Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cafe Culture in Kathmandu

Today I went to Thamel, which is the main tourist hub of Kathmandu. Thamel is a tangle of narrow streets with hundreds of storefronts advertising everything from auryevedic massage and whitewater rafting trips to trekking gear and pashmina shawls.

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And for every store selling knock-off North Face, Mountain Hardware, and Patagonia goods to tourists and backpackers, there is also a restaurant or cafe that appeals to those seeking Western comfort food, international cuisine (namely, Italian, Korean, and Middle Eastern), and, of course, coffee and tea. Today I went cafe hopping around Thamel, returning to some of my favorite places as well as trying a couple new spots.

There was Himalayan Java, which was quiet today but in the past has always been a bustling spot for young, hip Nepalis:

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At Himalyan Java, I sat at a sunny outdoor table with my typical spread -- tea, Kindle, Lonely Planet, and notebook:

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There are restaurants appealing to the hippier set, such as Or2K, an Israeli vegetarian restaurant with low tables and pillows for sitting (no shoes, please):

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There are great rooftop cafes, like this one at the The Factory, which advertised "coffee, food, wine, and conversation." I had none of the above but snapped a picture of the great rooftop area anyway:

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Then there are the quiet and sunny garden cafes, like this one at the Hotel Mandap:

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Here I had a masala tea:

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At every restaurant and cafe there was free wireless internet, and many people, both locals and tourists, were typing away on laptops. The free wi-fi around the city is pretty amazing; Kathmandu definitely beats Chicago on that count!

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