Category Archives: Nepal

Our 3 week exploration backpacking around Nepal, March 2015

Nepal: Pokhara for four days

Pokhara was our last destination and what a spectacular end to the holiday it was! We did go back to Kathmandu for the last two days of the holiday in order to leisurely wait for our flight back to the UK but that doesn’t really count, to me Pokhara was the grand finale to our trip so we treated ourselves to some extreme sports!

Pokhara is very bohemian and many hippies and yogis venture here even with their children. This place is laid back and has a slow pace of life. Quite a few Westerners opt to live here either partially in retirement or totally emigrate and become teachers of English or run their own activities company because Pokhara is the hip place to be if you are into water sports and extreme leisure pursuits.




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Nepal: Lumbini for two days



Our relaxing time in rural Chitwan came to an end and we hopped on a rickety coach with bad suspension for an 8 hour-feeling like I am going to throw up-journey to Lumbini. We very nearly opted not to go, we thought all the effort to see this place for two days and a night was just too much stress, we almost decided to stay in Chitwan longer or go straight to Pokhara and from Pokhara maybe go on a day trip to Bandipur. In the end we figured, being in Nepal is a once in a lifetime opportunity, we may never come back here again and so a little bit of stress to get to an interesting place is worth it, especially since Jon was creating a video and we both wanted to see the Buddhist side to Nepal.


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Nepal: Chitwan for five days


After a 7 hour journey on a packed rickety bus around the dusty mountain side roads of the Kathmandu valley we reached our next destination; Chitwan National park! The district of Chitwan is one of 75 districts of Nepal with Kathmandu being the most well known. Chitwan is located in the southwestern part of Narayani Zone, and it is one of Nepal’s Inner Terai valleys between the Mahabharat and Siwalik ranges, both considered foothills of the Himalayas.
Out of all the destinations we visited whilst backpacking around Nepal, Chitwan was my favourite!

However as we stepped off the bus we were bombarded with a large group of men holding signs and all shouting at once in an attempt to persuade westerners to stay at their hotel. Let me just say: IT DOES NOT PERSUADE ME AT ALL AND I WAS FUMING. Being a quiet person with a lot of tolerance for annoying human behaviour I decided I had enough and sarcastically said to the men “Can you please shut up and stop rudely shouting in my ear and let me get off the fricken bus first?” which actually worked a treat and they backed away. This is quite common in Nepal and it’s almost like a desperate cry to be chosen for said sale, but it really doesn’t work, the fact that maybe a westerner has picked a hotel has nothing to do with the seller irritatingly following them around (with 20 other men trying to do the same thing), it is because said Westerner has chosen the hotel based on their own INDIVIDUAL idea of how they’d like their holiday to be, not because the seller wants to give you “best price.” I think with this Nepalis need a more tactful and quieter way of pitching their sales. But then that’s my opinion. In this case, you can walk into the main village where all the hotels and restaurants are but we had massive backpacks so we told one Nepali we’d like a lift in exchange for viewing his hotel but with no promise of staying there. It worked. We did look around the hotel complex and it was a nice accommodation of small huts surrounded by exotic plants but there was something about it we didn’t quite like so we left and found an Eco Lodge!


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Nepal: Life Beneath the Mountains {Video}

Before I do my three final write ups about our time in Nepal, I thought to show you the video Jon created of our time there. It’s a beautiful video and when I watch it I feel like I am transported back to Nepal. It would have been lovely if a video was made of Morocco but never mind. I think with Nepal we had more time to savor a place and get to know some of the locals and so nobody minded us filming plus we could visit somewhere at our own pace. Nepal is a gorgeous country with an enchanting culture and I recommend fellow wanderlusters to visit there. I hope you enjoy the short video!.

I also wrote an article about it on yogi approved
It has also been featured on SonyAlphaRumours.
So far this video has had nearly three thousand views!

