K – k – k – k – k – Katmandu
Today started after what really was a restful sleep. I awoke to the sounds of Katmandu waking below me. I headed down to the restaurant for breakfast and posted yesterdays entry while enjoying the wifi posts to Facebook and drinking fresh mango juice with fresh watermelon juice chasers. I still had not met anyone from my group and was sure, as I looked around the room some of them were there.
After breakfast, i went to the lobby where we gathered for our city tour. I met our tour guide and all of the team. Four from the San Francisco Bay Area, an Ausie father and daughter, An Ausie who lives in Hong Kong, and a camera operator who lives between Vegas and LA. Once the ice was broken it was clear that I had lucked out and got a great crew of people!
Rita was our tour guide and quite knowledgeable about the area. She loaded us up into a van and off we went through the streets of Katmandu. Man oh man. The level of poverty was palpable. the streets are rough and choked with motorcycles, bikes, cars, trucks, vans, and the occasional Sacred cow. People just wander in and out of traffic and the chaos it seems to create works like a well oiled machine.
Our first stop was a Pashupatinath Shiva Temple and crematoria. It is situated on the head waters of the Ganges river. Because of its location it is quite sacred to the people, who come from all over to die, dip their feet in the waters as they day, and then be burned in the funeral pyre so that their ashes can be returned to the waters and the cycle of life can begin again. As our trekking guide Deanna says, life is lived right out in the open here. Birth, death…..all of it for all to see. We hung with the Sadhus and received blessing from them.
Our next stop was Bouda Stupa. Here you enter a gate and are in a sort of gated village that surrounds the Stupa, one of the most iconic pictures of Nepal. You always travel clockwise around the Stupa. We climbed several flights of stairs to a temple and the monks there stopped everything to offer our group a blessing. My third or forth of the day. People here take their faith quite seriously and they want you to be blessed in your travels. This was extraordinary, because the monks had already locked up after morning religious activities. The unlocked the temple and had us all come in. It was really very touching that they care that much.
Once the blessings were complete, we came back down to the Stupa and did a little shopping. Then up to the top of one of the buildings for lunch! The Food was EXCELLENT. Chicken momo, which was like pot stickas. Some chili chicken item and veggie dumpling. Main course was chicken fried rice and an Everest beer. Then some milk tea. This was the time we all got to know each other much better and I really am liking my trekking companions.
At this point we were all stuffed full of food and ready to get moving again. So it was off to the Monkey Temple high on a hill above the city. Bet you wouldn’t guess there are lots of monkeys here…but there are lots of monkeys everywhere in Katmandu. The dogs are everywhere too. They are sad dogs. Never seem to wag a tail. No pics this time, having upload difficulties. Will add them later,