Colourful saris for saleColourful saris for sale

Wandered the streets of Thamel down toward Durbar Square. Very familiar feel and smell. Touristy Thamel with its constant calls and invites gave way to narrower streets with intriguing facades of withered splendour. Religion permeates the streets with shrines everywhere. No real hassle from anyone and very pleasant vibe.

Newari carvingNewari carving

Holy CowHoly Cow

Durbar Square is really two squares, packed full of shrines and people. A rest from the relentless sun to enjoy some people watching. Beautiful carved Newari buildings that remind me of Indonesia and a little chess set that we have. Strange mix of sadhus, a 5-legged cow, pigeons, fat Americans, svelte locals, eager hawkers and some very out of place teenage girls. It was here that I began to notice the amount of stares we were drawing and was asked the question that has plagued me since – “are you Japanese?”.

Kumari BahalKumari Bahal

Looking over Durbar SquareLooking over Durbar Square

Wandered over to the Kumari Bahal where the living goddess, the Kumari, lives with her family from about 3/4 until she reaches puberty. A beautifully serene courtyard with intricate wooden carving all round. Another retreat from the sun found us on the steps of the Maju Deval watching the ballet of traffic, cows, sadhus and tourists. Three gorgeous but filthy kids repeatedly pose for photos so they can ask for money and the perpetual angst of whether to give or not. Sheer humanity says it’s only a few pence and means more to them than me, but the behaviour it reinforces and dependency it creates coupled with a basic resistance to being treated as a cash machine generally results in a curt no thank you and ignoring their continued presence.

Garden of DreamsGarden of Dreams

Momos. Mmmmmm!!!Momos. Mmmmmm!!!

More wandering leads us to Freak Street and the Ganesh restaurant where I get my first taste of momos. Meandering back to the hotel takes us past Rani Pokhari where we witness a violent argument between a woman and man that draws a small crowd, but ends soon after.

Contrasted by the tranquil Garden of Dreams, where we relax and watch the world go by. Beautiful niches, secluded corners and a bamboo swing provide a calming end to our first real day in Kathmandu. Arriving back in Thamel, we’re too late for most places and settle for Korean food again.