Home summons me but I have been bitten by the travel bug. After undertaking all checks on safety protocols, I book a trip to Nepal and set off just before the second wave strikes.
I have got my first vaccination shot and I have my COVID negative report in place no more than 72 hours prior to arriving (which starts from the day the swab test is taken). I also fill in a form which is checked in Kathmandu airport.
Other than these, the international travel process is the same as before. The hotels I stayed in offered an amended experience, but still enveloped me in a warm welcome, even if the smiles were covered by masks.
Amid fast-moving cars and honking motorbikes, I squeeze through the narrow streets. I am welcomed by eager hawkers and the buzzing host of people at every nook and corner. My senses go into an overdrive as the roads turn dusty. I get used to this enchanted anarchy as I spend a day revealing the city’s charms. There’s more to it than meets the overwhelmed eye, and a long adventure awaits me beyond the backpacking area of Thamel.
7:30 AM: Breakfast at Nook, Aloft
I I need a hearty breakfast before I start my day. Tucked away in Thamel, this delectable coffee shop at Aloft is none too traditional in its décor and has a very upbeat contemporary feel to it. Set in elegantly cosy surroundings, the place aims to attract the well-travelled and those looking for variety; it offers tasty treats with distinction.
Eggs remain breakfast mainstays; a cappuccino bar churns out special coffee. You can even ask for a special Nepalese breakfast if you wish to go a la carte.
9:00 AM: Boudhanath Stupa
As I step into the world heritage site, I see pilgrims walking around the stupa in a clockwise direction.
Apart from its utter magnitude and magnificence, this massive stupa is the epicentre of so much devotion – one can’t help but be overwhelmed by it. I settle for a cup of tea at the Roadhouse Cafe and enjoyed gazing at the stupa from a vantage point.
1 PM: Lunch at Jimbu Thakali
Named after the Himalayan herb, jimbu, the restaurant was founded by the Sherchan family to introduce Thakali khana to tourists. Jimbu Thakali has two branches in Nepal and intends to open a third one in Nepal and another one India by 2021.
Sameer R. Tuladhar
Good food begins with cleanliness and Thakali kitchens have been known for having an extremely clean and sanitised kitchen space. What makes Jimbu Thakali stand out is the minimalism of ingredients, with a hint of exclusive spices coming together to make it soul food.
4:30 PM: Patan
Located on a highland across the Bagmati river, Patan is 8 kilometres south of Central Kathmandu. It is also known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is indeed rich in ancient temples, shrines, pagodas and stupas.
It is perhaps the most picturesque collection of buildings that have been set up in such a small area. This lovely little city with its well-preserved glorious heritage and the history of finest craftsmanship is a must visit.
6:00 PM: Thamel
Thamel, also referred to as a ghetto, is a tourist haven for most low-budget travellers. The narrow streets are choked with rickshaws, taxis, motorbikes and people. Tucked into the narrow alleys are small temples and stupas. All the supermarket run backstreets with innumerable shops selling Pashmina, Yak, Jacquard and Cashmere shawls.
Lost in the confusing maze, I could never guess what is coming at the next turn. It is more of a rambler area with cafes, travel agents, foreign money exchange booths and budget hotels with heaps of camping and hiking gear shops.
Bandipur is a four-hour drive from Kathmandu nestled amid natural beauty.
You can either just chill by staying at The Old Inn, where on a clear day you can get a good view of the towering Himalayan ranges or use it as a base for treks to the central Annapurna region of the country.
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