Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Dropped down into the Kathmandu valley and through immigration, change some money and find a taxi to take me to a guesthouse. One guy to drive the taxi and one other to try and talk me into going to his favoured guesthouse. Anyway got a bed in Thamel, the tourist district of Kathmandu. Full of restaurants, bars, trekking shops, souvenirs, tiger balm salesmen, rickshaws, taxis and tourists.

I had a look at Durbar square, the main square here full of temples. Here resides the Kumari, a young girl picked as a Goddess who makes rare public appearances. After becoming a woman she reverts to being a mere mortal and new Kumari must be found. The occasional cow wanders past among the pagodas and ad hoc markets. Nepal is 80% Hindu but also where the Buddha achieved enlightenment in Lumbini.

Another day I headed over to Patan which has a similar arrangement. This time however a festival was underway. A small group of men banged at their drums, others played their long horns, creating a sound like a train horn. Following behind in single file were most of the villages woman, hundreds if not thousands were dressed up in their Sunday best, some carrying offerings held in tiffins. Grouped in colour, the line stretched on through the backstreets. I ate my thukpa while watching the going ons.
They proceeded into a temple, but here some temple are only opened to Hindus, so I don't know what goes on inside and then they pop out the front door and disperse amongst the square. Elsewhere is Patan I stumbled across a busy market street, where people hawked their goods to the masses. I then bartered with the taxi driver to go back to the guesthouse, in theory you can use the meter but with the traffic jams and them driving round in circle I found settling on a price beforehand a safer bet!

Next I went to the hard to pronounce town of Pashupatinath. Here is a holy Hindu town where people are cremated on the riverside ghats. Each caste has their own space for cremation. A cremation was taking place when I arrived, didn't really want to intrude, despite some latched-on guide saying "Photos OK!". I shook him off and headed across the river. Here the members of the Royal family were cremated after the massacre.

Continuing on up the hill I passed through a small village, here you can see how things are very basic. However little kids are smartly turned out in their uniforms with oversized ID cards dangling round there necks. After a while I arrive at Bodnath to see the huge stupa here. Walking in you can see everybody walking round it clockwise. You can climb up the steps onto the base, as the prayer flags flutter in the wind and the gild reflects the sunlight. However the mould also slowly grows over the whitewash walls, changing them white to green.

The next stop is to the quieter town of Pokhara with it's large lake. I met up with Barry and we shall soon tackle the Annapurna's. But first we headed up to the World Peace Pagoda with a good view back across the lake and nice views of the town. Unfortunately cloudy and so views of the Himalayas in the background are nonexistent except for tantalizing glimpses in the early morning. Tomorrow we head for Besishar for the start of the trek and then it will be up, up and up for the long walk round the circuit and then the sanctuary trek to the centre and back. See ya in a month!

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