For a country with such a mystical appeal I was surprised at how comfortable things were. In fact, the UN Human Development Index ranks Nepal 142 out of 177 countries, below the likes of India, Bangladesh and even Pakistan in terms of development. What we found in Kathmandu, however, was quite the opposite.
In Kathmandu we found an absence of roaming cows and open sewer lines we had grown accustomed to in India. Here clean sidewalks and well-manicured gardens awaited us alongside a plethora of Western eateries. A New Orleans pub cooking up spicy Jambalaya and an Italian bistro offering homemade gnocchi had our jaws dropping. But it wasn’t till we heard Lady Gaga and Pearl Jam cover bands rocking an ex-pat pub scene that we really thought we’d made a wrong turn.
We expected big things out of Nepal, but feeling at home was not one of them. From apple pie to filtered coffee, we could find virtually anything a homesick heart desired and couldn’t help but spend a few days basking in the abundance of Western amenities the city offered. Home we were not, but Kathmandu gave us some much needed coddling.
With a nation so dependent on tourism, they do a darn good job catering to the needs and desires of Westerners. This makes travel in Nepal quite comfortable, but it also makes it easy to visit the country without getting any real sense of the people and culture. We made an effort to venture outside of the backpacker ghetto known as Thamel to get to know the real Nepal. What we found were some really spectacular, medieval towns around the Kathmandu Valley, well worth a visit.
Here’s a sampling of some of the places we experienced while kicking it in Kathmandu.