The name alone has always intrigued me. I thought it sounded so foreign and mysterious, and I knew it was a place I had to visit. I had hoped to be able to go overland from Tibet to Nepal but the land border has never reopened since the earthquake. A short, but expensive flight took me from Lhasa to Kathmandu. I found Tibet so similar to Mongolia – but Nepal was totally different – just like India. It was a great easy destination – everyone spoke English and any kind of food you could imagine was readily available. I was getting pretty sick of yak meat. I had made arrangements with my guesthouse to meet my flight. I came out of the airport to a couple of hundred people holding signs with names on them – but no one had my name. A young man offered to call the guesthouse for me, and they said they would send someone, and they did. Old guy, older car, crazy traffic, but I arrived safely in Thamel, the old section where all of the backpackers stay. I had chosen a bit of an upscale place, based on the price ($13/night). They advertised hot water and internet – they did not have either, and it was hard to find, so I moved the next morning. Second place was very central, cost $10 a night, but the hot water was barely warm. Second day, no water at all, and no internet – so another move, half a block. Third place ($7/night) had fair internet, and if I wanted warm water I had to tell them so they could turn the “geyser” on. That did work, but not so well. My friend from my Tibet tour had got upgraded to a posh hotel ($40/night) half a block from me. He had endless HOT water and big fluffy towels, so I showered at his place every day – problem solved. People come here to trek, and shops sell all kinds of knock-off hiking gear. Tour agencies, souvenir stands, shops selling cashmere, and cafes make up Thamel. Tiny streets – you often have to step into a business to let a car pass – motorbikes, and old guys peddling even older rickshaws. I would hope guys working for the electrical company earn lots – huge messes of electrical wires everywhere. Travelers from all over the world, friendly locals and very safe – an ideal destination. Flying out was certainly interesting. SEVEN times I was taken behind a curtain and given a very full body pat down by nasty old ladies. They certainly made sure there was nothing in my underwear but me. Next post I will tell you about the sights.