So we flew to Nepal on 29th Jan via Malaysia. The original plan was to finish off the troopy and ship it to the UK (approx 6 weeks via sea including customs clearance) and visit Nepal for a month for Jerome’s brothers wedding. It turns out that we are running a bit behind schedule – so instead we fly back to Australia on 24th Feb and spend 3 more weeks finishing the Troopy, we will then ship it and spend another 4 weeks doing paperwork (sorting visas, routes, immunisations etc) before joining the Troopy in the UK.
We landed in Kathmandu on 30th Jan early afternoon courtesy of Air Asia. (I will leave the details of the journey with the wheelchair to Jerome to blog about).
Jerome’s mum Ireen, brother Sebastian and his fiancée Sandhya picked us up from the airport in a 3 day old hired Tata Scorpion 4WD complete with driver to negotiate the roads.First impressions of Kathmandu: hectic! The narrow roads are packed full of motorbikes, cars, trucks and people on foot. The traffic is chaotic with bikes practically touching, kiddies dodging the trucks and diesel smoke billowing up into the air. The roads are very dusty (It hasn’t rained here since October). Rubbish is piled up and and floating down the rivers. The colours are vibrant. Little market stalls line the sides of the road selling fruit, veg, fabrics and pretty much anything else that you can think of.
An abundance of vagrant dogs roam aimlessly throughout the city and the occasional monkey climbs around on the spaghetti of wires that connect the buildings.
The journey through Kathmandu to our destination of Kitipor takes about an hour but I don’t think we blinked once! There is so much to see. Multicoloured narrow concrete buildings are mixed with ancient traditional wooden temples. Mini rice fields sit next to motorbike repair shops where used oil is being chucked down the drains.
As we leave Kathmandu we see less buildings and more tiered fields boasting rice, beans, mustard, garlic and any other vegetable that you can think of. Surprisingly they also grow tiny, sweet bananas.
Little old ladies hump around huge loads of bricks on their backs, fresh from the brickworks. A lot of the bricks contain the Swastika mark. We learn that this mark was originally a Hindu symbol and was also used in other religions way before the Nazis got to it.
We eventually pass through an archway marking the entrance to Kitipur. The roads instantly become more windy and narrow before we break away from the main way and onto a dirt track. Now it’s just fields, goats, dogs, cows and houses. The nearby hills are all tiered and used to grow food, and behind them is a suggestion of snow capped mountains carefully hidden by the clouds.
Sandhya’s parents are building a house here and we stop in to meet them. We get our first taste of local momo brought home in a plastic bay. Momo is a Nepalese sort of steamed dumpling stuffed with chicken/buffalo mincemeat/veg and spices. It’s safe to say that I could live on momo!
It’s been a long day so we pile back into the Tata and travel the final 2km to Kitipur Guest House – soon to be our second home.
It’s a home stay run by the sweetest Nepalese couple. The rooms are great and it’s feels homely. Electricity in Nepal (where available) is rationed and generally not on during the day.
The house is concrete and unheated just like everywhere else in Nepal. We have hot water for showers and thick colourful blankets topping the hard beds.
We throw our thermals on and dive under the covers, contemplating the crazy things that we will do tomorrow.