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Nepal has burst back on to the tourist trail since settling down in 2008, and its chaotic capital Kathmandu is the starting point for most visitors. The city is dense but easily navigated by tuk-tuk, and sits at an elevation of just under one mile allowing for a pleasant climate all year round. The city hosts various world heritage sites, a thriving night life and is an excellent place to pick up clothing and equipment for tackling the nearby towering peaks...

I started and finished my trekking trip to Nepal in Kathmandu, staying in the backpacker district of Thamel. There were plenty of nearby bars and restaurants to keep us fed and watered whilst we weren't exploring the markets, temples, gardens and stupas of the city. Like many of our fellow backpackers, on our last night we ate at the Rum Doodle restaurant, leaving our Yeti print on the wall.

Mountains reaching skyward

With the city in the foreground and a row of dark mountains behind, as your eyes adjust to the brightness you realise that there's yet another row of gigantic snow-clad peaks behind them in turn. It was only on the last day that the clouds actually cleared enough for us to see this.

Kathmandu is dense and crowded, with around one million people jostling for space in the city basin.

Kathmandu density

Traditional Kathmandu market

Outside of the tourist trap markets in Thamel, the traditional souks and chowks to the south were far more interesting to explore.

Watching the world go by from a doorstep in Kathmandu.

Watching the world go by

Fruit and veg vendor

Fruit and veg vendor at work - with all these colours and activity, Kathmandu is a photographer's dream.

Rooftops of Durbar Square, a series of palaces in the centre of Kathmandu and one of the city's many world heritage sites and main attractions.

Durbar square

Monk in Durbar Square

This monk in Durbar Square didn't move an inch the whole time I was there.

On a hilltop in the west part of town stands Swayambhunath, commonly known as the Monkey Temple.

Monkey Temple

Steep steps to the Monkey Temple

Extremely steep stairs lead up the hill to the Monkey Temple.

Colourful local ladies on the path up to Swayambhunath.

Colourful local ladies

Cheeky monkey!

With all the edible offerings lying around, this cheeky monkey has no problem finding something to nibble on.

Monks in training gaze over the urban landscape of Kathmandu.

Monks in training

Eyes of Buddha

The ever-watching eyes of the Buddha - for me this is one of the most evocative images of Nepal.

A cacophony of statues for sale in a local market stall.

Statue sales stall

Nepalese pashminas

Nepal is also famous for the quality of its pashminas, in widely varying grades to suit any budget.

Local transport Nepalese style. I also noticed that Nepal has no Latin characters on vehicle number plates - you know you're a long way from home when that's the case.

Local transport

Kathmandu traffic jam

As torturous as it may look, the traffic continues to flow, albeit faster for the two-wheeled vehicles than the four.

Narayanhiti Gate, one of the entrances to what was the royal palace prior to the Maoist uprising, and is now a museum.

Narayanhiti Gate

Garden of Dreams

The Garden of Dreams is a rare peaceful spot in the centre of Kathmandu.

The garden is beautifully laid out and was a mercifully tranquil to sit and contemplate life's puzzles.

Garden of Dreams

Bagmati riverside cremations

On the banks of the Bagmati river, the recently deceased are publically cremated. I was not expecting to see this, particularly before lunch. Once cremated, the ashes are washed into the river, which runs past the Pashupatinath Temple.

Priests of the Pashupatinath Temple colour their hair and clothing with orange powder and dyes, for reasons I'm afraid I don't understand.

Pashupatinath orange priests

Colourful powders

All manner of colourful powders for sale near the Bagmati river.

Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in the country, surrounded by prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

Boudhanath Stupa

Prayer flags and the eyes of Buddha

Again the everlasting image of the eyes of Buddha, through the colourful prayer flags of Boudhanath Stupa. Stupa.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2013