Hey Guys and Gals so it’s finally happened , me and the other half have started our long adventure.
First stop Kathmandu.
Now some people may have a cultural shock upon arrival to Kathmandu, but not me. Having already been to Mumbai, Kathmandu was so much more chilled out. Before I go into details, this will be a long three-part post filled with gluten free food, things to see, places to stay, and good old travel couple problems (aka meltdowns on the trek). I want to be as honest and open as possible so get comfy and pick up a pack of gluten free biscuits or two before reading.
What to Pack
First things first, when visiting Nepal, you will stop in Kathmandu as it’s the only international airport in the country. Before arriving, I advise you to pick up a pollution mask or bike mask preferablly. You can buy them here but how good they are, I’m not too sure. The reason why is because of the large amount of pollution and dust. I learnt the hard way after two days in Kathmandu by catching a cough which became a very bad cough/ cold. Don’t worry about looking silly with a mask, a lot of the locals wear them including taxi drivers and motorcyclists.
Other things to pack are shampoo bars, diarrhoea tablets , vitamin tablets, a first aid kit, oh, and how did I forget the most important item; a Lifestraw. The Lifestraw allows you to drink the tap water and even lake water. The bottled water is cheap in Kathmandu and Pokhara but if you are planning on doing a hike, everything becomes more expensive the higher up you go, including water. You’ll thank me later.
Expect to pay around about RS 800 around $8 from the airport to your hotel in Kathmandu (the only reason I’m doing it in dollars and not pounds is because it seems like dollars is a currency that hostels will take in both Kathmandu and Pokhara). You can bargain with hotels (hostels) but just book it on Agoda as it’s sometimes cheaper than just turning up. Most times you will pay directly to the hotel so change your payment into dollars and just take dollars to pay with .
Nirvana Peace Home:
The Nirvana Peace Home is the hostel we stayed in in Kathmandu. It consisted of a double room with private shower and toilet. The shower was not so hot but that wont really bother you as most hostel showers are cold, and for $6 a night you can’t really complain. The owner was lovely and very friendly so it made the stay much more enjoyable.The Nirvana Peace Home is in an ideal location, only 720m from Thamel .
In Thamel you will find supermarkets, pubs, hiking shops (literally loads of hiking shops), where you can buy everything for your hike. I suggest you buy your boots and backpack at home as most of the items are fake, good quality but fake. The prices aren’t set. There’s a tourist price and a local price. So whatever they say the price is, half it. If they dont except it and go down in price just say too expensive and walk away. If they don’t come after you then you know the price was too low. You will know for the next shop.
Most of the time I ate gluten free cereal which I bought with me from home. I also ate fruit quite often, just make sure the fruit is in its skin as they sometimes wash the fruit in tap water .
Boiled eggs, omlettes, ect are avalible but there’s only so many omlettes and eggs you can eat . I found out later on in the journey that you can get steak and eggs in a few restaurants in Thamel.
I didn’t eat lunch too much at the beggining of the trip but when we returned I ate lunch alot more.
Pho99: Vietnamese food. Most Vietnamese dishes are gluten free but just make sure you say no soy sauce. If you’re not heading to Vietnam like me, make sure to try a Vietnamese Coffee – very sickly but tasty as hell. I went for the Shrimp Pho and a Shrimp Curry the second time.
Cafe de Patan: a cafe in Patan, slightly overpriced but still cheap compared to the UK. I opted for a mushroom curry and rice , it was ok but a tad bland and not enough curry to rice.
Garden of Dreams Cafe: The menu is expensive and extravagant but it does look incredible. As we are on a budget and daisy is cluching on to the money belt, I have no chance of eating luxury. So we ordered chilli chips from the snack menu which came with chips in a garlic chilli sauce, peppers, and onions. It was very simiular to salt and pepper chips just without the soy (I hope, ill let you guys know later) (all fine), and a coleslaw garnish. Really tasty but super spicy.
Ying Yang: A Thai restaurant but like most restaurants in Thamel they offer a wide range of food. When it comes to cross-contamination just stay clear of fried food and Western food.
vegetable green curry and tofu
and a rice dish with tofu and veg (not gluten free but this was for Daisy)
Total= RS 1789 = around $16 (this is slightly more expensive than a backstreet restaurant hence why we did this for dinner as a one off)
Third Eye: Indian food. Now this has been one of my favourite restaurants. I gave over my gluten free translation card and the manager catered very well for me and talked me through the menu. The only thing about the translation cards is that they are not completely accurate and no (sauce) can literally mean anything .
