The Banastapur Durbar Square, a short stroll south of Thamel, on our first visit in 2014 was a hive of activity.
There were people all over the place like ants all over honey on a hot day.
Getting in to Durbar Square is very easy. There are entry points positioned on the outer perimeters with ticket booths that are difficult to miss (once you know what they look like).
Somehow we found ourselves in the thick of it all without being asked to pay the entry fee.
Hopping from shop to shop, picking up postcards, maps and prayer flags we crossed over Freak Street and down the side of Gayachemuga Galli enthralled by the intricate architecture around us.
The shine of copper and brass artifacts in the sun caught our eyes as we spotted Tibetan Singing Bowls laid out on low tables with dark cloth under them.
Shuffling from stall to stall we did not notice that we were now in a ticketed area.
Locals and SAARC residents came and went through the entry without hindrance. Westerners were stopped by the guards and instructed to pay.
Obviously easy to spot, I stood zero chance of slipping by even if I wanted to.
The entry fee seemed quite steep to me once I found out how much it was and what it entitled the visitor to see.
However it was what it was, and despite the potential corruption and cyphening off of funds, the toll was the toll.
Saddhus were occupying the busiest corners and seeking donations. Some provided a Tikka in return, others just moved on to the next tourist to maximize their earnings.
For a Heritage Site of the level of cultural significance I was surprised at how many people lay under the awnings of the Shiva Parvati Temple sleeping. Others had set up stalls at the base and crowded their wares up the stepped structure.
Kathmandu Durbar Square post the 2015 earthquake was a very different place.
The bustling markets were all gone. People had made their way back to their villages weeks earlier and Kathmandu had become a comparative ghost town.
I watched an old man make his way around Durbar Square with a huge Nepali flag and a big smile on his face. His posture said that they may have been knocked down, but they were getting back up, no matter what!
Where once ornate structures stood, now the remnants were barely the foundations in some cases.
Other buildings that withstood the force of the ground trembling beneath them now were propped up like an aging, unsteady man.
Signs highlighted the risk of coming too close to the structures that still stood. Many of which showed signs of imminent collapse.
Kathmandu was in recovery mode, but this was going to be a long journey. The majestic city had been hit very hard.