Get your Namaste ready! You are going on a trip to Kathmandu, the capital and largest city in Nepal. Nepal was all ready for a year of tourism in 2020. When you visit Kathmandu, whenever that may be possible, bring along your US dollars. We didn’t even think of bringing our American dollars when we visited in December, 2019. We do what we always do – get local currency from an ATM. The historic temple structures you’ll see are iconic, with evidence dating back to 400 BC. Also, the people are gracious and welcoming, which always makes my travels brighter.
The earthquake in 2015 caused significant damage to the city’s structures, and there is ongoing evidence of rubble, along with rebuilding. Be prepared to walk along damaged sidewalks and dirt roads. Wear comfortable shoes and, of course, dress modestly.
Did You Know – A Trip to Kathmandu for Christmas
- Although the population is more than 80% Hindu, Christmas is a national holiday, and the Nepalese get into the spirit of Christmas with decorations, lights, and music.
- Many of the visitors wear their hiking boots on the plane into town. Just like a Texan’s cowboy boots, it’s easier to wear them than to carry them!
- It takes 12 days to make the trip to and from Mt. Everest base camp:
- Typically, the round-trip trek to Everest Base Camp takes 12 days and 130 kilometers to complete. It is reported to take eight days to get to base camp and four days to get back down, broken into nine days of long trekking and three short trekking days for acclimating to the intense altitude.
- In case you are dreaming of a hike to the crest of Mt. Everest, here’s what it takes:
- Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, with a peak at 8748 meters above sea level.
- How many people have reached the summit at Mt. Everest? Approx. 5000
- How many bodies are left on Mt. Everest? Approximately 200, some landing deep within the crevices.
“Eye Trekking” The Himalayas
We saw Mount Everest! It was a spectacular, breathtaking flight, viewing the mountains of the Himalayas, with the sun shining on the snowy peaks and shade blanketing the lower ranges. Each person has a window seat, and the left side of the plane views the mountain ranges first. Circling around just past Everest, passengers on the right side of the plane get their turn to take pictures and videos of the peaks.
Be prepared to wait at the airport because of delays. If the weather is not clear enough to view the peaks, the planes will wait. We were delayed for three hours on Christmas Day, but the flight was worth every moment of the wait. For boarding, a quick bus ride from the airport terminal to the gets you to the plane. We flew Buddha Air, and the pilots and flight attendants helped make our experience enjoyable. They were knowledgeable and even included a trip for each individual to the cockpit for a picture from their clear, expansive windows.
Wear layered clothing. The sun makes the day warm and pleasant, but the day can be breezy. Also, late night and early morning can be chilly. I took a coat, though, and didn’t wear it at all. I wore a light pullover sweater plus a warm vest over jeans. I bought a wool shawl at Thamel and took it with me everywhere.
For your Mount Everest flight, if you are delayed, sitting in the terminal can get a bit cold. Luckily, there is coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries at a small café inside the terminal. Also, if you are the first flight of the day, the plane will still have a morning chill. Wear that wool shawl!
Learning about Hindu: Cremation in Nepal
Pashupatinath is the largest Hindu temple complex in Nepal. The ancient, humble structures reflect some years of decline, but the spirit of the people is reflected in the bustling crowd, crossing cultural barriers. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temples. Across the River Bagmati, we could view the platforms at water’s edge, prepared for the next cremations. Our Nepali guide told us that the people believe that if a person completes the burial process here, and his body is cremated, then that spirit comes back again as a human, not as a lower life form. This is especially important if the person committed an unfortunate, regrettable wrongdoing in this life.
Music at Jazz Upstairs
When you are in Kathmandu on a Wednesday or Saturday night, make a date to visit Jazz Upstairs. Starting at 8 pm, the house quartet does a two-set performance, with guest artists often sitting in. Read more about the jazz scene here: http://discovery.cathaypacific.com/kathmandu-and-all-that-jazz/ and https://www.facebook.com/jazzupstairsktm/.
The Kumari, Kathmandu’s Child Goddess
Seeing the Kumari was a special gift during our visit. The staff at Kathmandu Marriot said that we were very blessed to have seen the Kumari, Kathmandu’s child goddess. She lives in a guarded, historic house, Kumari Ghar, in Durbar Square.
Each day at the pre-scheduled times of 10 am and 5 pm, the Kumari makes her appearance to the mortals below, coming into view at the center window inside the courtyard of her home. First, I noticed a woman with a shawl covering her face on the window located left of center. A moment later, the women escorted the child to the center window. The crowd gathered in front of us began weeping, awestruck as the Kumari. The Nepali people bowed in reverence, and the people lingered long after the goddess left the window.
Where To Shop
You can always have a day of fun at Thamel, the most popular area for tourist shopping, small hotels, and local restaurants. In addition, I fell in love with the shopping quarter surrounding the Boudha Stupa. The colorful complex is a lovely celebration of gift-giving to the Buddha. Surrounding the activities, local shops sell quality cashmere and singing bowls, two of the city’s finest gift items. Cheerful restaurants and coffee shops beckon you inside.
My Top Choices
Pashmina: SOBHA, Boudha Circle
Momos, Nepal’s favorite snack food: Cafe Mitra in Thamel. Also, the café just around the corner, wherever you are in Kathmandu.
Live Music: Jazz UpstairsTravel with Donna