Arrival in Kathmandu – Little Delhi?!
Optimistically I headed off to my last stop Nepal, country No.24. I should finally be a bit more quiet and peaceful. But if you search for a more relaxed environment, the capital Kathmandu, especially the tourist area Thamel, is not really the right place. Hectic life and traffic jams are on Indian level, the air feels even more dusty. In short, Kathmandu is my personal Little Delhi.
My hostel, however, was really great. I got a comfy private room with kingsize bed, breakfast, acceptable wifi and a pleasant surrounding for 10$/night. Still not really well, I spent the first days mostly around my stay.
Already in the taxi from the airport into the city, they ask me if I want to go trekking. The whole tourist industry is based on that. The driver gave me a card of the “best travel agency in town”, which should mean a lot, because there are quintillion of agencies around Thamel.
But first, I ask for it at the hostel owner, who seemed to be trustworthy. A friend of him owns a travel agency (how else could it be) and made me an offer for a 13 day trek at the Annapurna area in the Himalayan. On the one hand, 13 days felt a bit too long for me and on the other hand the price was hefty. He wanted to have more than 1.000$ for that. I stove him off and told him I will sleep it over first. After all this is not a decision you should make instantly. Besides, I had to book the week in the monastery first, which I did that day, so I was able to focus on planing my trekking. I wanted to start right after my week of silence at the 21st of August. It was the perfect timing, to finish the trek and fulfill my 1 year of traveling and finally fly back home exhausted but satisfied. But there was still a problem. 13 days and more than 1.000$ was just too much. I remembered the “taxi agency” I had a look on their homepage. I was pretty (positively) surprised. The page looked really professional and well structured. Even the prices seemed to be fair. Alright, I took a look at their agency in the heart of Thamel. I decided quickly to do a 10 day trek to the Annapurna Basecamp for 670¢ (read more about this in my next post). Still a lot of money, but how often do I get the chance to stroll through the Himalaya range? I was not confident enough to do it without a guide. Moreover, after a year of constantly organizing, I kind of had no more motivation to plan such a trip. So I booked this all-inklusive-don’t -have-to-think-about-anything package. Beginn at 21st and return to Kathmandu at 31st of August. Absolutely brilliant time management. In the morning of the 2nd of September I flew back home…
You see, the rest of my trip was completely planed. I had a few days left in Kathmandu before moving in the monastery for a week. I spent this time, as I mentioned, mostly around the cosy hostel and did a few very dosed sightseeing trips. The visit of the presidents place was a pratfall. You were not allow to take your camera in to take at least a few fotos of the very few interesting things in there. However, the Swayambhunath temple is an absolutely Must Do if you are in Kathmandu. The “monkey temple” on a small hill over the roofs of the city is a pretty copious temple complex. Especially the many monkeys prowling around makes it to an extraordinary experience.
Beside that, I had at least a foothold in Kathmandus nightlife. I met Dylan from the UK in my hostel and went with him and a few other to a bar called “Jazz upstairs”. I can absolutely recommend it, if you want to end the day with a few drinks, entertaining live music and great food.
I liked the Nepalese food in general. Besides the classic Dhal Bhat (you will get to know it extensively in my next post 😉 ) it is perfect for a snack here and there. Whether momos (like dumplings) or chips chili (like french fries with grilled tomatoes, onions, paprika and chili), my 2 favorites, the Nepalese food is kind of a “sharing food”. So it is really social.
A week of silence – quiet & peaceful
I actually don’t want to talk about my week in the monastery in detail. But I can say it was a great experience and gave me a lot, to have some time for myself, listen within myself and hide of all the confusion in the world. Even if lot of the 90 people in my group criticized the retreat. Especially because of the way the teacher presented their opinions, who tried to give us a first glimpse of Tibetan Buddhism.
I chiefly did this retreat because of the silence and meditation practice. So I did not really care about the opinions they presented us in the teachings. In contrary, I learned a few very interesting ways of actings, even when I did not accept everything they told us (especially about the topics of karma and reincarnation). But I realized, that I felt really happy with such a simple life, thinking and discuss questions about morality or the meaning of happiness (we had a 1 hour discussion group every day).
The first day back in the ultra hectic Kathmandu was really hard for me. I was completely overwhelmed in the beginning. Particularly of the information flood (the digitals in special). I wistfully looked back on the last 8 days without a connection to the outer world, the week of silence…
But the next highlight was already about to start the next morning…