I have arrived safely in Kathmandu last night after a 5 hours flight.
It’s better to change Nepalese currency in Nepal as the rates are better. I changed mine in Singapore at a rate of S$1 to 67 Nepalese Rupees. The prevailing rate should be S$1 to 98 rp.
When you arrive, you can purchase a local SIM card at the airport. When you exit the baggage area, there is an Ncell store. Lots of people queueing for this.
Walk further down and there is another store for Nepal Telecom (NTC). I bought my SIM card there at 800 rp for 12 GB, which is valid for 28 days. Bring a passport sized photo with you as they need this to register your SIM card. If you do not have a passport photo, they charge 50 rp to take your photo with a webcam. Total 850 rp or S$13.
When I exited from the airport, there were people waiting in a row outside. Considering my safety since I was travelling alone, I had pre-booked a driver to get to my accommodation and was looking for someone holding a sign with my name on it. I couldn’t find one and was a little flustered. One of the guys offered to help me call my driver. On hindsight, it wasn’t a very smart thing to do because he obviously wouldn’t do that for free. I had already purchased a local SIM card and could have called the driver myself. Anyway, he kept talking to me and trying to be nice. In the end I gave him 20 rp as he kept insisting on being tipped for helping me. He asked for Singapore dollars but I said no.
My driver Raju arrived shortly later. He was a nice chap and it was a short 20mins drive to the Ananda Tree House. Pick up from airport arranged with Ananda Tree House costs 1200 rp for normal hours and 1500 rp for after 8pm. I paid 1500 rp since my flight arrived at 10pm. This can be paid to Passang at the reception. I checked into this nice room that has a ensuite bathroom and private balcony, which I rented through Airbnb. Price was affordable although there is no heater in the room and it was so cold at night that I couldn’t sleep well the first night. Temperature dropped to about 9 degrees Celcius. The subsequent nights, I wore more layers and slept better.
This morning, I woke up at 8am. Ananda Tree House is a 4 storey apartment with several rooms rented out by owners, Passang and Claire. Passang’s ancestry is Tibetan. A lot of Tibetans settled here in the Boudha region of Kathmandu. There is a nice cafe on the ground floor of the apartment where they sell drinks and food. Passang offered to walk me halfway to Boudanath stupa. We met Claire, his business partner along the way.
The Boudhanath stupa is 36m in circumference. This is the largest circular stupa in Nepal. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Stupas are believed to house relics of the Buddha and it is a pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. One should walk three times clockwise around the stupa and turn the prayer wheels.
As I was walking towards the stupa, a little boy was tagging alongside me, begging for money. It was hard to ignore him as I’ve read warnings about encouraging little boys or girls begging on the streets by giving them money.
The area is quite crowded with locals and tourists alike. Weather here is about 16 degrees Celcius.
Since this area is predominantly Tibetan, I tried some Tibetan food and the Tibetan milk tea. Passang recommended Bod Thap restaurant in the Boudhanath area.
I ordered Laping and paratha. I mistakenly ordered 2 parathas and can only finish one. The Laping is a Tibetan snack. It has a jelly like texture and I didn’t dare to eat too much of this as I’m afraid of getting stomachache. I also ordered Tibetan milk tea. The Tibetan milk tea is salty and not quite palatable for me. Interesting taste nonetheless!
Had dinner back at Ananda Tree House. I had Thukpa (vegetable noodle soup). Very cozy and the 2 dogs, Anna and Purna, came and sat with me too.
Kathmandu is facing garbage and waste management issues, so our rubbish needs to be separated for recycling. This made me conscious of the amount of packaging we use. For just 2 nights, I had several plastic packaging to be disposed of. Very wasteful packaging and we need to be conscious of our impact on the environment.
Tomorrow, I will be checking out of Ananda Tree House and head to the Takure village and the start of Conscious Impact programme.