Yes, it’s been a short trip to Nepal but on the whole an enjoyable even with the problems getting into Kathmandu. Certainly worth the effort and certainly somewhere I will return to.
We got up fairly early this morning and I wolfed down an apple danish I’d bought from a bakery the night before. Handy tip for Kathmandu – there are two bakeries near the Guest House. One does 50% off after 8pm (25% on cakes) and the other does similar after 9pm. Great way to save money on late night munchies and the next morning’s breakfast!
Hopping on a rickshaw, we were pedalled to Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square. This is a central touristy area filled with temples and markets. Although it’s an open area, as a tourist you have to pay to enter. The ticket is 200NRP for non-South Asian passport holders and lasts all day, so you can come and go as you please. However, you can also get your ticket turned into a pass – I think for free – which will cover you for as long as you request. You need your passport and a photo for one of these.
It’s a nice enough area, but expect to be harassed by wannabe guides. We had one folow us around for the best part of an hour despite Hans’ constant explanations that we didn’t want a guide and that he was doing himself more harm than good by pestering us.
After we’d walked around a fair bit by ourselves, we settled on another guide who was much more polite and less insistent – and also more open about his pricing. We agreed on 400NRP for a 45-minute tour with 100NRP bonus if we thought he was particularly good. He was – and got the agreed bonus 100.
The tour was concise, informative and enjoyable. I certainly learned a fair bit about the square, and also about the connections between Hunduism and Buddhism.
Amongst other things, we saw Kumari-ghar. This is a house which plays home to the Kumari – a living goddess. A girl aged three is determined as being the host of this spirit and lives in the house until puberty. She cannot touch the ground at all during her “reign”, and is only allowed outside thirteen times a year as part of a celebration. Tourists can catch a glimpse of her on demand by entering the house. Our guide gave a shout to her “keeper”, and a minute or so later a very bored looking girl bedecked in jewellery and makeup appeared at an upper window for a few seconds.
Afterwards, our guide invited us for a quick cup of tea and even kindly paid for it. He’s actually a graduate in English history, but his English isn’t perfect so he asked us to help him with some homework. We sat for maybe half an hour explaining some sentences he had written down and didn’t understand. You know, it’s amazing how difficult English becomes when you’re trying to actually explain it to someone. What I take as second nature really is a mindbendingly complex language. As ever, I have a lot of respect for anyone who can learn it as a second language.
We walked back to Thamel and picked up some lunch on the way.
Plans for the afternoon are quite basic. Get some things posted, collect my flight ticket for tonight, go online and meet up with Caroline again for dinner. I’ve got some laundry to collect and pack, then I’m off to the airport for a 23:30 flight to Perth via Malaysia.