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Singapore for Christmas with Scoot

I just realised my last post on Singapore was dating back in October 2015. But the truth is, I went and visited Singapore every single year. Yes, ever since I revisited "The Lion City" in 2011 and little did I know, Singapore has officially become my yearly affair thereafter. Oh well, part of the reasons why I keep returning there is because to visit my sister who got married and living in Singapore for good. 

This year, I actually went Singapore twice - end of March to accompany my sister and my cute lil nephew flying back to Kuching in order to celebrate my nephew's 1st birthday with the rest of our big group of family. Then few weeks later, I had 8-hours of transit in Singapore before continue with my trip to Istanbul. Hence, I decided to go through the immigration clearance in order to see my sister and nephew though our last met was just less than 14 days ago. 

Guess what, I just came back from another trip to Singapore last week and this marks my 3rd trip to Singapore this year. Why on earth I went back to the same place over and over again? Initially I plan to celebrate this year magical Christmas in somewhere new, somewhere where I never been before but before I manage to plan for it, the boyfriend went and secured one-way ticket to Singapore when we're in Brunei early of January this year. I still remember, vividly, we're just check-in into our hostel in Brunei and less than few minutes later, he came across from Scoot Facebook page that this low-cost airline will replace SilkAir and commencing to fly to Kota Kinabalu by end of this year. What surprised us is that the launching fare for one-way costs RM36 only. Because of that, the boyfriend unable to resist this great steal and the next thing I know, he already bought the ticket to Singapore for Christmas this year. Oh boy! Looks like my white Christmas celebration to a new place has to defer next year. Or maybe the following year. Or maybe God knows when. 

One thing I didn't share earlier on which is I went Singapore for Christmas too last year. Two years in a row. So now you know why I'm looking forward to celebrate in somewhere else.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the 4D3N trip with the boyfriend. Besides going to the places I've been before, the boyfriend also brought me to one or two places which I miss out from my previous trips.


2019 Singapore Scoot Airline Boarding Gate
#1: Flying with Scoot for the very first time.

If possible, try to have something to eat before boarding into the aircraft cause the in-flight meal is pretty expensive. A meal costs at least SG$12 (approximately RM36). Even when you add-on while purchasing your airticket online, a set of meal still costs around RM50. Gosh! Now I know AirAsia is not cutting the passenger's throat through their in-flight meals after flying with Scoot.

2019 Singapore Hangbag & Luggage
#2: Along with my newly bought handbag and luggage bag from USA

2019 Singapore Scoot Airline
#3: Yellow and white is Scoot's signature colours.

2019 Singapore Changi Airport T1
#4: My all-time favourite airport - Changi Airport is really canggih!

Opened in 17 April 2019, I was supposed to have the chance to go and see this newly built nature-theme entertainment and shopping complex next to Terminal 1 when my flight transit for 8 hours in Singapore before continue flying to Istanbul in early of May this year. However like I mentioned earlier, family comes first. So when the boyfriend found I never been there, he bought few tickets like the Canopy Park and Canopy Bridge from Klook.

2019 Singapore Jewel Changi Airport 1
#5: World's largest indoor waterfall in Jewel Changi Airport

2019 Singapore Jewel Changi Airport 2
#6: The lush garden of the canopy park as we across the bridge.

2019 Singapore Jewel Changi Airport 3
#7: Dreamy and white Christmas tree in canopy park.

How To Get To Jewel Changi Airport
Jewel is connected to the Arrival Hall of Terminal 1, and linked to Terminals 2 and 3 by link bridges. A free airport shuttle bus service plies between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2. Jewel Changi is opens 24 hours daily.

This ain't my maiden visit but I just can't believe my last trip to this award-winning wildlife park was 8 years ago. How times fly? I think almost remains the same, except for the much-loved polar bear died in the zoo last year. The boyfriend got the ticket from Klook once again where they were having buy 1, free 1 promo and each ticket comes with tram ride too.

