Aside from purchasing enough prayer flags to sanctify the air in a mafia strip club and trying to stop “Om Mani Padme Hum” from crawling round your braincells like an earworm on crack, there’s not huge amounts to do in Kathmandu itself unless you’re particularly fond of temples and stupas and knock off outdoor gear full of “fake but good fake” promises. I like all of these things. I’m particularly fond of outdoor gear and tend to dress like I’m either on safari or about to attempt a multi day hike whether I’m going to work or heading to the pub.
So anyway. Me and the second to be spawned from our mother’s womb had time to kill before the rest of or Everest Base Camp posse rocked up and, apart from throwing ourselves off bridges in the middle of nowhere, we generally spent it wandering around the city gawping at freakishly photogenic things. Kathmandu is such a vibrant place full of noise and colours, narrow streets with tall, mismatched buildings, ancient and elaborate temples, and roadside shines surrounded by oil lamps and offerings. Once the rest of our group landed and me and Nat had checked out of our twelve bed dorm and into a lovely, comfortable private room which was part of the large sum of money we’d parted with for this, dinner was had with the group so we could do that getting to know the people that you’d be spending all of your time with over the next couple of weeks thing. Well they all seemed pretty cool. And the following day we were to be lead around the city by a bloke called Deepak, and this guided tour was also included in the package and guys, it’s so worth it. A lot of attractions here are UNESCO and will cost you between ₨1000 and ₨1500, which might not sound like much but when you’ve been in South Asia for six months you balk at the thought of spending more than a couple of quid on a meal so huge you have to be physically rolled out of the restaurant. I probably wouldn’t have visited all of these places if left to my own devices.
I’ve decided to lump all of this Kathmandu related goodness into one big photo blog that’s have anyone still on dial up weeping into their VHS collection for several reasons. Firstly, it seems to be a thing at the moment. Why bother trying to construct actual sentences when you can just throw pretty pictures at the Internet? No fucker reads anything after the first four lines anyway. Seriously, it’s like we’ve regressed back to cave paintings except cave paintings are now digital pictures and are probably of cats. Secondly, me and Nat didn’t have any fucking idea what we were looking at during our little stroll so I’ve nothing to write about that, and whilst Deepak was a lovely chap and a wonderful, knowledgeable guide, I don’t hear very well. Everything he said was either drowned out by background noise or carried away on a light breeze. So here are a bunch of photos for you to browse. Or don’t. Whatever.
Okay, so the lump of wood with all the coins nailed to it? That’s legit a thing for the toothache god. There’s a fucking toothache god. There’s a little hole in the wood and inside the hole is a twisted lump of more wood which is meant to represent the deity. And there are a shit tonne of dentist shops in the area too. Seriously, I love this place!
The plate of food, that photo was taken at Thamel House which is a cool, albeit pricey, restaurant in Thamel which is the main tourist area in the city. They have a show from 7pm and you can either have something off the menu or, as we did, go for the set menu where you get to try loads of little samples of Nepali and Newari food, as well as a drink called raksi which is a rice wine often made at home, and they will keep bringing you raksi until you have to beg them to stop because it’s burned all the tastebuds off your tongue. I liked it! Incidentally, if you’re looking to rent good trekking gear at a decent price, there’s a shop opposite Thamel House called Deep Love. Don’t be put off by the fact it sounds like a bad sex shop, they’re very honest and very fair.
So that’s Boudhanath Stupa which is a UNESCO world heritage site. From what I can gather it’s a very important stupa, with a stupa being a structure that Buddhists can use as a focus for prayer, and they contain religious relics. Well you can’t miss this bad boy as a focus. It’s huge. Deepak told us that the Buddha’s eyes are painted on each side of the spire so he can look north, east, south and west and he will always be watching you. Like Santa Claus. But less hairy and less concerned with lists.
Pashupatinath is another UNESCO site, it’s an epic, sprawling complex of temples on a river bank, complete with crematoriums where Hindus burn their dead after washing them in the river. As we made our way from one side of the complex to the other we walked past the burning pyres and rounded a corner where an ambulance was waiting, back doors open, the corpse inside leaking fluids everywhere as a bloke wearing a face mask and an apron casually sprayed the thousands, literally thousands of flies that wanted nothing more than to wallow in the dead man’s juices. From this moment on I shall be much less blasé about flies doing their little vomit dances on my lunch.
Durbar Square, also UNESCO, is full of temples and really, really fucking old buildings. Some of the buildings have erotic art engraved into the wooden roof supports. Old shit and casual porn. This is the extent of my Durbar Square knowledge.
Swayambhunath Temple is, you guess it, UNESCO as fuck, and is better known as the monkey temple. A city without a monkey temple is no city at all. I often wonder if monkey temples exist because they can’t keep the thieving little fuckers out so they just sigh, shrug, and say, “Fuck it, encourage the monkeys, call it a monkey temple, tourists will be all over that shit.”
Stayed at: Alobar1000