Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making the Most Out of Your 'Off' Days in Kathmandu

It seems there is always something to do in Kathmandu and you really seldom need a lot of money to have a great time. One tip is to check at the Tourism Board to see what’s going on. You really cannot help but see this huge building in the Ratna Park area and right next to that is a nice park, the expo center, a covered market (flea market), places to eat and a Ram Dev store. I suggest that you spend a morning in this area shortly after you arrive for in-between activities. 

If you come to Nepal you may be able to enjoy one of the Tourism Expos/fairs/festivals that are sponsored by a town, caste or the government. They are usually in this ‘Tourism Board’ area when they come and there are often expeditions here of one sort or the other. This was the second one like this I got to attend here and several others throughout the Valley. This one, sponsored by the tourism board or government, didn’t have quite as much for the Western tourist as some of the other ones I’d been to. Most of the brochures were written in Nepalese, but I did get to see and learn some interesting things. The people, both behind the booth and local Nepali, were quite friendly and helpful.
This was an environmental expo in Bhaktapur last year.

When you stop by the tourism Board be sure to ask for some free posters to take back home. These free posters make great gifts for young people who may become inspired to travel.  They also make great gifts for Nepali host families you might meet because they are reserved for tourists and Nepali in the tourism industry. The posters can be a bit of a problem because they are bulky, but if you buy a thanka you can put a few into the same shipping tube. The posters are of tourist places throughout Nepal, Bhaktapur temples, Everest mountain range area, etc. You can also get a map of Kathmandu and sometimes they have nice maps of Nepal. But the best reason to stop into this office is to find out what’s going on here during your visit.

Note: The last three times I've stopped by at the Tourist Board the Information room where you get the posters and find out what's going on was closed. Here are the phone numbers from the website. Phone: 977.1.4225709, 4256909 (Ext. 181/182)

 Here is a tip from my book: Plan to be here during a full moon. This is when you will find the most activities.

Just behind this building is one of my favorite local places to eat. You can get a bowl of rajma (bean soup), roti (flat bread) and tea or soda for under a dollar and it is really good. The place stays so crowded the food is very fresh and therefore safe. It’s also a fun place to eat because you just find a place to sit at any of the tables. Nepali being so friendly, you will really have a nice time. It is directly across from the Language institute, Bisa Bosa Campus, so there will be plenty of English language practice-rs.

If you go behind this restaurant you will see a street that will take you to the Ram Dev store, which should be your next stop. There, for 250 NRs. you can get an ionic foot bath to pull heavy metals and other toxins out of your body. These treatments are quite pricey in the West. Additionally, they have some unique metaphysical and magnet therapy items, organic teas and potions, etc. all at great prices. There are several of these stores around, but they all carry different items. You can also find one in Thamel near the KTM Guest House. 

This is a display from a past Tourism Exhibition

Behind this street with Ram Dev, there is a huge, covered flea market. Be careful about purchasing electronics from there, as many things can be pirated and cause problems. Remember, once the money leaves your fingertips you own the item; there is little customer service in Nepal and even less at street vendors. I avoid all Chinese products because the items sent to Nepal are much lower quality than gets exported to the West. One day, after ignoring the vendors own warning about buying Chinese, I was sitting on my bed putting my socks on and smelled something burning. It was the cord from a rechargeable lamp that had gotten too hot because when I sat down the sheet rested on it. 

This is the park at the Expo Center

The park is across the pavilion and is very nice. There is a small entrance fee, but it is nice and safe there. I have some nice memories of this park. One day I rescued a baby crow from here. It is interesting to stroll through this park, or one of the many others throughout the Valley and see how many flowers are familiar to you. I had no idea how many of our common, Western flowers come from Asia. 

This park is in Bhaktapur, near my apartment

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