NEPAL: WHATCHA GONNA DO IN KATHMANDU?
Our plane stops on the runway in Kathmandu, while water pours from the sky and over the windows as if we are in a submarine. Already, we love Nepal. After three tries at visa applications in the airport, the immigration staff laugh with us. How often does that happen?
We sit and sip beer on a private balcony at Ting’s Tea Lounge Hotel, a lovely place just outside of the tourist bustle in Thamel. I walk in the dark to “Fast Food,” and point at a dish that looks like dumplings.
“I take to go?” Then I do my Tarzan communication, acting like I’m carrying food away. “Of course,” Jaz says. “Want something to drink while you wait?” Soon, Mare and I munch on mutton dumplings.
After yogurt and muesli in the morning, we brave the torn up streets to cop bus tickets to the town of Pokhara. That is where we will base ourselves for some outdoor adventure, Nepali style.
Yes, very cool shops in Thamel, but we’re not shoppers. Still, people are mellow and friendly…perhaps a by-product of the hash they keep offering me?
Off on a visit to the Bodhnath Stupa, Asia’s largest stupa. A World Heritage site and pilgrimage for Buddhists, we walk clockwise around, and spin the many prayer wheels under the all-seeing eyes of Buddha.
In the town of Patan, sort of a suburb of Kathmandu, we walk through a conglomeration of Hindu and Buddhist temples, along with many sculptures that fill Durbar Square. In truth, things are starting to look the same to us.
Time to climb Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath)…another World Heritage site and full of many more monkeys than monks.
The monkeys steal the show as they crawl around yet more Buddhist and Hindu sacred sites.
Crowds of people are wearing us out. Let’s get out of town, on an eight-hour bus ride to the smaller town of Pokhara. The bus twists around hilly countryside along the raging Trisuli River.
We see crowded streets in the town of Pokhara, and look at each other in disbelief. Soon, though, we escape lakeside, and sit on a balcony overlooking Phewa Tal, the second largest lake in Nepal.
We dine on fresh fish this evening. In the morning, we stroll around the lake and enjoy walking where there are no crowds. Many locals engage in various activities in the lake water. Okay, we’ll stay away from the “fresh” fish from this point on, if you know what I mean.
Surrounded by hills and the Himalayan Mountains, we catch a glimpse of the Annapurna Range, a place where we shall begin a five-day trek tomorrow!
Namaste. Ron Mitchell