2019 Singapore Zoo 1
#8: Let's go to the zoo!

2019 Singapore Zoo 2
#9: The big and wild cats. Clockwise from top right: Cheetah, white tigers and leopard.

2019 Singapore Zoo 2011 vs 2019
#10: 8 years ago vs 8 years later.

I did blog about Singapore Zoo which I went dating back in 2011. You can read more here.

How To Get To Singapore Zoo
Singapore Zoo is not direct reachable by taking MRT as you need to hop on a connecting bus that will take you straight to Singapore Zoo. For us, we took MRT to Khatib Station under North South line and from there, we catch the Mandai Khatib Shuttle right in front of train station. This loop shuttle service is available daily, from 8.00am to 10.40pm. Bear in mind, payment can only be made by EZ-link or NETS FlashPay card only. Cash is not accepted.

There are handful of places to admire the sparking Christmas lights, gorgeously setup of huge and tall trees and festive displays islandwide. But due to our short trip, we only managed to cover few places, like:

2019 Singapore Orchard Road Christmas Lighting
#11: The yearly affair of Orchard Road Christmas light up needs no introduction.

2019 Singapore Gardens By The Bay #futuretogether
#12: The Dragonfly Lake in Gardens By The Bay is scattered with a bunch of colourful egg-shaped structures floating about on the water's surface.

2019 Singapore Gardens By The Bay Supertree Grove
#13: Though it's my second visit to see these Supertree Groove but I still found it's pretty interesting and fascinating.

Due to our limited number of hours in Singapore, we have to narrowed down few of the places we intended to go. In addition, my priority is to meet-up my sister and her family, hence it's impossible for us to cover as many as we want. I don't even have the chance to meet up few of my friends who are living and working in Singapore. Sorry to my dearest friends if you are reading this, but I believe there would be next time cause I might going back to Singapore again.

So here are the few places that both boyfriend and I managed to go for shopping and food hunting:
2019 Singapore Shopping Bugis & Don Don Donki Clarke Quay
#14: Left-side is the boyfriend favourite shopping spot - Don Don Donki, a discount chain store from Japan whereas for the right side, this is my favourite shopping place - Bugis. I never miss out this area whenever I went Singapore.

2019 Singapore Line Friends Bugis Junction
#15: With the gigantic Brown of Line Friends

2019 Singapore Ya Kun Kaya Toast
#16: Ya Kun Kaya Toast - Shame to say this but this is the first time I tried their signature kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and coffee. It's indeed yummylicious and no wonder it's so famous not just among the local, but foreign tourists too.

2019 Singapore Newton Food Centre
#17: Newton Food Center - One of the filming locations for Crazy Rich Asians where Nick Young (Henry Golding) and his friends brought Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to eat at a hawker centre.

2019 Singapore Food
#18: And more food.
From top left, lobster broth ramen and economic fried kuey teow I had with the boyfriend whereas the bottom, mango bingsu and budae-jjigae with my sister and bro-in law. Both of them love Korean cuisines.

Obviously my trip to Singapore is nothing short of eat, play and shop. Now I can feel that my waist is expanding. Oh no!!!

And this concludes my final and last trip for the year 2019. Can't believe that soon, we will welcoming the brand new year of 2020. So how is the year of 2019 treating you so far?
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Bhutan Day 2: A Trip To Know More About Bhutan

It was a very good and comfort sleep for us last night. We still unable to believe that we woke up in another new country. Yesterday morning we woke up in Kathmandu of Nepal, and this morning, we woke up in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Wondering where will we wake up to on the next morning? Perhaps, another new country again. What an early daydreaming I should say.

Bhutan Day 2 - Hotel Pedling Breakfast
#1: All hotels booked for us come with complimentary breakfast.

While waiting for our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel, we went out and explored within vicinity on our own first. Our hotel ideally sits in the heart of business and shopping district of Thimphu and the most interesting sight that caught our attention is where the policeman stood in the booth on intersection using hand signals to direct traffic. Only to find out from our tour guide that Bhutan is one of the two countries in the world that doesn't have any traffic lights in its capital city. 

