Wednesday, 12 October 2011

First impressions of Kathmandu

Kathmandu is hot, hectic and not what we expected. It's quite overwhelming walking the narrow streets dodging motorbikes, rickshaws and taxis, with the constant tooting of horns, and everywhere is so busy it's hard to take all the activity in. Outside the touristy area of Thamel with its hundreds of trekking gear and souvenir shops, street vendors selling tiger balm and snake charming whistles, the narrow streets of the old town are even more fascinating, interrupted by little squares with pagoda temples surrounded by burning candles, every space filled with somebody selling something. Medieval temples are decorated with amazing wooden facades, and by climbing the steps of one of these temples we could get a bird's eye view of city life. Each night there's been a black out, but life just carries on by candlelight. It's easy to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets, but so far we've made it back to our 'hotel' each night (it turns out 6 pounds a night doesn't get you a bargain deluxe hotel room, just a horrible place to stay!).

Tomorrow we're leaving the city on a 117 km journey to the Langtang region of the Himalayas. 117 km may not sound very far, but somehow it takes 10 hours! If you watched 'World's most dangerous roads- Nepal' you may understand. Apparently there is a landslide blocking the last section of the journey but we should be able to get nearly the whole way and walk from there! We have read that the bone rattling bus journey is so bad that some people have opted to walk the 8 days back instead! We're hoping to walk up the Langtang valley to a high monastery, and then to some sacred lakes and out via lowland villages. The whole trek will probably take about 2 weeks, and we'll be staying at tea houses each night. So you'll probably next hear from us when we're back in Kathmandu nursing blisters and sore shoulders.

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