Two of my friends decided to accompany me on my first trek in Nepal. We had picked out a two day trek in the Kathmandu Valley but it didn’t exactly go to plan.
Our guide was an hour late. We were starting to think maybe we wouldn’t be going at all. We’d even started discussing what we should do with our day instead; Clean the apartment, go back to work, go back to bed?
When the guide arrived it seemed there had been a misunderstanding about the times. It also became clear he was not keen to go for the two days as previously arranged. We stored our back packs and secretly relieved, agreed a day trek was probably better. We thought there was no point rushing into a two day trek.
We ended up leaving over an hour late due to the confusion. It was close to 11.30am by the time we finally set out. The new goal was Changunarayan to Nagarkot, then drive back to Kathmandu. I thought we agreed on private transport but as we headed towards the Ratna Bus Park I realized my friends had decided that public transport would be sufficient.
The bus was relatively cheap considering how long we spent on it (30NR). I must be getting old because the noise from the school children who kept clambering on board was only just bearable. The view from the window was quite spectacular and if it wasn’t so hot it would have been a very enjoyable trip.
We arrived at Changunarayan and were greeted with a 100NR entrance fee. The town was very attractive. Ancient red brick houses, with ornate wooden carvings, closely hug crooked, uneven stone pavements. Farm animals roam the streets unattended. Sadly, thangka paintings, wooden ties, knitted socks are creeping in and taking over. If you can ignore the touristy shops springing up in the bottom of every house, it is a beautiful setting.
It was time for some lunch, the Village Villa Café was right near the temple so we decided to give it a try. We knew the food would be expensive given the area but 375NR for non-veg dal bhaat and 300 for veg dal bhaat and 40NR water or soft drink seemed really over the top (even in Thamel Dal Bhaat is only 100NR). Our guide and my friends negotiated with the waiter and were told 300NR for non- veg and 250 for veg. it still seemed expensive but we agreed.
Our food wasn’t ready so we thought we would look at the temple while we waited. The temple at Changunarayan is thought to be over 700 years old. It was built by Mandev to honor Bishnu. When enter the temple seems rather over hyped. If you keep in mind the age of the temple it is actually pretty well preserved. The wooden carvings are intricate and the back side is ornately decorated. Non Hindus are not permitted entry into the inner temple. Don’t take photos while the doors are open out of respect. Changunarayan is definitely worth seeing as part of a larger trip and the mountain views are breathtaking.
We headed back to the restaurant only to find the food was still not ready. We waited in the sun for another 40 minutes. Simple is the nicest thing I can say about the food. When we the bill came we had been charged the original price. A short and escalating argument saw us begrudgingly pay the full price for Dal Bhaat that I could have cooked better and quicker at home.
Finally we started walking. The view from both sides of Changunarayan is amazing. On one side there are great mountains, Langtang, Ganesh, Gauri Shankar, rise up from the valley. On the other the Kathmandu Valley stretches out like a huge green and brown patch work quilt. The view of Kathmandu city is interesting; it seems so small and insignificant, nothing like the bustling city we set out from in the morning.
We walked for about 1 ½ hours. I am really unfit so if I can do it without breaking a sweat, anyone can. We walked along the road so a guide is not 100% necessary.
When we arrived in the village of Talkot our guide announced he did not have time to carry on to Nagarkot and we should head back to Kathmandu. Looking up at the steep stairs which marked the way to Nagarkot we were not completely disappointed. It had already been a long day.
I would advise people wanting to do the walk from Changunarayan to Nagarkot that is seems possible to do easily without a guide. If you want a guide at least book though an agency so you can go back and complain if something strange happens to you.
There is a bus from Talkot to Kathmandu (30/40NR) but our guide waved down a passing car. For the inflated price of 300NR we were dropped at our door in Thamel. It had been a long day and though the views were spectacular we couldn’t help feeling a little poor, tired and like we still hadn’t managed to go trekking in Nepal.