Thamel the Tourist Precinct of Kathmandu
We all know Barbie gets around, but we were a little surprised, to find Marzipan Barbie, stepping out in our favourite bakery in Thamel the tourist district in Kathmandu. I suggested my husband pose with her. He’s the master mind, researcher and driver behind our two treks to Everest Base Camp and The Trainer in my blog.
The bakery is behind the HOT Breads sign and the tangle of wires in the photo below. It has a pleasant roof area where enjoyed coffee, pastries and cake on a number of occasions.
This T intersection was a major navigating point for us and the site of two of the three hotels we stayed in.This shot was in September last year when hardly any tourists visited Nepal due to the earthquakes.
Thamel is the most popular place for tourists and trekkers to stay in Kathmandu. It has lots of accommodation, great places to eat, shopping for trekking gear and handicrafts, Durbar Square and the old part of Kathmandu close by.
When we stayed here in 2013 the evening had a constant stream of motorbikes and also cars and bikes. Pedestrians share the street, there are no footpaths in Thamel. At the time there were Australian travel warnings to stay away from crowds and possible protests. We purposely avoided booking accommodation near Durbar Square, an obvious place for protests. In the evening we came out of our hotel in the photo to find a gathering of police. With broom sticks. Automatically my danger radar went on. Ironically we had found ourselves in a potential hot spot, or so it seemed. I wondered what they were expecting to happen. We went off to eat. Later when the traffic got crazy we saw what the sticks were for. Anyone speeding at the intersection on a motorbike received a great crack on their back with the broom stick. Traffic control, of course.
Kathmandu is a great for eating places, lots of different cuisines, extensive menus and some in garden settings. We were careful NOT to eat meat. If you saw the butchers you would understand. Before flying to Lukla and starting our trek we ate at at La Dolce Vita to be on the safe side. Besides who could resist a little bit of Italy in Kathmandu?
There are hundreds of places to stay in Kathmandu. In the streets you can buy trekking gear, book treks and day tours and search for handicrafts, jewellery and clothes. We found a few good map shops here, having a map is good idea if you are trekking.
Some main historic sites to visit are Durbar Square an easy walk from Thamel. Keep an eye out for the so called Holy Men. I regret not paying to photograph them and their amazing face powder and hair styles, with bits stuck in it. My first time in Durbar Square gave me an adrenaline rush. You know that I’m back in Asia feeling. The photo below is me in November 2013. Sadly the area was badly damaged in the quake.
Other places worth a visit are Swayambhunath Stupa (take a taxi) the steps up to the stupa are great climbing practice, the Ghats or Pasupanthinath (take a taxi) also a heritage site and I recommend a guide to explain everything, it is so interesting. The Garden of Dreams is nice for a wander especially after a trek. There are a few photos in the this post. But the best place is Bhaktapur 20 km east of Kathmandu. Once a royal city it is a UNESCO site and closed to traffic and so peaceful after Kathmandu. In 2013 we took a car (as opposed to a taxi) and driver who waited for us. Unfortunately the old city was damaged in the first earth quake and I’m not sure of the extent of the damage. Any bloggers who can leave an update in the comments section would be great.
Kathmandu is a Photographer’s Delight
There are interesting lane ways to explore for photographic opportunities. Leave the streets of Kathmandu and walk down the lanes and just keeping going. Don’t worry about getting lost, you will, trust me. Just don’t forget to take the address of where your hotel is and some photos of nearby landmarks and you will be fine. You will come out to a main street or road sooner or later.
One more thing, Kathmandu is quite dusty was quite bad in November 2013. People were wearing masks, I guess it is smog but also there is seems to be a lot of brick making and cement making the valley which I think contributes. When we were there in late September a year ago today in fact, it was the end of the wet season the dust didn’t seem to be as bad. just thinking about asthma sufferers.
Oh and the scary wiring everywhere, apparently are internet connections not electricity.