Friday, November 16, 2012

Exploring Durbar Square

After the amazing NoJazz gig on Thursday, and remembering that they promised to play in Durbar Square on Friday evening, and Roxanne and David (the daughter-and-father team we met frequently on our trek) arriving in Kathmandu that afternoon, I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit them and see Kathmandu in the evening - and maybe even the possibility of seeing some wicked Jazz.

I found their hotel easily enough and we went out for dinner - a delicious feast at one of the less popular restaurants, only because it's on the first floor as there's more than enough restaurants at street level to keep you entertained for years. It was great to catch up with Roxanne and her Dad, who had trekked all the way to Annapurna Base Camp (10 degrees below freezing, apparently!) and back and had some good stories to tell about their guide, the hot springs, the other people they've met and their impressions of their time in Kathamndu.

All this chatting took us to about 15 minutes after the NoJazz gig might possibly have started. So we strolled down to Durbar Square, the very historic heart of Kathmandu, just to find that it HAD started on time and we had got there just 10 minutes after the band had stopped! It was really disappointing - though the others didn't know what they were missing and at least I had enjoyed them thoroughly a couple of nights beforehand.

So, using that fact that we were now in Durbar Square that none of us had visited before, and managed to dodge the 750Rp entrance fee, we proceeded to have a look around at the temples and tall, tiered structures that were just packed into the centre. I had my Lonely Planet and was able to read, out loud, a few descriptive paragraphs about the Square, the Kasthamandsap (600 year old temple, giving rise to the city's name) and also the home of the Kumari, the 12-year-old living goddess, selected on the basis of meeting 32 criteria physical perfection and having a strong and confident mind! She lives in a palace in the square with her family and appears regularly at the window to give advice and blessings and is paraded outside a few times a year. She will be there until she starts menstruation, proving that actually she was human after all, after which she is expelled (with a healthy dowry) and the search continues for a new Kumari.

Durbar Square at night - quite packed full of people and monuments!

So we explored the square for an hour or so, went for a hot chocolate and cake at the charming Snow Man cafe (marred only by the toilet that looked straight out of a horror movie!) before walking back to the hotel amongst the now-deserted streets. Where, a few hours ago, there had been a hugely busy market and I had to fight to get through with my rucksack on the front, we were now the only people on the street, and it was only about 9pm!

We were, however, joined by a solitary cow, strolling from who-knows-where to somewhere else. Being Kathmandu, there is absolutely nothing surprising about this, apart from maybe the fact we had only seen the one?!


5pm and 9pm...

I spent the night in Thamel, simply because it's half the cost of the taxi back to Lokanthali, and joined Roxy and David at their hotel for breakfast (very kind of them) and then I caught the bus back to Lokanthali, after a small bit of shopping for those vital supplies. Like a 2013 desk calendar with Annapurna on the back...

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