That’s pretty much all we did today! After having an amazing breakfast of eggs, nepali hash browns (fried potatoes, peppers and onions), toast and masala tea (with a side order of extra hash browns for rob), we went to the little travel office at the hotel and booked our coach to Pokhara and our flight up to Jomsom, where we will begin our two week trek next week – scary! The guy at the office told us that he’d booked us on the best window side for viewing over the edge of the cliff on the riverside of the bus, which made Rob laugh… in a slightly evil way. I don’t think I’m going to enjoy the view so much.
After a bit of shopping for our trek and some lunch we began walking to Swayabhunath, a Buddhist shrine about 2km west of where we are staying. From the map it looked to be a pretty easy walk but the guy at the desk said it would take about 40 mins which I couldn’t help but think was pretty generous for just 2km. Hm… he was about right and neither he nor Rob mentioned that it was up hill and culminated in some very steep steps. After a mini-recovery at the top and trying to avoid the eyes of the monkeys that were everywhere (Rob said that they attack if you make eye contact, but perhaps I’m just gullible) we spent a while exploring and enjoying the amazing views of the Kathmandu valley. At the top of the hill was a very large, white and gold stupa, topped with the Nepali Buddha-eyes and surrounded by prayer-wheels and dozens and dozens (probably in the hundreds) of mini stupas. Each one has to walked around clockwise, which we managed to do nearly all the time, but it was a little disappointing to see how some visitors were not even trying to do so.
The legend of Swayambu apparently dates back several (hundred?) eons to when the Kathmandu Valley was just a lake crawling with snakes. I’m not sure about the importance of the snakes to this story, but apparently there really was a lake. Anyway, Swayambu means ‘self-manifested’ or ‘out of nothing’ referring to a giant lotus flower that appeared on the lake, where the hill of Swayambhunath is today. An ascetic (can’t remember his name sorry) lived on the flower and when he cut his hair off the hair became trees and his lice became the monkeys which now infest the whole area.
We had a lovely (downhill) walk back to Thamel where we relaxed for a bit before heading out for the fattest most amazing and expensive meal of our whole trip so far. It was a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel, and was the first time I’ve ever been to a proper Thai place before. I had a very spicy and lovely Tofu Pad Thai, Rob had a Beef in Oyster Sauce that he wanted to do rude things to – that means it’s good apparently. We sat on cushions on the floor and somehow convinced ourselves that we could manage pudding. That was where I failed at the chocolate pyramid; the most amazing desert to have ever been made. Maybe next time. Even though it was way over our usual budget the whole thing only came to £10 which is pretty impressive compared to back home.
Tomorrow we are heading in the opposite direction to the Kopan monastery (the home of the meditation school I’ve been attending in Leeds) and Boudha where there is apparently a large Tibetan community with lots of artwork to look at.
Nic & Rob x