2014 Bhutan Thimphu Traffic Booth
#2: Thimphu's traffic booth cause Bhutan is said to be one of only two countries in the world without any traffic lights in its capital city.

Our tour guide and the driver came to pick us up from the hotel at the agreed time. It seems like almost all Bhutanese are always dress up in their traditional clothing made from Bhutanese textiles. Earlier on when we went out on our own, hardly for us to see any of the local wearing T-shirts and jeans. Majority of the men are wearing gho, a long robe which similar to the Tibetan chuba. This applies to our tour guide and driver too. Whereas for the ladies, they wear a long floor-length dress known as kira. You will get to see these traditional clothing in this particular post.

National Memorial Chorten 
Also known as Thimphu Chorten or Memorial Stupa, it is one of the tallest monuments in the capital city of Bhutan. Built in 1974 by Her Majesty, Queen Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck in honour of Her Royal Son the Third Druk Gyalpho, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. He was the third king of Bhutan and the father of modern Bhutan. Due to its elegant and stunning architecture, this whitewashed stupa with its golden spires and bells attracts a large number of tourists to visit here and making it to be a prominent landmark in the city.

#3: National Memorial Chorten

Bhutan Day 2 - Thimphu Memorial Chorten 2
#4: Built in honour the third king of Bhutan and also the father of modern Bhutan

Bhutan Day 2 - Thimphu Memorial Chorten 3
#5: Chorten is an ideal place that would give you an insight into Buddhism through its great artwork

Great Buddha Dordenma
We then were brought to atop on a hill of Thimpu to visit the Great Buddha Dordenma. By the time we arrived there, we can see that some of the area haven't completely complete yet but glad that the 51m-tall and gigantic steel of Shakyamuni Buddha statue was fully built. According to our guide, once it is completed, it will be one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. 

Bhutan Day 2 - Thimphu Buddha Dordenma
#6: Great Buddha Dordenma, built on top of Thimphu hills

Bhutan Day 2 - Thimphu Buddha Dordenma With Our Tour Guide
#7: A photo with our tour guide. And he's wearing gho which I mentioned earlier. 

For the following visit, both of our tour guide and driver brought us to few places around Thimphu in order for us to understand and know more about the nation's culture, history and tradition too. 

Bhutan Day 2 - Thimphu Centenary Farmers Market
#8: Centenary Farmers Market - the largest domestic market for farmers. The market is open all days of the week, from 7am to 7pm except Mondays.

Built in two-storey with more than 400 stalls, Centenary Farmers Market provides farmers the opportunity to displace their produce and people a chance to support the local agriculture. While most vegetables in the market are seasonal, the dried chilies are the only permanent produce throughout the year. Therefore, in almost all the restaurants and eateries, you will get to see lots of chilies on their food. Another fun fact of Bhutan is that besides chilies, Bhutanese love to eat rice and cheese. So while venturing around the market, we saw a wide variety of rice. 

Bhutan Day 2 - Archery
#9: Archery in Bhutan is the national sport of the Kingdom.

Frankly speaking, I'm not really into museum but it's not harm to visit at least one when in Bhutan. Our tour continued by visiting Simply Bhutan - an interactive living museum resembling a Bhutanese village, featuring traditional cuisines, performances and cultures. We're greeted and served with a shot of rice wine which they produced and harvest locally (unfortunately we declined cause both of us don't drink) and then, we're given opportunity to dress in their traditional costume. I can say this is one of the activities I always looking forward when visiting a new country. 

#10: Simply Bhutan - a living museum to give a quick introduction to various aspects of traditional life in Bhutan. 

Bhutan Day 2 - Simply Bhutan A Living Museum 2
#11: Dressed up in traditional costume

We continued by going to Motithang Takin Preserve. And wondering what's Takin? Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. We were lucky to spot two or three takins during our visit and to our surprise, takins are indeed one interesting creature we ever came across. They have interesting and fascinating features where it's combination of goad's head with cow's body. Now I understood why the Bhutanese is proud with this animal. 

