I picked Nepal without doing any research… I was going to book to China but not to Beijing which didn’t seem like the best plan – how do you go to China without going to the Great Wall. A few hours after booking the flights I woke up thinking “what have I done, I know nothing about this place.” Some research online and with friends reduced my concerns but pushed me into wanting to use a tour guide instead of planning it all myself like I usually do.
We flew to Kathmandu via Oman air which was great, more leg room and a direct flight – only 4 hours. The next day we hit the Buddhist Monkey Temple which sits atop a hill that rises out of the middle of the valley. The entire hill is an outdoor temple and has a resident group of monkey’s living there. To get to the top you must walk 365 steps, which if you do it without stopping then you will get to make a wish or have good luck or be blessed for the year – depending on which tour guide you talk to. It was Saturday so it was busy with all kinds of people doing their devotions. We don’t understand much of it but it is interesting to watch; it’s all very ritualistic.
More interesting was a Hindu temple where they cremate the dead and sprinkle their ashes in the river. There were a few cremations going on so we got to see a different way of dealing with death. The entire family attends and the closest male relatives build a wood and woven palm frond basket which the body is put into. Then this is put on a pire of wood. The entire thing is covered in grass and lit on fire. The process takes about 3 hours and most of family attends. It didn’t seem like a very sad affair, but then we only saw the public face of the death of this person.
Kathmandu was hit by an earthquake about 2 years ago. This cause massive destruction which is most evident in Durbar Square. The square is home to many historical buildings several of which are severely damaged and will need to be knocked down. One building that survived is the home of the Kumari – a living God who “reigns” from about 3 to around 14. Then a new one is picked. We stood outside her home and she made an appearance – not sure if she was annoyed or bored or both but she looked much older than her 8 years old. We stood in the courtyard and she looked over us for about 60 seconds – making eye contact with a few people. Then she left – she does this several times a day.
After that we were templed out. When a temple is busy it is about the people and them doing their devotions it is interesting, but when the temple isn’t busy it’s less interesting. Also some temples aren’t really temples at all but instead are small buildings with an offering plate and a statue of god inside. Architecturally they aren’t interesting and they seem to have little to see except the statues some of which look “plastic-ey”.
Our hotel was great and we all enjoyed relaxing on the roof top terrace. Nearby were several great restaurants and just walking through the city was a learning experience.
Our next day we flew to Pokhara via Yeti Air and our only real view of the mountains.