Quick scoop on Kathmandu

Its our forth day in Kathmandu! We originally planned to head up to the mountains today to start our trek around Annapurna, but our hotel advised us to wait until Monday. Nepal is holding its first local elections in 20 years on Sunday.  There is a chance transportation could be disrupted due to a strike today or difficult to arrange as many people are traveling to smaller towns to vote.  Transit is not running on Election Day.  We now have two extra days in Kathmandu and can relax a little more before spending 20+ days hiking.

Here’s the scoop on Kathmandu so far…

Getting our visas and going through security at the airport on Wednesday was uneventful, but as soon as we exited the airport it felt like there were dozens of taxi drivers coming up to us or hollering at us. We knew this was going to happen but it was still jarring (especially being so tired and jet lagged).  We have still not gotten used to the culture of haggling! I am glad that on the trek the tourism board has fixed the prices at the tea houses so we won’t have to worry about either getting a bad deal or not spending enough in the local economy. I’m sure this is something we’ll have to get used to during our trip.

Our first afternoon we got ourselves situated at the hotel and explored Thamel and had dinner (dal baht, Nepal’s “national dish,” and mutter paneer). Thamel is the “backpackers” neighborhood in Kathmandu and is geared for tourists and trekkers. There are hundreds of outfitters and shops hawking inexpensive, knock-off outdoor gear. Lots of restaurants too and so we’ve eaten most of our meals here.

On our first full day we went to Durbar. There are several Durbar Squares in Nepal that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Kathmandu Valley. The Square is a mix of temples and palaces. The palace used to be the King’s residence until 1896. After that it was used for special events and later as a museum. The monarchy was abolished in 2008 when Nepal became a republic.

It was very sad to see the destruction from the 2015 earthquake on these incredibly significant historic and religious sites (not to mention the loss of life and impact on the people). Several of the temples were severely damaged. Just looking at before and after pictures is heartbreaking. That being said, it was still a wonder to see temples still in use that were built in the 16th and 17th centuries.

We also got our TIMS trekking permits, our entry permits for the Annapurna Conservation Area, we ate momo for lunch (Nepalese dumplings) and picked up some trekking stuff.  Through a quick internet search I found a place in Thamel called Shona’s Alpine that makes their own down sleeping bags and had really good reviews. We ended up renting a down sleeping bag for me for 80 rupees per day (about 80 cents USD) and picking up a few other things.

Yesterday, we walked over to the Swayambhu Temple (or Monkey Temple). It was incredible!

Stupa at Swayambhu (Monkey Temple)

Stupa at Swayambhu (Monkey Temple)

While the stupa was cracked during the earthquake, and some of the outer temples were damaged, repairs are underway and it still looks amazing. The temple is up on a hill and gave us a really great view of Kathmandu.

After that we wandered back to Thamel and ate lunch on a roof deck with another great view and just relaxed. The food here is pretty inexpensive (you can get a full meal of dal bhat, lentils, rice and some accompaniments, for $3-4) and its pretty good. We’ve been eating only vegetarian (the sanitation relating to meat does not seem very good so we figured better to be on the safe side) and there are a lot of veggie options. We are very much looking to experiencing street food in Asia, but not in Nepal. Its just not considered safe for visitors. We did end up having dinner at a very hippy/backpacker/trendy spot the other night which was fun but it was a little too cool.

To be honest, I can’t wait to get out of Kathmandu and into the mountains and start our trek (no offense KTM! I just want to see the Himalayas). But, we’re here for two more days and so we plan to visit Patan (a town just south of Kathmandu) and see some more sights in the city before grabbing a bus to Besisahar on Monday. Wish us luck!

Gallery

A Bermudaful Wedding Weekend

After two days flying to Nepal, and two more in Kathmandu, its really hard to believe we were just in Bermuda on Monday! I wanted to make sure to share some photos from Bermuda before we get swept up into the next phase of our trip!

First of all, thank you Steve & Lisa for getting married in Bermuda! CONGRATULATIONS! Y’all are the best and we had a fantastic time and can’t wait to meet up with you somewhere in the world in the next year.

A couple highlights from our visit included:

  • Staying at a great Airbnb in Southampton and getting to see most of the Island via the #8 bus.
  • Taking in that torqouise blue water at Horshoebay Beach and at the Royal Navy Dockyards. 
  • Exploring the National Museum of Bermuda and fort down at the dockyards.
  • Taking the ferry boat from the Dockyards to Hamilton (Bermuda’s capitol city).
  • Wandering around Hamilton.  Especially Fort Hamilton (beatiful flowers and a jungley garden planted in the old moat) and a great outdoor bar, Bulli Social, we found after the wedding welcome reception. 
  • The beautiful wedding of course at Coco Reef!
  • And waaaayyyyy too many Rum Swizzle’s at the Swizzle Inn with most of the Richmond contingent.

Check out some of our favorite pics:

We had such a GREAT time and this was seriously the perfect way to kick off our around the world trip.

After nearly 48 hours of long (but thankfully uneventful) flights, we’re now in Kathmandu. Getting into the city was definitely a culture shock, especially coming from such a relaxed and beachy place like Bermuda! I’ll post a bit more about Kathmandu tomorrow before we head up to the mountains on Saturday.

Status

A Year Around the World — Our travel itinerary

Its so hard to believe that in two days we’ll be flying to Bermuda for our friends’ wedding and kicking off our year of travel!

We’ve been talking about this trip for years, so our planned itinerary came together really organically. After kicking off our adventure in Bermuda for a few days we’ll be flying across the Atlantic (through Amsterdam and Delhi) to Kathmandu, Nepal. From there we’ll spend our first month trekking in Nepal around the Annapurna Circuit and heading up to Annapurna Base Camp. After a month in Nepal we’ll fly to Singapore to kick off a couple months in SE Asia. 

Nothing is 100% set in stone, but here’s our plan:

  • May 3 – May 8: Bermuda (Lisa & Steve’s wedding!)
  • May 10 – June 9: Nepal
  • June through August: SE Asia! (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam)
  • September: Hong Kong & China (We’re planning a route from Shenzhen to Beijing looping counter clockwise through western China)
  • End of September/beginning of October: Trans-Mongolian railroad from Beijing to Moscow with stops in Mongolia
  • October: A couple weeks in Russia
  • Mid-October – November: The Baltics & Eastern Europe (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania)
  • December: Greece & Italy
  • January: Morocco & Spain
  • February: Fly to South America to start last leg of trip
  • February – March: A month in Argentina and Chile mainly in Patagonia
  • Mid-march – May: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador
  • Mid May 2018: Home!

We appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, contacts in these places!

I have also thought about posting a packing list because I know that’s something a lot of people have asked us about and I see it is a popular topic on other travel blogs. But, I think it makes more sense to hold off until we’ve been on the road a bit because I bet things will change.

With that, we’ll try to post every week or so with photos and what we’re up to and do a recap of each country.

And now, back to packing. See you on the other side!