Bhutan Day 2 - Takin National Animal of Bhutan
#12: Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. It's the combination of goat's head with cow's body. Only can be found in Eastern Himalayas.

Before our tour guide and driver dropped us back to the hotel, we were brought for a short hike in order to train us and also a little bit of stretching and warming up before getting ready for a relatively hard and tough  hike on the next day. Can you guess where is our next destination to hike up? 
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From Nepal To Bhutan (Bhutan Day 1)

<<Previous Post: Nepal Day 7 - Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple & Swayambhunath<<

We're supposed to go back to Malaysia after spending 8 days in Nepal, however, one of my friends and I intended to prolong our trip. We decided to visit Bhutan from Kathmandu. For your information, the only way to get into Bhutan is either flying from Singapore, Bangkok in Thailand, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai in India, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Kathmandu in Nepal. Since we're already in Kathmandu, my friend and I were thinking, "Why not extend our trip to Bhutan instead?" So here we are, our impromptu trip to Bhutan from Nepal.   

Not that really impromptu anywhere, as both of us did preparation earlier such apply for Bhutan's visa and tour arrangement prior to our trip to Kathmandu. And because of this, immediately we changed our flight ticket for the route from Kathmandu back to Kuala Lumpur and luckily for us, the additional charge for changing flight only cost each of us RM200. Consider fairly affordable cause if I'm not mistaken, we changed our flight 2 months before flying to Kathmandu.  

Since our flight to Bhutan were quite early, we bid goodbye to the rest of my friends who will catching their flight back to Malaysia in the evening. The ride from where we stayed in Kathmandu which is Thamel to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport wasn't that really long - the journey was approximately 20 minutes.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport
#1: Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport - It's not that really huge but at least my friend and I managed to find a seat. 

Now let's talk about Bhutan. How many of you ever heard of Bhutan before? Neither do I, not until Juno from Runaway Juno, a Korean avid traveller where I met in Kota Kinabalu and she passionately shared about her travel adventures and experienced around Bhutan. Since then, I was so intrigued to know more about Bhutan. She even so kind to help me to get information and introduced me to Bhutan local licensed tour operator. Do take note that all foreign visitors must book their trips through a local licensed tour operator and each visitor is required to pay minimum daily tariff (USD200-250 per person per night). Only those visitors who hold passport from India, Bangladesh or Maldives, they are exempted from applying travel visa nor sign up for a tour to visit Bhutan. I will share more about the total cost we paid in order to get to Bhutan as well as the local licensed tour operator I engaged with by end of this travelogue.

Bhutan Day 1 - Department of Immigration Visa
#2: All foreign visitors must book their trips through a local licensed tour operator and apply visa before entering Bhutan. 

Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country between Tibet and India. Geopolitically sits in South Asia, Bhutan is consider to be one of the least visited countries due to the hefty tag of daily tariff imposed to the visitors. Honestly speaking, it's one of the most expensive country I've visited so far, but by end of the trip, I never regret with my decision to visit this stunning and unique country, in both culturally and enviromentally.

Bhutan Day 1 - Aerial View
#3: The flight from Kathmandu to Paro. Never got bored with this Himalayan mountain view.

Paro International Airport is the main airport of Bhutan. It is served by two airlines; Druk Air which we flew with is the government-run carrier and private airlines of Bhutan Airlines. Airline schedules change at least twice per year. Hence, it's best to check from your respective local licened tour operator for the latest update schedule.

#4: We flew with Druk Air, the country's flag carrier. In Bhutan, Druk indicates the mythical thunder dragon and it is the important symbol of Bhutanese culture. It's pretty obvious as you can see this huge Druk symbol reflected on the plane.

Bhutan Day 1 - Paro Airport 2
#5: Paro International Airport. The first thing I noticed when I arrived Bhutan: Just like the Thais, the Drukpas love their king and queen so much. Such a handsome king and beautiful queen.

