Sandra Scott Travels: Enjoy The Sights, Sounds and Flavor of Kathmandu

Hotel Shanker

Hotel Shanker

Last week I asked: What capital city suffered a devastating earthquake in April 2015?


Hotel Shanker
Hotel Shanker

The names of some destinations have a magical draw for me, such as Katmandu and Timbuktu.

I will probably never get to Timbuktu but I decided if I was ever going to Kathmandu I better go while I still can.

When John and I arrived at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport it was very busy with several planes arriving about the same time.

We decided to get a visa on arrival, but so did most of the other passengers.

So it was very hectic.

One of the airport security guards came to the rescue.

A busy street
A busy street

I’m sure TSA and airport security in the US would do the same – maybe, maybe not.

He motioned for us to sit and said if we gave him the money for the visas ($25 per person for a 15-day visa) he would do it for us.

We gave him the money and our passports and after a few minutes he returned with all the necessary paperwork, led us to the desk where visas are issued and with a nod to the people standing in line we went ahead of everyone and received our visas.

It was much appreciated.

Our hotel, Hotel Shanker, provided complimentary airport transfers.

I try to book hotels with complimentary transport because we find dealing with airport taxis frustrating.

The ride into the city was interesting.

More than just cars
More than just cars

The city seemed chaotic.

Vendors had their wares displayed along the roadway.

The traffic was intense.

Katmandu has more than one million people and no stoplights or stop signs.

There are a few policemen at critical intersections but basically traffic, which is heavy most of the time, operates on drivers taking turns giving way to other drivers.

I was told that some foreign organizations had installed traffic lights but it caused more confusion because Kathmandu does not have reliable electricity 24 hours.

Enjoying dinner time
Enjoying dinner time

Our hotel, the Shanker, was, like many other high end hotels, located down a private side road from the main highway making it an oasis in the midst of a pulsating city.

The Shanker is a family-owned hotel and offered great deals because the hotel suffered some damage to the lobby during the earthquake and while they are repairing the damage they decided to upgrade some parts of the hotel.

It didn’t impact our stay.

For a reasonable price we were able to book a suite.

John and I enjoy cultural shows.

Come and get it
Come and get it

The concierge at the hotel booked dinner for us at Bhojan Girha with transportation.

It was much better than I thought it would be.

I imaged tour buses dropping of dozens of people.

Not so.

The restaurant is in an history building in neo-classic design that was once the residence of the royal priest and  is more than 150 years old.

Enjoying a cultural show
Enjoying a cultural show

It was on the verge of collapse when it was skillfully restored using traditional methods to become a place that promotes culture and local cuisine.

They have several restaurants to meet the needs of various groups.

Our room was perfect.

Quite intimate.

Seating is traditional – on the floor, but they had special low chairs for those of us who were not accustomed to sitting comfortably on the floor.

Shopping at the street vendors
Shopping at the street vendors

The festive folk music was representative of some of the more than 100 Nepali ethnic groups.

The many course meal was delicious from the Momocha (meat filled dumplings) to Kukhura Ko Masu (chicken curry) to Sikarni (sweetened yogurt Cream).

A wonderful way to learn about Napali culture.

Travel Trivia Tease™: What is the importance of Durbar Square?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!