This is my first trip to Kathmandu and I am very glad my organizer arranged for us to stay at Chandra-Ban Eco resort, a resort tugged in a hill, 45 minutes drive away from Kathmandu town (depending on traffic).
Most tourists to Kathmandu choose to stay at Thamel, an area popular for its many cheap hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. It is certainly convenient but how different is Thamel from the many similar enclaves one finds in Bangkok, Hanoi or elsewhere.
My first experience to Chandra-Ban was a rocky one. The small Suzuki taxi (seating capacity of two at the back) picked us from the airport and we were introduced to peak hour Kathmandu traffic. The taxi crawled at snail-pace through unmarked roads, then swirled and swung when opportunity arose, avoiding pedestrians, cows, goats, dogs, potholes, sometimes coming face to face with oncoming traffic before swirling back in. At the bottom of Chandra-Ban, we began a very rocky climb up, for the road was unpaved, as we bounced and jerked in all directions, gasping in horror when another on coming vehicle suddenly appeared in the one-way street. We soon grew use to it as we admire the country side of padi fields and children playing in bamboo swings.
When we finally arrived at the resort, we were greeted by Camilla, the British owner who together with her Italian husband, runs the resort. A Nepali girl appeared with chilled lime juice as we were toured the resort. This is a small homely resort with maximum capacity of just eleven. My chalet was further up hill and although a strenuous daily climb of six flights if steps, the view makes up for it.
My chalet has a kitchenette, a queen size bed handmade by the owners, a dining area, a sitting area and a foyer overlooking the valley. It has a link to an upstairs unit which could be opened up as a family unit. Every evening, I have a spectacular view of the sunset as I lay on my bed.
In the morning, we have breakfast outdoor in the pavilion and practised yoga in a function hall next to it.
As I was on a yoga retreat, our meals were vegetarian. Most mornings, we were served homemade sweet buns, eggs, fruits, muesli, with tea and milk. In the evening, the in-house chef surprised us every evening with an array of Nepali, Italian and even Japanese assortments of vegetarian food. We ended the meal with home baked cakes like ginger cakes, prune cakes etc, and homemade ice cream. Heavenly.
It was Dewali festival week when I was there and the owners decorated the resort with lighted candles.
Chandra-Ban is an eco-resort and thus we were mindful of not wasting electricity and water. As it is, there is load-shedding in Kathmandu with scheduled power cuts but the resort has their own generator and solar system. There is no toiletries provided, and drinking water is served in used gin bottle in my room. Hot bath is best done during late afternoon after sufficient heating of the storage tank. I once bathed in the morning and despite letting the water run for a few minutes, there was no hot water. Garbage disposal is a problem in Kathmandu so try not to add to it during your visit.
If anything, I have learned from the staying at this resort that what I take for granted, clean water, electricity, and garbage disposal, are still not available in Kathmandu and many parts of the world.
Thank you, Luca and Camilla for making my stay such an enriching experience.