We loved to live in Kathmandu and next to meeting the people whom we spent so much time with back then, we wanted to see how the city had changed and what we would still recognize. Well, the airport, exactly the same as 14 years ago, well … except for the visa application. They now have touch screen machines to apply for your visa and although you would think that being an improvement, it took us much longer as some of the machines weren’t working properly and after receiving your receipt from the machine you had to wait in another line to pay the visa-fee and another line to do customs and lucky us … as Wessel is under 8 his visa was free of charge and therefore we were treated with an extra counter to pass by for his visa.
The taxis were still the same, except prices increased. All are the smallest model of Suzuki, full of scratches, dents, rust and dinged up suspension, but with a very nice small carpet on the backseat and wide-smiling drivers. It’s perfect to have a small car, as there isn’t a lot of space on the roads and every piece, every little space is used, so the smaller, the faster.
Once we were settled we walked around our favorite streets and onto Durbar square, seeing the same souvenir items and local products being sold, soaking up the colors and smells, meeting the same chaos and dust. One big difference these days was the damage done by the 2015 earthquake. It was not to miss and so sad to see. Buildings totally collapsed, debris still piled up, many buildings, including temples supported by wooden poles to prevent collapsing. At different places we saw renovations going on, but there is just sooo much work to do and especially the ancient temples seem to be impossible to renovate the way they were. It is incredibly sad to see the loss of such beautiful ancient architecture. At the same time, it’s impressive to see the strength and flexibility of the Nepali people, the atmosphere didn’t change. The people are still as friendly and positive as back then. They rebuilt their homes, took care of their families and went on with their lives, such a strong nation. Apart from the disaster of the earthquake we enjoyed every bit of Kathmandu; it feels so good to be back.
While in KTM, it was Menno’s birthday and we celebrated with our old-time favorite and something new. The ne
w was the “garden of dreams”. We remembered the high walls, but never knew what was inside. 14 years ago these gardens weren’t organized yet, but nowadays it’s beautifully restored and a wonderful oasis of calmness and greens in the center of Kathmandu. It was a bit to cultivated compared to the surrounding chaos, but we enjoyed the beauty of it and we had a very tasty cake at the café in the gardens.
In the afternoon we went to Boudhanath, our old-time favorite stupa. Centered on a square a huge white stupa is set, colorful praying flags fluttering in the wind, devotees and monks walking around the stupa, mumbling their mantra’s, many of them in traditional clothes and people doing full body prostrations. We spent half of the afternoon on a rooftop terrace enjoying the scene below, the other half we spent joining the devotees and making some loops around the stupa. We ended the day with a dinner overlookin
g the beautiful and peaceful stupa and again with huge smiles on our faces.