In fact, the real Kathmandu is quite possibly the dustiest, most chaotic city we’ve ever been in, and the old town looks more ancient and crumbling than anywhere I’ve ever seen. I loved it! Though dodging the motorbikes and rickshaws, navigating the crowds, and avoiding the women armed with brooms who were whipping up the dust on their thresholds into noxious clouds quickly sapped our energy. We frequently ducked into alleyways or courtyards to momentarily evade the chaos.
We wandered into Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, the former seat of the city’s kings, where the royal palace is surrounded by a hodgepodge of tiered Hindu and Buddhist temples built mostly between 1100 and 1700. In the unyielding midday sun (the blue of the sky turned white by the thick air pollution), we mingled with tourists from all over the world, though the tourists seem to be well outnumbered by the millions of pigeons.