By Dominika Romanska
Away from grassy lowlands, nestling deep beneath the snow-capped peaks, a city of Kathmandu is a bustling maze of streets that shelter ancient traditions but also embrace new technologies that help to deal with the challenges of modern life.
To get here from Warsaw, the capital of Poland, located in Central Europe, you have to cover the distance of 7,300 km, readjust to life in a different time zone and get accustomed to all the things that differ from what you know and see on a daily basis, one of which being the dazzling array of colours permeating the city.
My husband and I were astonished by orange marigold flowers, red tikas on people’s foreheads, green saag and gourds sold in grocery shops, white yomari, yellow dal, and multi-colored beauty of everything else.
Shortly after our arrival, we found ourselves in the middle of Thamel, surrounded by both residents pursuing their daily activities and tourists exploring the nooks and crannies of this commercial neighborhood. From trekking equipment to jewelry and pashminas to singing bowls and ritual objects – you can find a lot of useful and beautiful things here.
I immediately understood why people come back to Nepal so many times – there are so many things to see and explore. Had it not been for Rashmi, a guide at Allied Adventure Travel and Tours, we wouldn’t have been able to discover so many beautiful places in just a couple of days.
One of them was Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal, consisting of a stupa and a variety of shrines and temples. I must admit that all the architectural forms and a kaleidoscope of colors you can see there as well as the view over Kathmandu are definitely worth climbing atop the hill. Unsurprisingly, given its name, the visitors were accompanied by joyful monkeys basking in the late afternoon sun.
We also decided to take a tour around the old city of Bhaktapur with numerous sculptures and ancient temples, including the Nyatapola Temple with its sky-high rooftop, the 55-window Palace, and the Dattatreya temple where goats are provided as live offerings. Destroyed in the earthquake, now being rebuilt, centuries-old rust-red brick architectural treasures trimmed with finely carved wood dazzle the eye with their splendor. Strolling through the streets of Bhaktapur, we also came across artisanal pottery workshops, a Thangka paintings gallery, and a number of workshops-cum-stores run by Nepal’s craftspeople using skills that have been passed down the generations. Enchanted with the beauty of this place, we had our lunch there enjoying local dal bhat and masala tea.
As far as Nepali cuisine is concerned, we have managed to try some local specialties and taste the ultimate Nepali dinner. From momos, thukpa and dal bhat to yomari and masala tea, we have been served some of the best local dishes Nepal is famous for. Deliciously nutritious and aromatic, both vegan and non-vegan (depending on your choice), they inspired me to look for recipes and ingredients so that I could learn how to cook such delicious meals when I am back home.
Last but not least, we took part in a Nepali language course organized by Language Hub located in Chhaya Center and enjoyed it a lot. As a Business English trainer and coach running my own business in Warsaw, I have developed a great passion for learning languages which makes me want to communicate with local people in their native language. As I find Nepali language beautiful, I am definitely going to continue learning Nepali in the future.
With woolen hat and gloves on and a yak wool shawl wrapped around my neck, all adding a splash of color to my regular winter outfit back in Poland, we came back to Warsaw with Nepali language textbooks hoping next time we could Nepali bhasa bolna more than ali ali or Thorai matra.