Today started off with a visit to the biggest temple in Kathmandu. We wanted to get there early to avoid the crowds so we were ready and waiting at 6am to begin our day. The short walk from the hotel to the temple, gave us a taste of Kathmandu. Dirty streets, the beginnings of noisy traffic rushing its way in and out of town, families sitting on low walls eating breakfast and the shops starting to open up. Even at this early hour the air is thick with smog. The sun tries to burn its way through, but remains a distant red shimmer instead of a spectacular sunrise. We are very lucky in South Africa to experience beautiful sunrises almost every day and to breathe good clean air.
My feet are getting very dirty in my flip flops- it isn’t a pleasant feeling and every now and then I wonder what is in the small puddles on the ground as i try to avoid stepping right in them.
After a few hundred meters, we turn left between the high buildings into a narrow alleyway that leads to the temple. It is a pretty sight. Prayer flags flutter in their hundreds from the centre turret to the temple walls.
The Boudhanath Temple
A steady stream of people are walking around the perimeter of the temple, mumbling prayers and spinning the many prayer wheels. Every now and then a person with wooden blocks on their hands falls to the ground to praise – the throng of walkers deftly pass without stepping on the prone figure. How they do this is quite extrodinary as they are all facing ahead intent on their daily worship.
Apart from the many worshippers there are 1000s of pigeons collected around the temple and flying from ground to sky. A few bird food sellers are gathered in one of the more open spaces. The birds gather around and coo and eat. Intermittently something will set them off in huge flocks, flapping skyward. It’s quite a sight.
As soon as we had taken enough photos, contemplated life while watching the hundreds of worshippers we then headed back to the hotel.
Our next adventure was a shopping trip to Thamel.
This area of Kathmandu is a sprawling network of narrow roads lined with shops and restaurants. Although the roads themselves are not much wider than a good sized pavement, traffic is allowed to travel up and down the streets making it difficult for pedestrians to walk around. Cars and motorbikes are constantly hooting to make sure you get out of their way.
The main items on sale in the hundreds of shops are trekking and climbing gear, pahimas and cashmere, jewelry, felt bags and Nepalese clothing. Our mission was last minute gear shopping. I got some thermal gloves and a rain jacket for a ridiculously low price of R300! Everything is very cheap and although it may be not quite the genuine item, it is certainly good enough for our trip.
the rickshaw ride
My Funky Nepalese pants
After some browsing and an exciting rickshaw ride (the closest I will get to a bicycle for a while) we met the team for lunch at the Dilema Cafe. We ordered chicken curry and chips – I just had the curry, which was very good. The cafe was pretty, set in between trees and had a good vibe. The World Cup cricket was on but it was obvious that New Zealand would lose so we didn’t hang around to watch the finish.
The afternoon and evening was spent relaxing and packing at the hotel. I’m getting very excited now – can’t wait to head to the mountains and begin my trek. I feel that this is going to be a life changing experience even though I’m not one of the climbers… Bring it on!