The traffic is crazy and the influence of the constant stream of travelers heading to the mountains is undeniable. But with everything on offer that a tired and hungry backpacker may wish for, it feels like paradise when we arrive after several weeks in China.
Relax and enjoy supreme people watching
Walking around Thamel is a little tiring, sure. It is like a constant attack on our senses, or to be more precise, our ears. It is as if the streets themselves were shouting “Hello madam, trekking?” and whispering “Smoke, sir?”. But as soon as we walk towards Durbar square, there is a lot more to see than funky-hat-shops and other travelers on their quest for fake outdoor gear. There are shops and markets and temples, and generally all things of everyday live.
Durbar squares are the places where the old kings in Nepal collected statues and temples to boast of their wealth and devotion. Today, the one in Kathmandu is used for religious activities (including animal sacrifices as you can see on the picture on the right), selling all sorts of things and meeting people.
Just sitting on the stairs of one of the temples and watching the people keeps us occupied for well over two hours.
They gather, set up small markets, buy snacks, transport all kinds of stuff across the square and it is all busy and lively.
Be ready to enjoy what Thamel has to offer.
Visit Kathmandu after you are done with your trekking, or better even, enter from China like we do. A prolonged time on noodle soup and Yak butter ensures that we are ready to enjoy the sudden increase in the choice of food. We eat a Pizza and the first drops of olive oil since five weeks are a revelation. There is Indian food, Thai soups, German bakeries and Italian coffee.
We are swept away by the neverending sound of om mani padme hum (this is a video from Bodnath near Kathmandu that I found on youtube) and to stop worrying about all the trekking guides and riksha drivers. And, in fact, some of those funky hats they sell in Thamel are pretty awesome. So why not do some shopping and then sit back and relax a little?
Time of visit: September & October 2013