Our flight from Kathmandu was actually delayed for few hours due to the adverse weather conditions. However, both of our tour guide and driver patiently waiting for us at the airport. When we came out from the arrival hall after went through the short immigration clearance and collecting our luggage, we were welcomed by a very young and fairly tall gentleman holding a card with our name on it. Just because the tour only consists my friend and I, we thought they will use a small and compact car throughout the trip but turned out, they drove a SUV type vehicle. And the car seems pretty new too. Impressive and excellent service! Regarding language in Bhutan, the country's national language is Dzongkha, a sino-Tibetan language spoken by more than half a million people in Bhutan but fret not, they are well-versed in English cause English is their second language and was thought in school.

Bhutan Day 1 - Paro Attractions 1
#6: A brief stop for photo opportunity before heading to Thimphu.

Bhutan Day 1 - Paro Attractions 2
#7: The untouched nature - that's what make Bhutan so unique and special.

Due to our flight delayed, we unable to visit few of the attractions which had been planned earlier. The only tourist spot we managed to cover is Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu. Unfortunately, we're only allowed to take photos from outside cause it's closed to public from visiting the inside of the building.

Bhutan Day 1 - Tashichho Dzong 1
#8: The Utse, or Central Tower of Tashichho Dzong.

Bhutan Day 1 - Tashichho Dzong 2
#9: A lovely manicured rose garden in front of the building welcomes the visitors to the fortress.

Bhutan Day 1 - Tashichho Dzong 3
#10: The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storied with three-storied towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs.

Bhutan Day 1 - Tashichho Dzong 4

Besides serves as a monastery, Tashichho Dzong is also a central secretariat of the present government. It has been the seat of Bhutan's government for more than 50 years. It presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the cabinet secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. During our visit there, something out of our expectation occurred. A long and exclusive black car passed through us and our tour guide required us to bow. Only to find out that their beloved Royal King was inside the car. What a lucky day on our first day in Bhutan!

Talking about Bhutanese food, I barely remember what was the first meal we had there. And wondering why I didn't take photo of it. But at least, I managed to take photos of the hotel we stayed in Bhutan and it was totally exceeded our expectations.

Bhutan Day 1 - Thimphu Hotel Pedling 1
#12: Hotel Pedling in Thimphu

Bhutan Day 1 - Thimphu Hotel Pedling 2
#13: Our stay in Bhutan was totally exceeded our expectations. 
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Nepal Day 7: Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple & Swayambhunath

<<Previous Post: Nepal Day 6 - Kathmandu Durbar Square<<

The first thing we do right after we woke up to a very cold weather in Nagarkot is to take a peek of the view outside of our hotel room. Oh boy! It's absolutely amazing and beautiful. Immediately we changed our clothes and put on extra and thick jackets before stepping out from our room. All of us were keep shivering but it can't stop us from keep taking the excellent view of the mountain range. Glad that we chosen to stay in Hotel View Point of Nagarkot cause we can get an equally good view just from the rooftop of the hotel without going further. 

2014 Nepal Nagarkot Sunrise Viewing Point
#1: Excellent view of the mountain range from the rooftop of the hotel we stayed in Nagarkot

2014 Nepal Nagarkot Sunrise Viewing Point 2
#2: View of other hotel guests standing on the rooftop waiting for the sunrise.

2014 Nepal Nagarkot Hotel View Point 2
#3: In case you miss out my previous post, Hotel View Point is where we stayed in Nagarkot.

Without wasting any time, we packed our bags and check-out cause we only left one-full day to do sightseeing before leaving Nepal on the following day. This round, the ride was shorter than the rest of our journey as it took approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nagarkot heading down to Kathmandu. 

