The plan is to spend a month in the country, spend time to do some hiking, temples appreciation, jungle safari, get to know the locals and maybe if I am lucky, will have a chance to do some border travelling across Tibet.
With all this in my mind, I need to reduce all the belongings I accumulated for staying almost 2 years in Japan to one single backpack, the rest are shipped home. You see, my life is like a cycle of wrapping and unwrapping boxes of the stuff that I accumulated in one place, in a place where mostly work bought me too, which after sometime when I finally able to have that good night sleep, I need to repack and move somewhere else and start all over again.
It gets frustratingly tiring at times. Not to have that constant feeling of having a permanent mailbox address or calling a certain place “my home” but then again I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to go places, save enough money, travel around. Whatever term I choose to call it, sometimes a setback or resets in my so-called life is a blessing that I should always be grateful for.
Enough about my sentiments, continue with the story.
After spending a night at the airport to catch my early morning connecting flight, I finally arrived in Kathmandu.
Prior approaching the landing, the pilot happily announces to passengers to look at the right side for a view of Mt. Everest. I was sited at the left side and had to disturb few Nepali fellows to let me see the mountain.
Getting a visa on arrival at Kathmandu airport is as easy as a breeze. For a 40 USD fee, a multiple entry for 30days stay can be acquired. The real challenge on any foreign country is right after you claim your baggage and made your way to the arrival exit where taxi drivers will jump right on you, so the best option is always arrange pick up service to avoid the hassle. Lucky me, my pre-arranged hotel service was holding a signage with my name on it.
Just a few hours back, I was in Tokyo surrounded by the familiarity of train stations and convenience store, now here I am in Kathmandu where for an instant an incomprehensible surreal feeling overwhelms me.
The streets of Kathmandu is like a strong doze of caffeine, it sits you right up, makes you mind awake in a snap and for no reason necessary demands you to be enchanted by it regardless from which mega city you came from.
After a few minutes, we arrived inside the tourist infested district of Thamel. Greeting me on my arrival apart from the owner of the hotel that is eager to sit me down and offers me various tour packages is a dark room. No electricity on a first day, what a warm welcome to a new city! No electricity means failing to notice how awful the hotel room is.
As colorful as the set for the next Bond movie chasing scene, Thamel is like a theme park built for tourists like me, comprising of rows after rows of yak shawls shops, second hand bookshops, money changers, restaurants offering western food and outdoor gear store.
Sometimes it is disarming to see lined of shops selling the same thing. You have to wonder how one will profit more than the other, when every corners of the whole Thamel sells the same thing- yak pashmina, hemp shirts, beads and bags.
Most of the foreign tourists are the one patronizing these shops, we buy and wear layer and layer of yak shawls in an attempt to transform ourselves to look more like the Nepali we project on our minds, on the contradictory it makes us more foreign in every sense.
Walking inside Thamel is the best way to readjust and get acquainted with Nepali people. They are some of the nicest and easiest people to deal with but careful, Thamel means work and some will have revenue on their mind above else, so better shop around first particularly for hiking plans.
Early morning has to be the best time to explore the streets of Thamel. When most shops are still closed, the streets are empty of rickshaw, the only noise has to be from the children rushing to school.
A week around Thamel, I will be perfectly honest, a part of me misses the comfort and strange familiarity of Japan but there is a part of me willing to let it go, be contented of the memories of the life spent over there, but then like many instances in life, I must learn to leave everything behind in order to move forward.
After all this is what life is, it is about changes, regardless if in accordance to your plan or not, no matter how big or small.
More Nepal related posts and other places I will be venturing too in the future coming soon. Kindly stick with me.