A Travellerspoint blog

What to do? Kathmandu!

Clean sheets and bustling streets.

overcast 22 °C

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We're not sure whether we were waiting for the Chinese border or the Nepalese border, (or both!), but we were processed as foot passengers into Nepal at at about 10am on Saturday, 22 September. The beauty of the previous day's drive continued, only this time we were blessed with some clear blue skies which just heightened our senses and sparked excitement as we approached Kathmandu.

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Arriving at Dwarika’s (and escaping the group!) was like arriving in paradise. We stepped off the group bus into a bustling Kathmandu street, but the world mysteriously transformed as we were saluted (yes, saluted) through Dwarika’s front door. Finding ourselves in an idyllic courtyard of stone carvings and flowers floating in pots of water, surrounded all around by authentic wooden carved window frames, we both had to work to catch our breath at the beauty and tranquility of the place. Unobtrusive Nepalese music lulled in the background, competing only with the sound of water flowing from stone fountains and a lone monkey stealing what looked like apricot-miniatures from a nearby tree.

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Dwarikas is the result of a life-long quest by the hotel's namesake to preserve the traditional art of Nepalese carving. The hotel was established to showcase Dwarikas' burgeoning collection of window frames and doors saved from the scrapyard since the 1950s!

When we were shown to our room, it was all I could do to hold back tears at the massive, spotlessly clean bathroom after the bathrooms-come-crime-scenes of the last few weeks. The contrast to our previous evening at the border was laughable! Our bedroom area included a beautiful window seat, overlooking one of the hotel’s main courtyards. It took us only minutes to secure a glass of wine and a gin and tonic in the courtyard and take in our tremendous good fortune. Dwarika’s is an incredible hotel that proves a local operation is capable of delivering to international standards (and by that I only mean spotless sheets and bathrooms!), and is something that you simply shouldn’t miss if you visit Kathmandu. The only danger is that you risk being so entranced by the place that you won’t want to leave!

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Lloyd thanking his lucky stars for two nights in clean sheets!

Despite the temptation to do nothing other than allow ourselves to be rejuvenated by the beauty of our surroundings, we did head out to the main sights of Kathmandu with our own guide and driver on Sunday. I visited Kathmandu more than three years ago with my Dad, so for me it was a repeat visit and I think the most surprising thing was how much Lloyd enjoyed the hustle, bustle and absolute chaos of downtown Kathmandu! Anyway, our knowledgeable guide really brought Durbar Square and Bhaktapur to life in a way that every single one of the group guides failed to do. The relief at escaping the group was tangible, notwithstanding the fact that we met some great people who we'd be pleased to welcome in our home anytime (hello Larry, Audrey & Caroline!).

Durbar Square is really the old heart of Kathmandu, and when we visited was preparing for a festival that was due to start the next day. As a result, many of the pagodas were being dressed with red fringes and a number of the buildings were receiving fresh coats of paint.

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Note the street barber in action!

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In the afternoon, we headed out of town to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a spider's web of cobbled old streets that is wonderfully fun to wander around.

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The pottery is manufactured on a communal basis. This is one of two massive kilns, where the pottery is buried in heated sand for several days. Here, hardened and cooled pottery is removed from one kiln.

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We saw the main tourist areas, of course, but enjoyed far more strolling around the residential areas, wondering just how much life has changed over the last fifty years!

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Posted by jacquiedro 08:38 Archived in Nepal Tagged round_the_world

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