Surat dari Kathmandu
So, this is a letter i got from my grandparents who just got back from Kathmandu, Nepal. I hope you have fun reading this letter as much as i did.
As for my trip together with Oma Naniek and friends to Nepal, I must say that we very much enjoyed it. There are no direct flights from Jakarta, we had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur to change plane, the duration of the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, was around 4 hours, so in total from Jakarta it was a 6 hour trip plus about 2 hours waiting in Kuala Lumpur for a connection plane.
Up till 2006 Nepal was a Hindu kingdom but is now a republic. Across the north border of Nepal is China and India in the south, the Indian influence is clearly apparent in the local language and food which is very spicy like our curry, if you like Indian food then there is no problem for you in Nepal which is less expensive than European food. Did you know that Sidharta Gautama (Buddha) was born in the Tarai area in Nepal ? However only 10 % of the population are Budhist whilst the majority (80%) religion is Hindu.
Kathmandu is an old city and is the capital of Nepal, it is not as big as Jakarta, it has a population of around 1 ½ million people. The roads are small with heavy traffic, mostly motorcycles en cycles, it looks like Jakarta in the 1950s. The traffic is being supervised by the police and they are directing the traffic at busy intersections, we have not seen traffic lights, traffic jams is common here, but not so heavy as in Jakarta. We stayed at the Kathmandu Guest House (KGH), a remarkable pleasant hotel in the Thamel area which is a tourist area with small streets, many souvenir shops, food stalls and restaurants, just like Kuta in Bali. The people we meet are generally friendly and speak a little English.
Most of the overseas tourists are young people and of course their main purpose of the visit to Nepal is to climb the Himalaya mountains, one of the most famous mountain is of course mount Everest, locally known as Sagarmatha which is 8848 meters high, the highest mountain on earth. We are a little too old to climb mountains, but as we were so eager to see the Everest, we decided to book a mountain flight.
On the respective date we went to the military airport to await our turn for the mountain flight, but we were very disappointed because the flight was cancelled due to bad weather so we then went to a beautiful place in a valley which is called Pokhara, around 200 kilometers from Kathmandu, one of the favorite trekking route. It is a 6 hour drive by bus but as we want to save time, we took the half an hour flight.
Pokhara is nice for tourists, we went to several temples, high in the mountain from where we can oversee the valley and lake, then we visited Devi’s falls and Mahendra caves, also the Fewa Lake. For young people this area has many chalenging places for rock climbing and rafting.
We spent one night in the Barahi Pokhara hotel and flew the next day back to Kathmandu in the hope that weather conditions were favorable for a mountain flight and our hopes were fulfilled. The following day in the morning we managed to board a small plane from “Buddha Air” and took off during a remarkable nice weather, almost clear sky, yes there were some clouds, but we still could see clearly. Such a beautiful sight to remember with all those mountains covered with layers of snow. We could also see the first basecamp for the climbers consisting of tents with all colors of the rainbow. The duration of the mountain flight is one hour and we enjoyed every minute of it. We have taken photographs which is attached herewith, but as it was taken by amateurs the photos are not as good as the reality.
Back on the ground in Kathmandu we visited interesting places such as the Kathmandu Durbar Square with their hundreds of pigeons, also several palaces, resident of the past kings which now has become museums. These old palace buildings of course are being conserved and for this purpose we observed many young volunteers European girls doing maintenance/preservation work, their presence apparently, is arranged and funded by a world heritage body of the United Nations.
Maybe you have heard of the famous Gurkha troops who during world war II was part of the British troops, they were known as very brave fighters. With the British troops they were fighting the Japanese troops all over Asia and also in Indonesia at the end of world war II. The Gurkha soldiers are from Nepal and up till now they still are mercenaries hired by several countries including the British army.
Before our return to Jakarta we still had the opportunity to visit Nagarkot, a rest area in the hills about 2 hour drive from Kathmandu, a place just like the Puncak in West Java. The climate is pleasant cool with beautiful panorama, rather quiet and not as crowded like Puncak, in short very enjoyable.
During our stay in Kathmandu, we were invited for dinner by the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Indonesia in Nepal, who was a close friend of one of the members of our group, the previous Indonesian ambassador in Bangladesh. We were treated with a candle light dinner in his beautiful mansion with traditional local food and on another occasion in a Nepali Chinese restaurant with mixed chinese and local food. What else can I say but: sedaaap. . .
See you soon, bye . . . .