Vibrant colors and fragrances of incense, fruit, and turmeric bombard the senses at every turn. No amount of youtube, pintrest, or blog research prepared me for the dizzying array of delicious food and cultural goods to be had in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The streets are thick with what are possibly the world’s most brave pedestrians, as crossing the street requires an act of both faith and courage. Living in Indonesia, I’ve become accustomed to life without sidewalks, timing my steps just right, and utilizing the power of the raised open palm to stop traffic. However, frankly, my dear, Kathmandu doesn’t give a damn. She’s a foreign beauty decked out in silver, turquoise and incense, with just enough of a dusty dirty side threatening to punch out unworthy travelers.
The food may be almost as dangerous as the traffic, for if you partake of the food Kathmandu has to offer, you may never be able to get enough. The Nepali cuisine is delicious: dhal lentil soup compliments flat bread for the perfect comfort meal, momos may top dimsum and ravioli for the best food to come in a small package, throw in various curried dishes, noodles and finish it off with apple pie. In addition to local foods, I found Mexican, Thai, Chinese, and pretty much whatever else I’d been craving since I left the great melting pot of cuisine that is California. But, where else in the world can you wash down your several course meal with an Everest beer and gaze over at the world’s most impressive mountain range? Nowhere.
Kathmandu is a mecca for shopaholics. You can literally furnish your whole house by shopping and bartering your way down one block. Paintings, wood carvings, jewelry, clothes, tea, furniture, stationery, paper lanterns, tapestries, bedding and even door handles: think way beyond Bed Bath and Beyond. I used a helpful guide from The Longest Way Home to get a fair price on the things I got. Although I did have to hold myself back from planning a super bohemian oasis of a future home: Shane would have killed me a little bit.
Somewhat ironically I would say the best way to explore is to trek the great flat expanse of the Kathmandu Valley by foot. Gear up with a local Mountain Man Power Bar, camera, money, map, and readiness to get lost (because you most definitely will). The bonus to getting lost is the more lost you get; the less traffic you have to dodge, and if you’re really good you might find yourself able to walk the middle of a dusty road uninhibited. On one of our four days in the city Shane and I took an 8 hour trek through the streets, temples, historical squares boasting ornate architecture, schools, and villages of Kathmandu.
On our epic journey we met children, sleeping dogs, salesmen, hunger and happiness; and were always greeted with Namaste.