Kathmandu:

First impressions
Temples and thangkas
Crematory by the river
Ancient Patan
Tibetan refugee camp
The "Monkey Temple"
The Yak & Yeti
Recommendations





First impressions

Namaste!athmandu was unlike anything I had ever experienced. After exchanging money and getting our visas in the airport, we were greeted by a teeming mass of shouting Nepalese, all of whom wanted to help us with our bags and receive a few rupees for their effort. I wish I had a picture of that crowd... Plainly, we were unprepared for the tumult after all the quiet time we had spent in flight.

Journal entry -- April 1, 11:30 p.m.

We were mobbed by beggars the moment we left the airport. Tugging at my duffel, one boy (maybe age 11?) insisted he was part of Above the Clouds Trekking, our tour group. Since it was obvious he couldn't run off with a 50-pound bag, I let him load it into the van. Then the Tipping Disaster occurred. He wanted my 1000-rupee note -- I fought him off until I scrounged through my wad of unintelligible bills and found a 100-rupee note ($1.25). He wanted more ("I am poor"); he asked to exchange my tip for a different bill, or Thai money, or an American quarter. It frightened me, the persistence, the desperation....when we all finally got into the van, we were visibly shaken.

The unsettling incident at the airport was only a precursor to the ride through the streets of Kathmandu. It's not a clean city by Western standards. New York City sparkles in comparison -- and NY's streets are organized and efficient compared to Kathmandu. It's a bit difficult to show the craziness in photos, but trust me -- it's overwhelming.

A fairly typical view of Kathmandu. In the distance are faint outlines of the mountains that ring the Kathmandu Valley; pollution now hides the mountains nearly every day.

 


Cows, being sacred to Hindus, are omnipresent in mostly Hindu Nepal. These cows are grazing on a trash pile next to the main road; many cows, however, choose to recline in the middle of the road, causing occasional traffic accidents. A taxi driver told me that a Nepalese who is guilty of a hit-and-run on a cow is in big trouble.

 


Chris Nelson photo

A typical street scene in Kathmandu. (Well, almost typical; to see this much open space on a street during the middle of the day is pretty weird.) Most streets in the retail districts of the city have stores that display their wares in the open for everyone to see. Of course, this means that passersby are always in range of the rather assertive salespeople who are milling about.

I believe the woman in pink in the photo above is selling dye for clothing.