(If you have been to Nepal, you will have heard that phrase many times!)
To be honest - there is an overwhelming amount to do in Kathmandu – non stop. Not only can you visit all the wonderful heritage sights, there is so much local culture on display and interesting people happy to meet and chat.
Many of you or your friends may have traveled to Nepal. It is such a beautiful friendly country (can anywhere rival the Himalaya's for scenery?!) with thousands of yearly visitors and tourism as the largest industry. Which is why the earthquakes this year have the Nepali's I met very concerned that foreigners will stay away. I often heard of great frustration from friends there at the way the media only shares stories of destruction, when actually in most parts of the city you would not even know the earthquakes had happened. So writing from Nepal, here is my advice for planning your next trip to Kathmandu, which I very much hope you will do!
In my opinion when you visit a country like Nepal you'll have the best experience if you make friends with the locals who will show you the best places to visit, tell you about the culture, traditions, cooking and introduce you to the native foods. Try to speak a few Nepali words and take public transport. You will be warmly received!
I love Kathmandu as much as much I love London. Both are busy, crazy places where you can meet people from all over the world if you are open to it - which of course you should be, because isn’t that the best part that comes free in only a few cities in the world?
In London it is so much more difficult to speak to strangers. By contrast in Kathmandu the people you meet on the streets or on the bus next to you will engage you in a friendly conversation within seconds – no strings attached ;). Sometimes the bus is so full that everyone is laughing and making jokes about sitting on each other’s laps. Have you ever experienced this in London? I think everyday I spent in Kathmandu a new interesting person told me something amazing, or taught me something new – often it only takes a few minutes to listen.
Many travellers, ex-pats or immigrating people pass through or live in Kathmandu and so sharing experiences and impressions with this cosmopolitan whirl of life stories is a fantastic opportunity to open horizons, learn about other lives lived and the great projects that draw people here. A lot of people here do a lot of great things!
Not only is it great to meet Nepali people but also for Nepali people it is great to meet you - learn about other countries and cultures, practice their English, exchange opinions, views and ‘traditions’ they do not know about, so open up!
I can’t recommend Gaia restaurant in Kathmandu enough. I have met some great people there from all over the world. It’s like a little oasis in the crazy city, to relax, enjoy great food, meet people and make friends for life! But of course that is not the only place in the valley, but all I have time for now... I hope you enjoy your adventure!