Freak Street, Kathmandu
Freak Street is tucked away at the edge of Kathmandu's shopping and historical center of New Road and Durbar Square. This is the almost mythical magnet for hippies and other social deviants of the 1960s. There was once a feeling of "anything goes" and nothing was shocking to the people lingered there. This was the original center of the city for outsiders to the Nepalese culture, and it gained a reputation as being a place to find enlightenment. Many trekkers and spiritual explorers gathered there to find exotic encounters and try alternative lifestyles, such as not bathing and smoking lots of marijuana. As Nepal became more of a mainstream attraction to hikers and other tourists the area became known as a seedy but exciting place to visit. It also became notorious for being an outlet for illicit drugs and for being populated with junkies and deviants of varied persuasions.
As more western tourists passed through Kathmandu and the area of Thamel began
to market to a more wholesome image, the allure of Freak Street began to fade.
The city resolved to clean up the image of the neighborhood and discouraged
the deviant behavior. After several years the neighborhood turned around and
left only a number of restaurants and hotels in place. The junkies and hippies
had moved on and now it is just another street with a notorious history. There
really aren't any exotic sights or freaky substances to try, but the name has
stuck. The rest of the city should be enough over-stimulation for most people
even if there are no western freaks to watch. In Kathmandu there is really
no place for anyone to escape from the ways of western society except to do
as the Nepalese do.