkets, and etc.

The stupa in Patan. Pigeons, everywhere.

Another tourist shot!

Day 3 - Bhaktapur

The city of agriculture. I actually preferred Bhaktapur to Patan because it had more of a 'chillax' vibe to it, plus it was cleaner, quieter and more organised compared to the mess in Kathmandu and to some degree, Patan.

The red bricked streets and buildings.

Appetizer during lunch - yak cheese with Marie biscuits (of all types of biscuits). The yak cheese is surprisingly mild - even milder than normal cheddar. I had expected a stronger taste, like goat.

This was my lunch. A huge plate of rice, and some buffalo curry. The curry was quite good though so I was able to finish quite a bit of the rice, surprisingly.

Tried the famous King's Curd before leaving Bhaktapur. It's like.. yogurt.

We then left Bhaktapur and headed back to Kathmandu, stopping at the district of Boudhanath to admire the stupa.
The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhunath, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

It was awesome. Probably our favorite stupa during the trip.

The whole city revolves around this stupa. We sat in one of the cafes in the circle to admire the view.

Day 4 - Swayambhunath / Pokhara

There's just one last stupa to see - and that's at the Monkey Temple of Swayambhunath, a 15m taxi ride away from Kathmandu, slight up in the hills. Swayambhunath is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. 

Buddhist statues dot the foot of the hill.

A weird tree.

We have to climb 365 steps* (debatable, the number's supposed to represent 1 year..) to see the stupa. WHY do temples have to make it so difficult for people to get to?

Huffing and puffing and super sweaty (I'm not very fit) - finally we reached the top. The view's pretty good. As you can see, Kathmandu is filled with low-rise buildings.

It was really crowded on a Friday morning.

Tourist shops, of course. Those knives you see are for slaughtering buffalos and general kitchen purposes. NOT for slaying demons and enemies.

Peaks and mountains - all available for sale.

 The obligatory tourist shot.

We then took a cab back, bought some packet noodles from the nearby grocery store and cooked them for lunch. 

We then took our domestic flight via Buddha Air (love the name!) to Pokhara. It was a short 45-min propeller plane right. My very first! It was really smooth sailing though.

Alternatively, you can take a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara or back using to book and pay online and get your tickets by email. The bus will take around 6-7 hours, but it could be a good option for those who do not trust small propeller planes, or if the weather does not allow for flying. Or when the Kathmandu airport runway cracks, which is what happened to us on our supposed flight back.

This was our accommodation at Pokhara's Hotel Travel Inn located in the heart of Pokhara. For 18 USD a night. Very clean and simple. No complaints.

Dinner was at Moondance Restaurant. 
The best restaurant in Pokhara! Must go if you are there.

The best pizza I had in a while...

And the best chicken tikka masal with naan.

After dinner we went for drinks at the nearby pub - Busy Bee. It was bustling with tourists and the live band was so good I thought they were playing a CD when we were walking in.

That's it for Day 4, and the end of this rather long blog post.

  1. Amazing pictures !! You have really covered an entire gamut of various aspects of Nepal.

    We recently visited Nepal for a six day trip and had awesome time. We covered Kathmandu and Pokhara during the trip with both offering a very different perspective of life. Do have a glimpse of our experience of the visit at my blog:

    - Kathmandu - Picturesque Pokhara

  2. It will take more than a month for thorough visit in Nepal.

  3. You had a great trip, covered all the gamut of Nepal. The photographs are amazing and Nepal has such kind of different architecture and style.

  4. You packed a lot of great stuff into your short time in Nepal! Great pictures :-) If you ever have time to visit again, I would really recommend a trek- there are a huge array of treks available, even to complete beginners! Check out this comprehensive article that details the top 10 treks of Nepal;