Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Krazy Kathmandu

Imagine a city with over a million people functioning without traffic signals. How one can make a left turn and survive is nothing short of a miracle. Well, welcome to Kathmandu!

The first day in Kathmandu was like the bar scene in Star Wars. The most incredible assault on the senses one could imagine - honking and whizzing traffic of motorbikes, cars, vans, buses, rick shaw bikes, pedestrians dodging and weaving through frenetic narrow streets. Odd smells, choking air pollution, detritus strewn streets, sleeping dogs, construction in various states, "organized" chaos everywhere!

A literal cacophony of noise, traffic, smells, and people. This is Kathmandu.

But the mish mash of funky architecture, the colorful and vibrant street-life, the friendly people, and the free-for-all way of life compensated for all the negatives. The Hindu/Buddhist history and religious sites added a unique dimension to the city fabric. This too, is Kathmandu.

I spent a total of four days in Kathmandu, two before the trek and two after. This just gave me enough time to run around and get a good taste of the city and its fascinating sites.

The following photos will give you a flavor of this frenetic city.

A couple views of the crazy traffic and street scenes out the front window of a taxi (above and below)

Views of surrounding buildings from the our hotel's 5th floor (above and below)

Odd plumbing system on roof top. I'm assuming the three smaller blue pans are some primitive filtering system for the water tank. Go figure?

Fruit Vendors

The following photos show the vibrant and exciting street life in the Thamel District where our hotel was located

Outfitter stores abound full of inexpensive knock-offs

You quickly develop survival skills by dodging motorbikes, cars, bicycles, rick shaws and pedestrians on narrow streets

Pashmina (native woolen) shop

I need another t-shirt like a hole in the head but I couldn't help but pick up a couple cool embroidered t-shirts

Gorkhas Knife Shop

Caps and Toques

Pedal-powered knife sharpener

Street-side Buddhist Shrine (above and below)

Buddhas and Prayer Wheels bric-a-brac (above and below)

Donkey Bells

Taxi anyone?

I wonder if they have building codes here?

A walking kitchen store

My favorite shot

A great beard!

Seems like women do all the heavy lifting at construction sites

Electrician's nightmare

A porter's day job

Nut and popcorn vendor

Our hotel for 4 days

I had to take it for a spin

Whoa!! What's going on?

Loading rick shaws with our trekking gear

Taking advantage of local transportation

The street in front of the hotel was too narrow to park our bus. Mick hired several rick shaws to take our bags to the bus which was parked several blocks away.

Headin' to the trail-head . . . time to go trekking!

Photos of buses and trucks seen on our drive to the trail-head

Cheap seats

Colorful truck cabs

Next blog: Umbrella Foundation Orphanage
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