Before the Trip…
We have contacted our friends from Himalayan Holidays Travel Agency based in Kathmandu, Nepal to arrange this trip for us. They have asked us what we like to do and see in Nepal. We sent them this list:
- We would like to see the monks and the temples
- We would like to see the countryside
- We would like to see the Himalayas
- We would like to EAT Nepali food
- We would like to experience the culture
- Bonus if we can see Mt. Everest
Except for some Nepali friends we’ve known over the years, and the Yallah Momo Restaurant in Karama, we have no idea about Nepal. We’ve also lower down our expectations among ourselves since this is our first travel together.
Gopi from Himalayan Travel assisted us with this. He sent us the list of what we will do with our 4 days, 5 nights trip. Though we have no idea about it, we said ‘yes’ to him. We told him we are open to any experience he wants us to do during this trip.
And finally we have decided to spend Christmas in Nepal. Why not…?
All the people that we have spoken with told us that we are ‘crazy’ going there in the middle of the winter season. We find it interesting, this will be F-U-N!!!
This will be another Adventure for us! We look forward to this trip!
Departing Dubai thru FlyDubai is interesting as it sounds. The plane is kind of small and restrictive with a little delay and constrictive toilet. It is like flying Cebu Pacific with people whining about the delay (no kids crying though!). And we didn’t realized that we will be paying for our food, we forgot the food! But the 3.5 hours flight served with Starbucks Americano and a book companion is not a bad thing.
Finally, we arrived at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport at 5:00 local time. The Immigration Officer was quite chatty but pleasant, they thought we were Nepali as well (this face?!?). We’ve paid our 25USD Immigration Fee and off we went.
We were greeted with a flower garland by our Tour Guide and introduced himself as Abhaya (pronounced as Ab-Bay). He was there waiting for us since 2:00 in the afternoon! After photos and selfies, off we went to tackle Kathmandu Traffic. They are driving on the opposite side of the road! And the roads… quite narrow for a Capital City. It’s an organized chaos – people crossing, cars honking, no traffic lights, but no accidents!
We had our first cultural experience of cultural presentation and food during our dinner at Atithi Restaurant. We were greeted with the traditional Namaste with bindi on the forehead. There were Regional Dances with explanation from the highlands of Himalayas to the lowlands of Kathmandu. Indeed it was a great experience watching the dances.
The food and drinks was a different story. We ordered local beer for a start – not the 355mL we used to have but it was mucho – 655mL! The sides that comes with the alcohol were pretty amazing. Potatoes with some herbs, steamed momo with dip, spicy chicken, and the crispy fried mutton – perfect for the local beer, strong local rum and gin. The main course was a Nepali dinner – Thali Style, rice some chicken kakabs, vege, fresh water fish fillets and everything in between. This dinner end with a very high note – shared with the family of Bibhu, the Owner of Himalayan Travels. A true Nepali hospitality as its best!
We woke up and had breakfast at Tibet Hotel were we stayed. Breakfast is okay, with live egg cooking station. We’ve met some tourists, mostly Chinese and Indian looking.
We start our Kathmandu Tour at Boudanath Stupa, one of the biggest in the world. It was a holiday, so we have seen some pilgrims and monks praying. It was an image and experience of Buddhism Spirituality as its best. People walking around clockwise, spinning the prayer wheels, and the whole experience were truly spiritual for us. There is something in the aura of these people that speaks calmness, patience and perseverance.
Of course, this experience will never complete without shopping. We got a Buddhism 101 lecture in the art place where they paint one by one the Mandala and the life of Buddha. It was not cheap for an artwork but it was one of the finest, most detailed paintings I have seen. Next stop is Pashmina Store – we got all the lectures on the quality, type and designs of these shawl like fabric. Bargaining is a must!
Next stop was the last palace of Durbar Square. It was a touristic area with a lot of people, mostly locals. There was Hindu Lecture being held at the plaza, the noise and the rush of people are just amazing.
We had lunch at Cosmo de Café overlooking Durbar Square. We had Nepali Lunch Set – rice, chicken, lentils, a bit of salad, soup and potato soup. We also had chicken fillet, some noodles and another local beer! If this is Nepali lunch, I can think of someone cooking at least 3 – 4 hours just to prepare these food for the family, that was a LOT!
We left Durbar Square in a short rickshaw trip around it. Seen some Hindu ‘holy men’, some hippies, some family lounging around and of course some vendors. I only have seen one street food vendor – our guide advised us not to buy street food (disappointed!).
Next stop was the Monkey Temple in the middle of the mountain overlooking the whole of Kathmandu. Here we have seen the monks at their prayer temple. Young and old, male and female and everything in between. No wonder there is no fat monk as they will struggle to climb the 1,000 steps of this temple! Looking at them, there is an element of serenity and peace on their faces. I wish we can have this kind of peace in Dubai!
We end our day traveling thru narrow roads to the Mountains of Nagarkot for 3 hours. The Fort Hotel is situated in the middle of the mountain range. Dinner was ‘International’ in their restaurant. Rice with pork, kababs, noodles, fish and more rice! Food takes more than 30 minutes but it is worth it, truly worth a wait! A hearty meal shared with friends to end our day….
More to come….
Yallah! Chibugan Na!