Our first day in Kathmandu was exciting, challenging and really beautiful. I have to admit I woke up a bit freaked out, realizing I wasn’t sure how I was going to get and figure out the most basic stuff – like the shower/toilet combo that was in the bathroom, or where to get water from, or where exactly we were since we arrived after dark and during the power shutdown (every day for two 4-hour blocks power is shut off).
Our host is great though. And we made it – got water, got a shower, feeling good!
Off to see the city… we wandered through some crazy traffic. This is a BIG city – good thing I’ve practiced my pedestrian fearlessness in Manhattan, although Kathmandu has it beat!
We made it to Durbar Square – where there are over 30 temples in one area, a combination of Hindu and Buddhist. We planned on just walking around figuring it out ourselves, but Raam befriended us and after talking to us for 20 minutes, and cutting his price in half, we had a guide. Since we had managed to come in the back way, we avoided the tourist fee, so figured we could splurge for a guide. Lots of beautiful architecture. Learned they view Buddhism as more of a philosophy here, and Hinduism as a religion – which allows them to coexist. Basically every temple, statue, etc. has them combined.
Lunch was a rooftop view, from there we could see the Monkey Temple, and that was our ambitious plan for the afternoon. We had MoMo for lunch – these delicious little dumplings.
We set off for the Monkey Temple. As we got close to the river, we smelled a familiar smell… it smelled just like the Trinity River in Dallas, I guess polluted rivers all smell the same. Mental note to use the Steripen AND the filter on the water!
Monkey Temple was the most beautiful yet. Walking up to it was saw a baby monkey do acrobatics on some prayer flags. The temple sits a top a huge hill and the golden roof gleams. Once at the top there’s a huge area to explore – we watched monks meditating, got “treated” with a healing bowl (it made this incredible sound, it was made of 7 different kinds of metal, handmade… and when it vibrated against your bad it felt like it was really healing, or at least a good massage)
Rick thought he would get up close to a monkey to get a picture. Monkey was not a fan and hissed at him and took a swing… let’s just say Rick retreated quickly… there was a high pitched squeal involved, Rick says it was the monkey….
That was just his first monkey encounter. As we were heading down the hill, we stopped to get something out of the backpack – and a monkey comes out of no where and bites into the outside pocket of the backpack (where there’s a protein bar stored), Rick grabs the backpack and pulls it up in the air… monkey is still attached. Now dangling in the air, but not even close to letting go. So I grab a rainjacket and start hitting the monkey with it, while Rick is shaking the monkey… finally he lets go. Later we find a perfectly shaped monkey bite mark out of the bar, but thankfully limited damage to the backpack. That’s rick’s favorite story of the day… and he now has slight paranoia about monkeys. You can read Rick’s side of the story as well.
For the next few days I’ll be sneaking up behind him and grabbing at the back of his arm with my most monkey-hand-like impression.
Tomorrow we go to what is known as a holy site on the river where they cremate the dead in the open, and a small town on the outskirts of Kathmandu that hasn’t been as taken over by the modern world. I think it’ll be good to get a little time outside the craziness of big city Kathmandu. Oh and we have to figure out how to get bus tickets to Pokhara! I can’t wait to see the Himalayas — can’t see them from the city due to clouds and pollution.