2 Litre mineral water
Newari meal vege x2
total= RS 2310
We also got a complimentary starter with a rice based wine that is very similar to sake which I stupidly poured all over my starter which wasn’t the worst thing as it still tasted reallty good lool .
Green Organic Cafe:
I had the chicken sizzler, chicken laid on a bed of cabbage with chips, vegetables, and a cream sauce. By far the best chicken I’ve had in my lifetime. The chicken was tender and moist, the veg was seasoned really well and the sauce was incredible. It was all served on a hotplate hence the name sizzler. For dessert I had a homemade icecream with fruit and nuts, it looked like a piece of art and was very afordable.
New Orleans Cafe & Restaurant:
This place is rammed and I kept seeing an American chap walking around talking to the waiters telling them what to do etc , so maybe it’s owned by a true Orleans man. probably why the food really resembles true American style cuisine.
I went for the 100% steak whatever that means lol, with chips and veg. I know as a rule of thumb coeliacs shouldn’t eat chips, but I only order them when i think theres less risk or no risk of contamination. Touch wood so far I’ve been ok.
I was slightly sceptical about eating the steak as it cost RS 580 with veg and chips (around 3GBP). That is really cheap and if you saw that somewhere in the UK you would really question it. It was a really tender bit of steak. P.S. it comes with a sauce so just ask without sauce as it’s better to be safe than stuck on the toilet.
OYO Tibetan Peace House:
Next time we visit Kathmandu I will defintley book this hostel way in advance , not even fussed about price. The owner and his wife and all the staff are the kindest, sweetest most lovable people (yep thats alot of cheese in one section but its true). The food is tasty and cheap and if you’re there during a hindu celebration hopefully you will get the chance to try their homemade sel roti (a gluten free rice doughnut), very tasty .
Things to see and do in Kathmandu:
Most people stay in or near to Thamel, so you probably will come across it. This is the place you will get all your hiking gear from and the random bits and bobs that you really dont need. Prices will vary and there is alot of room to haggle. The main people you will get hassle from are the guys selling instruments, jewlerry, and tiger balm. Oh and the “smoke hash”, weed guys. There’s lots or restaurants, bars, and even supermarkets.
This place is beautiful in parts, other parts very congested and you want to bring your dust mask. We did go to see the Patan musuem but unfortunately the musuem was closed during the festival so we opted out of paying RS 1000 PP to go into Durbar Square as the musuem was closed and that fee included the museum.
The area where most of the buddhas live. The entrance fee was RS400 pp. Bouddanath is home to the largest Stupa in Asia and it is mind blowing how big it is and how little damage was caused during the 2015 earthquake . There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops inside. Nearby there are a handful of monastries to visit and if you walk to the Hyatt Regency hotel (10 minutes from the stupa) there’s a free musuem and a beautiful hotel. If it’s a hot day take your swimwear and see if you can sneak into the swimming pool lol .
The Garden of Dreams:
A five minute walk from Thamel is a garden which literally is the garden of dreams. It costs RS 200 to enter or RS1500 for 10 entries. There’s some Nepali influences but mainly British inspired architecture. Step over the paving slabs through the water feature and there lies a beautiful seating area where you can enjoy a pic-nic (just becareful of the cheeky little chipmunks waiting to snatch your food). Its suprisingly peaceful even though it gets really busy in the afternoon.
A heads up, most restaurants in Nepal charge a 10% service charge and a 13% vat on top of the bill.
The Temple: :Third eye :Cafe De Patan :Oyo Tibet guesthouse :Veg MoMo :
Phat Kath: :Ying yang :New orleans :Sarangi :Pho99 :OR2K
Durbar square: The garden of dreams: Boudhnath Stupa: Thamel: Patan:
Flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara:
The flight was delayed which supposedly is the norm, it’s a very tiny airport so don’t expect to get anything food wise unless it’s snacks.
P.S. Snickers aren’t glutenfree.
We got on this tiny plane and it’s the first time I’ve been on a plane with propellars. We sat in our seats on the right hand side so we could see the Himalayas when we flew over them . Just before the plane was about to take off, the stewardess called Daisy over to make sure that the lugguage they put on was actually hers (it wasn’t ) so all of our documents for New Zealand, Daisy’s laptop, and all her clothes were lost. So during the half hour flight she was stressed which was understandable, but there was nothing we could do at that time, so shut up Daisy and enjoy the views from the plane. When we landed the inevitable happened the bag wasnt there , so Buddah Air lost Daisy’s bag but lucky enough the kind guys that handle the lugguage called the airline and the backpack was dropped off to the airport the next day. A short taxi ride and we arrived in Pokhara to begin the next phase of our journey in Nepal.
Happy Diwali Day:
P.S theres a part two…