3 Ways to Experience Kathmandu Off the Beaten Track
The city of Kathmandu is usually popular among tourists for 2 different reasons: holding the only international airport in Nepal, it represents an entry door to the country’s trekkers paradise – Everest and Annapurna Base Camps, in the Himalayas; and because of its historical legacy, it is the mecca of ancient towns, where many Buddhist and Hindu temples and palaces can be found.
If you are that kind of tourist with a keen taste for real local life experiences, and you crave for places that will literally shake you off your seat, here are 3 things you MUST DO while visiting Kathmandu:
Buy a Bollywood movie ticket. It costs only $2,5 and you will get not just to watch a brand new movie, but also to feel how locals go to the cinema. The experience is truly entertaining. You will see, hear and feel the public’s visceral reaction to some scenes as if the actors were physically present and you were watching a play. You might want to join them, as the energy is so contagious. Besides, Bollywood movies are always fun. Who does not enjoy some colorful and cheerful dancing and chanting, here and there in their life? And don’t worry too much about the language. The Hindi way of speaking usually entails 50% of English words… Which means you have a chance to understand at least 50% of what is being said. Not bad for a foreign movie, right?
Try a Sound Healing session. All around Nepal you may find Tibetan singing bowls being sold to tourists as souvenirs. The truth is there is more to these bowls than the eye can meet (or the ear can hear). Buddhist and Hindu traditions are very much connected to the concepts of energy, vibration, and frequency. These bowls date back centuries ago, and they have been used as a means of therapy and meditation. The sound that is produced by them generates vibration and frequency that it is said to have healing properties once it reaches both our physical and mental bodies. Since our bodies are made of living cells, and these cells are mostly water, the vibration resonates with such particles balancing its frequency. To experience the benefits of this non-intrusive practice, you just need to lay down on a mat, relax your body and let the sounds and the professional therapist do the work. I guarantee it will be a safe, relaxing, positive and somewhat intriguing experience. There are free daily sessions (donation-based) happening in the Thamel district of Kathmandu where you can try this. They occur 2 times a day and anybody can participate. All donations go to social projects or institutions.
Lose yourself in the Bhrikutimandap Market. If you are not scared to lose your way for some time, you like the hassle of being in a busy place, see how good your bargain skills are, and shop like a local, then leave Thamel’s touristy and good-looking shops and restaurants. Instead, head to the biggest street market in town. It is a full-on maze, built under thousands of blue plastic canvas (to protect you from sun and rain), where you find as many shopping stands, as locals buying stuff. Millions of products are sold here: all kinds of textiles, kitchen appliances, food and even living animals, like goats. This is where Kathmandu valley locals of all ages go for shopping every week.
Don’t hesitate to explore the wonders of Kathmandu off the beaten track. With the right mind and spirit, it will definitely be a surprising and rewarding experience.
Rita Biscaia is the co-founder of the travel page @Pionasias. She’s a passionate writer, a professional business consultant, and a fierce spiritual seeker. She has translated a book on Mindfulness, and enjoys writing online content on traveling and personal development