Back in Kathmandu20/04/2011
Being back in Kathmandu felt surprisingly different to being here the first time. When we first arrived we had been in India for 7 weeks and couln't get over how quiet and civilised Nepal felt. This time we have spent the last few weeks in the countryside and mountains and Kathmandu seems noisy, crowded and polluted, but we still like it. We spent a few days doing a few essential tasks like getting the laundry done, shopping, another haircut (69p) and so forth. We then decided to head out a little bit and explore "around the kathmandu valley".
It turns out that Kathmandu is like London in terms of the way it has grown and expanded to merge all the surrounding villages and towns into its fold. The first place we visited was a place called Patan that once fought with Kathmandu to be the capital city. Now Patan is a short walk across the river never realising you have left the city (basically like walking from Leicester Square to Waterloo East). However Patan consists of a very impressive set of old temples which you keep coming to as you wonder around the back streets of the town. We were following a walking tour which took us to all sorts of temples and monuments but at the end we arrived into Durbar Square (Patan. There is a Durbar Square in Kathmandu too - Durdar means Palace). Patan Durbar Square is very impressive which lots of beautifully maintained temples and palace buildings. We had lunch at a roof top restaurant over looking the square and seeing the mountains surrounding the Kathmandu valley. It was stunning and a great place for momos and plane watching.
Our next exploration was to Bodhnath. Again this used to be in the countryside outside of the main city but now appears to be as much part of Kathmandu as Thamel is. We hired a little scooter to get there and zipped through the back streets of Kathmandu to Bodhnath. The "town" is famous for its enormous Buddhist stupa and numerous Gompa's. The Stupa is enormous and beautifully maintained. We (deliberately) coincided our trip with the full moon which is a special celebration in Bodhnath. There were litterally thousands of people walking clockwise around the Stupa and paying their tributes to the monks. It had a wonderful atmosphere and brought to mind our time in Pushka in India, another very spiritual place.
The next day we planned to use the scooter to go to Godivari to see the Botanical Gardens but a fuel shortage in the country (which they are unable to resolve because the finance minister is on holiday apparently!) meant that getting fuel was too expensive and hard so we headed back to the comfort of Thamel and our final dinner of Momos before flying to Thailand. Now all that remains is the packing and catching the flight and we will say our sad fairwell to Nepal. It has been a great country but it is time to hit the beach!