Saturday, August 4, 2007

Agra, India

Shanti Lodge
chowk kagjiyan, south gate, taj mahal, agra 282 001

M.K. Chaurasia 09412893530

180 irps (single)

Joney's Place
Kutta Park, Taj Gang, Agra 282 001

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kathmandu, Nepal


  • Kathmandu Guest House
This Thamel mainstay is literally an oasis in the middle of a booming metropolis, but it is not cheap for the budget traveler, unless you are lucky enough to score one of the few budget rooms. They have one room for $2 USD/night, about 10 for $4/night, and about 12 for $10 USD/night. Prices range from $2-$50 USD/night.Check out time is noon.

P.O. Box 21218
Thamel, Kathmandu

Tel: 977-1-4700 800; 977-1-4700 632
Fax: 977-1-4700 133

  • Om Tara Guest House
Om Tara Guest House is located south of the Thamel Chowk and just north of Chhetrapati on Narsing Gate. It is located about 50m north of the Yak Cafe and about 10m north of the Everest Supermarket on the east side of the street. Currently, the Om Tara Guest House is not listed in the most current Nepal Lonely Plant Guide (Sept. 2006) and, therefore, offers one of the best deals in town. The rooms are clean and the management is very friendly.

Krishna and Ram run the guest house for the owner. If you stay, please tell them I said "hi!".

Single/double with common bath: 100-150/150-200 rps/night
Single/double with bath: 200-250/200-250 rps/night
Upgraded double with bath: 250-300 rps/night
Triple with bath: 275-350 rps/night

One can also rent a TV for 150-200 rps/night.

Check out time is noon.

P.O Box 5034
Thamel, Kathmandu

Tel: 977-1-4259 634
Fax: 977-1-4250 200

  • Roadhouse Cafe
As stated in Lonely Planet, this is the place to go for great pizza. It's a little pricey at 225 for a Margarita Pizza (Tomato & Cheese), but it is by far the best pizza this side of Napoli. What Lonely Planet doesn't mention, however, is the quality of the other foods on the menu.

A friend of mine ordered their burrito and gave me a taste. Honestly, it was even better than the pizza, and was, in my opinion, one of the best burritos I have ever had. It was served in a real tortilla and the quality of the meat was outstanding. Granted, like everything else in the restaurant, it is a little expensive, but one has to spoil themselves sometimes...

Likewise, the desserts are out of this world. The chocolate cake is divine, especially when served with a scoop of Baskin and Robbins ice cream (a real treat!). My personal favorite is the Tiramisu, however. It is light and simply heavenly.

  • Tashi Delek
This a wonderful restaurant is Tibetan-operated and is an easy rest stop in the heart of Thamel. It is located just steps from the Kathmandu Guest House, on North side of Thamel Road, just after the supermarket.

I recommend the simple breakfast- a great bargain at 70 rps; the Beef Rhicosse (Momo Soup); the Potato Soup Special at 65 rps; and the Mexican food, which is actually decent for price.

  • Yak Cafe
The Yak Cafe is located about 50m south of Om Tara Guest House and is an excellent choice for breakfast-- the Yak Special includes freshly squeezed juice, coffee or tea, two eggs (any style), tomato and ham, and two pieces of toast with jam & butter on the side for 100 rps. You would be hard pressed to find better quality at this price in Thamel.

Basically anything on the menu is good from my experience. I really enjoy the sweet corn soup and their steaks (good for the price).

Travel Agent:
  • Himalayan Trail Finder
Himalayan Trail Finder, which is located about 20m north of the Kathmandu Guest House and is next to the Acme Guest House, currently is not listed in the most current version of the Nepal Lonely Planet guide (Sept. 2006), but they offer the most competitive prices in town for all of your travel needs.

I have personally used Trail Finder for three trips: rafting on the Bhote Kosi (2 days); Chitwan National Park (1 day outside the park & 2 days inside); bus reservations for the Annapurna Circuit and I have been extremely satisfied with my service and their prices.

Ask for Janita, tell her you are a friend of mine, and she should hook you up with the best deals in town, or darn close to it. Of course, it goes without saying that you should probably check other agencies for pricing purposes, but I have always found Trail Finder to be the most competitive.

P.O. Box 14219
Thamel, Kathmandu

Tel: 977-1-4700 760; 977-1-4700 860
Fax: 977-1-4700 960

  • Dilli Ram Ghimire
I hired Dilli Ram ("Dilli") via a phone call from a friend of his after becoming sick on the Annapurna Circuit. It took Dilli six hours to arrive in Dharapani from Bahundanda, his home town. The same trip had taken us nearly three days.

Dilli and I hit it off right away. Dilli has a wonderful personality-- he has a great sense of humor, is extremely polite and respectful, and has one of the best work ethics I have ever seen. After two weeks of traveling together, Dilli became an older brother to me.

I combined the Circuit and Sanctuary treks while in Nepal and never intended on taking Dilli along for the second half of my trip (our original agreement was to Pokhara from the Circuit), but I couldn't imagine not my brother with me.

Sufficed to say, we had a great time together. I would highly recommend Dilli to anyone who might consider or need a porter. I was told several times while trekking, and can personally attest to comments, that Dilli was by far the best porter many of my friends had seen or met.

Unfortunately, Bahundanda, Dilli's home town, only has a common phone in the village, due to its size. I would recommend writing Dilli (if you can give advanced notice) or calling the Super View Hotel, whose telephone number is below, and ask for Dilli. Call back 20-30 minutes later and Dilli should answer the phone if he is at home. Otherwise, just ask for Dilli once you reach Bahundanda. All of this seems like a hassle, but, believe me, he is definitely worth the effort!

Please tell him "hi" for me!

Bahundanda 5
Lamjung Gandaki

Tel: 977-66-529329 (Super View Hotel)

  • Rishi Raj Limbu (Raj)
I met Raj on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek through a friend of mine, Alexis, who had hired Raj as her guide. Raj speaks excellent English, is very knowledgeable in many areas of Nepal, has climbed 6000m peaks, and is an overall great guy who enjoys trekking.

Please feel free to mention my name if you'd like to contact Raj about a potential trip.

One World Trekking
Jwagal 10
Kupondole Lalitpur

Tel: 977-1-5523 131
Mobile: 977-1-9841 304041
Fax: 977-1-4224 031

Book Store:
  • Shagun Discount Book Shop
Shagun is another undiscovered gem that I stumbled to due to its proximity to my guest house, Om Tara. Shagun is operated by Kiran Ghimire and is not a traditional book store, in the sense that it does not have a brick and mortar building, at least not that I know of. Instead, it is located at the Thamel Night Market, which is held in the J.P. Secondary School, located in the heart of Thamel, on J.P. School Road.

I have bought several books from Kiran, all of which were the best price in town. His prices for new books are 10% less than list, and if he doesn't have a book that you'd like to purchase on hand, he will find it for you. (I wanted to purchase introductory books for Hinduism and Buddhism, and Kiran found the perfect books for me.)

The Thamel Night Market starts daily at 5 pm and runs until 9 pm.

Tel: 997-1-9741 016841