Friday, October 19, 2012

Sightseeing around Kathmandu

We went sightseeing in Kathmandu - first of all to the Swayambhu Nath temple (also called the Monkey temple because... you guessed it). Our reluctant guide for the event was Ramesh, one of the employees at the school here, who took us to see the temple for probably at least the 10th time this year! You'd have thought he would know lots about it then, but he wasn't sharing...

But we did take some photos:


These are prayer wheels, supposedly giving blessings on everyone who spins them. Unsurprisingly there was a constant stream of people spinning them and blessings were being bestowed at an alarming rate.

But the temple itself, a Buddhist monument looking over the whole Kathmandu valley, is an impressive bit of architecture. The story is interesting too. Archie and I found ourselves accidentally hiring a guide (an old chap came along and started telling us about the monument and we thought it best to give him a tip of sorts). The 11-tiered Stupa is supposed to attract enlightenment (or lightning - I might have heard wrong) and there are eyes painted on it, eyes of the Buddha watching over his home country of Nepal.

The views from the monument were also impressive. A flock of birds happened to fly at me at just the right time in this picture, as did Ramesh, Archie and Amy.

More prayer flags and monuments at the car park area. Lots of tat-sellers and beggars too!

A few days later, we ventured into Thamel which is the tourist district of Kathmandu. Touristy it may be but this area has buckets of charm - narrow old streets with pedestrians, motorcyclists, rickshaws, cyclists and Suzuki Alto - type taxis like this one. Every shop space is taken, and many above too, with hiking shops, pashmina shops, music shops, money changers, bookshops and bakeries. And repeat!

This is towards the Durbar Square part of Kathmandu and might (or might not) be the palace where the Living Goddess lives. I don't know - we haven't been to visit her just yet. Apparently she does speak English.

We ventured into Freak Street, the hippy centre of Kathmandu, which looked unimpressively un-hippy-like but we had an excellent and cheap lunch at one of the restaurants there. This was a day of picking up supplies - I found a nice hat to work in - and then we headed over to the bus station to get back to Lokanthali. The bus station, and the ride itself, were both experiences to be remembered!

The bus station:
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