Take A Break: Nepal
Recently, I headed to Kathmandu to interview two very impressive Nepali women: Sahana Bajracharya and Jyoti Upadhyay. Sahana is a media professional & social activist who hosts her own TV show broadcasting to over 500,000 globally (go girl!). Entrepreneur and anthropologist, Jyoti grew up abroad and has since returned to Nepal to establish Kaligarh, a jewellery cooperative which promotes the work of Himalayan artisans, helping to revive fading artistic traditions.
My Once In A Lifetime Experience
I was lucky enough to share Sahana’s daily ritual – a very early morning walk through Durbar Square in downtown Kathmandu. Surrounded by the unfamiliar sounds, smells and dusty air of Kathmandu’s morning hustle bustle, she led me through hidden doors, in and out of secret alley ways, past street-side commercial negotiations, around imposing temples, pagodas & palaces, and pointed out where monuments had stood before the 2015 earthquake. The sun was still soft and the streets were buzzing with the positive energy you only get when the day is new. Everywhere I looked there was industrious activity: locals selling fruit, preparing street food, chatting, praying, reading papers, begging, cycling. It was a special moment in time, which I will never forget. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.
A wander around the markets in Tamel, Kathmandu’s tourist district, is a must. If you’re after a cashmere souvenir Tara Oriental sells high-end scarves and blankets. It produces for international design houses, so the prices can be high. For a slightly less expensive option head to GC Handmade. Run by an Italian, it offers beautiful handspun cashmere and yak wool scarves and throws which are normally exported to Europe.
Get In Mah Belly
Find a local rooftop cafe to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the busy, dusty streets below. Then, order Momos: little dumplings of joyful deliciousness. I ate lots of them. Lots. I would go back to Nepal JUST for the Momos. For great eggs and coffee, get a cab to the tranquil courtyard of Chez Caroline.
There is a Farmers Market held at Le Sherpa on Saturday mornings, 9am-midday. You will find the best local produce, including locally made French, Italian and Welsh cheese. A great excuse to get working on your night cheese.
I stayed at a great little traditional guest-house called Dalai La Boutique Hotel in Tamel. I loved it because I could walk straight out of the door and into the bustling market streets. For opulence, stay at the new family-run Baber Mahal Vilas in the government district. If you’re keen to steer clear of typical tourist haunts, stay at Dwarika’s Hotel. It has been run since 1981 by 80-year-old widow, Ambica Shrestha with the purpose of preserving the unique architecture and art of Nepal.
Or, head out to the countryside and stay at Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel, a 45 minute drive from Kathmandu. Set on a hillside, we woke up each morning to breathtaking views of the snow-capped Himalaya. It’s perfect for a girly getaway or romantic honeymoon. I spent a few days there with friends who flew in from Dubai for a catch-up, relax & recharge. I’d wager (at least after our stay) that it has the most Instagrammed infinity pool on earth. Read all about this oasis of calm in my next post.
Tip: apply for visa before you arrive. Bring a few passports photos and cash to save time queuing on arrival.
Got questions about travelling to Nepal or what to do while you’re there? Feel free to comment below and I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
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