Welcome to the Jungle: Kathmandu
There is a song I sing to myself whenever I go to New Delhi, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns and Roses. It’s a fitting title for the chaos that this North Indian town imbues. It’s been decided, I am going to have to expand the meaning of this song and spread across the mayhem that is Kathmandu.
I am a loss for words on how to describe Kathmandu. It’s crowded, dirty, vibrant and loud but also kind, peaceful and ordered. It’s a city where all your senses are saturated from 7 am until 10 pm when an eerie calm overtakes the congested avenues and back streets at 10:01pm.
Existing in this ordered disorder is like trying to scale Everest with no training but little by little, you reach base camp and wondered what the fuss was about.
There is a lot to do here (see my top 10 things to do Kathmandu list).
Most foreign visitors will likely find a hotel near Thamel, which is a tightly knitted series of passageways (they call them roads here but I beg to disagree). Each street is stuffed with shops, trekking stores, tour companies and lots and lots of restaurants. You can dine in a different country every day for 2 weeks in Thamel and be extremely satisfied with your meals. Among all the brick & mortar establishments the streets are caked with rickshaw drivers, taxis, bicyclers,small buddha temples, napping dogs, pushy touts, vegetable sellers, whirling motorcyclists and hurried pedestrians.
Kathmandu is not for claustrophobics, obsessive compulsives, or anxious travelers. Once you get the hang for the how the people are and learn a couple words of Nepali (can’t stress how helpful this was talking with people), the city is your curried flavor oyster. I was also here right before the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) conference and the city was digging deep into it’s coffers and giving everything a nice shine, roads were paved, sidewalks and railings installed and everything got a layer of paint. The locals joked that they wished the SAARC would come once a month so their city would get more infrastructure projects it deserves.
Kathmandu takes work for the wanderer. Of course, you can opt out of the heavy lifting and join one of our tours. I am partial to the work as I get to know Kathmandu like I would a new friend, learning her likes (harmony) and dislikes (traffic) and the best way to exist within her world.
If you are interested in going to Nepal, I have tours there. One tour is 9 days and will cover Kathmandu and her sister city of outdoor adrenaline, Pokhara. Of course, our longer 12 day tours feature the afore mentioned with stops in Chitwan National Park and Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.