Bhaktapur*

After the visit to Pashupatinath Temple we left Kathmandu and drove to Bhaktapur which is 30 minutes away from Kathmandu. The Changu Narayan Temple was another old Hindu temple but turned out to be the one we liked best so far. On the way to it we passed through an area that produces a lot of bricks but also has agriculture as everywhere in Tibet (after tourism the most important sector).

As with most temples or stupas we exited the car below and ascended via stairs to the holy building. The way was framed by little shops on both sides, offering all the goods we had already seen at the other sites. But here instead of monkeys some chickens were checking us out.IMG_0815 IMG_0814

Upon our arrival on top we got clear instructions on how to deal with the minimal begging. If people beg then they just sit beside the way and open their hands but they are not accosting you.

The temple was a simple wooden structure but with some intricate details and a monkey guardian.

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The monkey sat watch before the entrance and checked what goods had been sacrificed that he could eat.IMG_0840 IMG_0843 IMG_0848

And one more picture in front of temple. As you can clearly see it was taken by our guide.IMG_0862

 

Another short car ride brought us to Bhaktapur the third royal city in the Kathmandu valley. It was also the least modernized city we had seen so far. Our guide had to pay our entrance fee upon entering the city by car. The streets were not tarmac (not that the other cities had so many paved streets to begin with) but these here were similar to the cobblestone streets in old European cities, just done with bricks. No wonder after seeing  so many factories.

We started the visit of Bhaktapur with a lunch break and the best Momos Sylvia had so far. I went for salad and some greasy noodles while the guide got some fish and chips. The fish was not fried interestingly.IMG_0883 IMG_0884 IMG_0885 IMG_0886

After this invigorating meal we drove first to our hotel in Bhaktapur the Bhadgaon Guest House. We got the room right on top overlooking the Taumadhi Square on the 5th floor or so. Of course no elevator but we had a nice young guy carrying both bags (and looking as if he died underneath the weight). Here a picture of the room and the view from the bathroom.

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After refreshing ourselves, we met the guide again and started our tour right at the Taumadhi Square and then went in a circle around the inner city. IMG_0889IMG_0890IMG_0895

In the back streets it all looked a bit different, darker an smaller. Still people were always friendly and smiling.IMG_0897IMG_0899IMG_0902IMG_0903IMG_0907IMG_0908

And then we were finally at the Durbar Square of Bhaktapur (did I already mention that all three royal cities have a Durbar Square?) and met the obligatory temple, palace, statue of the king on a pillar etc. What I loved most here was that the square had been turned into a pedestrian zone and it really improved the quality of our sightseeing.IMG_0911IMG_0913IMG_0914
I also liked how all these historical buildings are part of every day life, they were not just there to admire but to actually enjoy them.IMG_0922
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After we were back at our hotel we said goodbye to our guide (and I am sorry to say that I don’t remember his name because he did a really good job), had a Nepali coffee at the hotel and then went shopping. Sylvia bought a local outfit in the colors yellow and lilac and then we had our dinner overlooking the Taumadhi Square were a band played. It was actually our first night out and already with music! Way to go!
The white stuff in the middle of the plate is uncooked flat rice (don’t know how they do it, but it is thin as paper and crunchy), and you eat it all with the soup. I am glad I tried it, but it will not become my favorite dish. Oh yeah, the big thing to the left is a hard-boiled egg fried again. IMG_0972

And here you can see the band playing here, the music was not good so that is not what I wanted to show you, but look how dark it is. There is almost no street light and most of the lights you see were coming from hotels and restaurants catering to tourists. Not much later we went back to the hotel and called it a night.
Yours, Pollybert
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*all pictures taken on April 24

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Exploring Kathmandu*

After our first highlight of the trip we arrived back at the hotel to get some breakfast and start with our guided tour. Our guide came to pick us up with Progress our organizer. Today we had the Stupa Swayambhunath on the program as our first stop. A short car ride later and we got out at the foot 365 steps to explore our first stupa. A stupa is closed on all sides and cannot be entered.
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Lots of little monkeys were all around the steps and the stupa. Once up at the stupa we saw that there were prayer mills all around. You have to turn them when you pass and it will cleanse your should (or so). Whatever the reason it felt good doing it. Like a mantra. So instead of saying “om” like the Hindus, one turns the mills.IMG_0473 IMG_0475

We slowly made our way around the stupa and sneaked a peek inside the temple. Lots of candles and a big Buddha statue were inside. Outside we saw people getting a Teeka, the traditional blessing on the forehead. All around were dogs, mostly sleeping and resting in the sun. As we would later learn the dogs here are sleeping during the day and barking all night long. Most of these dogs are stray but look well fed.

We finally exited at the main entrance, decorated with lots of buddhist prayers flags.IMG_0509

From there we drove to Patan, the second royal city of Kathmandu valley. There are three royal cities all in all founded by three brothers. Their positive competition is appreciated now by the tourists.IMG_0532IMG_0547

The kings by the way are always residing on top of a pillar overlooking their grand achievements. And here some more details from the buildings.IMG_0553
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Then it was finally time for short break and we had lunch in the garden of the Patan museum which was restored to its former splendor with the help of the Austrian government. We tried momos again and fried chili tofu. IMG_0574
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One last look at the Durbar square in Patan and then we were on our way back to Kathmandu. There we were let out at the Durbar square (all royal cities have their own Durbar square), paid our entrance fee (or rather the guide did) and we started with the last part of the day. Also very impressive and full of vendors and at the end of it all the house of the Kumari (a child goddess). IMG_0636
A quick peek into the house of the Kumari told us that she was not there and we moved on to king’s palace. The very popular King of Nepal was murdered by his son the crown prince and then his disliked brother moved onto the throne from which he had to abduct in 2008. IMG_0643
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Our guide asked us if we wanted to take another look around but we were tired after this super long day and ready for a break at the Tibet Guesthouse. We had a nap and then later went downstairs for tea and to meet Progress to get our trekking permit.
Although I wanted to go outside for dinner, Progress convinced us to try the local Dal Bhat at the hotel. It was an excellent choice and shortly after we fell exhausted into our bed.
Yours, Pollybert

*All pictured taken on April 23, 2015.