Kathmandu: Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath or ‘The Monkey Temple’ was actually our last day in Nepal. After Chitwan, Lumbini and Pokhara we had two days left back in Kathmandu before we flew back to the UK, the second to last day involved a bit of shopping in Thamel and the last was an afternoon at Swayambhunath. The weather by that point was thundery but pleasantly warm; people moan about the rain and say things like “Oh it’s a shame it rained on your holiday.” and I always give them a quizzical look as to why it’s such a shame? It’s actually a very beautiful experience to feel the rain in another part of the world because it is so different to the rain in your home country plus most of our holidays do not involve lying on the beach every day, most destinations we visit are not beachy-cocktail sipping-going lobster red kind of holidays so the rain really isn’t a shame, I love the rain actually, it’s colour and smell is different in every country.

So, the monkey temple was actually my least favourite place in Kathmandu, I hated those monkeys! Literally hated them. Monkeys are one of my least favourite animals, I do not find them cute, most monkey species have their butts on show and they are nasty little buggers. Even as a child I was not impressed by the monkeys or apes at the zoo, I even skip the monkey enclosures. Unfortunately Swayambhunath temple is swarmed by monkeys and these monkeys are opportunists, never hold carrier bags because they will snatch them out of your hands and make sure all strings, toggles, zips, pockets, hoods are neatly packed away because they will attempt to pull on things. The whole time I was walking around Swayambhunath I was extremely nervous, these monkeys follow you in small groups and if you get too close they do snarl and lash out at you. Thankfully the locals keep a pack of dogs up there too, these dogs keep the monkeys from running amok because they are afraid of the dogs. I actually felt like I was being watched and that the monkeys were planning a group attack so I couldnt fully appreciate the beauty of Swayambhunath and the views below without fear of being stalked or attacked by a dirty monkey.



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Kathmandu: Boudhanath




Boudhanath is a 30 minute walk from Pashupatinath. I highly recommend this walk too because you wander through the streets of a local town, you meet people and watch them go about their daily life, you see women in rice fields and kids curiously approach you to speak English to you and ask if you have any chocolate. It’s a relaxed walk and you feel safe. Nearing the entrance to Boudhanath you will get pestered by a woman holding a baby, pleading for you to buy milk or food for her child, this unfortunately is a scam, A Nepali ‘mother’ plays her trade conning tourists to buy over-priced milk for the ‘baby’ (at inflated prices) which she then sells back to the grocer at normal price splitting the profit, so please be hardy and don’t let this scam tug at the heart strings.
You do have to pay to enter Boudhanath because that helps maintain the site. Boudhanath is very small but grand, on entering there is a gigantic stupa in the middle whilst curious tourists and Buddhists on pilgrimages walk around it whilst chanting mantras. Towards the outer area of Boudhanath there are numerous tourist shops offering Mala prayer beads and Tibetan paintings as well as small cafes and restaurants.

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Kathmandu: Pashupatinath

After Bhaktapur we ventured to Pashupatinath the next day. Pashupatinath is only 12 minutes away via taxi and we spent the morning there. From Pashupatinath you can walk to boudhanath which will be written about in the next blog post. From all the places we visited in the Kathmandu district, Pashupatinath was my favourite because of it’s deep connection to Hinduism and Tantrism. Many places in Nepal have a split belief between Hinduism and Buddhism and walking around neighborhoods of Kathmandu you see numerous stupas dedicated to Buddha and plenty of shrines dedicated to many numerous Hindu gods & goddess and the Nepalese are lovingly devoted to both spiritual beliefs and so there is a peaceful balance and acceptance of both spiritual paths. However Pashupatinath is distinctly Hindu and only a 30 minute walk away Boudhanath is primarily Buddhist.





