Well. I don't quite understand the real motive. But i was told this ritual is to give best wishes among the acquaintances.
Be reminded if you put the red dot on your forehead, you are refrained from eating meats and should be vet at the time.
As you can guess, i knew it after i swallowed bunch of chicken meat with the red dot clearly shown on my forehead.
If you use Bangkok as your trip base, be sure your seat assignment is on the left of the plane. The captain will wake you up from your good sleep to make sure you notice the himalaya and its everest when the plane travels past.
If you require a travel agent to book some sightseeing, tickets, tour, trekking guide or whatever, I can highly recommend Himalayan Trail Finder in Thamel area. Was trying to book a tour to Bhutan, and the people who were recommended to me really let me down by not giving me the itinarary that I asked for. After getting frustrated by them, and also by a lack of action on their part, I happened into the Himalayan Trail Finder. Told them what I wanted, and for how long, and within a few minutes they had all kinds of information for me and also the prices for the tour which I requested. I used them also for a local tour, for a private car 2 times, a mountain flight to Everest, for a hotel booking, and they also reconfirmed my return tickets for back home at no additional charge. Seems that all the people who work there are all part of an extended family, and all of them were very friendly and helpful. If you go there, ask for Janita. She's a short very cute gal who seems to be the head travel agent. Tell her Michael from Canada with the gray beard sent you and I'm sure you will be treated like gold.
If for some reason you get bored while in Kathmandu, go for a walk to Durbar Marg and back. While on the way there, make a game of how many times you will say no thank you to all the people trying to sell you something. This includes taxis, rickshaws, tiger balm, drugs, pashmina, t-shirts, carpets, violins, incense, trekking guides, more taxis and rickshaws, mango juice sellers, something that resembles food that comes in a bucket, prayer flags, thangkas, buddha statues, passport holders, postcards, more tiger balm, and just about whatever else you can think of. My record is 58 times saying no thanks!
There are many Bed and Breakfast's in Kathmandu, you will find the people very warm and it is a faily inexpensive city to go to.
You can balloon, bungy jump, canyon, ice-climb, rock climb, climb trekking peaks, fly over mountains or fly an ultralight, in Nepal.
Do keep in mind. Men should wear a shirt at all times. Men's knee-length hiking shorts are acceptable for trekking but not when visiting temples, monasteries or homes.
Nudity is particularly offensive. Whether bathing in a stream or at a village tap, men should wear shorts or underwear, women can wrap in sarong and douse themselves as the village women do. Only sport a swimsuit if well secluded from village eyes. Public affection is likewise frowned upon by the locals.
Bodhnath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the area of Kathmandu. It is located 7 miles from the centre of Kathmandu, on the northeastern outskirts of the city. Its platform is a massive mandala and it is the largest spherical stupa in Nepal.
The influx of large populations of Tibetan refugees from China has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Bodhnath. Its also one of the 10 sites in Nepal listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Along with Swayambhunath, to the western side of the city centre, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kathmandu .
The Stupa is located in the area of ancient trade route to Tibet where Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Bodhnath .The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus.
Its a great place to people watch, watching the Nepalis and Tibetans walking the circuit and spinning the prayer wheens. Its also good to go in and climb the stupa (from the outside) as you get fine views of Kathmandu.
There also so interesting shops and good restaurants around the Stupa.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square holds the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. Along with these palaces, the square also surrounds quadrangles revealing courtyards and temples. The square is presently known as Hanuman Dhoka, a name derived from the statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, near the entrance of the palace.
The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574). This was added to by Pratap Malla between 1640-70.
Time and again the temples and the palaces in the square have gone through reconstruction after being damaged by natural causes or neglect. .The temples are being preserved as national heritage sites and the palace is being used as a museum. Only a few parts of the palace are open for visitors and the Taleju Temples are only open for people of Hindu and Buddhist faith.
Although it is a UNESCO world heritage site, it is also on their danger list of most fragile and in danger. Although restoration projects are going on, Nepal is a poor country and withthe recent troubles its not suprise that it has been somewhat neglected.
Still, its a great place to wander, there is lots going on. Wander around the surrounding streets too. Just keep your eyes in the back of your head so you don't get mown down by a motorbike or rickshaw!
Kathmandu is the capital city and the largest city of Nepal. The city is situated in the Kathmandu Valley that also contains two other cities - Patan and Bhaktapur.
The "old" city is noted for its many Buddhist and Hindu temples and palaces, most dating to the 17th century. Many of these landmarks have been damaged by earthquakes and pollution.
The valley hosts an number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites : The centers Kathmandu , Patan and Bhaktapur, the two most important Buddhist stupas,Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and two famous Hindu shrines, Pashupatinath temple and Changu Narayan. Since 2003 the site has been inscribed in the World Heritage List as being "in danger" out of concern for the ongoing loss of authenticity and the outstanding universal value of the cultural property.
Kathmandu has been popular with western tourists since the 1960s when it became a key stop on the hippie trail, when Jho: Chhee (Freak Street) was the one of the main location. It is also the subject of a popular Bob Seger song for the same reason. Theres not much sign of hippidom today and Freak Street is nothing much to look at.
What I loved about Kathmandu (apart from the historic buildings) is that the place is just nuts-but in a good way . The traffic is appalling, noisy, chaotic, there is hustle and bustle but the people are lovely and very friendly and do not hassle you half as much as in India. The streets are medieval and there is so much to see and so much going on. you have to keep your eyes in the back of your head though to not get run down by a motorbike or rickshaw!
