When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid, that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave”. I contemplated this quote in my living room in England with a steaming hot cup of tea, I asked myself, ‘So, what makes me feel afraid?’ The answer came like a stone in the bottom of my stomach. Being alone.
Being a lone traveller can be a daunting thought, especially as a woman, but once the realisation had hit me that I had this barrier, that’s when I knew I had to pack up my bags and take a trip that would change my life and be able to stand on the other side of fear.
I felt it before I saw it. The heartbeat of a place that I knew I was going to fall madly in love with. It was close to sunset and wind swept my hair back as I peered out of the small micro-bus window to take a better look at the devastatingly long drop of the small cliff side road we were travelling on. With the city’s pulse and rooftops right in front of us, finally I could see the enchanting colours of Kathmandu.
‘Nearly there’, my newly acquainted travelling companion told me with a beaming smile. We had been on this compact mini bus with blaring Nepali songs and breath-taking views for 11 hours after crossing the India-Nepal border. I set off early hours of the morning from Nepal Gunj, a mere walk across the border gate and a relatively rural city of Nepal, after I almost forgot to get stamped out at immigration on the India side. There are many ways to get to Kathmandu, but if you choose to cross a border like I did, strict immigration rules still apply, even if they are conducted on an old, rickety table outside a dilapidated office with a cow overlooking the proceedings.
Finally and intrepidly, I disembarked from the hot and sticky seats, barely able to feel my legs anymore and took into my senses the first sights and sounds. The first thing you’ll notice is just how very much there is to take in all at once. Coming from the UK, the traffic, ancient architecture, temples, colours, dust and abundant smell of mouth-watering food is overwhelming but mesmerising.
I got into a taxi and told the driver the address of the guesthouse I had found on Trip Advisor and off we went into the myriad of bumpy cobbled streets streaming with animation. There are many guesthouses easily found within the valley, primarily in Thamel, the tourist hub. So, if you are new to Kathmandu, Thamel is a great place to start.