Tuesday, March 3, 2015

[KATHMANDU] Durbar Square at Night

“Stranded” is an understatement. I only intended to stay in Kathmandu for around three days. In my mind, I was supposed to do the bungy and then that’s it. I could not care less if I’d get to see the Giant Stupa or Durbar Square or the Royal Palace. I came here to jump off a bridge, and when I finally did, everything was mission accomplished in my head. But Nepal wanted me to stay, and after Spicejet did not allow me to board the plane because I had no Indian visa, I had no choice but to prolong my stay.

And so I went back to my hotel and booked two more nights just to get my act together. I fought hard for that stupid Indian ETA visa-on-arrival, but after six attempts and three different Visa cards, the website would still not allow me to get anything. The helpdesk was very helpful, redirecting me to another helpdesk, which redirected me back to the first helpdesk. It had to stop when I had enough. Screw India, I’m done. I booked an Air Asia X flight going back to Kuala Lumpur.

And so I suddenly had two extra days in Kathmandu. In a way, I saw it as a chance to see the sites I have missed. Maybe I have been unfair to Nepal after all. And so after resting in my room for a while, I decided to go out and see Durbar Square after sunset. The rickshaw ride started at 6:20 PM, and we were done visiting the whole area by 7:20 PM. I did not really intend to book the rickshaw for a tour, but thought that it would be convenient. Besides, it was a bit chilly for walking.

People say that Durbar Square is awesome at sunrise. Well, I have not seen it early in the morning, but I would say that it is just as magnificent after dark! After days of rain, the heavens finally decided to dismiss the clouds to allow an eerie vision of the moon swimming in hues of dark blue. Once your camera catches the combination of these colors and those of the old wooden structures of Durbar Square, you’ll be left with just the term “WOW!”

But that is just one aspect that makes Durbar Square rather surreal. The other ugly side of the equation which gives it the distinct character that makes it popular would be the crowd. Locals converge here to pay their respects to the how many temples littering the square. The tourists, on the other hand, come in droves to witness just that. If you are planning to take a selfie with just the temples in the background, then I wish you luck. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Once you get past the glory of everything built since 1000 AD, you will then have to confront the modern aspect of the place, being both a cultural hotspot and a common area for locals. There are so many shops in this area and it will not be that difficult for you to get lost in a maze of narrow streets with shops abound left and right. They sell everything from everyday household items to jewelry and random trinkets related to Buddhism. Whatever you need, Durbar Square probably has it all for you. SM?

The rickshaw driver asked me to get off to see some random temple, which I did not get to appreciate much because I think it was a Hindu one. I am curious as to what Buddhism has to offer as a belief system, but not so much when it comes to Hinduism. Anyway, our little excursion to Durbar Square was fine. It lasted only an hour but it gave me a lot of insight regarding the everyday life here in Kathmandu. We passed by a swanky area on our way home, where he excitedly pointed out KFC.

That area seems to belong to the posh district which serves as a home to modern international brands. I saw one mall in there, but overall I was a bit underwhelmed with the brands I saw. That stretch of road is also where the Annapurna Guest House is located, which seems to be a popular choice of accommodation for tourists. Once we rounded the corner, I realized that we were back in the road leading to the main backpacker’s area of Thamel. And that was how my night ended.

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