Exploring Kathmandu

After my first day of really just chilling at the hostel and getting used to a new time zone, I was adamant about getting out on the town the next day.

So I got up, gathered my things and got ready (aka braided my hair and put on clothes). But when the time actually came to leave the hostel, I couldn’t get myself to move.

I kept telling myself that I was going to get lost, and there was no way I’d be able to get back to the hostel. I was afraid because my language isn’t native to Nepal, and I wouldn’t be able to communicate. I didn’t have a set plan of where I wanted to go, and that freaked me out even more.

I stood up and pulled the curtains to the window in my room to the side. I saw motor bikes wipping around the corner, streets bustling with life and the birds were singing. I wanted so badly to be apart of it, but I kept telling myself I couldn’t do it.

I had a terrible time at the airport in Seattle getting on the plane, and in a way, this was a mirror of that, but this time in Kathmandu. I just didn’t feel I was capable. And so many people were telling me I was strong for going on this trip, but I felt like the epitome of weak.

I sat on my bed and just started crying. The tears kept coming, one after another , for the longest time. I didn’t even know that I could cry so freaking much. And to some degree I wasn’t sure what I was crying for. I knew I was scared to be alone, and of getting lost, but once I started, it just kept on coming.

About 20 minutes later, my friend from college, Rachel, texted me on WhatsApp (a international texting app) and asked me “how are you doing on this fine day?”

She just recently got back from spending five months in Nepal, and six months in Sri Lanka. I told her I was having a rough time, and that I felt like fear was holding me back from exploring the town.

She immediately called me. She told me that on her first day in Nepal, she went to the front desk of the hostel she was staying at, because she had to get something at a convenient store and was asking for navigational help. The receptionist drew her a map, but she was still as terrified to leave her hostel as I felt that I was.

She said she made it to the store and back to the hostel, and didn’t go anywhere else the rest of the day. The next day she ventured out a bit further, and continued to push her limits until she was comfortable. She empathized with me about being scared, and said that it was totally normal.

Being in a different country is a whole different world. People say that all the time, but you don’t actually understand the meaning until you’re in the situation. Especially if you suffer from any form of anxiety, just about anything in a foreign country can trigger you, and all the sudden you can’t think clearly, and any faith you had in yourself quickly diminishes.

Another thing Rachel said to me, was that when you’re out and about in your home country bouncing around with friends (basically what I’ve been doing the last month leading up to Nepal) life seems so easy. But it’s trip like this that really expose us to ourselves, and holy shit I couldn’t agree with her more.

More than that, I’m sure there are other things within my soul that need to be patched up. It all just came out in a flurry of tears that day.

People say when you’re breaking down to really feel it. Not look for a solution, don’t run and hide. Just sit with it. Feel the pain, realize you’re in the thick of it, and when it’s over try to let it go. So much easier said than done, but I was trying my BEST.

Alright, enough emotional shit, back to the story.

Rachel recommended I switch hostels. She had some friends in town who’s family owns a hostel, and she called them and they said they’d happily pick me up.

Before I knew it I was riding on the back of a motor bike through the streets of Nepal, on my way to the Golden Buddah Hostel.

This hostel was a bit different than the first one I stayed at, in a good way. It was family run, and I really liked that. It was also a bit tucked away from the noisy streets of Thamel, a tourist district in Kathmandu, where my first hostel was. I like the peace and quiet these days and I felt much more comfortable.

My room had a small balcony, and I loooove balconies/rooftops, anything with a view to the outside world! Even a window works.

The Golden Buddah also had really amazing roof tops. I’m telling ya, this is my favorite thing about Nepal. One of the rooftops had a lofted mattress as a seating area, with a wood table in front. The porch was lined with potted green leafy plants, and during a tour of the hostel, one of the brothers told me the plants were all potted by his dad, who has a love for gardening.

The other rooftop was a floor higher, and had a black spiral staircase. The staircase led to a lookout over the entire city. I’d never seen anything like it. Buildings stacked above one another for miles. You could see a temple in the background, that apparently everyone calls Monkey Temple because so many monkeys live there. Many of the buildings were painted in bright pastel colors, and I could see other families just hanging out on the rooftops, laundry lined out to dry. I even saw a small group of young kids dancing around to Nepalese music.

I looked around and I was in awe of my surroundings. That day I wanted to see the world, and I finally was having the opportunity to. I felt like I was catching my breath, and I was content.

I spent some time on the roof with one of the brothers talking about my upcoming trek, Three Passes Trek, in the Everest region of the Himalayas. Although he lived in Nepal, he’d never been to these mountains.

But he did have some great advice on what to bring and where to get it. He gave me advice on the permit system, how to get a SIM card (a phone card for Nepal that would work in the mountains) and I needed a micro-USB cord for my external battery that he said he knew where to get.

