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Showing posts from March, 2016

Nagarkot

I took a taxi from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot, a small village on a mountain in the Kathmandu valley. The only reasons to visit Nagartkot are for hiking and views of the mountains, the latter of which are dependant on the clouds. I could have taken the bus from Bhaktapur for pennies, but seeing the bus from the taxi made me glad that i splurged for the private transportation. The drive up the mountain seemed to take forever. I kept thinking that we could not possibly go any higher, but we did, up past little shacks and rough looking hotels, higher into the trees.
The village of Nagarkot has a some places selling food and bottled beverages, but other than that it is just accommodations. My plan for spending two nights here was simply to do nothing but hike and read and rest, which is all there is to do.
I am staying at The Hotel At The End of the Universe, which is quite delightful. It has a nice main building with a restaurant and pleasant in and outdoor seating and then the accommodation…

Prayers and Squares in Bhaktapur

One doesn't really need two days in Bhaktapur, but i had given myself two days for a more relaxing pace. This proved to be just fine. On my second day i was able to be leisurely in a way that i could not if i had to cram in sightseeing. I awoke at about 5am and shortly thereafter the square awakened. The large temple right outside my window had its door unlocked and then the bell ringing began. People began to enter the temple and each person that entered rang the bell at the threshold several times before entering. The men arrived empty handed but the women all arrived carrying brass trays on which (as best as i could tell) was a few smaller vessels filled with oil and some sort of power, as well as lots of flower petals, and in some cases bananas. I could see through the latticework on the windows that candles were lit. (Non-Hindus may not enter the temple so whatever else happened inside is a mystery.) this carried on for several hours. I also saw women climbing the stairs at …

Bhaktapur: The King of Curds

Leaving Kathmandu my next stop was Bhaktapur. It is a medieval city which is easily visited as a day trip from Kathmandu, but it sounded nice and small and pretty and i thought would be pleasant to spend a couple of nights there.
I arrived at the Shiva Guest house, which is right on the main square. A perfect location. 
My comfortable, albeit a bit shabby, 2nd floor room looks directly onto the square with a large temple so close i could hit it with a satsuma if i wished. (I do not.) i picked this place because it is well located but specifically because i wanted to enjoy the square at night, after the day trippers had left. I was not disappointed. My first night was so peaceful. I strolled around and then sat in the square with a cup of lemon ginger honey tea and a cigar and watched the area quieten to pigeons and dogs.
It's great here. Very quiet and chill. Still overly friendly guides and vendors of things, but there are fewer of them. Also far fewer cars. Sadly the earthquake…

Patan

On my last day in Kathmandu before going out of the city i decided to visit Patan. Patan is a separate city from Kathmandu, known as the city of arts, but with Kathmandu's sprawl, it now feels simply like a suburb. The drive never left the city, though it was as interesting drive as Kathmandu away from the tourist sights is quite different. More graffiti, a few sad looking malls, a couple of movie theatre. All very poor looking, but organized and functional. The traffic stuck to its proper sides of the street (unlike in Thamel).
Patan's main sight is its Durbar Square, which is similar to that in Kathmandu but with a bit more variety in the buildings that survived the earthquake. 

All around the square were winding streets with shops selling masks, paintings, and jewelry. And of course there were temples and shrines. It seems that every block has one, and judging by the spilled wax and scattered flower petals, they are in use. 
I really enjoyed Patan. There were the same amou…

Pashupatinath

This morning i went for coffee and a lassi and then haggled my way into a taxi to Pashupatinath, an important Hindu temple and surrounding area on the banks of the Bagmati River. The temple itself though was not the draw. What makes the site so interesting is that on the banks of the river dead bodies are ritually cremated and then their ashes scattered in the river.  The site itself is interesting to explore, as the river banks are dotted with temples and shrines, with sadhus (elaborated decorated Hindu holy men) lounging about, Hare Krishnas speaking with spiritual gurus, and monkeys scampering. And then there are visitors, like me.



I felt like kind of a dick when i entered through a side entrance and found myself shoulder to shoulder with grieving families right at the side of the pyres. I watched as two bodies were carried out, covered in golden cloth and marigolds and laid on the pyres and as they were then covered with straw and set alight. I didn't stay too long in the par…