Our first few days, in which we take an unexpected flight to Hong Kong and Bangladesh, meet a man who has summitted Everest three times and get our first taste of momos...
06.11.2012 - 09.11.2012
Hi All - sorry for the delay in posting, Himalayan trekking doesn't lend itself to blogging! I still can't get any photos to upload... so here are a few posts without pictures, will try and update with the good stuff (the piccies) when I can...
After an eventful journey here (in which instead of taking the expected flight via Delhi we ended up flying to Hong Kong then on to Kathmandu via Bangladesh), we finally arrived in Kathmandu about 36 hours after leaving Brighton. We really needed a beer but there's a mandatory curfew at 11pm so we had to make do with a bottle of water and a bed.
After that start, Kathmandu has been amazing. On the first day we headed out onto the crowded, dusty streets of Thamel to find Durbur Square, a complex of temples that is the focal point of Kathmandu. Kathmandu itself is a massive sprawl of lanes and alleyways, constantly full of life. And by that I mean cars driving on every side of the road constantly honking their horns (a sign we read in the airport said that car horns are a means of expression in Nepal... they weren't joking), young lads peddling rickshaws, cyclists, whole families on the back of a single motorbike, men with loads six times their own held up by a forehead strap, and pedestrians like us weaving their way through it. To cross a junction, we followed the locals, holding our hands up to 'stop' the traffic and keeping walking (eyes closed in terror - that's us not the locals). After getting lost and stumbling across some beautiful shrines and stupas along the way we finally made it to Durbur Square.
We spent a few hours wandering around, including just sitting on the top of one of the many stepped temples watching the world go by, along with businessmen on their lunch break and women doing their washing on the steps. We saw the Kumari who is a seven year old girl the Hindus believe to be a living goddess... until she hits puberty that is. She lives in a beautifully carved house and appears at the window at certain times. To be honest, she glared out at us as if she was really bored, but I guess you can't blame her.
In the afternoon we found a great bookshop and cafe to escape the chaos and have some famous momos and a big bottle of Everest beer.
In the evening my dad arrived and we met up with the tour leaders who have organised our trek to Everest base camp. During the conversation we asked how many times they had done this trip and they dropped in that one of them had actually summitted Everest three times! I don't think our responses (open mouthed) were particularly trekking cool.
The next day we went to Pashupatinath, the most important Hindu temple in Kathmandu, and the place they go to prepare their dead before cremating them on a ghat on the riverbank. There were a number of funerals going on while we were there, it really seemed like just a part of life, with the busy temple full of people going on around them. The place was also full of monkeys, cows (which are sacred in Nepal... two years in jail if you kill a cow) and dogs which are also worshipped.
After this, we went to perhaps the most important Buddhist site in Kathmandu, Boudhanath stupa.
The stupa is huge and beautiful, covered in prayer flags. While we were there groups of boys were painting it in white and yellow liquid, splashing it up from a bowl.
People were circling the stupa spinning the prayer wheels, and the sound of monks chanting filled the air ( along with copious amounts of incense). We had a guide who whizzed us around a little quickly for our liking so we might go back if we find time. Less cows, more butter lamps... think Buddhism is definitely more my thing.
The next day we headed to the Himalayas on our flight to Lukla...only the world's most dangerous airstrip...