Flying through dense clouds that stood like pillars in salute to the incoming tourists was definitely an experience of a lifetime for me. The aircraft was nearing the airport at Kathmandu in Nepal, and passengers got a panoramic view of its snow-clad mountains.
Suddenly, the sight “vanished” and all we could see were white clouds. Within minutes, the visual of Kathmandu’s rather cute Tribhuvan International Airport emerged. As we were landing, I thought to myself, “Here we come, Nepal, the land of mountains.”
It was a bright and sunny afternoon, and no jackets were needed outdoors. We were greeted by our local guides, and each passenger (there were 16 of us in the group) was presented with a soft, silken scarf. This is said to be a tradition in Nepal.
After we checked into our hotel and had a late lunch, we were given some time to rest but most of us were too excited to be there, especially after seeing the row of shops and stalls across the road from us selling so many interesting things. We headed to the area to check it out, although we weren’t actually keen to shop just yet.
Luckily, the shopkeepers were polite and friendly, and we did not feel pressured to buy anything. We went searching for a money changer instead, as we needed to get some local currency.
The following day, we were taken to Nagarkot, which is 32km northeast of Kathmandu.
The roads to get there were winding but our driver did a great job manoeuvring the hairpin turns, and dodging oncoming cars. We reached the place at 8pm, and it was pretty cold by that time. There was also a light drizzle, making it even colder – we held on to our jackets to keep warm.
Thankfully, we were given some food and hot drinks so it was quite cosy after a while.
The buildings in Nagarkot were all perched on top of raised land and the valleys were covered with white mist that looked like sheep wool that was set out to dry. It started snowing a little, too.
Nagarkot is known for its fantastic views of the Himalayas, which you can enjoy from the comfort of a hotel balcony.
But timing is everything, and the mountains are notorious for “disappearing” behind cloudy skies. So if you miss this chance while you’re there, then you may have to wait another day to catch the gorgeous views.
The journey back to Kathmandu had its share of exciting moments, as we had to drive between numerous lorries loaded with goods and wares. The driver was an able and experienced man with a perpetual smile on his face, and was always concerned about the comfort of his passengers.
I looked at my wife and smiled at her. “What?” she asked.
“I am glad we are in safe hands,” I said. She looked out the window and said, “The bus is moving along treacherous narrow roads, and it is frightening to see the deep trenches on my side.”
“Shall we change places?” I offered.
“Oh, no! As you said, we are in safe hands and I am enjoying the ride,” my wife replied.
Even though I was happy with the driver, I was actually still rather nervous to be in that bus.
The next day was all about fun. We went rowing in the Phewa Lake and had a nice view of the Annapurna range.
We also went on a cable car ride up to the famous Manakamana Temple. Each of the 34 gondolas could carry six passengers and the distance was said to be exactly 3.01km.
We were delighted and blessed to attend prayers at the most prestigious and historical Pashupatinath Sivan Temple and Budhanikantha (Temple of Lord Bishnu).
We spent the next few days visiting temples and other attractions, and trying delicious local food.
To cap off our trip, we got the chance to view Kumari (the living goddess) at Durbar Square. This was really special to us.
There was so much more to experience in Kathmandu, but we just did not have enough time this time around. Next time, hopefully!
The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.