11/4/2007 to 11/6/2007 | Nepal


Bhaktapur is a beautifully preserved old city outside of Kathmandu.  Many people visit Bhakatpur as a day trip from Kathmandu, but I had heard it was nicer to stay overnight there, so I switched buses in Katmandu and move right on to Bhaktapur.  Coming all the way from Gorkha, I fortuitously arrived after dark when all to the tourist ticket booths were closed.  Ordinarily, as a foreigner, I would have had to pay $10 to get into the old section of the city, but I was able to walk right in.  I’m not a big fan of double pricing, and have no moral issues in avoiding it if I can, especially when I found out that Chinese tourist get in for a little less than a buck.  Anyone from China that is traveling in Nepal I’m sure has a lot more money than me, because in my experience most Chinese don’t travel cheap.  In another anomaly I actually scored a great deal on a hotel room though a tout, which almost never happens.  I usually avoid touts like the plague but as it was dark and I didn’t know where the bus had dropped me off, I went along with the guy.  After almost walking out to find another place, I got a room with an attached hot shower and bathroom (typical in the west but a luxury for me here) for about $5 (a bit more than I typically like to pay for a room) in beautiful old building with views over the Tachupal Tole, one of Bhaktapurs old squares.  The only draw back was the 6 foot ceilings, a minor inconvenience for someone who is 6 foot 3 inches.  I enjoyed Bhaktapur quite a bit.  It was a wonderfully photogenic place, and unlike other preserved towns it felt like a real city and not something out of a theme park. There were businesses in the old part of town that catered to locals as well as the standard tourist shops and in the morning before the Kathmandu day trippers arrive and evenings after they leave, there were surprisingly few tourists around.

The afternoon of my second day in Bhaktapur I took a bus outside of town to the Temple of Changu Narayan and walked back through the rice fields and villages.  It was a pleasant outing, but this presented somewhat of a problem since I arrive back when the ticket takers were out in full force.  Having made it this far without paying the fee, I was not eager to shell out $10 now, for my last night in town.  I decide to sit down and wait out the ticket taker.  As I sat, I talked to a couple Nepalis and than ran it another guy I had talked to before and we went to a local restaurant and passed the rest of the time over a glass of rice “beer.”  A beverage only described as beer because it has less alcohol than the rice wine, but which has no semblance to the taste of beer whatsoever.  After my drink, the ticket taker had closed up shop and I returned to my “plush” room in Bhaktapur.

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