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2010 Apr by Peter Kuiper
April 1979. In March it started to get very hot in India, and slowly I worked my way up in a Northerly direction. After a few days in Darjeeling and hiking up Tiger Hill from where I could see Kanchenjunga (8591m) I crossed the border in Kakarbhitta near Siliguri. I was travelling with a British guy who had been working in Australia and who was on the way back to his home country. A couple of days later he would change his plans.
At the border I changed money but complained with the money changer, that he gave me only big notes. One of the notes was 1000 Rupees. “Don’t worry” he said, “in Nepal we don’t have a problem with small change like in India.” That was not true!
Together with our one month Nepalese entry stamp we got a US$10 voucher for the Casino in Kathmandu. We boarded an evening bus and twelve hours later we arrived in Kathmandu early in the morning. We stayed together in Thamel, did some sightseeing in town and in the evening we walked to the Casino. They changed our voucher to chips we could use for the different games. I have absolutely no clue and lost my chips very quickly, but my friend started playing Black Jack with some Indians and seemed to be successful. I left him there and went home. He came back at four in the morning with $700 in his pocket! The next evening he won another 150! At that time an enormous amount of money, when you think that I had spent in India only $350 in three month, including a two months train ticket! He decided on the spot that he wouldn’t go home and keep on travelling!
Kathmandu was a beautiful town with traditional architecture and hardly any modern buildings. The Kathmandu Guesthouse was out of town surrounded by rice patties. Also the airport was way out of town. There was hardly any traffic. They told me that there were only 700 registered vehicles in the entire country. Only around the Royal Palace electricity existed, the hotels and restaurants had their individual noisy generators. There was no running water either; people went to wash their clothes and themselves in “tanks”. Durbar Square and the temples along the river looked as they had done for hundreds of years. The city was incredibly dirty. Every second or third step you did, ended up in some kind of shit: from cows, monkeys, dogs or worse. All natural dirt though, at that time glass was rare and plastic virtually nonexistent. Now, 35 years later, things did not change for the better.
I hired a bike and peddled through the rice fields to Patan and Bakhtapur. Also the big stupas in Kathmandu used to be out of town surrounded by patties and gardens. Now the whole Kathmandu Valley is filled up with concrete and nowadays this city, being surrounded by mountains that prevent winds to blow away waste gas, is one of the most polluted places on earth. I could cry!
I took a bus to Pokhara, it took me almost an entire day to get there. Phokara was, and still is, a very pleasant town along lake Phewa Tal. Like in Thamel, there were lots of nice places to stay or eat. I wonder who taught the Nepalis to bake such excellent cakes! Tourists had a good time in 1979! The prices for food and lodging were even lower than in India. Even barefooted travelers could afford a warm shower in their lodge (All day long old women were carrying buckets of water from the lake to the lodges, fill the containers on the roofs, let the sun heat them up and enable the tourists to clean up most pleasantly by mid-afternoon.)
In the train, on the way from Varanasi to Calcutta, my luggage had been stolen (everything except my money and documents) and since I was travelling on a (very) low budget, I had not been able to replace things: I was not equipped for a trek. My sandals were not suited for a walk through the snow and I had no warm clothes. So I decided just to walk up to “Poon Hill”, the more as no permit was needed for this small trek.
There was one essential item I bought in a second hand shop: A little plastic container to have some water during the day. As I soon found out, there was a leak in the bottom, I had to take care to keep the thing upside down in my small backpack.
As there were no roads leading into the mountains, you just walked out of Pokhara to start the trek. It took a few days to get to Tatopani via Beni, where I enjoyed the hot springs and washed my clothes, then retreated to Ghorapani. I remember that there was an endless stairway leading upward, a never ending 1750m, to get there. Every day, I used to get up at dawn, to arrive at the next village early, to get a good room, and more important, blankets, as I had no sleeping bag. Even with them it was freezing cold every night, and my live long problem with my bladder may have its origin on this mountain trek.
The scenery of this part of Nepal is great, the villages beautiful. The rhododendrons are blooming in April: the contrast of the red flowers against the blue skies or white snowy peaks is stunning.
Every tourist in Nepal seems to climb Poon Hill. In the middle of the night they wake you up and all the tourists of all the lodges in Ghorapani (2750m) climb up to Poon Hill (3210m) armed with candles and torches. On the top there is a lot of pushing and shoving to get a good spot on top of the platform made out of scaffoldings. I was lucky with the clear weather and enjoyed a fantastic sunrise. The Annapurnas (8091m) and on the opposite side Dhaulagiri (8167m) were clearly visible.
My last day, the walk back to Pokhara, was terrible. I had run out of money but for the 1000 Rupee bill. Nobody would accept it. It was very unpleasant to have to go hungry and thirsty with money in your pocket. Finally I found somebody to change the bill into nine hundreds. The problem was that I still did not find anything to eat or drink in this village. Now I wanted to get back to Pokhara as soon as possible. I followed the clear track until I reached a little wall in the middle of the rice fields. Where to go, left or right? I followed the small track to the left, it ended in the fields. Then I tried the right path, same thing! I must have made a mistake and tried the left path again to no avail. Slowly I started to become desperate, my thirst became unbearable. In true exasperation I sank down on the little wall and saw that the track continued right behind it……
Somehow I made it back to Pokhara, but this day had been terrible.
