Sunday, March 27, 2016

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 damage here was quite bad. Some temples ruined but also blocks of traditional brick and intricately carved wood houses gone or lying in ruin. People here seem to think that more reconstruction could have been done since the disaster (a year ago next month), but the work is done so slowly and by hand, without the use of much equipment from what i could see.

Earthquakes aside, there is so much to see here. I explored on my first day. Maps really are of little help. Occasionally i can pull mine out and figure out where i am, but i have no idea how i got there. No matter though, wandering brings its own rewards.

I had a lunch of mo mos and yak cheese and looked out on the square, then walked more, until i had had my fill and returned to my room for some downtime before enjoyed the aforementioned evening on the square.

Food wise, Bhaktapur is famous for one thing - yogurt. Their yogurt is considered to be the best in the land and is referred to as "The King of Curds". You can get it just about anywhere, but there are a number of dingy hole in the wall joints that sell nothing but the creamy stuff from earthenware pots. 
Of course i had to try some. It is pretty great. Super creamy but not overly smooth, just a bit lumpy. It is plain and each bite had me wavering between whether it is sweetened or not. It is made from buffalo milk. One bite tasted tangy, the next sweet. The crown is well deserved.

I also got to see people cooking up mo mos, which i had not previously seen. Steaming them in large flat vessels. Mo mos in Nepal generally come in three varieties: veg, chicken, and "buff" (buffalo). 

The animals here are pretty standard - dogs, pigeons, and crows - but i did see this creature walking around the square and then napping in an archway. I have no idea what it is. A really big goat? A small, female yak? An undefinable, demonic, horned beast? Either way, it was not attractive and clearly wanted to be left alone.


Barry Curts said...

Happy Easter. Very interesting that buffalo is a main food. Assuming this is water buffalo. Fresh yogurt and cheese sounds wonderful. Enjoy the rest of your travels. CHEERS PAT

Melinda said...

I'm going with either undefinable, demonic beast or some sort of mythological creature? Very interesting though. Would love to try the yogurt.