Thursday 24 August 2006

Nepal: arrival in Kathmandu

Clouds like puffy candy floss clung unrealistically to the sides of the hills as we approached Kathmandu airport in heavy rain. Once outside we fought off taxi drivers to find our man with a beautifully crafted sign on a scrappy piece of A4 paper. He then passed us on to two other accomplices in search of lucrative tips from Johnny foreigner and we were bundled into our taxi with all the calm of a hostage situation. The car whined in a maximum of second gear towards our accommodation.

The Dwarika hotel was created by the late Dwarika Das Shrestha who in the early 50s spotted workers hacking carved pillars of an old building to make way for something more modern. The carved artwork was being removed for firewood.

Since that time, the Dwarika has become a collection of rescued architectural masterpieces and a centre for preservation, training and craft development. Every room is individually shaped and furnished with handcrafted fittings, locally made terracotta floor tiles and heavy black slate bathroom fittings (a refreshing change from the standard 'Embassy Suites' marble flooring).

There are so many fascinating aspects to the hotel; local pottery which until recently has been hampered by poor quality clay and practices, handmade paper, locally grown food in favour over mass-produced imports, the plants and flowers,

In darkness we wandered the gardens before dinner. We sat outside despite the heavy rain to dine on a very fine fish curry and a Nepali Thali, accompanied by local beer. We slept like Nepali logs.

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