After 15 days trekking in the serenity of the Himalaya the sights, sounds and smells, of Kathmandu hit you like a brick. Diesel fumes fill the air, people fill the streets, and crossing a road is ten times as exciting as crossing a suspension bridge. And though the hotel staff tried to be dissuade me from exploring on foot, I loved it! The vibrancy of the place is tangible; workshops, garages, market stalls, shops, offices, all mingled together, stuffed with people, all working hard to make a living, all working hard to get by. Compared to the shopping malls, supermarkets and office blocks of the West, this is real life in the raw. The earthquake of 2015 which sadly cost Nepal nearly 9,000 lives is still in evidence especially around Durbar Square as you’ll see from a number of the images, but what remains is still spectacular and I would urge you to visit.
And within this vibrant city remain pockets of calm; the courtyard of Dwarika’s Hotel where we’re staying; inside the Old Royal Palace in Durbar Square; the Pashupatinath Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu; and there’s a passionate, religious, spirituality. People really do believe! And though religion is not my bag I envy their unshakeable and shared faith in the divine.
After two days in the city our trekking group is beginning to dissipate, John and Deborah to Australia, Reisa to Los Angeles, Cameron to Scotland, Sarah to London and John, Charlie, Rob and I, to Manchester, and from there to Yorkshire, and Dunbar to his home in Nepal. It’s strange to think that I’d not met one of them before and am unlikely to meet any of them again, and yet we’ve literally shared the ups and downs of what’s known as Nepalese Flat. I walk into arrivals at Manchester, bid farewell to the three Yorkshire friends, grab a coffee and wait for Polly to arrive and take me home. Something has clicked inside me and life will never again be the same.