After returning from our trek, we had just a week remaining in our trip in Asia. We spent it in Kathmandu, catching up on our blog, packing gifts for friends and family back home, exploring the city, and reminiscing about all we’d just done. We splurged and stayed in a huge, comfortable suite at the Hotel Ganesh (ok, it was still only $20/night…), complete with warm showers, a nice writing desk, and plenty of beer to help us recover from our long trek.
Some photos from our week in Kathmandu–
Pictured below is the outside of a building called the Kumari Ghar, the palace home of the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu. The Kumari is a young girl who is worshipped by many Nepalese Hindus as a living goddess. More on that here. The Kumari is rarely allowed outside of her home but can be seen occasionally by the lucky passerby when she makes an appearance at her second story window. We stood for several minutes below her window, and Steph actually managed to catch a glimpse of the young Kumari as she scampered past the upstairs window!
On the walk back to our hotel on the very last day of the trip, Steph’s flip flops bit the dust. These were the shoes that had lasted for 8 months on the road and had taken her from Thailand to Bali and Cambodia and Mt. Everest and more…..and they finally managed to break on the last day….wow.
While at breakfast, a “bandh” began in the city. In Nepal and other neighboring countries, a bandh is a form of protest, similar to a strike, that typically occurs across an entire city. During a bandh, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and generally all business owners are expected to close up their shops (or they will be vandalized by the protestors), effectively bringing the city to a standstill, often for many days. We were lucky that this particular bandh was tame, but it was nerve-wracking to watch an entire street shut down as storeowners sequentially slammed their metal doors shut, almost like Dominos, as we finished our breakfast one morning! We didn’t know whether we would be stuck in the restaurant for days, whether we would make it back to our hotel or not, or whether our flight to the U.S. would be cancelled. Although the streets in the city were abnormally tense and crawling with police in riot gear, we were able to return to our hotel and eventually catch our flight out…although we did stay close to home in the hotel for the next few days. (Below, storefronts closed for the bandh.)
The final picture of our trip (on the ground, anyway) from our taxi on the way to the airport in Kathmandu. Although we were able to find a taxi driver to take us to the airport during the bandh, he charged a very inflated price (at least three times what we had paid on the way to the hotel) to compensate him for the danger of driving his car during the strike. We made it to the airport without incident, but we and the driver were noticeably on edge as we passed through the major squares of the city.