I’ll admit arriving in Nepal was a bit of a shock. I came out of the airport terminal at 10pm to 50 odd men yelling “taxi! taxi!” at me, which was little bit nerve wracking for a small 18 year old girl on her first proper overseas adventure! I was also feeling quite sick, which turned out to be food poisoning that I wasn’t going to recover from for 4 days!
Over my first few days in Kathmandu I went through an orientation process involving buying sim cards, getting acquainted with Thamel (the tourist district) and having a look around the main attractions. We started off our sightseeing by exploring Durbar Square before heading out to Swayambhunath (more commonly known as the Monkey Temple) and being massively ripped off by rickshaw drivers. Swayambhunath was beautiful but exhausting as we climbed up the 300 odd stairs to the top. It was well worth it though, not only to see the beautiful temple but also the impressive view across the city. Surprisingly, we didn’t actually see many monkeys!
Day two was spent exploring Pashupatinath and the Bodhnath Stupa. Pashupatinath is one of the most important Hindu temples in Nepal, therefore foreigners are not allowed inside the actual temple however we were allowed to explore the surrounding complex and observe some funeral cremations on the bank of the river. I had been warned that these cremations were very graphic however it really wasn’t that bad… maybe we just weren’t there at the right time! The temple complex was very interesting and peaceful – surprising as we were only a couple of kilometres away from the airport!
From Pashupatinath we decided to walk to Bodhnath, an enormous stupa that seems to be a bit in the middle of nowhere. It took us a couple of hours to get to the stupa as we kind of took a wrong turn and got super lost… however we made it in the end! The stupa was truly stunning, we just sat there for a while looking at it – breathtaking!
On my first weekend in Nepal, my roommate and I decided that as we didn’t have enough time, money or resources to trek to or up Mount Everest we would fly around it instead! She asked around and we ended up flying with a company recommended to us by the volunteer coordinator. However once we saw the plane we definitely started to get a little bit worried…
Of course everything was fine and it was an awesome experience seeing Mount Everest so close! The Himalayas were stunning to look at and luckily we had a really clear day so we could see everything well. Unfortunately later in the year the flight I took (same time and same flight number) crashed and everybody died… I’m just glad I did it when I did! It was very hard to get a clear photo of the mountains through the plane windows however the photo below is one of the best ones.
I look back now and I realise how much of Kathmandu and the country in general I didn’t see. I will definitely have to go back one day and have another explore!