May 23-29, 2009:
By the time we reached Nepal we were exhausted! We were thrilled to be greeted with excellent service when we checked into Hotel Ganesh Himal. In Nepalese tradition, guests should be treated as Gods, in case they are Gods in disguise- it’s good to be a guest in Nepal! We spent the first day and a half just relaxing at our hotel. The hotel had WiFi in the common areas, a big TV with American shows in the lobby, and a reasonably priced tasty restaurant.
Nepal was the first place I was hesitant to visit, since there was political unrest, with the Prime Minister having recently stepped down and on the day we arrived there was a bombing at a catholic church outside of Kathmandu. I felt safer staying in the first day, but once we did make it out, we enjoyed exploring the touristy area of Kathmandu. When we first drove into Kathmandu it was a suffocating poor and crowded city full of high-rise buildings, but our hotel was a tranquil oasis, with a garden courtyard where we could eat our meals. The winding maze-like streets nearby were filled with souvenir shops one after the other. The items for sale in Nepal were quite different than other places we’d visited, and the prices were awesome. I even forgot to bargain sometimes, since the first price the vendor offered was so low.
After resting up a few days, we finally went for a tour around Kathmandu to see some of the temples and other sites. We had seen cows in streets before in other countries but never in the middle of a big city! We were in Kathmandu right in the middle of a political crisis and therefore, the streets were very dirty. On every corner there appeared to be a large pile of stinky rubbish and each day they got larger.
Durbar Square is where many of the tourist attractions are located. Even though there are no gates the area requires foreigners to purchase tickets to walk within the area. Here you will find the living goddess, Kumari. We don’t have any photos of her because you are not allowed to photograph her unless she is at a festival. She is an adorable young girl, 4 years old, with heavy black eye liner. Apparently if the living goddess even gets a scratch she will no longer be pure enough, and will retire, being replaced by another girl from the same family. She will also have to retire upon reaching puberty, but she’ll be taken care of by the government for the rest of her life. It was a hard concept for us to grasp- a goddess embodied in a human being.
Tibetan Buddhism is widely practiced in Nepal along side other religions. The photo above was taken near the Buddha Stupa in Kathmandu. Here you will also find many monkeys roaming the area so be careful with your belongings, especially food! When we were there we witnessed a couple of monkeys gang attack some people making off with their potato chips and drink!
On our final night in Nepal, at the recommendation of the very nice ladies working at the reception we went out to a traditional Nepalese dinner, complete with a live dance performance. It was a great experience that included a variety of traditional dances, including a yeti and yak dance that featured a person in a yeti outfit and a yak costume. It was more comedy than a dance, but still entertaining.
We enjoyed our short stay in Nepal, and hope to return someday to hike in the countryside.
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