Saturday, November 11, 2006

We Reached Kathmandu, Now Where’s Bob Seger?

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Nepal is wonderful. The Craigies’ generous ambassador to this subcontinent, Michael Bourne, provided us with an applicable acronym before we came here: “Nepal stands for N[ever] E[nding] P[eace] A[nd] L[ove]” and so far it seems appropriate. Our lodgings are a small hotel on the edge of Thamel, an area that thrives on visitors and trekkers. The neighborhood is loud, the streets chaotic, but the people are warm and, though generally quite poor, very eager to get to know Westerners. “Namaste,” the greeting you hear at every turn, can fairly be translated as “I greet the divine within you.”

The general consensus is that one must get out of Kathmandu to experience the real Nepal, so we’re making the short journey today to nearby Bhaktapur. We’ll relax there for a couple of days, before moving onto Pokhara, where we’ll probably do a short trek.

During our first full day in Kathmandu, we visited both Swayambhunath and the Durbar Square. Swayambhunath is called the “Monkey Temple” because there is a large troop of monkeys, large and small, who make the temple their home. The Durbar Square, an UNESCO World Heritage site, could be interesting, but we were so mobbed by would-be “tour guides” that we fled the Square as quickly as we could. -Alex


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