Our next stop was Bhaktapur, a historical town about 16km from Kathmandu. We got a taxi to the Bagbazar bus station and jumped on a local bus. We could have gotten the taxi to take us all the way for about Rs1,500 but decided on the Rs25 bus, both for cheapness and for an experperience! It only took an hour and was surprisingly comfortable, plus gave us the opportunity to talk to a few of the locals (one in particular who spoke Korean!). The bus was a lot more pleasant than the 30 minute taxi ride with the driver constantly harassing us to take us to Bhaktapur and lying about the bus. God we hate taxis.
Once had arrived, we paid the Rs1,500 each to enter the town (making sure that we had a week long pass) and found our guesthouse. It was quite possibly the most authentic and cute guesthouse ever! It was nestled in an old building, and although the ceiling was low (Will couldn’t quite stand up straight and had to stoop a long way to get through the door) it was very spacious. But best of all was that it overlooked a square with a temple literally 10 metres away.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the town and admiring the architecture. We had read that the pesky motorbikes were banned from the roads within the historic town walls. But they weren’t, and were as manic and frustrating as they were in Kathmandu. That night we found a random local eatery and managed to make the family understand the phrase “feed us whatever you have”. They proceeded to fill our bellies with all kinds of food as a family of ducks walked through the restaurant and into a cupboard.
The following day was more wandering around and marvelling. One of the benefits of staying in Bhaktapur rather than just doing a day trip is that once all of the daytrippers leave all of the locals come out and the place turns into quite a peaceful local town. During the evenings we would play a game of ” whats that animal” whenever we heard random animal sounds. We heard dogs, cats, goats, a cow, a pig, and something that sounded like an overexcited mongoose who had just won the lottery. However we still had not gotten over our colds, and the excessive dust, pollution and cold weather of Nepal wasn’t helping matters.
After Bhaktapur we jumped on another local bus and went up to the hill station village of Nagarkot, famed for its rustic village and superb views of the himilayas and surrounding countryside. The bus ride up was fun, even if we felt like we were about to plummet off the steep hill roads at any moment! Once we got there and checked in to our B&B, we kind of wished we hadn’t come. There were nearly no other tourists there as it was the low season, which usually would suit us perfectly. However this seemed to mean that the local business owners felt that they were on holiday. Walking into eateries or restaurants which were open was always met with a sigh or rolling eyes, and on one occasion we had a menu thrown in our direction before the proprietor went back to watching TV. We were certainly not welcome. Nagarkot also highlighted how polluted the country was, as the views down the valley were obscured by thick clouds of brown smog coming from factory chimneys that we past on the way up. The view of the himilayas was good, but not as good as the Annapurna ranges. Add to all of that the general filth of the disgusting village (where dodging rubbish and human poo was a constant chore when walking through the forest) and we were very happy to get out of there.
After 2 cramped bus rides back to Kathmandu, we were ready to leave Nepal. We had loved Kathmandu and Pokhara, but not a whole lot more. We were very surprised how dirty and polluted it was – similar to China on a bad day – and we were also surprised at the people. Most were very kind and happy, but there were quite a few who were not. Just an observation, but certainly on the whole not the friendliest country we have visited.
Next up, a short pit stop in Chennai, India. Only for 3 days, but hopefully enough for us to get a taste of India!