As a child, the words Kathmandu and Timbuktu seemed to roll off the tongue, they felt exotic and spicey.
I went to find out if Kathmandu is so.
The streets of tourist area Thamel are narrow, cluttered, hyperactive most of the day and overwhelming on arrival.The cityscapes we saw are frenetic and piled up on one another.
The haze of the Kathmandu valley crowded out the mountain views and rubbish ends up in the river.
The streets away from the tourist area are energetic, and I do find them exotic. The narrow lanes with tumbling buildings overhead and wiring that becomes chaotic.
The market stalls offering varied delights, some in handcrafted bamboo baskets.
The shopfronts appearances are different to home and yet still familiar.
Though selling bags of cement is not what I see on my local suburban streets of Sydney.
Wandering along a route suggested by our Lonely Planet guidebook, we find ancient artefacts ignored by most, incredible works of art mostly ignored in the streetscape.
The guidebook directs us to this magazine shopfront with the most ornate and spectacular timber window frame above.
In a more upmarket part of town, the name of one store brings us amusement.
We’d noted in our hotel that the towels weren’t the same crisp, clean white
we come to expect as world-wealthy westerners. Flashing past the “laundry” in our taxi we understand why.
To our western eyes the street rubbish is unsettling, but we do see shopkeepers carefully brushing their street frontage each morning, tossing water onto the dust.
The Garden of Dreams, close to the Thamel, provides space and peace and respite.
Harry has asked about earthquakes and been assured “they don’t happen here”. Oh dear, the thoughts of the impact of a quake in this seismically active area are discomforting at least. The mix of Hinduism and Buddhism is seen all over, often blending into one another with local wildlife added to the mix.
The earthly representations of gods are worshipped daily.
The smoke from cremation hangs over the scene at Pashupatinath, a mix of Hindu and Buddhist shrines, some ancient with the Sadhus hanging around posing for tourists.