1. Confidence is truly the key to everything. Whether it be using the language in everyday life with local Nepali people or crossing busy roads covered in cars vans and motorbikes I’ve learnt that if you metaphorically or literally step out with confidence and continue that way it normally turns out well.
2. Nepali people don’t have addresses as there are no street names or house numbers in Nepal which makes finding your way about or receiving post, shall we say, tricky.
3. Kathmandu is a beautiful city filled with history and culture and is the home of not one, not two but seven World Heritage sites. We had the opportunity to see one of them called Boudda which is a Buddhist temple.
4. The effects of the 2012 and 2015 earthquake are still very much visible particularly in more rural areas in the hills surrounding the valley.
5. British and Nepali have very differing ideas as to what constitutes a mountain. As a British person I would say that the Kathmandu Valley is surrounded by some of the tallest, most beautiful mountains I’ve ever had the privilege – a Nepali person would call them hills.
6. If you go to an area with few white people locals will try to take photos of you on the sly but a brave few will bring their cameras right up to you to get a better shot. It’s completely harmless, it’s just that we are a bit of a rare sight to them, it takes a little getting used to but I will say it has given us quite a few funny stories already.
7. On almost every street and corner there are temples and shrines. They vary in size but normally have a statue or picture of a Hindu God, are brightly covered and surrounded by candles.
8. Nepalese food is AMAZING. I may only have been here two weeks but I have managed to consume an alarming amount of momo which is a type of savoury dumpling.
9. Kathmandu is so dusty at this time of year that you normally can’t see the Himalayas, however, this week we were blessed with beautifully clear night and we’re able to see the snowy peaks from the roof of our guest house. The story of Jesus washing his disciples feet has taken on a whole new level of meaning for me as, after walking around Kathmandu in sandles, I now understand how truly nasty that job would be.
10. The city as a whole is a glorious blend of the old and the new. Women wear traditional Nepali kurtas with jeans, men ride past ancient temples and altars on their motorbikes and strobe lights are used alongside candles to celebrate Tihar also known as the festival of light. Just walking around you get a real sense of the history and tradition that lies within the city but equally it is clear to see how Kathmandu, along with the rest of the world, is moving forward.
11. Just like New York Kathmandu is a city that never sleeps. Throughout the night you can hear dogs barking, planes flying scarily low as you are right under a flight path, music (particularly in the past several days as the Hindu festival Tihar has been taking place) and bells as many Hindus ring bells before praying as they believe it will wake up their Gods.
12. Although it is normally very warm outside (easily mid 20s most days) it’s actually quite cold inside. It has taken two weeks but we’re now in the habit of putting on a jumper to go inside and taking it off when we’re going back out.
13. Not everything translates perfectly. For example, the Nepali word for thank you is Dhanya baad but if you say Dhanya baad as often as you – a British person – would say thank you, your Nepali waiter or waitress will think that’s hilarious. Instead of saying thank you Nepali people are far more inclined to show it by using gestures such as giving you the bill with their right hand while touching their right elbow with their left hand as a sign of respect.
14. Kathmandu is filled to the brim with stray dogs, cows and monkeys – all of which are surprisingly cute until they get too close.