Monday, July 9, 2012

How to Pass up a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Still Have a Rockin' Good Time

The city of Kathmandu, Nepal has a lot of interesting sites to see. There are at least 130 historic and religious monuments in the Kathmandu valley, an area listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Naturally, most visitors to Kathmandu go visit these sites.

Not us. While we did visit Kathmandu's Durbar Square, we figured we do something different on our last full day in this Himalayan capital. So we went to Patan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in itself. However, we didn't go to Patan's temples and palaces, or any place there tourists would usually visit. We passed up our opportunity to see what Patan is known for the world over and instead, went to a punk rock concert happening right in this Nepali neighborhood. That's right. A punk rock concert. More like a punk rock jam session, but you get the drift. And hell yes, we had a whole lot of fun.

So here's how to pass up a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still have a rockin' good time.

1. Hang out with some German punk rock hooligans.

Punk Rock Kathmandu, Nepal

I use the term "hooligan" endearingly, of course, because these are the coolest, kindest, most gentle group of hooligans I have ever met. Granted, I haven't met a lot of hooligans in my life, but I'm so glad it's them I saw and made friends with during our trek to the Annapurna Himalayas. After the trek, we made plans to hang out and lucky for us, they had a punk rock concert scheduled. We tagged along, for sure.

2. Have a local punk rock connection.

Punk Rock Kathmandu, Nepal

It turns out, our new German punk rock friends had a local punk rock contact in Kathmandu: Patrick. That's the Nepali kid right there. He's quite an enthusiastic young fellow, quite excited to meet us, and have us in his house. He took the pains, too, to set up a corner of his small wooden house for the guys to play in. Very nice.

3. Drink the local moonshine.

Punk Rock Kathmandu, Nepal

When Patrick offered us beers, he brought in this bucket full of questionable whitish liquid, like something that would come out of a house cleaning solvent. I initially joked to everyone that that this bucket of whitish liquid was actually the beers Patrick was offering. They laughed. When Patrick came in with the solo plastic cups, however, we knew that was it. What else is there to do but take your solo red cup and scoop a glassful of moonshine?

4. Get local punk rock bands to play, too.

Punk Rock Kathmandu, Nepal

As this was technically a local concert, some local punk rock Nepali bands, mostly Patrick and his band friends, made sure they played, too. While I did not understand the lyrics, the punk rock music was enough to get our heads banging and our feet moving. They were good.

5. Invite everyone in the neighborhood.

Punk Rock Kathmandu, Nepal

With the loud punk rock awesomeness currently blasting from that small cramped space in Patrick wooden house, it was only a matter of time before the neighborhood kids notice and congregate at the concert. So they did and before we knew it, it was a full house. A jam-packed punk rock jam session. Now that's a tongue twister.

I'm a firm believer in that it's the people, especially the locals, who can make a travel destination a memorable one. Sure, you can see the sights, all the attractions with the UNESCO World Heritage tag on them, and that's great. To really see a travel destination, however, it's always, always important to connect with the locals who live there, be it through local food, a shared history, or in our case, punk rock music.

Travel becomes much more interesting and memorable when we connect with locals, right? What are your experiences?

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