Shockingly, our trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu was uneventful and strike free. Finally! So we were able to enjoy the 8 hour USD9 each trip and relax.
Our plan was to see Patan, a city directly south of Kathmandu, before heading to Bhaktapur and Nagarkot. 500Rs got us a taxi there from our hotel in Thamel, and we paid the 500Rs each to get in the square. The architecture was stunning, with wooden engravings adorning all of the buildings. A music video was being shot that day in the square too, leading to some interesting dancing routines being done by the girls in plaid skirts and guys in bright polka dot shirts. Pity that the song sounded awful.
While Pagan Durbar Square is quite impressive, in our opinion it wasn’t worth the visit. We timed 40 seconds to walk from one end to the other, and while the buildings were ornate, walking through the side streets around the square proved to be far more rewarding. The streets were narrow like they are in Thamel, but were much less touristy and looked original (although there were still plenty of tourist shops and touts about).
After exploring for a while we walked the 8-10km back to Thamel, looking at side streets and random sights as we went. We weren’t quite over our colds yet, so an evening of internet use (we finally had a hotel with WiFi that worked!) and cricket watching (and finally a TV that actually worked!) ensued.
At this point, we’d like to make a few notes about prices and transport times as we have noticed that most info we have read is wrong!
Firstly tipping: no. You do not tip in Nepal. There is a service charge with almost everything, and you do not need to pay over that. Being from a non-tipping country, the notion of tipping to us is ludicrous, and every local and hotel staff member that we asked said the same thing: a service charge is almost always added, so you do not need to pay more. Perhaps you do if there is no service charge, but we have yet to come across that.
The bus to Pokhara takes about 8 hours and costs 9USD each. We had read anything from 5-7 hours, but with the narrow and winding nature of the road and the amount of traffic, 7-8 is more realistic.
As for food, if you eat in local places, you can expect to pay anywhere from 80-150Rs per meal for something simple like chowmein or thukpa (Nepalese noodle soup). In touristy places such as Thamel or Pokhara, a meal at a restaurant could cost anything from 300-600+ per person (add another 300-350 if you want a beer). Quite a lot more, but there are local spots dotted around so you just have to search. Also be aware of places that add a 13% tax as well as a 10% service charge which can lead to a much higher bill!
Power is a pretty well known issue in Nepal. It is on for roughly 12 hours a day, but the times change daily. For example when we first arrived, there was power between 8pm-6am. Yesterday there was power between midnight-4am, then 4pm-7pm, then 11pm-10:30am. So if you are like us and rely quite heavily on your electronic devices for entertainment when relaxing, pay note of when you can charge them, and even consider buying a rechargeable battery (which has saved us several times!). But every hotel and restaurant run generators, so you will still have a light in the bedroom and a light in the bathroom. Also be aware that hot water is very intermittent (in Pokhara we could only shower between 7:10pm-7:25pm as that was our rooms’ allotted hot water time). As I write this, we have gone 4 days without a shower as there has been no hot water, and showering in cold water when the temperature is -2 overnight is not recommended!