Scenes from the market along Jagatsundar Marg just south of where I stayed in Kathmandu.
Streets in Kathmandu are hectic, taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, cows, trucks, pedestrians, dogs, rickshaws, horns honking, honking, honking. The honking startles me and makes me flinch every time, I don’t think I could get used to it.
Fruit vendors wheel their loaded bicycles up and down the streets.
Spice shop. Shops come in all different size here, but many are very small. Today I had milk tea in a shop that was about 4×6 ft.
These women were all gathered outside a temple. I was not clear about what was happening, but all the red shawls were a beautiful contrast to the dusty and gritty Kathmandu streets.
Convenience shop in an ancient building.
A friend from All Hands, Bernadine, is living in Patan for a few months and invited to show me around her corner of Kathmandu. Patan is one of the three royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley and though it is just 5 km from Thamel, the part of Kathmandu I normally stay in, I was embarrassed to admit I hadn’t been there. I invited a new All Hands friend, Laura, along and we headed off to Patan. As soon as we stepped out of the taxi we were so happy we’d left Thamel for the afternoon. Patan is so much slower paced, fewer taxis and motorbikes honking, fewer tourists, no shopkeepers hassling us…ahhhhh. We spent the first hour just walking from Patan Gate to Durbar Square, mouths hanging open in awe as we admired the wood carvings and little courtyards in relative peace.
The doorways and windows are made of very intricately carved wood.
Houses are split between sons until they are too small to split anymore leading to some very narrow homes.
Poinsettias growing in the rooftop gardens.
Then we met up with Bernadine plus more All Hands friends, Pemba and Tsering, and joined a short walking tour around the Golden Temple.
Temples on our way to the Golden Temple. The front section is part of a small well. There are public wells, below street level, all over the city that are still used everyday.
Many of the doorways in Patan are decorated with this parrot, eye, kalash design and many of the handicraft shops sold bronze door pulls with the roosting parrot. Ever the bird nerd I was curious what the parrot symbolized. I was told it might be a sign of peace, but another theory is that is a sign of nationalism.
The Golden Temple.
After the walking tour Bernadine took us to one of her favorite snack shops for some aloo chaat. From the linked recipe, “place potato patties first, add peas curry, aloo bujia, lime juice, chat masala, green onions, onions, green chilies, cilantro, yogurt, tamarind and mint chutney as desired. ” I would call this Nepali nachos if I didn’t know the real name, so many textures and flavors. Delicious!!
Then we met back up with the group from the walking tour and the tea shop was serving a turnip shaped dumpling. They were called yomari a Newari sweet made from rice flour dough filled with milk fudge (our favorite) or ground sesame seed with a molasses like syrup. The latter filling was very strong and tasted like soy sauce, it was much to rich and salty for me.
Patan was incredible and I need to go back again to see Durbar Square fully and poke around the craft studios. I went on a Saturday, the one day weekend in Nepal, and many of the workshops and stores were closed. I might also look into staying there on my next break to get away from the crowds in Thamel.
On my last night in Kathmandu I met up with Sushma, who worked for All Hands when I was in Melamchi last year. She is such a whirlwind, working on various projects all over Nepal. I hope we are able to link up again soon, she is such a kick.
And with that I am off for a month on the new All Hands Sindhupalchowk base near Tibet.