Wednesday, 31 October 2012

There and back again - Part 3

Back to Kathmandu
After the peace and bliss of Bhutan it was a complete culture shock to arrive back in Kathmandu.

Apparently all flights that morning had been delayed due to fog at the Kathmandu end, so from the calm of Paro airport we arrived in the afternoon to absolute chaos at Tribhuvan, where pretty much every flight arrived at as much as the same time is possible for aircraft. It took almost 2 hours to get through immigration alone and then finding our luggage was one of those experiences where you know it's a brilliant idea that you bought the one and only band for your grey suitcase that you think is so hideous that no-one else in the world would buy it. Mine just happens to be pink and yellow and is truly awful, but stands out a treat, so I was able to locate my case relatively easily amongst what awaited us in the luggage hall. They don't do leaving luggage on the conveyer belt at Tribhuvan, oh no, much better to take it all off and leave it in one mountain of luggage! MM of course travels with a backpack and he has this special metal cage to secure it with and so his too stands out just fine. I felt really sorry for most of the travellers.

We were met by Harka Lama, another of MM's Nepali friends, who bundled us into his car and we were off... well kind of! The traffic in Kathmandu was completely gridlocked. It turned out that one person on one road we were on had a flat tyre. The ensuing traffic jam that one problem caused was unbelievable. So, hot and tired and a teeny tiny bit irritable, we arrived back at Hotel Annapurna.

As we unpacked we found our container with Nell's ashes, which we'd completely forgotten to take to the The Tiger's Nest. Oh dear!

After an hour in the sun, we made the decision to have a meal at the Arniko Chinese restaurant in the hotel, which is another of our Kathmandu favourites. We both acknowledged that having to choose our food again after 10 days of not having to do so felt a trifle weird, but the meal certainly cheered us up after our rather trying day.

The next day we got up early and, armed with Nell's ashes, headed out to The Boudhanath, where we spent a wonderful couple of hours doing a Kora and spending time amongst the Tibetan's and other tourists.

At Boudhanath
They'd closed the top, so we made the decision that it wouldn't be appropriate to spread our Nell around the pavements. We did, however, have a heartwarming experience with a very elderly Tibetan nun who gave us both a blessing and I bought a trinket from one of the shops, better known now as a 'bull in a bag', just...well... because I have a bit of a thing about cattle, is my only explanation.

Getting blessed

My 'bull in a bag'

After a momo lunch we headed off for Pashupatinath. Monkeys, cows in the river and bodies burning as per usual. If you've never been, it's a little hard to explain, but it's where the Hindu's take their dead loved ones to burn and then throw the ashes in the river. It's all public and with many burnings going on at one time and is very moving.

Beautiful coloured dyes at Pashupatinath

By the river

Monkey at looking out over the Bagmati River

A body being blessed

The end of a burning

A cow wandering in the river

We found a quiet spot by the river and decided this was one of the places for Nell's ashes. It was an emotional moment for us both and it certainly felt like the right place.

Later that afternoon we went back into Thamel to spend a little time in Pilgrim's Book House, which is always one of our highlights. You can get the most amazing books at the most amazing prices and it's just one of those places I could spend a lifetime in. Then a quick visit (only 3 cups of tea) with our friend, Binod, in The Mountain Tea Shop. I met him when I first went to Kathmandu in 2005, when he was about 18 and flirted outrageously with me. But over the years we've struck an odd friendship, which always picks up where it left off. It was quite lovely to sit and sip tea and catch up.

Binod in the Mountain Tea Shop - this was actually taken 3 years ago as I didn't get one this time, but thought you might like to see what he looks like. And the shop never changes!
 Next day we went to Kurtipur, mainly because we've never been there before, but it felt a bit strange as we were the only Western people there and it seemed to cause quite a stir. Interesting place though. One of the few that doesn't allow cars (the streets are too narrow) in Kathmandu and has fab views of the city.

Kathmandu from Kirtipur

Me watching a woman weaving

Kids who seemed to be fascinated by us

Gambling Kirtipur style

From there we went to Swayambhunath (better known as The Monkey Temple for very obvious reasons). Bizarrely we saw Binod there, so another opportunity to chat for a while - he was doing a guiding job for some Dutch people, but left them to wander about so he could spend some time with us.

Flags at Swayambunath

Then it was back to the hotel for a bit of R and R before having an early rise so we would make the bus to Chitwan, which was to leave at 7.30 the next morning.

Tomorrow is Part 4: To Chitwan and Lumbini


  1. I'm enjoying these posts Vee. They're very interesting and your photos give a real flavour of your visit.

  2. Thanks so much for saying so Karen. x

  3. Ah, this takes me right back to when I was there. I have been that person in the car with a flat tyre (being changed in the middle of a busy junction on my way to the airport for my flight home)! Nice to see Binod too! You guys sent me there for tea and a chat. Wish I'd been more adventurous and visited some of the other places you went to. Looks really interesting. Can't wait for the next installment!

  4. Oh Lizzie, that made me laugh! Poor you. Binod hasn't changed much at all.