Published on January 5th, 2014


Kathmandu: Sardine-fest with 20,000 Nepal Soccer Fans!

Yes, we’re STILL catching up on Nepal here.  That’s ‘cuz there’s just so very many pics and fun tales left to tell.  Slowly but surely I’ll get through all of them.

If there’s one aspect of traveling that I most cherish, it’s the serendipity of mingling with locals at stray festivals, weddings, etc. And happily, such spontaneous moments happen a LOT for me  (heck, I even once stumbled upon a Balinese funeral!) likely because A. I deliberately try my best to steer clear of the usual tourist corners (favoring instead, to wander down the back lanes where folks are simply living their daily lives), and B. as a solo traveler, the locals view me as more approachable, and often invite me into their homes, to family celebrations, etc. – offering me a peek into the inner-sanctum of their lives that most tourists never get to see.

UpTown Hotel patio

Such was the serendipity of meeting dear Dipak – the manager of an art gallery attached to my tiny guesthouse in Kathmandu.  Shortly after I’d checked in, we struck up a chat and thereafter, he most kindly took me under his wing, tagging along to interpret (he speaks excellent English) as I shopped for a new battery for my camera, and leading me to Durban Square – wisely after 5:00pm to avoid the daytime $8 tourist fee.

<——– the patio of my sweet “Up Town” ($8/nt. sgl. en suite) room in Kathmandu

Diipak with his parentsMarried with an 11 yr. old son, Dipak helped me in oh so many ways: walking me through the dizzying streets of Kathmandu to catch the – yeah, like I would have ever been able to choose the right one on my own – local bus to Bhaktapur, holding my hand whilst I endured an hour of p.a.i.n getting my (now beloved, but still…) ankle bracelet tattoo and better yet – his kind invitation to have lunch at his home where I met his entire family including his mother and father from the countryside.

But perhaps the very best gift that my Kathmandu guardian angel gave me, was taking me to the Semi-final SAFF (South Asian Football Federation – think: Asia’s NFL) soccer (well o.k. in all but my native land, “football”) game.

Nepal was slated to go up against Afghanistan and early in the run up to the Saturday night game, the price for game tickets was in the stratosphere, or worse – tickets were rumored to be fully sold out.  But then… Dipak’s beautiful wife was able to get 2 tickets from her work, so Dipak and I could attend the game.

Now I’ve personally never been much of a spectator sports fan (though I will admit to being a fair-weather fan of both the Seattle Mariners and the U of O Ducks on the – rare – ocassions when they’ve been on a brief winning streak).  Nonetheless, I was thrilled to be able to join the local frenzy of socc, errr… football fans beneath the majestic peaks of the Himalayas.  And “frenzy” is the operative word here – for I was a tad apprehensive to be jammed shoulder-to-shoulder amid a swarm of 20,000 rabid fans of a sport that is infamous for alarmingly zealous mobs – in a country where I didn’t speak the language.

Ah but words are apparently superfluous when it comes to Nepalese football – the sea of grinning red and blue-painted faces told the whole story, and I felt only the happy euphoria that was contagious around me.

Heck, we even did “the WAVE”! 😉

(Click on any of the thumbnails to start the slide show)

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

28 Responses to Kathmandu: Sardine-fest with 20,000 Nepal Soccer Fans!

  1. I totally love your spunk! May come look for you in Cuenca:-)
    Irene S. Levine kindly contributed to world literature by posting…101 Tips for Women Travelers: Free book from Overseas Adventure TravelMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Are you planning a visit to Ecuador Irene? If you get here by tomorrow – I’ll paint your face with Ecuadorian red, blue and yellow, for FREE! 😉

      But seriously – would love to show you around my new “home”.

  2. Like you, I’m not a big spectator sport fan but I made a promise to myself when we began travelling to retry things I’ve been telling myself for years “I don’t like…”. We get so enmeshed in our habits that we miss out on some experiences like futbol in Antigua,Guatemala and baseball on Big Corn Island in Nicaragua. Fun!
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    • Dyanne says:

      So true, Anita. It seems we fall into a rut and tell ourselves stories that are no longer true. And indeed, watching baseball games, etc. in our native land, etc. is far different than attending a futbol game, etc. in a far flung land. It’s a way to join shoulder-to-shoulder with the local people.

  3. So are you hitching a ride to the games in Brazil? 🙂
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    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed, very tempting Irene, as one of the reasons I moved here is to explore the continent of South America.

      But no, for now I shall sit tight and enjoy cheering on Ecuador come Sunday when they’re scheduled to play Switzerland in the World Cup. Should be crazy here in Cuenca – I’m even thinking of setting up a little face painting stand in Parque Calderon! 😉

  4. I love the way you travel—-well, vicariously, at least. Believe it or not, I’m kind of shy — in person — with strangers. (You weren’t completely a stranger when I met you—plus, you’re the antithesis of shy which brought me out of my shell). I’m really surprised to learn that Afghanistan even has a socc—er, football, team—let alone a winning one. Maybe, like the Taliban, they have “ringers” from Pakistan. 😉
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    • Dyanne says:

      Yes well, I have to agree Suzanne, I am nothing if not the antithesis of shy. Surprisingly an introvert, but nonetheless, I guess I just view strangers as friends that I’ve simply not yet met. As I said to Michelle below, I just have always felt that people the world over are just like me. With similar joys and troubles, and hopes and dreams. No matter young or old, rich or poor (leastwise in material things, for many are far richer than I in many ways).

