When I first arrived in Kathmandu I did not really know what to think about the city. As it turns out most of my first thoughts were incorrect anyway. On my way from the airport to my apartment on my first night I was somewhat confused by what appeared to be rubble lining the streets. Soon after I arrived at my apartment I went back out to find dinner and was passed by several trucks that were filled with what looked like soldiers carrying assault rifles. I also knew that tensions were high in Nepal and there were expected protests in Kathmandu, so my initial reaction was that there had been some violent protests and the military was still patrolling the city. I was greatly mistaken. It turns out that the piles of rubble were from buildings and roads been demolished for an ongoing road widening project and the people in the backs of the trucks were actually just the city police. Everyone in the office had a good laugh when I told them my initial reaction. I also learned quickly that the subject of the ongoing road construction is a sore point for most people in the city because whenever it rains the streets are flooded with mud. (Good to know that some things are the same no matter where you go.)
Despite my initial reaction, it turns out that Kathmandu is a fun city that is filled with friendly people. One of the interesting parts about the city is that it is developing very quickly. This makes for interesting walks around the streets as you find old homes and temples everywhere that are surrounded with new modern buildings that are either built or being constructed. It is also interesting to see some of the larger temples around the city that exist tucked away in quiet areas just behind the buildings that line noisy streets.
Kathmandu also has all of the entertainment that you could hope to find in a city. This is not necessarily true of where I live as apparently I am living in one of the more boring neighborhoods of Kathmandu. One of the biggest areas for this is Thamel where a lot of western tourists go at night because there are a huge number of clubs and bars. I have also found a surprising number of restaurants here that are owned by Americans. Two that I have been to are called Mike's Breakfast, which as you can guess serves American breakfast, and Brian's Grillhouse, where I attended a July 4th party that had strangely attracted a number of people that had no real reason to celebrate July 4th. There are a number of good restaurants in my neighborhood as well that serve everything from traditional Nepali food to Italian. Other interesting finds that I am proud of include an awesome theater and a bowling alley. I have not yet gone bowling, but the theater is great.
Once I got used to the public transportation I have also found that the city is easy to get around. The three main sources of transportation around the city are taxis, a small electric vehicle called the Tempo, and a big golden city bus that I have yet to ride. I have found that I do not fit on buses well in Nepal. Taxis are by far the quickest way to get around and not very expensive once I learned to talk the driver down from the ridiculous price that he wanted to charge me. The other role that taxis play in the city is adding a soundtrack to any walk you take. By this I mean they honk their horns...constantly. I have literally never heard so many horns in my life and I have made a few visits to New York City. The good news is that the honking is actually used as a means of constructive communication here rather than the random expression of undefinable anger or frustration that they express in the US.
So far my time in Kathmandu has been a great experience. The city has provided me with a number of learning experiences and a few instances of culture shock, but most of all I have never found myself bored here.