Delhi to Kathmandu: Part 2

The Safari Narayani Lodge was a lovely place to relax and to do safaris by elephant and canoe into the Royal Chitwan National Park, where we saw rhino and crocodiles. We also go to enjoy traditional Tharu dances and a visit to a local village where Kirsty and I were kept busy giving swings.

The drive to Kathmandu was beautiful, even if it featured a few frightening sheer drops as we climbed from the enchantingly named Mugling (fresh spicy samosa, 6 for 30 nepali rupees) along the Prithvi Highway into the high Kathmandu valley.

We couldn’t go to Pokhara – a combination of the Maoists declaring a No Travel day, and putting a bomb under one of the main bridges on the road to Pokhara. So no views of the marvellous Annapurnas, and no treks 🙁

I loved Kathmandu – the Royal Singi Hotel was in a great location in Durbar Marg, close to Thamel, to old city and the amazing Durbar Square. And there is Kasthamandap Bazaar just over the road: a great quasi-department store, with a food hall-cum-Woolies in the basement.

We had a great day of informative tours with our local guide Suresh, starting with the hindu temple at Pashupatinath (I didn’t know that Nepal is the only hindu kingdom, although buddhism and hinduism do seem to blend easily for most nepalese), then the tibetan buddhist stupa at Bodhnath with its busy courtyard and beautiful sunshine lighting up the golden spire, and prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. Our last stop before lunch as the monkey temple of Swayambhunath, with its golden stupa and temples on a hilltop with views over Kathmandu and towards the mountains that encircle the valley.

After a great lunch al fresco in the Dechenling Beer House garden, where I had my first taste of Everest Beer, Suresh let us wander through Thamel and down through streets busy with the activities of daily life, before giving us a fascinating guided tour of Durbar Square, including an appearance by the Kuamri, the living goddess.

The rest of our time in Kathmandu was freetime, mainly spent wandering the streets of Kathmandu, and trying not to buy too many souvenirs….

I want to go back to Nepal sometime, all the more so after Michael Wood’s The search for Shangri-La programme yesterday. Not sure when though.

All telecoms were off during the week we were in Nepal, but once in Kathmandu we go to see BBCWorld reports telling us that “people who can are fleeing the country” and occasionally saw groups of armed soldiers hanging around on street corners, but other than that you wouldn’t have known that the King had just made another step towards increased despotism.