      And yes, given the rather skewed version of Afghanistan that we’ve been fed in the U.S. nonetheless, there too, are plenty of just plain folks like you and me – trying their best to raise their families, and… cheering on their own local version of David Beckman. 😉

  5. Jackie Smith says:

    Love the story, really loved your room and the photos just added the icing to the cake. Love the mingling with locals and doing local events!
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    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Jackie, for me that’s what traveling is all about – having little authentic encounters with the locals and even better – when I’m lucky enough to be able to participate in every day local events.

      Indeed, just today (the kickoff of the World Cup in Brazil), I marched myself off across the street from my little place here in El Centro, to the bitty DVD tienda where a handful of Ecuadorian were glued to the flat screen TV. My Spanish is pretty basic of course, but nonetheless, they welcomed me with smiles and a plastic chair. And cheering when Brazil made a goal of course is a universal language! 😉

  6. It is always so interesting to meet the locals. Thanks for sharing your story. I remember once having dinner with a family in Bermuda. It was part of an organized group that set meetings up between locals and visitors. I don’t hear about that much any more. I wonder if this kind of program still exists.
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    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Carole, it exactly that sort of local interaction that makes the best travel memories. I believe there’s more of such “homestay” type options (even just for just dinner) in a lot of places these days. Indeed, I think there’s even several websites that now specifically organize such (try Googling for travel meal share)

      But personally, I find that it’s even more authentic to simply be open to the locals wherever you go, and you’re likely to get an invite for tea or dinner or even an overnight!

  7. Michelle says:

    I like the way you travel! I usually travel alone as well. Although I do try to visit areas that are not popular touristy areas, I don’t mingle with the locals. It’s a lack of trust on my part. Good for you for being brave!
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    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Michelle, I’ve long been a big fan of solo travel. And likewise I too find that it’s easy to escape the tourist-trampled scene, simply by strolling a block or two away from the tourist fray back into the dusty streets where the locals live and work.

      But ‘mI truly sad to hear that you fear/don’t trust strangers. I understand that not everyone is as open and friendly among strangers as I, but maybe if you just take baby-steps the next time you’re out and about among strangers.

      I guess I’ve just always felt that strangers the world over, are really pretty much just like me. Sure there’s a few bad apples everywhere (even in your own neighborhood), but the vast majority of folks everywhere in the world are simply folks just like me. Mothers and fathers, workmen, students, teens and little ones. All just living their lives, laughing and crying at the the same stuff as me.

      And speaking of “little ones”, perhaps that’s a good place for you to start Michelle – kids are great fun, and can be a super bridge to having lovely encounters with their parents. Do try reaching out and making goofy faces at the next strange child you see. The parents will love the attention you give their beloved little one, and before you know it, you’ll likely have an invitation to to dinner, or an offer of help finding whatever you need.

  8. Sue Pearson says:

    You do manage to find the coolest places to stay!! And it lead to such a great angel helper!

    • Dyanne says:

      I generally only pre-book a hotel for my first night in a new country (and for that I really like – they often have some very nice discounts). But after that, I generally prefer to walk around and check the options – often I can find sweet little obscure places like the “Up Town” for $8 in Kathmandu.

  9. Rosemary Gallagher says:

    Dyanne- another great post. I was once in Dublin when Ireland was playing in the World Cup. Those Irish take their “football” very seriously. Great fun in the pubs watching the games with the locals.
    Could you tell me the name of the guesthouse where you stayed in Kathmandu? It looks very sweet in the picture. I plan on being there next February, 2015. I’m hoping to volunteer while there.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Rosemary, rubbing shoulders with folks at local festivals and events is among the best serendipity in my travels. And OMG, rooting w/ locals for the “World Cup”!!? That must have been QUITE the pubfest!

      As I mentioned above, the little guesthouse I stayed at in Kathmandu was called “Up Town”. But it’s quite small (certainly not listed on and I can only tell you that it’s in the Thamell (backpacker) area of Kathmandu – near the Heritage Home Hotel (which IS listed on agoda).

  10. What a lovely family, and a fun day! I love going to sports events when abroad, not so much to watch the sport as to take part in the ambience! It’s such a great way to feel invited into the local culture when you’re cheering for their team. We’ll be headed to Brazil for the World Cup, and I can’t wait!
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    • Dyanne says:

      Goodness Casey – the World Cup? Lucky you! That should prove 10 TIMES the sardines as my little football fest in Kathmandu.

  11. Patti says:

    What a great story! And a lovely perspective of those in the world who embrace the kindness of others. When we are bombarded with the ugly news on main stream media, traveling reminds us of the good in the world.
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    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed Patti – sadly, it seems only the worst of human nature “sells”, and main stream media is but a business after all. That’s why I seldom tune into any of it.

      And yes too, if I’ve learned nothing in my 30+ years of traveling, it’s that human kindness is alive and well in most every corner of the globe.

  12. Graefy says:

    That “Defeat” picture makes it all look like a bit of a war zone.

    The facepaint looks interesting.
    Graefy kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Lord of the Rings, a Travelers BibleMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yep Ted, the loss to Afghanistan was most disappointing. The “Defeat” pic pretty much tells the story, and the fans were stunned.

      And yes, the facepaint was great fun!

  13. Ayngelina says:

    Wow, looks like an awesome day, glad you got to be a part of it!
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    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed, Ayngelina – I was lucky to be there during the play-offs. A bit sad that Nepal didn’t win the game, but nonetheless it was an experience to remember.

      (btw my dear, so… you lived in Cuenca for what, 2 years? I’ve now decided to move there myself and I can’t WAIT to get there!)

  14. MCRT says:

    Looks like a blast. In March I want to the Japan – Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) baseball game. Those fans were pretty rabid too.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Mike – it was great fun. It’s local events like these that are most memorable for a traveler.

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