Immersion in Thamel, the tourist district of Kathmandu with a mix of trekking shops, travel agencies, spas, restaurants, hotels and small shops. I stayed there the first three days of my trip to Nepal. Let’s have a look at this district!
After obtaining my VISA and picking up my luggages, here I was, in front of the airport waiting for my Taxi. Then suddenly, an assault of taxi drivers started, all promising me the cheapest price to drop me off to my hotel.
The social economic situation is complicated in Nepal, to say the least: there is an oil and gas crisis, that has been lingering for several months. “Many transporters are out of work. And fuel can only be bought through the black market at twice the usual price… That is why we see so many buses stopped along the roads”, I was later told by a taxi driver. Worse, tourists are not as many as usual, so I am very coveted.
My pre-ordered taxi arrives, relieved, I’m off to my hotel in Thamel. No seatbelts, lots of traffic, endless horns, bus rooftops full of travelers. I quickly understand that they don’t abide by the same driving code we have in France.
I arrive at the hotel 45 minutes later, happy to rest in my room after 16 hours of travel. Here the electricity is not supplied continuously: there are time slots that change depending on the day and place. There is hot water but no heating. Afternoons are very nice, around 20°, and night falls around 17h and it refreshes (5°). Let’s go for a ride in the neighborhood!
I meet women in colorful saris, school kids, some rare men in suits, carriers, fruit vendors, and lots of stray dogs sleeping on the road or in front of shops.
The atmosphere is noisy and oppressive, and every 5 meters, I made myself accosted by taxi drivers, vendors or guides.
Here no road signs or traffic lights, traffic is auto managed by horns and bells from cars, bicycles, scooters, mopeds, rickshaws and pedestrians. Sometimes a police officer assists on the crossroads, but I remain vigilant, the roads are in poor condition with lots of holes.
Pollution in Kathmandu is very heavy and the streets are dusty. Many people wear masks to protect themselves. After a day and a half, I adopted a “dentist style”. The good surprise in the middle of these gasoline smells is incense! They are found regularly in front of the small shops, enough to soften a little the smell coming from the exhaust pipes.
The streets are colorful and, posters and placards inundates the walls and the storefronts. At first no so easy to navigate. And here no street names, except a few major ones. So it is very easy to get lost!
But the Thamel area offers many surprises like the dreams garden or interior gardens of restaurants and café.
And, at nightfall, the honking is replaced by the sound dog barkings. A radically different concert.
Next (if the Wi -Fi works): a video, then a trip to Bhaktapur, the old city with full of charm.