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Kathmandu: Bhaktapur

The day after our trip to Patan we hopped on a local bus for an hours drive to Bhaktapur. Buses from Kathmandu leave from the bus stop near Ratna Park, A ride from here to Bhaktapur is about NPR 50 but as a tourist, you should expect to pay a bit more. As soon as you get off the bus you enter the medieval age. Unlike the concrete roads that are found everywhere in the world, the roads of Bhaktapur are still make of brick. The houses are still built in Newari architecture, as the Municipality of Bhaktapur made a rule that here the houses and other buildings should be built in this fashion. This place was a favourite of ours, so much so in fact we both agreed that if we were to live & work in Nepal, Bhaktapur would be our home because it’s only an hour commute if you work in Kathmandu, it’s cleaner, quieter (with primarily pedestrian pathways) and it’s known for it’s arts & craft. This place is rather charming with beautiful ancient temples in the centre, a Potter’s square where you can see how the artists hand craft clay pots and vases, an art school that teaches students traditional Thangka paintings and places where you can see wood, metal and stone artworks being carved. Bhaktapur has the best preserved palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples and craftwork. This is supported by the restoration and preservation efforts of German-funded Bhaktapur Development Project (BDP), no wonder Bhaktapur is so much more clean and well kept in comparison to neighboring towns! Germans are renowned for their efficiency & cleanliness.

KHWOPA is the ancient name of Bhaktapur. The term “Bhaktapur” refers to “The City Of Devotees”. “Khwopa” actually refers to the masks which are believed to have been worn by gods and goddesses. Bhaktapur is popular for different forms of mask dances based on lives of different deities and therefore, it was named “Khwapa” which later came to become just “Khwopa,” which is also near to meaning masks.






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Kathmandu: Patan

After a couple of days settling in Thamel and getting our bearings we hopped in a cab that took us to Patan for the day. Patan is about a 15-20 minute taxi ride from Thamel and is another district of Kathmandu.One thing to note whilst using taxis, always barter with the driver first to fix a price before you hop in the vehicle, they don’t use meters and because you are a tourist they will charge what they think they can get away with. Your fare within the Kathmandu city should only cost about 200 Rupees (£2 or $3). These taxis are every where and they drivers are usually trying to find their next customer which can be a real pain in the bum when walking down the street and you’ll pretty much get at least five drivers shouting from their window “Taxi?! For good price!”

Arriving in Patan, I was a little underwhelmed, not with it’s ancient history but with the area in general, it is not very well kept to the point it had lost it’s charm and well it just wasn’t my favourite place to visit whilst in Nepal. The Durbar Square is very similar to the one in Thamel only dirtier and so many bored locals loitering about and dropping litter & spitting doesn’t make for grandeur when trying to enjoy the stunning architecture. However Patan is known for it’s rich cultural heritage and with it’s arts & craft. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue. Sadly the city received extensive damage from an earthquake on 25 April 2015 and numerous ancient temples were either severely damaged or completely destroyed.





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Kathmandu: Thamel

Back in March 2015, Jon and I took the plunge at the last minute to go backpacking around Nepal for almost three weeks. Six months prior we were researching and discussing which country to visit and by chance Jon stumbled upon an article about Nepal and said “how about here?” I was dubious since I didn’t know much about Nepal and I was drawn more to India but the more photos I saw I realised that this place is kind of magical. We were so last minute it was literally days before our leave date that we booked our flights! Talk about spur of the moment! We literally went to Nepal with no plan, only one hotel booked for our stay in Kathmandu and with the intention to backpack to other locations, holy smokes!



We flew with AirIndia and I highly recommend them, they are safe, reasonable price and you travel on a big, comfy plane. We landed in India for a few hours before catching another shorter flight to Nepal. New Delhi’s ariport is astoundingly beautiful & elegant, so much more glamorous than the airports in the UK (Narrow minded Brits would be shocked to know this, thinking India’s airport must be feral and made out of straw). They even have a gorgeous bohemian and Indian inspired gift shop with musicians playing music in the back, I was literally in heaven in this shop, I didn’t want to leave.

