Day 1 Kathmandu: walking and cooking

We woke up early today around 6 and decided to get a move on to make the most of our day. 

We were both rather hungry since last night when we arrived at the hostel, the restaurant was closed and the pathway to get to the main street was super dark and we decided to call it safe and skip a real dinner. Instead we shared a bar and a energy streusel and played a few rounds of rummy before we both couldn’t shuffle we were so tired. 

So for breakfast, we headed to this restaurant I found online called revolution cafe. It wasn’t a busy place, or at least it wasn’t busy at 7am when we showed up, the entrance to the restaurant across from a giant pile of brick rubble from the 2015 earthquake. That rubble was probably the biggest indication we saw of the earthquake during our walks today. We sat in the outside patio since the chill of overnight was passing and the sun was attempting to come out through the haze/smog/fog.  The food was delicious — toast and some tofu scramble with tomato sauce and beans and mushrooms. So good. The coffee was also rather delicious paired with the coconut milk they offered me instead of soy milk. 

After breakfast we needed to walk off the food so we started our walking tour in earnest, heading down streets lined with literally hundreds of tour guide companies and dozens of souvenir shops selling bags, metal utensils, miniature ukelele-esque instruments, scarves, jewelry and knock off and real gear outdoor gear. We both wanted to buy everything, when I was surprised by. It probably helped that the salespeople were all generally really reasonable about when to stop pestering you — if you said no they generally listened. Ames ended up with an awesome purse and we both bought scarves. She also got some pants that she now never wants to take off. 

We checked out the garden of dreams, which was cool but a bit underwhelming, and we headed out of there to make an appointment with this company social tours. Social Tours has a bunch of programs they offer from lunch with nuns to weaving your own souvenir to touring the city with a guide but they also do this cooking course where they have a local pair up with tourists and teach them how to made a traditional Nepalese dish! 

Finally we headed back to the hostel, and even though it felt like we’d done a million things to plan what we wanted to do tomorrow. We had a few options: we could head toward pokhara (generally considered an amazing city where people pick up the Annapurna circuit trail from), head to Chitwan for a 2 night 3 day elephant-ride safari jungle tour adventure, or head east first to bhaktapur (a more open, temple filled city) and/or nagarkot (which is known for its Himalayan views, as long as it’s a clear day. 

We had gotten excited about Chitwan after hearing that when you’re riding the elephants, you can get really close to animals like rhinos and leopards, because the other animals don’t seem to notice you perched up there. However, we felt concerned about the animals’ well being and had questions about whether or not we’d be contributing to any cruelty by going on the tour. We’re still not sure, but we did fidb out that there’s generally five people riding each elephant, a guide and four tourists, which is a lot, especially since Amy learned on her other travels that riding on an elephants neck is generally okay, but riding on its back hurts it. There was also the issue of training a wild animal to be domestic. Many reports said that this training often required pain and violence for the elephant, and though there seem to be efforts to train elephants in a more humane way, it was unclear whether that had or hadn’t started happening yet and how much of a difference it would make. Given Amy and I’s feeling about animal rights and cruelty to animals we decided Chitwan was probably not the best choice. 

We also got word from a girl just back from pokhara that the whole city had been pretty socked in with clouds when she’d just been and it wasn’t clear if that was going to change anytime soon.

So, were deciding to go east, to nagarkot, to see if we can see some views of Everest and the Himalayas. Tomorrow it’s supposed to thunderstorm, and the day after visibility in pokhara is supposed to be 46%. We’ll see what that means!

We jaunted off then to explore the area north of Durbar Square, which is like the main center for shops and home to some temples. It was different than I expected. Temples were packed in right next to sales stalls, and stalls lined the narrow streets selling toys and bronze pots and pans, rope and clothes, house cleaning stuff, everything. There were tons of people. I think because of the temples I expected it to be more calm or to have areas of calm, but that definitely didn’t happen. 

Next at our cooking class we learned all about the art of cooking dal bhat. We made rice, mixed vegetables (zucchini (which they call pumpkin) and tomato and potato and onion), a spicy cilantro tomato chili sauce, mustard greens and a simple lentil soup. It was delicious and even though Amy and I had eaten entirely too much at a local place on our way to durbar square, we still managed to eat a full plate in recognition and our and our teacher’s work. The teachers were both women and we really enjoyed getting to talk to them about power outages (which are scheduled and happen every day for about twelve hours at a time) and languages and my fear Of pressure cookers (they make unexpected loud noises…) and she had a good time I think laughing with (?) us while we ate with our hands.  :)

After that it was only 4 but we were totally wiped out. We slept til 9, woke up and went out to eat, came back and now are very happy to just crash crash crash. Ames hasn’t been feeling so hot since our nap — a little sick and voice is gone — so hopefully a nights sleep does the trick. 

Til tomorrow!

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