Namaste, Nepal: A Day in Patan

To the south of Kathmandu, across the river, lies Patan. It is another city, and it can be reached in around 30 minutes by car. I don’t really know what to expect to pay for a taxi, so I google it and I read that one should haggle with the taxi driver and pay no more than 300 rupees. I walk through the streets of Thamel and find a road that traffic can pass along. I’m a little meek to approach the first taxi lined up on the street, so I walk along and eventually flag a taxi down. The driver is young – he tells me he is a student and is making some money while he is on a break from university – and he demands 600 rupees. Eye roll. I try as hard as I can to get him down to 300 rupees but he won’t budge from 500. I acquiesce – after all, he’s young and he needs the money and I’m arguing over 200 rupees (or $2) at the end of the day.

The traffic in Kathmandu is horrible, but we make it to Patan in about 30 minutes. The car bumps and rattles through the narrow streets and the driver deposits me close to Patan’s Durbar Square. While not as badly hit as Kathmandu during the 2015 earthquake, it was still visibly damaged and more reconstruction work is taking place. I pay another 1,000 rupees ($10) for an entry ticket (once again, locals pay only 250) to Durbar Square and take a walk around. Somehow, I’m more impressed by Patan’s Durbar Square than I am with Kathmandu’s. It’s more compact and more intact, and I am not hassled by tour guides.

I walk around the narrow streets and I get a bit bolder at taking street photography-style photos. There is something I love about capturing a moment that you see discretely. I also enjoy taking in the colours and textures and doorways. Something about those low door frames and the bright colours and designs on the wood really appeals to me. I’m at my happiest just wandering around.

The Newari style of Nepalese architecture stands out a lot more in Patan. Maybe because it isn’t as big and as seething and frenetic as Kathmandu is. The carved window and door frames are more on display, and I love the intricate details. I stop in at a small courtyard that is typical of the style. Some men are playing a game in there and I try not to disturb them. At times it’s nice to play the foreigner card and to show interest and join in with things, but at times like this I always think it is better to hold back and not get in the way. There is a small temple in the middle of the courtyard but a lot of signs of earthquake damage are visible, like the long wooden props holding up the houses.

I head back out onto the streets and then I find the Golden Temple, which is an ornate temple bedecked with golden and brass decorations and statues. A large group of Japanese tourists is milling around, and I wait until they have gone before I start taking pictures. I love the details and the colours and the tika. Tika becomes a new focal point for me in the pictures that I take. There is just something about the contrast of the bright colours and textures of the powder against the darker colours of the bronze and brass objects.