Landing in Nepal, it was a massive culture shock times a thousand. Jon and I starred at our new environment, looked at each other and thought “Well this is a mistake, how are we going to enjoy this? Better yet, how are we going to survive this?!” Chaotic is an understatement.

The moment we left the airport we were bombarded (no joke) by a massive group of men claiming to be taxi drivers wanting to take us to our hotel “for good price”. Looking like two lost deer’s in headlights a seasoned Israeli traveler came to our rescue, this guy came out of nowhere and pretty much took charge. Like us he was also tired, hungry and needed a shower; he was also extremely funny and due to his tiredness appeared slightly drunk when bartering with the drivers whilst holding his cigarette “No man, you are pissing me off, this is not good price.” He’d casually say, I wish I had gotten a photo of this scene, the hilarity of it perked us up. In the end our hotel pick up eventually arrived and as a thank you we gave the Israeli a lift into Thamel. If it is your first time visiting Nepal or if your traveling is not advanced I do recommend (if you can) asking for an airport pick up through your hotel, it’s safer, faster & cheap because the moment you leave the airport you are so sleepy, all you are going to want to do is get to your hotel room rather than have 10 to 20 Nepalese men in your face attempting to get you in their taxi. By the way, this happens everywhere and you get used to it, it’s completely harmless (the Nepalese are a gentle people) so you don’t feel like you are in danger but it does feel like a Saturday afternoon in primark-uncomfortable, loud and annoying.







Once settled in our hotel we had a power nap, it just happened suddenly, like our minds and bodies shut down and we fell asleep for about two hours. Luckily this really helped us recharge and within 15 minutes we were out on the streets of Thamel. We were also fortunate not to succumb to jet-lag either. Once wandering around the streets of Thamel we were mesmerized by it’s wild beauty, everywhere you stood was a photo opportunity and because we arrived two weeks before the tourist season hit, it was largely just us and the locals. Interacting with the locals is easy, they speak good (sometimes broken) English and they are largely polite. Due to Nepal having a mixture of Hindu & Buddhist influence and their belief in the four goals of Hindu life these people are very rarely rude and they are extremely gentle, their roads are deranged, their traffic system is frenzied and their automobiles are noisy but the people are absolutely lovely. Bartering with them is interesting and it is quite difficult to haggle for local price but if you walk away they get upset they have offended you, some have ran after us with “OK, OK, take it for this price” not realizing that actually you just don’t want the item anymore, even though you politely decline they are a persistent lot but we never felt threatened.






Thamel is a backpacker’s dream because you are surrounded by so much culture and you don’t need to prebook a hotel, most seasoned travelers walk into Thamel with nowhere booked to stay and you can find hundreds of hotels and hostels at varying prices as easy as walking into your local kiosk and finding your favourite bar of chocolate. Kathmandu Guesthouse is a popular choice and it’s a great hotel to mention to a taxi driver to drop you off in Thamel as it’s a widely known ‘landmark’ to them. We stayed at Pilgrim’s Guesthouse for about 5 nights, it is cheaper than Kathmandu Guesthouse and has a lovely courtyard garden/eating area and it is situated slightly further back from the main road meaning less noise which is a blessing in Thamel since this place is just as noisy at night too.


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We ventured into Kathmandu durbar square for the rest of the afternoon and before the sun went down. Kathmandu Durbar Square (Nepali: वसन्तपुर दरवार क्षेत्र, Basantapur Darbar Kshetra) in front of the old royal palace of the former Kathmandu Kingdom is one of three Durbar (royal palace) Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Several of the buildings did collapse here during the earthquake of April 2015, Jon and I were very fortunate to have been some of the last visitors to see these breathtaking buildings and also be safely home in the UK two weeks prior to the natural disaster. Due to the earthquake damage I am unsure as to what is still standing and what has changed in terms of entry fee but Nepal is now safe again to visit. I have a love for ancient Hindu carvings and temples so I was in my element walking around this stunning site. We even ventured inside a temple dedicated to Ganesh (essentially a large rock that has naturally carved into the look of an elephant and is therefore seen as an omen of sorts) people gathered here to be blessed and pray before the rock as well as place flower offerings around it and being someone who likes to learn about another culture by doing as the locals do, I also opted to be blessed and a bindi was gently placed on my third eye.