Back in Kathmandu I ran into people I had met in Rajasthan and enjoyed their company.
My visa came to an end and I flew to Burma and on South-East Asia for another four months.
My next trips to Nepal were the Everest Basecamp Trek in 2006 (see my pictures), around the Annapurnas in 2008, a short stop in Kathmandu coming from Bhutan in 2010 and soon I will start the Langtang Trek in March 2014. |
2007 Sep by Lothar Seifert
||Lothar Seifert does not wish to be contacted by MTP members|
Kathmandu, die Hauptstadt von Nepal. Immer eine Reise wert.. Buddhismus und Hinduismus gehören hier friedlich zum Straßenbild von Kathmandu. |
2004 May by Jorge Sanchez
Nepal, Philippines and Indonesia are the most beautiful countries in Asia.Nepal is a dream for every traveller. I think that the traveller who wants to visit India for the first time, should go first to Nepal, and then to India.Kathmandu Guest House is a wonderful place to stay while in Kathmandu, and only costs around 12 US dollars a single (for Europeans having euros this prize is a gift), although there are cheaper hostels for just 4 or 5 US dollars.It is better to buy tankas in Kathmandu than in Tibet.The traveller’s agencies organize trips to Tibet, flights to Bhutan, trekkings to the Himalayas and visas to India. The travel agencies can get you an Indian transit visa for 15 days in only one day time, for a small commission.The visa for Nepal will be issued to you upon arrival. If you plan to stay no more than three days in Nepal, then the visa is free of charge.Inside you will feel the atmosphere of mythical alpinists who before climbing the Everest spent the night in that guest house.The cafeteria is in the patio, in front of the reception.Kathmandu Guest House:-----------------------------It is a real pleasure to recommend this very lovely guesthouse in the heart of Kathmandu, in the area where they sell tanka and all kind of handicrafts.You can get a Spartan room in hostels around Thamel area for even 3 US Dollars, but nothing to compare with the magnificent Kathmandu Guest House. There are rooms much more expensive, but they always offer a few rooms at backpackers’ pocket (I paid 12 US Dollars in the year 2005 for a superb single room on the first floor, with old style bath, wooden parquet, and XIX century furniture).
In 2014 I retruned to Nepal, and this is what I wrote in my diary:Having one week time to visit around Nepal while waiting for my Indian visa, I resolved to get to know better the UNESCO World Heritage sites included under the Kathmandu Valley, of which I only knew Pashupatinath and Patan Durbar Square from a previous journey to Nepal in the year 1989, so I chose to add Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
I took a rickshaw that dropped me at the entrance of the Durbar Square, where I had to pay the ticket to enter the site (a little bit expensive). Inside there was a hotel that seemed to me appropriate and very centrically located (Shiva Guest House) which was very cheap, so I rented a room, left my bag and started to explore the city.
Some of the temples were out of limits to foreigners that were not Hindu, but apart from that i was allowed to visit almost everywhere.
Outside of the Durbar Square, in direction to the Post Office, there were many stalls offering the famous Bhaktapur curd, that I tried and loved it.
There were many foreigners around, but most of them returned to Kathmandu, few tourists stayed to overnight in Bhaktapur.
I entered a Thanka Painting School were I was shown the techniques of this work.
In short, I enjoyed my day in Bhaktapur, and the next day, after having breakfast in my guest house I left Bhaktapur happy and went back to Kathmandu in a local bus to organize another excursion to another UNESCO site included in the Kathmandu Valley that I did not know yet: Swayambhunath.
WATCHING RHINOS IN CHITWAN: While I was waiting in Kathmandu for my Indian visa, I travelled by bus to Chitwan National Park to spend two full days in an excursion.When I arrived to the bus stop there were many boys offering hotel and that excursion, including dances and birds watching. I went with one of the boys to his hotel and during two days I enjoyed a lot of activities, being, of course, the rhinos that I saw very close the most fascinating experience.The second day we were climbed an elephant together with several Indian tourists and were very happy when we saw two rhinos. That excursion was the star of my journey. Perhaps we were about 40 elephants, and in each one there were four or five touirsts plus the driver.The third day I travelled to Lumbini, to see the birth place of Buddha and the Asoka pillar.
