Kathmandu – Freak Street

September 15, 2005

Thamel Guesthouse 80 NRs

In a friend’s guide book of Nepal it is written that Thursday is the open house day of the royal palace. Some of the Chinese tourists are enthousiastic to wait for the hours (early afternoon). I was thinking of doing shopping day today, with a Chinese girl who is leaving tomorrow, but the sudden meeting with a Malaysian traveller today changed all of my plan.

The Malaysian, an ex-journalist, is travelling overland from her country, up to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Yunnan, Tibet, Nepal, and going to India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Quite similar route as what I am taking now, and probably we will still meet again somewhere in the middle-east. Lamli, the Malaysian, speaks very good Malay, quite a contrast with most Malaysian Chinese I met before. So today indeed is a “village talk” day for us, as I speak Indonesian and she perfectly understands my fast speech.

She stays in Freak Street, used to be the backpacker haven in Kathmandu before replaced by Thamel. Freak Street is located next to the Durbar Square, and due to its strategic location, it was flourished by backpackers in his hey-day. Now, although there are still hotels and restaurants along the alleys, the atmosphere is much quiter than Thamel. And sounds like adapting with its name, the foreigners living here are indeed a little bit “freak”. It’s not uncommon to see a western man, with shaved head and a lama costume, walking around the alleys, or a western woman, also with shaved head and a monk costume, sitting beside the road flowing with the time. There are many people just coming from long meditation sessions in Dharamsala, walking just like a cloud passing in the great sky. Two westerners smoking hashish and marijuana (the way getting closer to nirvana), with empty gaze, deep voice, pale face, greeting me. These two westeners are those staying next to Lamli’s room in a guesthouse in Freak Street. And as how Lamli describes, “today there are two, yesterday there were three clouds here, blowing here and blowing there, going with the wind….”

About Agustinus Wibowo

Agustinus is an Indonesian travel writer and travel photographer. Agustinus started a “Grand Overland Journey” in 2005 from Beijing and dreamed to reach South Africa totally by land with an optimistic budget of US$2000. His journey has taken him across Himalaya, South Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and ex-Soviet Central Asian republics. He was stranded and stayed three years in Afghanistan until 2009. He is now a full-time writer and based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Contact: Website | More Posts

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