Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nepal Tour Part 7: Exploring Kathmandu – A guided Tour

Day5 of our tour is about to start and everyone is up in time, busy getting ready for a trip around this town completely surrounded by Mountains. The climate was real cold and we were not used to such climate. This climate ensured that we all woke up pretty early in the morning.

Those who got ready went to the lounge and were relaxing.

We were reviewing each and every item of the hotel, which included antiques, furniture, men and most importantly women (as was expected). All of sudden there was again a heavy rush in the lounge, thanks to the touring girls.

Seen on the pic – ‘Theekolly’, Chiratta & ‘Ishtan” enjoying the surroundings

We picked up conversation with some of the smart girls in the pack who were really filled with lots of energy. Soon it was time for us to step out.

We were amazed to see the bus which was waiting for us. It was a left hand driven one and made by Mercedes. Many of us were going to have a ride in a left hand driven bus for the first time in life and a Merc (Mercedes) is something which each and every mallu see as a status symbol, since it is the synonym of ultimate luxury and a show of strength of how much ‘moolah’ he has got in his hut. This trend was prevalent in our country right from the 80s and is still going strong, only change being the BMWs , Volkswagens and Ferraris also is part of the show of strength.
Naturally we all wanted to snap a picture in front of the bus.

(Gentlemen standing from left: Theepori, Pettu, Theekkolli, Tharavu, Ottakuth)
The space inside the bus and the smooth ride all made us know why Merc is a merc. The bus had a changing room at the back with a flat bed where 2 people can rest in case of need. The smooth roads of Nepal and this carriage made the travel feel so comfortable.
There is a guide who kept on announcing the place through which we are travelling.
The first point of our visit was to a park in the hills from where we can have good view of Kathmandu. The park resembled quite the same as we see in India, but the location of the park and the view which one gets from inside is really cool.

The itinerary for the day was planned by the tour guide and it seemed that quite a lot of places was to be visited today itself when we found that guide was asking us to leave this place too soon, even though we liked to spend some more time here.
Our next destination was a temple. The first thing that we noticed was the striking resemblance of the sculptures and construction of this age old temple with that of temples near our homes.
The value of Nepal currency is much less than the Indian Currency, but cost of the items is way too high. Hence lower denominations of currency in coins are not of any in Nepal. So people don’t carry these coins. But in temples coins are needed to give as offerings. Sensing a business prospect some people are sitting outside the temple gates who will give coin equivalent of the rupee we give them but they take a small commission.
While we were exchanging some of the notes for coins we were really amazed when one of the guys sitting there started conversation in Malayalam. He had migrated to this part of the world some 10 years back is making a living by the profit made out of this exchange business. It was a good feeling to have met a person from our own state at this distant place. Also this also made us think how people land up in different locations for earning a living. We were wondering why he could not do something at his own place which could earn him almost the same profit, if not more. But there could be some more reasons for him to flee his homeland. Who knows? Anyway this guy was a point of our discussions for sometime.

Meanwhile the guide took us to many of the spots of the temple and was explaining the significance. The rest of the guided tour had many more temples and monasteries.  These destinations however did not gel too much with the mood and the crowd involved.

Still we enjoyed the journey through the hilly roads in the comfort of this luxury bus.

We also enjoyed the walk towards various destinations, during which time we never forgot to take snaps near some of the expensive vehicles.
This is a Merc again. Theekkolli trying to enact that hez going to open the driver door, with Kattalan and Tharavu looking on.

A Honda is found here. We don’t have many Honda’s here in India (Only imported models were there).

Another favourite activity was trying to take snap with the foreigners or other personalities of interest.

Seen here is the gang with a monk

This time it is a foreign lady, who is a regular to Nepal, because she believed in the traditions here and was a fan of the places and method of worship.

The guided tour ended only towards fag end of the day. We had time to visit a shopping mall too nearby our hotel. Main aim was to enjoy the big mall with escalators and big branded shops, things which were not seen in our part of the country, a scenario which changed too soon. Ventured into most of the shops manned mostly by Indians and almost all the shops sell branded items only. The window shopping experience was spruced up by the presence of the girls, whom we shared the same hotel.  This process continued till late in the night and the difference between our shopping and the girls team was that they were busy buying items while we were busy in studying the cost of each of the item. Dinner was again only a ritual ,because of the high cost of food and also because we did not like the dishes too much.

We came back to the hotel really late, but there was still time left for a chit chat in the terrace of the hotel. Surprisingly even the extreme early sleepers where present here and it was real fun sharing the events of the day, coupled with gossips, flattering about the big cars we saw, the events at the shopping mall, how we bargained hard to get a discount and a hell lot of other things. It was almost morning when we all went to sleep.

The next day we have to bid adieu to this town.

Part 8: Bye bye Kathmandu, Enter New Delhi

The story so far: (Click to read)

Part 1 - The plan
Part 2 - The Approvals
Part 3 - The Journey begins - Palghat - Jhansi
Part 4 - Another side of Life - Jhansi - Gorakhpur
Part 5 - The Himalayan Cruise: Gorakhpur - Kathmandu Bus Trip
Part 6 - First Night at Kathmandu 

Part 7 - Exploring Kathmandu - A guided Tour
Part 8 - Bye bye Kathmandu - Enter New Delhi
Part 9 - Exploring Delhi - A guided Tour
Part 10 - Experiencing Symbol of Love, Then Symbol of Humility
Part 11 - The return Trip via Konkan
Part 12 - Then and now !!!!!!!!

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