There is good shopping (mainly in Thamel) and lots of restaurants.
The key things to visit in Kathmandu are:
Durbar Square and surrounding streets
Thamel for shopping
Swayambhunath (Monkey) Temple
Day trips to Patan and Bhaktapur are also very easy and recommended
Without Doubt one of the Highlights of Kathmandu is Durbar Square !! Until recently there was No entry fee to visit but now you have to pay 200 NR, however if you have a passport photo then you can take it and your receipt to a little office on the square and have a pass issued, this pass will last the duration of your visit to Nepal and there is NO extra charge for this !! So Very Well worth while getting then you can pop back to Durbar Square anytime you want and won't have to pay the entry fee a second time !!!!!
2006 update -- The price has now more than doubled -- and that's in two years, But the good news is that If you don't want to pay -- and this is between you and Your conscience, then just tell the guys on the ticket barrier that you are staying at Pagoda lodge on Freak Street and that you are going back ! -- it worked for me !!
2007, the price has gone up yet again so as far as ticket seller is Concerned, I stay at Pagoda Lodge which is on the corner of Freak Street ;-)
A dozen other Hindu, Buddhist and Tibetan temples, shrines and sights, of various types and sizes, are scattered all around the old town of Kathmandu. While wandering on the streets to and from Thamel north of Durbar square, be sure not to miss them, as not all are visible from the outside. Among the ones I didn’t miss I would recommend you see the following: Tarani Devi Temple, Kathesimbhu stupa, Seto Machhendranath Temple (Jan Bahal), a very old Buddha statue, and the Queen's Pond.
Can visit my Kathmandu pages for more info, pics and tips.
Traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture, it is a complex of beautiful temples and shrines, both Hindu and Buddhist. Most of them are built in the pagoda style embellished with intricately carved exteriors, built between 12th and 18th centuries. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Until the early 20th century the Durbar square was the King’s residence.
South of the Durbar square, the Basantapur durbar is one of the landmarks of Kathmandu, and used to serve as residence for the royal family, being a part of the palace.
Can visit my Kathmandu pages for more info, pics and tips.
Also referred to as Hanuman-Dhoka, the Durbar square is enlisted UNESCO since 1979, and boasts over 40 interesting temples and sights such as Kumari Ghar, Kasthmandap, Shiv-Parbati Temple, Jagannath Temple, Big Bell, etc. there is also an inner complex, inside the former royal palace, which comprises the old palace area, Hanuman-dhoka and its courtyards as Nasal Chowk, Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk, Lohan Chowk, Mohan Chowk, Basantapur Durbar and others. There are many temples in the inner complex also, most notable being the Taleju Temple dedicated to female royal deity.
The concentration of temples is simply amazing, but this is only what it stands today. Prior to the great earthquake in 1934, the area was much larger and incorporated 35 courtyards which extended as far as the New Road. Only 10 courtyards stand nowadays.
Can visit my Kathmandu pages for more info, pics and tips.
Shivayuri National Park is an easy one to get to as it is right on the outskirts of Kathmandu. That means you can reach it by taxi and then walk from there. What is there to see? Well, you can climb through the park in the hills surrounding Kathmandu until you reach the Buddhist temple at the top where many female monks live. This will take you about two hours, and is an easy first day if you are a little jet lagged from your long journey. On top you will have commanding views of Kathmandu itself. On the way down you can stop by Vishnu’s water temple where he is sleeping on a bed of snakes. As an introduction to both Hindu and Buddhist temples this is not a bad start. Enjoy.
The Garden of Dreams and the nearby Kaiser Library are an oasis of quiet in the middle of Kathmandu not far from the city center and the Royal Palace. Both can be reached by foot.
Admission to the garden is 160 rupees while the library is free. However, the library, which contains a real, stuffed tiger, is only open Sundays through Fridays and is closed on Saturdays. The opening hours are 10.00 to 15.00, while the gardens are opened longer.
The Barkha and Basanta Pavilons in the gardens were long left abandoned and partially destroyed before being rescued and renovated more recently. The style of architecture is turn of the last century colonial. The gardens themselves are immaculately kept. It is a nice place to hang out on a warm sunny day and take a few hours away from the daily hum of the traffic outside its walls. Enjoy!
I can recall hearing Bob Seger's famous song as a child, and even then - having no idea where Kathmandu was - I understood it was an exotic place faraway, with a mysterious hold on Westerners. It took me almost thirty years to experience it for myself...a lifelong dream. In some ways, it surpassed my expectations, and in other ways, I was a little underwhelmed. All in all, it is a place I would love to return to one day. I hope it will be as I remember it.
The things to do and see in Kathmandu are numerous. The "don't miss" items are obvious: Patan, Pashupatinath, Bhaktapur, Durbar Square in Kathmandu City proper, Boudanath, and Swayambunath.
Hotels are inexpensive and if you're in the Thamel area, everything seems to be within walking distance.
From Kathmandu, you can easily take day exploratory excursions to nearby towns. We didn't have the chance, but I will do so when I return....
A typical day trip might be a river raft down the Trisuli (super easy for novices like me), or a "flight-seeing" up and down the Himalayan range.
Any Nepal travel and guide book (or better yet, your fellow VTers!!) is a good place to start your plan.