One of the beautiful things about Thamel is that if you are brave enough to ‘get lost’ there are other smaller holy sites situated in numerous nooks and crannies and backstreet corners down windy alleys to visit other than Durbar Sqaure. Like I mentioned previously, Nepal is largely safe, there are beggars and you do have to have common sense anywhere you go in the world but you are less likely to get mugged or attacked here than you are in London and that is because of their spiritual belief in Karma amongst other beliefs about life. There is a certain charm and adventure about finding a disheveled Stupa or temple covered in pigeons, behind rusty buildings on the main streets of Thamel, here you will find stillness (other than the flapping of pigeons) and you will also walk into the local’s living quarters who don’t mind you marveling at their way of life. So do try it, don’t be afraid to walk off the the beaten path and immerse yourself in the culture away from the usual tourist attractions which are usually not that far away from the main roads anyway and if you get lost, there are so many taxis to choose from, it’s a doddle getting back to the area your hotel is situated in.




Another thing I also recommend you try is the local street vendor food (EAT THE MOMOS!) if you have had all your travel vaccinations it shouldn’t be problem eating anywhere in Nepal, again have common sense about you, if you see other backpackers and plenty of locals waiting in line to buy food then you know it’s delicious and it is safe (with restaurants use your trusty lonely planet guide for popular safe options), on the flip side just like India it is inevitable you will get ‘Delhi Belly’ here too so rather than attempting to avoid it, just go for it, your tummy may suffer for about a day but in the grand scheme of things it is better to roll with the punches and enjoy the moment than miss out. People who have a fear of everything will never know true enjoyment and therefore do not fully know what it feels like to be alive. Have your wits about you, be safe but also take calculated risks, your mind will thank you for it later because you’ll have stored some happy memories in your brain forever.

The water however should be bought with caution and don’t drink tap or running water unless you want to become very sick. When buying water, there should be an extra plastic seal around the bottle top, if there is no seal or the seal looks broken then don’t buy-some kiosks fill up old bottles with tap water to save on expenses which is dangerous for you. you should do your best to purchase iodine tablets too and pop in your first aid kit, alongside Dioralyte, Immodium & Berocca.






All in all after our first afternoon in Thamel we got over the culture shock and realized this place is astoundingly magical, although not for the faint hearted, if you are paradise loving-beach goer then Nepal is perhaps not for you but if you love a good shock, lots of colour and variety, some grit and grime and a culture seeped in ancient history and lovable communities then this place is for you. After only a few hours in Thamel we could easily navigate around the streets, although busy it can seem deceivingly like a maze you’ll be lost in forever but you won’t, within the hustle and bustle there is an undertone of peace and relaxed attitudes as locals and backpackers casually walk down the same narrow roads numerous cars and mopeds drive down. Seems crazy right? But the pedestrians in Thamel kind of dominate the roads, and because these narrow streets are so packed with automobiles they don’t go very fast, in fact most of the time you walk past traffic jams so you’ll never get knocked over.
Numerous westerners live here and I can see why, it’s cheap and surprisingly an easy way of life regardless of the noise, pollution and over population. Thamel is a gem of a place, very much so the diamond in the rough. You’ll never experience anything like it in your life, try it and you won’t be disappointed.
And here are the other destinations we visited in Nepal, click on the links below.
Kathmandu: Thamel
Kathmandu: Patan
Kathmandu: Bhaktapur
Kathmandu: Pashupatinath
Kathmandu: Boudhanath
Kathmandu: Swayambhunath
Five days in Chitwan
Two Days in Lumbini
Four Days in Pokhara

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