MAYA DEVI TEMPLE AND THE ASHOKA PILLAR: I had been in Lumbini for the first time in the year 1989, but I only visited the Buddhist related sites. I regretted that I had missed the Ashoka Pillar and the Maya Devi Temple (Maya was the mother of Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama).So this time (in the year 2014) I paid attention only to the Maya Devi Temple, which is an ancient Buddhist temple. Besides the temple there was a UNESCO plaque stating that the place was a World Heritage.I paid the entrance fee and visited inside, but it was forbidden to take pictures. It is considered that Buddha was born inside that temple.When I finished my visit I sat under the sacred Boddhi tree, where there were dozens of pilgrims, some of them Europeans, paying respect to that holy place.The Ashoka Pillar was situated just outside of the temple, King Ashoka placed it there during his visit to Lumbini on the third century BC. There are inscriptions on the pillar.All the Ashoka pillars were placed at Buddhist monasteries, in important sites related with the life of the Buddha and places of pilgrimage.It is said that there remain less than 20 Ashoka Pillars in India in present times, having many been destroyed by the muslims. I would see a beautiful Ashoka Pillar a few days later in Vaishali, near Patna, in Bihar, India.
I finished my visit to the Maya Devi Temple plus the Ashoka Pillar and the Holy Boddhi Tree when it was starting to get dark. I did not want to travel back to Kathmandu during the night, so I found a hotel in Lumbini (Little Buddha, with motives of the life of Buddha as decoration), just in front of Maya Devi Temple, where I slept for a fair price, and even had dinner inside the restaurant of that hotel, and early in the morning the next day I returned to Kathmandu to pick up my Indian visa.
2000 Jul by Amador Garcia-Prades
||Amador Garcia-Prades does not wish to be contacted by MTP members|
Nepal is a very religious country. They are some Buddhist temples but the main religion is Hinduism. |
Nepal is like an oasis after having spent long time in India. In Kathmandu, the restaurants are “buenos, bonitos y baratos”, as we say in Spain, what in English can be translated as Good, Beautiful and Cheap. You eat very well and there are many nice souvenirs to buy (at home I have many souvenirs that I bought in this country, such as Buddhists statues).
If you like nature (I adore mountains, being myself an alpinist), then you should go to the Himalaya. I took an airplane to see the Everest, the highest mountain in the world. That plane excursion was breathtaking. My God, what a beautiful view!
In Nepal, apart from the Everest, there are several more mountains surpassing the 8000 metres. In fact, in Nepal you can find 9 out of the 14 highest summits surpassing the 8000 metres.
The 12 highest peaks of the world, all in the Himalaya, shared between Nepal, India, China and Pakistan, are (the metres might differ according to the atlas that you consult):
1- EVEREST, with 8848 metres.
2- K2, also called GODWIN-AUSTEN, or CHOGORI, with 8611 metres
3- KANGCHENJUNGA, 8598 metres
4- LHOTSE, with 8516 metres,
5- MAKALU, with 8463 metres
6- CHO OYU, with 8201 metres
7- DHAULAGIRI, with 8167 metres
8- MANASLU, with 8163 metres
9- NANGA PARBAT, with 8126 metres
10- ANNAPURNA, with 8091 metres
11- GASHERBRUM, with 8068 metres
12- XIXABANGMA FENG, with 8012 metres
1999 May by Chris Lewis
Some highlights from my 2 rest days in Kathmandu.|
- Hindu Temple on the banks of the Ganges. Bodies are brought down to the banks and cremated on funeral pyres. It looks the filthiest river you're ever seen but it has huge religious significance.
- Monkey Temple. A huge Buddhist Temple in a huge square. Absolutely beauty amongst the 3rd world squalor that is most of Kathmandu.
- Wandering on my own around the narrow streets and small square of the old town.
I like Kathmandu but it's so polluted. I've got a sore throat from, the smog that covers the city. History, religion, cars, bikes, cows, ...
Part of my Travel Log from a trek in the Manaslu area.
Finally, we reach the end of the ridge, and the world drops away in front of us. The photo-frenzy begins, one trekker has brought champagne, and we celebrate the awesome scene which envelops us. I wander off to a rocky outcrop, and simply sit and gaze at the view. Further along, the grassy slopes give way to a series of ice-capped pinnacles peeks leading right up to the main peak of Himal Chuli. The 8000 metre summit of Manaslu looms behind, a huge white pyramid etched against a clear blue sky.
1996 Nov by Michael Novins
November 1996 -- I began my trip in Kathmandu, where I stayed at the Hotel Yak and Yeti, one of the city's oldest hotels (http://www.yakandyeti.com/home/index.php), and visited Durbar Square and Swayambhunath. From Kathmandu I made a day trip to Dakshinkali Temple, one of the main temples dedicated to the goddess Kali, where animal sacrifices, particularly of goats, occurred (they did not object to photography).|
From Kathmandu I flew to Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stayed at Temple Tiger Jungle Lodge. Our safari vehicles were elephants, who were able to penetrate the thick grass and approach the wildlife. I saw several Indian Rhinoceroses and one gaur, but did not see any tigers.
1987 Dec by Veikko Huhtala*
We had Indian Airlines flight from Varanasi to Kathmandu. We stayed some days in the capital before going to Chitwan National Park. It is World Heritage Site also and we stayed there couple days. We had a long riding by elephant in jungle where we saw some Indian Rhinoceros, but not any Tigers. We also saw a lot of different exotic birds. Chitwan National Park is most popular tourist destination in Nepal. Altogether we stayed in Nepal one week, before our flight to Calcutta by Royal Nepal Airlines.|