I feel like there is no way I can explain the atmosphere of Kathmandu to anyone and do justice to just how much of a hot mess this city is. It is something one must see to believe. It is, as the title of this post states, beautifully colorful and extremely chaotic, but that only scratches the surface. Kathmandu is by far the most fascinating place I’ve ever been in my life up until this point.
I got off the plane yesterday afternoon, was greeted by my driver and drove to my hotel, and the entire time all I could think was, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?!” The streets were madness – cars, trucks, vans, tuk tuks, and what felt like hundreds of motorcycles were all weaving in and out of traffic, missing the crowds of people walking down the street by mere inches. There are no stop lights, stop signs, or even lanes on the road. It is literally a free for all, with aggressive horn honking that made NYC cabs seem tame. I saw a motorbike holding 4 adults and a baby, cows wandering down roads and cars honking at them to move, chickens, stray dogs, goats sitting on piles of bricks, huge groups of school children, buddhist monks, outdoor markets and colorful buildings, prayer flags, stupas…..it all flashed so quickly in front of my eyes that I couldn’t keep up with it all!
I got to the hotel, where I met Kayla, my old friend who is spending my 2 weeks in Nepal trekking and exploring with me. We went for a Nepali beer at a local restaurant and wandered the streets, trying to make sense of it all. We’re in the tourist district called Thamel, with shops selling prayer beads, tibetan bowls, beautiful pashminas, saris, buddhist paintings, spices, teas and every other brightly colored exotic object you can imagine. Everything around us smelled of incense and exotic spices. We fell asleep last night with the sound of thunder crashing on the mountains around us.
Today, we got an up close and personal look at the best sights this city has to offer in our city tour. It turns out, we are the only two people on our REI tour group, so essentially we have our own personal guide (and trekking crew!) the next two weeks as we explore Nepal – how amazing is that! Our guide, Narayan, was super friendly and let us go at our own pace and answered all of our questions with a smile.
The three areas we visited were Boudhanath Temple (a Buddhist stupa), Durbar Square in Patan, and the Swayambhunath Temple, or the Monkey Temple. All of these sights hold both Buddhist and Hindu religious sites, and I found it amazing that the two religions overlap so much here so peacefully. Imagine if the different religions in America were asked to openly worship in the same space…..somehow I feel like it wouldn’t be quite as peaceful.
We are exhausted and need to wake up at 5am to fly to Lukla to begin our trek tomorrow, so I’m leaving you with some photos to get an idea of the incredible things we saw today. Enjoy!
Today was the first day so far in my trip that I feel like exceeded my expectations and lit the fire of adventure in my heart that I have been seeking for so long!
We’ll be back in Kathmandu in 10 days after our trek, and fingers crossed the weather will let us get that #everestselfie we’re dying to get!