Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - Yup, still in Kathmandu. But Karl is here and we are waiting for our Indian visa. It's taking a little longer than we expected and it's quite an elaborate process from which they extract a few extra dollars from US citizens for the privilege. The visa process involves going to the embassy early in the morning, waiting in line, filling out a telex form to verify that you are a citizen of said country, paying the telex fee, waiting again in line early in the morning 3 business days later, filling out the visa form, leaving your passport and $54 for a 6 month tourist visa and finally, waiting again in line later that day between 4-5pm to pick up your passport with a newly minted Indian visa. So after all this we have had to postpone the start of our Annapurna Circuit trek for 2 days. For me this means I will have spent 2 weeks in Kathmandu. Though there are definitely worst cities to be stuck in for 2 weeks, it is the longest I have stayed in one place for the last 5.5 months and I am itching to start the trek.

Anyways, during these 2 weeks, I have had a chance to see many of the sites in Kathmandu and its surrounding valley. I did not have terribly memorable experiences, yet, or exciting adventures but I did enjoy the scenery, people, sounds and most of the time, smells. Just some initial impressions....

The Nepali people and culture at least here in Kathmandu seem to be influenced by India more than any other country, imho. They women wear salwar kameezs, they are predominately Hindu, just about every restaurant has Indian food on their menu even if they are called La Dolce Vita and a lot of the imported products are from India. Things might change as we head to the Annapurna area and Pokhara. I've read that the folks there are originally from the high plains of Tibet.

There are a lot of tourists here in Kathmandu. Doesn't help that we are staying in Thamel, the backpackers' area of the city. It's nice in a way...the variety of food and restaurants are great. We've met a lot of other fellow backpackers. But it's really busy, crowded, noisy and touristy. But did I already write, I am ready for some trekking.

Here, however, are some of my favorite pics with some explanation:

School girls on the way to school.

Colorfully dressed locals in Durbar Square, Kathmandu.

Kathmandu Valley from the Monkey Temple

Local woman in Bhakatapur taking a nap amongst pottery.

A temple of Newari-style in Bhakatapur.

Kids just hanging out in Bhakatapur.

School girls on the way home from school.

There are definitely a lot of good photos...check out the album below:

07-12-2007 Kathmandu

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