Everyone will tell you that Thamel isn’t the REAL Kathmandu. It was once backpackers central, and today is home not only to hostels but to increasingly smart hotels. Its restaurants and shops are for the most part aimed squarely at tourists. Here you can buy a t-shirt with an ‘amusing’ slogan (‘My friend went to Nepal and all he bought me was this lousy t-shirt’). Or perhaps one that declares that you went to Everest Base Camp, even if you didn’t?!
Of course there are great souvenirs to be had too; we bought a singing bowl and I was wowed by some of the traditional art. But between these tourist-focused delights is enough local colour to demonstrate that you are indeed ‘a long way from home’.
Small shrines are squeezed into every corner. Pavements are decorated with mandalas, marking Diwali. Marigold garlands hang above doorways. A tangle of telephone wires swoop above you. Locals gossip, when they aren’t busy with chores such as washing clothes or shopping. Tourist shops are packed with colourful souvenirs, while others offer practical items for the locals. Motorbikes weave through the crowds along with the occasional car, horns sounding despite an official ban on them. And everywhere there is movement.
Fresh off a long overnight flight from London, wandering its streets on our first afternoon in the city was a wonderful way to soak up the atmosphere. And of course to indulge in one of my favourite photography obsessions, street photography. Here for Jo’s Monday Walk and Becky’s Walking Squares are some of those first impressions.
I visited Kathmandu in October 2022