Saturday, December 26th, 2015
All that running around and hopping plane to plane conked me out, but I woke up oddly refreshed at 6:30 in the morning. Trevor was starving, and my throat was still a bit sore, so I was dying to get some fluids in me. “Hotel Tibet” offered a complimentary breakfast, so we bolted downstairs to take advantage while the food was still hot.
There were some familiar breakfast foods like hardboiled eggs, roasted potatoes and croissants, but there were also some interesting additions, such as peas and carrots, and tiny Vienna sausages (the kind you get out of a can). I’m not a picky eater by any means, so I was down to gorge on anything, and everything they provided!
Today, we would be taking it slow after two days straight of hustling to get here, but we were still trying to explore. We started small by heading to the hotel’s roof to take in the hazy view of all the other rooftops decorated with prayer flags, and freshly washed laundry hanging out to dry. Once we were awake enough, we took to the streets.
The air was super polluted which was starting to irritate my throat even more. It wasn’t just the exhaust fumes that were intense, there was also the smell of sewage. It actually made me think of Baltimore city back at home. It wasn’t a constant odor, it would just waft under your nose on occasion as you moseyed around. There were a few people just getting their day started, riding up and down the dusty road. There were also a good number of stray dogs. It was hard to resist cuddling with them, but after witnessing a dogfight involving four of them, we were reminded to remain cautious.
Most of the buildings were in decent condition, although we passed by a few which were either damaged by the earthquake, by time, or were in the middle of being repaired by the owners. It was still very early, so most of the restaurants were not open for the morning, but we passed by one store with the freshest chickens. And by fresh I mean they were on display, still alive, gawking at us from their cages next to a chopping block.
We grabbed some coffee and tea in the hotel lobby before returning to our room to wash up, clean some clothes in the sink, and then open the windows to let in that “fresh” air as we hung them out to dry. We had a mellow morning lounging in the room, giving the city a chance to wake up and come alive for the day. Then we decided to mosey around a bit further.
We headed down to the lobby and asked the lady at the front desk if she could direct us to the Thamel neighborhood, which is known for its many shops and restaurants. She pointed out on our map the easiest way to get there. We knew for sure we would be getting lost in no time. Just crossing the street was challenging enough! If you’ve ever played the video game “Frogger” in your youth (or adulthood for that matter), it’s pretty much designed with most Asian city streets in mind. You’re the hopeful frog, trusting that you skills of dodging traffic won’t result in you getting flattened like a pancake.
After creeping through a couple side streets and wandering around in circles, we eventually found Thamel. There were plenty of shops to browse through full of tourity knick-knacks, clothing, trekking gear, and a number of tour vendors and restaurants appealing to Westerners.
After modeling numerous scarves, we stopped by the ATM to withdrawal some more Nepali rupees before grabbing lunch back at the hotel. I had to try their vegetable momos, which were deep-fried dumplings full of veggies that came with a spicy dipping sauce.
We returned to Thamel to purchase some scarves and prayer flags, then spent the rest of the afternoon adjusting to the time change, which was about a 12-hour difference for us. Apparently there was a party proceeding at the rooftop bar. Unfortunately I was out for the count in a Ny-Quil coma all evening. I was loving Nepal so far; the air just wasn’t loving me back.
Jump Ahead to Part 4: A Monkey Temple, Swastikas & Cremations
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Anxiety