A Trip to the Kathmandu Zoo

I was surprised to hear that Kathmandu has a zoo. I guess my surprise comes from wondering how the animals are taken care of when the electricity goes out or there’s a water shortage, but they seem to being doing pretty well.

One Sunday afternoon Tri and I drove over to have a look. Like usual, I had to pay the bideshi (foreigner) price, five times more pricey that the local price. I was a little ticked off at first but accepted my fate.

Inside the zoo, the combination of people was a bit strange. When we first got in, it looked like mostly families with kids, but as I took a closer look, I realized there were a number of couples canoodling around the edges of the zoo, mostly on benches. It reminded me of a park I visited in India. When my family and I went to India a few years ago, we visited this park in Delhi with some ruins of what I think was an old temple. It turned out to be a meetup place for illicit couples trying to get away from prying eyes. That was kind of awkward for my family, but with the wider range of people at the zoo, I didn’t feel so out of place this time.

Some huge deer

They seemed to mostly have animals from South Asia and South East Asia, which was interesting for me because I’m not as familiar with the animals here. One was a giant deer. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but they was about the size of moose. There were also some beautiful birds. Unfortunately my camera ran out of charge at the bird cages, but I did take one of this red, black, and white feathered beauty…

There was also a hyena. We saw that the zoo was building something near the cage and had put up poles that looked like the beginning of a bigger fence. At that point we realized how disturbingly low the current fence was! And proceeded to back away slowly.

Water buffalo on a mound



There were the “typical” zoo animals as well like a hippo, chimpanzees, snakes, foxes, etc. And a funny water buffalo who was just hanging out on a small mound doing nothing for quite some time. I think the funniest part of the trip was walking past the rhinoceros enclosure and watching a man point to the baby rhinoceros and ask his family if it was a pig. 🙂 hmm….

Overall the animals looked pretty healthy and happy. Here are some more pics…

"What if you were in their place? Don't harass the animals"


Korean Food for Thought

The East Coast city where Tri and I went to college has a sizeable Korean population, and there are some darn good Korean restaurants there. Our alma mater lies outside of the city limits, but Tri and I lived in the city over the summer. We found a little restaurant a few blocks from our appartment, and we would stroll down there when the weather was nice to have delicious dishes like beebimbap and barbecued pork.

Kathmandu also has a pretty big Korean population. So I hoped that with a Korean population in the city, there might also be some places to get Korean food, and thankfully I was right 🙂 There’s a famous Korean bakery, and you can actually buy kimchi at the supermarket chain, Bhatbateni, but to fill my cravings for Korean food, I really needed to eat at a restaurant, and luckily there are a couple of sit-down places in the city.

This morning, Tri had to work, so we went into his office for a few hours, but then we had the afternoon off. We called Mama, who knows a lot about restaurants in the Valley, and he suggested that we try a place called Everest Villa in Thamel, the tourist district.

After walking along one of the side roads in Thamel, past the House of Music, we made it to Everest Villa, right next to the Korea Nepal Friendship Association (I’m assuming the restaurant and the association are connected).

The outside spaces were quiet and cozy, with some plants and shaded areas. But the ambiance on the inside of the restaurant wasn’t great. The white color theme and tiled floors made me feel like I was sitting in either a hospital or a cafeteria or maybe a hospital cafeteria.

But the food was tasty. We ordered beebimbap, which came out sizzling hot with a couple of side dishes. Like always, the crispy rice at the bottom of the pot was the best! It really reminded me of the Korean food we would get back in the US. We also ordered chicken bulgogi, which wasn’t quite as good, I think because they had added too much sugar to the dish. But overall, I was satisfied, and it quenched my cravings for Korean food.

After eating, we sat around for a while, fondly remembering the Korean restaurants and all of the other food joints we missed from the US. Just as we were deciding on where we would eat our first meal after going back, our waiter asked me, “Are you Nepali?” I still get asked this question every now and again. I was on the bus a few weeks ago, heading home from work, and a few of my colleagues asked me if I was sure I wasn’t at least part Nepali. “I don’t think so” I said laughing. Sometimes people ask me this when I’m speaking Nepali, and because not that many white foreigners speak it (although I’m sure the population numbers in the thousands), I see how they be wondering if I am, in fact, Nepali. But at other times, I’m not sure how people come to that conclusion because I don’t think I look Nepali at all!

But maybe the waiter was just off the mark in general because he got Tri’s nationality wrong too when he asked him if he was Indian. There’s something about my husband that makes his race/ethnicity/nationality hard to identify. To me, he definitely looks Nepali, but he’s been asked many times, while living in Nepal, if he’s Indian. He could possibly pass as Indian, but he could just as well be Nepali, so if he’s in Nepal, speaking Nepali, why would they think he’s Indian? He doesn’t have features associated with most Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups, features which are common in Nepal, but there are plenty of Nepalis who don’t look like that. Are they all being asked the same question?

The funny thing is that Tri is, in fact, a quarter Indian, so I guess the waiter wasn’t actually that far off. His maternal grandmother moved to Kathmandu from Assam, India as a child. Ironically, she is probably the most stereotypically nepali looking of all his grandparents.

So I guess both of our races/ethnicities/nationalities are a little bit ambiguous, a reality that highlights that the lines we draw between racial, ethnic, and national groups are not as solid and set in stone as a lot of us would like to think.