Review: Gaju Suite Hotel, Kathmandu

When looking for accommodations in Thamel, Kathmandu, make sure you do your research well so you don’t end up in a ‘hotel’, which, really, is just a guesthouse, like we did. 

The first ‘hotel’ we stayed at doesn’t have a lift (and we were given a room on the 4th floor), doesn’t have an inverter air conditioner so we had to endure single digit temperature at night, we had to wait for 15 minutes (or more) for the hot shower to heat up, and breakfast takes forever to be served. It was unbearable I cannot wait to leave that place. haha

Anyway, on my remaining days in Kathmandu, I was very relieved when I stayed at Gaju Suites. It is conveniently located a few minutes away from Garden of Dreams, but far enough from the noisy and chaotic side of Thamel. There’s also plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, ATM & foreign exchange close to the hotel.

The hotel is within a business center, and the lobby is at the ground floor while the rooms/suites are on the 3rd and 4th floors. The restaurant-bar, Reef, is at the 5th floor. The building has a small lift, so guests don’t have to worry about their heavy luggage. A staff also assists guests to the rooms.

I also appreciate that they have security guards at the building entrance, and at the 3rd and 4th floors.

I was given a modest sized Deluxe Room with modern amenities. 

The first thing I noticed was the air conditioning unit. Hello, 25°C! I was still nursing a cold then, so the warm room temperature plus the comforter gave me a good night’s sleep.

Continue reading “Review: Gaju Suite Hotel, Kathmandu”

Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

“Please don’t do the acrobatics.” I told my pilot, Peter.
“We’ll see. Maybe you’ll like it when you’re up there.” he said.
This was our conversation before we walked closer to the edge of the cliff where he strapped the parachute cords onto my harness.
Picture-taking while waiting for our turn
Behind the scenes of paragliding in Pokhara
After securing everything, he said…
Peter: “You only need to do one thing, okay? Don’t jump. Don’t sit. Just run, okay?”
Me: “Okay!”
Peter: “Wait for my signal. When I say run, just run straight ahead.” He repeated.
Me: “Yup!”
We waited for a while for the clouds to clear up. The next thing I know, I could hear him saying “Run! Run! Run!”, and I ran as fast as I could to the edge of the cliff, and within seconds, my feet were no longer touching the ground.
Shortly after takeoff
It was such an incredible feeling. Even though it felt like it was just me and the elements, it didn’t feel scary at all.
I looked down at the tiny houses and winding roads. The rice terraces were various patches of green. Even though the Annapurna Range was elusive, I still got unobstructed views of Sarangkot Hill and Fewa Lake.
Joining the other paragliders

From our short conversation while we were up there, I found out that Peter used to be a builder for 20 years in Wales before finally deciding to be a tandem paragliding pilot in Nepal.
He said just like me, he was just a ‘passenger’ before. He loved the experience so much, and decided to train to become a pilot. He’s been doing this for 9 years now. He says he loves his job so much that he doesn’t mind going to ‘work’ on Mondays. 😉 Couldn’t argue with that.

I read in some blogs that pilots look for signs if the passenger is not feeling well, and maybe based on Peter’s observations, he saw that I was having fun that’s why he tricked me and did this…

Paragliding in Pokhara

WARNING: You might want to turn down the volume because I screamed like a 5-year old girl in this video LOL

I have to admit, I’m glad he did the acrobatics because I had so much fun even though I got scared a bit. haha

Happy to have landed safely 🙂
Some tips: Wear comfortable shoes with good ankle support (for landing), and just eat a light meal hours before the flight.
For NPR10,200 (USD103), the package included transfers to and from the jump-off point, the 30-minute flight, pictures and video taken with a GoPro, and oh, we also got this ‘certificate’:

Have you tried paragliding in Pokhara?

Review: Hotel Tibet International, Nepal

When visiting Nepal, it’s inevitable to start off in Kathmandu, and use Thamel as the base. However, travelers looking for a better alternative and a less congested area can look for accommodations in the Boudha area such as Hotel Tibet International.

Hotel Tibet International

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner 2015

Located just around 15 minutes from Tribhuvan International Airport, and a few minutes walk to Boudhanath Stupa, Hotel Tibet International is an ideal home base when in Kathmandu.

When I arrived, I was warmly welcomed by the front desk staff. Cold towel, hot tea and Tibetan cookies were served while I was checking in. After this, they took care of my luggage, and I was ushered to my room in no time. My friend, who arrived a number of hours later, received the same treatment. 

The Front Office Manager, Santosh, was very accommodating, and assured us that he’s just a dial away should we need anything.
While Hotel Tibet is located along the main road, the rooms are in another building inside the compound (pictured) farther from the road so we were not bothered by the street noise.

I was really impressed with the room! There was so much space to move around, and it had all we could ever need for a relaxing stay.

The earth toned furniture, wooden floor, and Tibetan decor gave the room character and a very homey feel.

The room has a living area with flat screen TV with cable channels; dining area with coffee and tea making facility; a huge cabinet with electronic safe, robes, slippers, and enough hangers; and a spacious bathroom with bathtub, hot shower, toiletries, and even a hair dryer.
The bedroom has two single bed, just as I requested, and smells really nice and fresh. Plus, it has a view of Boudhanath Stupa. 

I also love the fact that there’s universal electrical sockets on both sides of the beds so my friend and I were able to charge our devices at the same time. Power outage is also not a problem.
Both the living area and the bedroom has individually controlled air conditioning units which kept us warm during the nippy night.
Do take note that they have a coupon system for the WiFi which means only one device can be logged in at a time. It’s not a big deal, though, as the WiFi’s pretty fast and reliable.
Stir-Fried Noodles ordered from room service
They also have a 24-hour room service, which was great. We ordered twice, and the food was delicious, prices were reasonable, and the food arrived within 15-20 minutes (which is pretty fast by Nepali standards, by the way).

Norbulingka Terrace

The hotel has several F&B outlets, but breakfast is served at Norbulingka Terrace.

The buffet breakfast was delightful. It offers a modest selection of South Asian, Chinese, and Western cuisines. 

photo from Hotel Tibet International

Norbulingka Terrace’s al fresco dining area with a view of Boudhanath Stupa

‘First’ breakfast plate

Other facilities include a meeting room, a carpet showroom, and spa.
Just going around the hotel premises, one will appreciate the attention to detail they’ve put into giving guests a feel of the Tibetan culture.
When we checked out, they helped us in getting a cab, and even negotiated the fare with the driver.

In our short stay, I couldn’t really find anything to complain about.

Hotel Tibet International is a boutique hotel with 5-star service.
~~ We were hosted by Hotel Tibet International for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own.~~
Boudhanath Road, Boudha
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977 01 448 8188