Moments later, he stood up and said “let’s go!” So we spent the day rummaging through town, crossing some t’s and doting some I’s before the big trip. He walked very quickly and was certain of what direction he was going in. He was a local, after all. But for someone who was just scared to leave her hostel, it was exciting to finally be out on the town and in a way feel like I knew where I was going. We spent probably 4 hours exploring the city.

One of the first places we walked through was Thamel. Thamel is definitely the most vibrant area of the city that I’ve seen. I started calling it the New York of Nepal. Although NY has tourists attractions on a much larger scale, this area is booming with tourists and locals who’re trying to appeal to them with everything you could ever need. Shopping stores are jammed in every possible nook and cranny, with walls filled to the brim of colorful products. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to sell you something, and there are all kinds of restaurants all about.

We also walked through part of the city that wasn’t so busy. We walked past a theatre, a run down political building and across several bridges. Many of the streets were lined with pictures of China’s president, who was visiting soon. There were also pictures scattered of Nepal’s president, and several banners that read “long live Nepal’s friendship with China”.

I ended the night watching a documentary on Everest and had a home cooked meal by the mother of the family. The hostel has a menu you can order from, and everything is hand made by the mother. Rachel warned me about how good the food she made was, and that it was so delicious, Rachel calls her “Magic Hands”. I too was SO impressed with the cuisine! I had a multi-fruit lassi, which is basically a fruit smoothie (this one was made of bananas and apples) a potato “roll” and noodles with veggies. The rolls were hands down my favorite part. They’re more like a thick mini pancake of potatoes, mixed with onions and “magic” spices, and served with a rich orange-curry sauce that surprisingly wasn’t too spicy for me.

I went to bed exhausted. It was an emotional day that turned out to be quite the adventure.

The next day I was determined to navigate the streets solo, and one of my goals in Kathmandu was to do a yoga class before I head out to trek. I found a reputable studio less than a mile away, and I gathered my things and was on my way.

I had my maps app out the entire time and within about 20 minutes I’d made it! Along the way I was approached by locals several times, trying to sell me things, asking where I was going or by beggars, but I kept my eye on the prize. This may seem like a small task, but it was my first big victory in the city alone, and I was so happy about that!

I arrived to the studio at 10:35am, and saw that a class was starting at 11am. I sat at a coffee shop close by and had a blended mint-lemonade. Doesn’t that sound delicious?! I’d never even heard of the combo before in a smoothie so I was all in, and I wasn’t disappointed!

The yoga class went well. It was beginners yoga, and focused on learning poses correctly, and at the end of class piecing them all together. It lasted an hour and a half, and in a way I was hoping for something a bit more unique but I was cool with it. After class, I was on my way to visit the garden of dreams that was just a block up the road.

The Garden is peaceful and has several beautiful pieces of architecture. There is a large palace-like building that you can sit to have lunch at, and I think I saw over 50 girls take a cute Insta pose in front of a camera there. There were several different flowing water features, and even a homemade swing.

I found a shaded bench to sit on, and started reading a book I brought with me, The Alchemist.

After about an hour I left. I was on my way back home, but knew I wanted to do some window shopping. I stopped in at several stores, and found myself looking for jewelry. A opal ring I bought in Mexico on my 21st birthday has began to tarnish, and I was eager to replace it with one I’d find in Nepal. Unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I had fun trying things on nonetheless.

I made it back to the hostel and spent the evening making sure my gear was in line for the next day, as I was planning on taking a 12-hour Jeep ride from Kathmandu to Salleri, where I’d start trekking.

The hostel let me keep a bag of things I brought but wouldn’t need with me in the mountains. What a relief, to help make my pack a bit lighter.

The night ended with two more potato rolls and another multi-fruit lassi, and I was in bed before I knew it.

Fun facts:

⁃ To get into the Golden Buddah Hostel, you ring a doorbell and the key is attached to a long string that’s thrown down to you. It’s a way of keeping the hostel safe, but totally reminded me of that (Disney?) fairytale where the princess throws her hair down to the prince. Maybe I’m getting the storyline wrong, but you get the idea.

⁃ The largest bill in Nepal is 1000 rupees, which is equivalent to a little less than $9.

⁃ The formula from feet to meters is __ feet x 3.28 = __ meters.

⁃ A momo is a Nepalese dumpling and it tastes exactly how you think it would.

⁃ Nepal is a place where you can bargain price with store owners (if you’re a tourist, you’re definitely bait for getting ripped off)

Published by alexandriacremer

Hi. My name is Alexandria, trail name Soushine. I hiked over 1,750 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. I'm the one on trail who brings far too much first aide gear, eats produce almost every day yet ALWAYS has bags of sugar-y candy. Being out in the wilderness for over five months changed my life in the most positive ways, and I'm yearning to find ways to bring that positivity into society. Let's connect!

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