Himalayan Hello from Kathmandu!!

We’ve just finished 3ish days in Kathmandu and it’s already time to head to the airport and fly back to Delhi.

This is another amazing place. Quite clean, somewhat calmer than the parts of India we’ve visited and so much to see.

Our introduction to Kathmandu was a visit to one of the many squares in the city, this one with a breathtaking Buddhist temple. The all-seeing Eyes of Buddha are painted on each side of the temple so no matter where you go, Buddha is watching. In spite of the bustling activity in the square it was a powerfully peaceful place. Such great energy. There were prayer wheels ringing the temple so we walked all around spinning most of them. All the while the prayer inside the wheels was being chanted around the square. We also went inside the courtyard and spun gigantic prayer wheels as well before climbing to the next level of the temple and gaining a better view of the Eyes as well as the surrounding square. This is another one of my highlights for this trip. It was such a different place than we’ve seen so far and such a great vibe.

We also visited  a studio where Thanka paintings are created. They are a form of meditation in their creation and can be used for meditation by the people who own them. There are various styles and subjects but many are beautiful mandalas for peace, health, long life, prosperity…. It was cool to watch them being done. They use tiny rabbit hair brushes (not made from tiny rabbits lol) and painstakingly create the paintings. The masters use paints made from ground minerals made into paint and real gold. The master works are exceptional, the level of detail is incredible.

I was sad to leave the square, I could have stayed and soaked up the atmosphere all day… but, we had another site to visit. Another beautiful hindu temple. I feel terrible but I’m a little templed out. I can’t remember much about this one except the unusual pagoda style.

We also wandered a medieval square with gorgeous old buildings and bustling with activity.

The afternoon was fantastic though, we drove out of the city and into the mountains. It’s amazing that just a short drive out of the city everything changes. So much farming. Cute villages. The road was unbelievably windy… serpentine is a good way to describe it. Just switchback after switchback. In a large bus… really really interesting. There were many time we’d come to a stop and have to wait for an oncoming car to back up and reposition so we could get by. We had a chance to go for a brief trek in the mountains which was just lovely. It was so nice to breathe in crisp, clean air for a change!! The views were gorgeous and the little farming community we passed through was really interesting. We met back up with the bus and continued up the mountain to a tea room/hotel for a snack. It was not exactly what I’d expected for our mountain snack but we enjoyed our french fries (with ketchup and chill sauce) and crackers with tea. Strange but it worked. We were lucky and the mist cleared enough for us to see the peaks of  a few of the Himalayas. Spectacular!!!

Then it was time for the nerve wracking descent in the dark!! Apparently it was also rush hour on the mountain so there was a ton of traffic in both directions. We had to stop numerous times and then inch past other large vehicles, all the while motorcyclists were gliding past (when there was room, often there was only an inch or two to spare). It was a long drive down. Kudos to the driver, definitely not something I want to try!!

Everyone was pretty beat by the time we got to the hotel so it was just a quiet, early night.

Another day of squares and temples and people. Sadly it’s all really starting to blend together.

We did see the Temple of the Living Goddess which was quite fascinating. A young girl is taken from her family at around 4 or 5 years old and brought to live at the temple where she becomes the Living Goddess.  She appears in a window in the courtyard approx. 5-6 times per day and looks out on the people below. It just seems so sad. She only leaves the temple 13 times per year. Her family is allowed to visit though which was good to hear. Once she has her first menstrual cycle, she goes back to her family and a new Goddess is found.

After that it was one last rickshaw ride (this time with a young, healthy driver!) to the last square of the day.

The other square we visited was jam packed with people, so it was hard to really see much or move around freely. So… in our free time we hung out with some of our group and had some Everest beer!!! Good stuff!

Then time to go to the hotel and spruce up for our farewell dinner!

The restaurant serves a recreation of a royal feast complete with entertainment. Rice wine is the welcome drink and at 60% it goes down like paint thinner! Wow! It would definitely cure what ails you if you could manage to drink it all! The rice wine is served in tiny terra cotta cups that I think are just smashed afterwards.

Several appetizers are brought one by one… popcorn… french fries…. momos (delicious nepalese dumplings)… soup…

Then a guy comes around to spoon rice into the middle of your plate and several other servers come through to give a scoop of different foods around the rice. There was chicken curry, roast chicken, vegetable curry, wild boar curry, fried okra, pasta and mustard greens. It was all quite tasty. During dinner dancers take the stage to showcase regional dances. They were very entertaining.

Dessert was a sweet lemon yogurt. Yummy!

Then back to the hotel for our final sleep in Kathmandu!!!

We had one last adventure in Kathmandu this morning by visiting Swayambhu, the Monkey Temple. It’s a stunning Buddhist temple with beautifully gilded roofs and, as you may have guessed, lots of monkeys!!!

There were very few people wandering about so it was incredibly peaceful. I so love the Eyes of Buddha on these temples. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to Kathmandu. We watched monkeys swinging on the prayer flags which were strung all over and between the trees in the area. More prayer flags than I’ve seen yet and the monkeys just love them. Nothing like a frolicking monkey on a prayer flag to make your day!

Now we’re just waiting until it’s time to head to the airport and fly to delhi for the next step of our adventure!!! A couple of nights in Delhi and then off to Corbetts National park for some tiger safaris!!! It will be weird to say goodbye to the group though, they’ve all been great. Hopefully we’ll stay in touch and maybe plan more adventures with some of the folks!

Next up… Delhi on our own! ; )


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