Boudha Stupa
Located 8km to the east of downtown Katmandu, Boudhanath Stupa is not just one of the most imposing landmarks of the city but it also enlisted as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 36-meter high white stupa of Boudha is massive and dominates the skyline in the area making it is the largest spherical stupa in the Kathmandu Valley. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Boudhanath Stupa 3
#4: The white inspiring Great Stupa

The location of the stupa is pretty interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet and it was here that Tibetan merchants have a rest and offered prayers for many centuries. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists around the world. Till today, you will see many monks and people ritually walking around the stupa. Some even lighting up the butter lamp and give their prayer. Whereas for visitors like us, we prefer to stroll around looking for some catching-eye souvenirs and even observe the stupa from a nearby rooftop restaurant for lunch. Boudha is not just one colourful sight, but it always full of live and energy. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Boudhanath Stupa 6
#5: Not just colourful, Boudha is always full of live and energy.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Boudhanath Stupa 2

#7: The Eyes of Boudha Stupa

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Boudhanath Stupa 5

Travel Tips of Boudhanath Stupa:
  • Entrance fee for the foreign visitor is 400 rupees. 
  • Do remember to walk clockwise around stupa.
  • Keeping the stupa to your right. 
  • Prayer wheels should also be spun clockwise. 
  • You are allow to enter the stupa and climb up to the white dome for a view of the entire square.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Boudhanath Stupa Lunch
#9: One of the best lunch we had in Nepal. We went to a restaurant where it has a view of the stupa from the rooftop. 

Pashupatinath Temple
Claimed to be the oldest, largest and holiest Hindu temple complex in Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is situated on both banks of Bagmati River and on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. Built in the 5th century, Pashupatinah Temple is one of the four most prominent religious site in Asia for devotees of Lord Shiva. The main pagoda style temple has a gilded roof, four sides covered in silver and exquisite wood carvings.  However, only Hindus are are allowed through the gates of the main temple. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Pashupatinath Temple 3
#10: The main temple of Pashupatinath - only Hindus are allowed to enter. 

One thing that caught our surprise here is there were a rituals of cremation performed here. Don't say I never warn you - the rituals of cremation is not for the faint hearted as we able to see pretty clearly of a dead body fully wrapped in yellow or gold by the river bank. Some of the foreign tourists were indeed watching curiously from across the river from the hillside, but not for us. We ain't ready for it, neither do we're expecting for it and so, immediately we walked away from standing still and watching the whole funeral rituals. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Pashupatinath Temple 2
#11: Pashupatinath Temple is also a cremation site where the last rites of Hindus are performed. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Pashupatinath Temple
#12: Interesting and fascinating Hindu culture but not for the faith-hearted one.

The thing that really caught our attention are the sadhus. Sadhu is a holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life. It literally means one who practices a "sadhana" or keenly follows a path of spiritual discipline. But do make sure before taking any of photos of the sadhus, seek for permission or else, it comes with a price. Yes, they were asking for money from us when we took photos of them.  

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Sadhu 1
#13: Sadhu, a holy person in Hinduism. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Sadhus 2
#14: Some of sadhus covered their body with ashes from firewood and faces painted with Tikala.

Swayambhunath Stupa
Our final stop of the day is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Alley - the Swayambhunath Stupa. Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the "Monkey Temple" has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries with Hindu temples and deities incorporated in this Buddhist site. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Swayambhunath Temple Monkey 3
#15: Swayambhu, one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Swayambhunath Temple Monkey 2
#16: Visiting the temple at night.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Swayambhunath Temple Monkey 4
#17: Swayambhu also known as the Monkey Temple. Now you can figure it why.

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Swayambhunath Temple Monkey 1
#18: Spin the prayer wheels clockwise.

It was indeed one long and exhausted day for us after covering three attractions in a day. Can't wait to check-in to our last and final night hotel in Kathmandu, do some last minute shopping and then, have a good rest. 

2014 Nepal Kathmandu Bag Packer's Lodge
#19: Bag Packer's Lodge of Kathmandu - It's not that bad but because it's facing the main street, so it can be quite noisy and if you are light sleeper, probably you will be having some sleeping issue.

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