It has been a very long time since I have written. Sorry about that! I must say, it has been with good reason. At the end of October we were lucky enough to go on holiday in Nepal. We spent 9 days in the country and it was beautiful! We absolutely loved it. It was a long enough trip that I won’t be able to fit it all into one blog post. So- I will write several different posts on what we learned during our time in Nepal.

For this first segment I will write about Kathmandu. We spent the first and last nights of our trip in Kathmandu. It was a whirlwind, but very interesting! Kathmandu is a fun mix of lots of cultures and people. The most prominent seemed to be Buddhist, Hindu, Indian, and Asian influences all mixed into one city.  The city does not really have any skyscrapers, but covers a large area and is very compact. Many streets were more like dirt alleyways and some buildings seemed to be built on top of one another. It is important to note that Nepal is a very developing country- as such, Kathmandu did not seem very organized and it was quite dirty. It didn’t seem like there was any government-run trash collection or maybe it was just the culture, but there was trash everywhere! Littering is obviously not against the law.

So- on our first day in Kathmandu we checked into a great little hotel. The mattresses were hard, but the room was clean and we had our own bathroom. The hotel also had an adorable little courtyard and fun character. You know you are in a different country when the lock on your hotel room is a padlock with accompanying key. We took the red-eye flight into Kathmandu, so the first order of business was a nap! It was very tricky to sleep with the sounds of the city (not something we are used to in our quiet Doha neighborhood). Also- it was festival time in Nepal, and I am pretty sure a parade went by our hotel at some point- at least I don’t think I was dreaming that-.

The main stupa

Rumored to be 365 steps to the top…. I didn’t count them

After a nap, we got a cab to take us to the famous Monkey Temple, also known as Swayambhunath. There are several entrances to get to this temple because it is located on a very large hill. My calves were burning by the time we climbed the stairs to the top! On the way it was fun to see the monkeys climbing all over the different statues and trees. These monkeys are considered sacred and they definitely run the show. Once we reached the top the view of the city and surrounding mountains was incredible.                                                                                                         I particularly loved seeing the colored flags that are synonymous with Nepal. A “practicing monk” told us that the colors stand for the elements and that prayers are written on them. The flags are then hung as a constant prayer that is meant to be spread by the wind as a benefit to the surrounding area and all people.

I say “practicing monk” in quotes because we are not entirely sure he was. Our little friend offered to take us around the entire Temple to practice his English and work on talking to different people as part of his “training”. Haha! He was a very nice boy and ended up walking us to places we most likely would not have wandered to on our own. At the end, he asked us to buy some milk and biscuits for the kids staying at the monastery. Of course we would help buy food for the children! Unfortunately that particular powdered milk and old cookies must have been the BEST in all of Nepal! The man tried to charge us silly Americans $40 a piece—yes 4,000 rupees!! Hahaha We of course said no, but ended up giving them $20 anyways. I blame the red-eye flight and lack of sleep…. But what is a visit to a developing country if you don’t get taken advantage of?! Ha ha. Anyways- back to the temple…..

Long Life and Wisdom

Around the Stupa there were these spinning prayer wheels. We were told that you always visit the temple and spin these wheels in a clockwise direction. Spinning the prayer wheel is meant to be the same as saying or reading the prayer. Our “monk-in-training” friend said that the prayer wheels around the Stupa at the monkey temple were prayers for a long life and wisdom.

We really enjoyed the cultural uniqueness of the monkey temple and seeing all of the different types of people who were there to visit it. Did we get attacked my monkeys? Almost. Did we get swindled by our “practicing monk” friend? Of course! Did our taxi know where our hotel was to take us back? No. We did, however, have a good time and it was nice to see a little bit of Kathmandu.

At the end of the trip we came back to Kathmandu after spending a fantastic time away. It was just as dirty and the driving was just as bad! We stayed in a different hotel that was truly fantastic! The Kathmandu Temple house was amazing. The architecture was stunning and they were an establishment that cared about being eco-friendly. Mineral water was provided in every room and bubblers were located in the lobby for us to re-fill our water bottles. (This seems silly, but when you read the rest of my posts you will see how this is incredibly unique). The food here was delicious, and the courtyard was a quiet, clean oasis apart from the rest of Kathmandu.

               

That night, Tony and I took another scary cab ride from this hotel to visit the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple. This is a significant Hindu temple where they perform religious cremations, have many holy men, and it contains many significant religious structures. It was interesting to see, but not as beautiful as the Monkey Temple from the first day of the trip. The holy men were funny and, for a donation, loved to get their picture taken. It is always interesting to see how different cultures practice their religions. This Hindu temple was very different. It had many ancient structures and amazing little buildings, but it was very dirty. It was hard for me to feel a sense of peace (like I associate temples with in my mind) when there is smoke rising in the distance from a current cremation and women are pressing me to buy jewelry. I must say, it was nice to return to our little hotel oasis and have a well-prepared meal and a good night’s rest. In the morning we were able to have breakfast and then time to explore the hotel. We made it up to a roof-top terrace where we were able to bid farewell to Kathmandu in a proper way.

     

Stay tuned for Pokhara, terrifying jeep rides, and Jomsom/Marpha!

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