Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kathmandu

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I'm gonna try to make this quick...

After 38 hours, a quick stop in Shanghai, a switch of airports there that resulted in a fair bit of heartburn, less sleep than I expected, and no visit to the actual city, a couple of bumpy flights, and countless interactions with perfect strangers (my favorite!) - I arrived about two days ago.

I'm not sure why I expected this place to be calm. Maybe is the zen-ness that you get from the pictures of expansive and massive mountains and buddhist monks that implies a peaceful tone? Not sure, but Kathmandu? This place is CRAZY. The people I'm traveling with (all expats who now live in Singapore) have bee comparing it to India. So far - they say it's pretty close to the same, but with fewer rogue cows on the streets. Fair enough.

I'm not going to lie - I was a little bit shocked on the drive from the airport to the hotel. There are people and cars and dirt everywhere. Also true - about 24 hours into being here, I remembered what it was I loved about developing countries and crazy, disgusting cities. Oh man... I am BURSTING!

Untrue to form, I actually did a little tour with our group (four of us) yesterday - and loved it. Typically, I loathe tours. But this was different. Just the four of us and Bihm, the sweetest guide you could imagine. We went to the monkey temple (which has a proper Nepali name but I'm too lazy to find it)  and Paktapuhr - the old city of cobblestone streets. 

Today should be slightly less exciting - we'll be taking care of some practical tasks as a team (Christina, who came to support her husband Vic in the race has given in to peer pressure and will be joining us in the race - so we need to procure here some gear). Chloe and Cissy arrive from Singapore today and we'll meet them at Women LEAD - one of the organizations we're sponsoring on this trip - this afternoon (a post about this org to follow). 

Here are some piccies from my travels and my first few days in Kathmandu. 


En route to Shanghai - traditional "shake off the chaos of getting to the airport, getting an actual boarding pass, and getting through security in time" gin and tonic in hand. 

View from the top of our hotel - yesterday morning's sunrise breakfast. (Awake at 4:30. I'm not complaining and I'm not trying to change this sleep pattern because its actually kind of working for me.) 

Christina, Jenn, me, and Vic - the four members of our team that have arrived in Kathmandu. We gain two more today. 

Monkey Temple

Prayer rolls at monkey temple. 

Big giant Buddha

Timol, the city center. 

View from monkey temple - overlooking Kathmandu. 

Some beautiful kids checking out the ancient queen's bath at Pakthapur. - the little ones also happened to be deaf. Their quiet was magnified by this city of noise - little gems of peace in this place. 

There are some seriously amazing doors in this place. 

At some temple in Pakthapur. 

A random old man. I didn't take this picture, Vic took it with my phone as he was taking a picture of me. After Vic handed the phone back to me the man insisted I pay him for taking the photo. So, so common. And annoying - although maybe we shouldn't have taken the picture? I'm always trying to figure what is right in these situations. Do I give the man money for taking the picture and perpetuate the dependency? (He walked up to Vic expecting to have his photo taken.) Or do I walk away and not pay him for his "service?" I did get a pretty amazing photo out of it. 

Clay pots. The man in the background made them all. 

The market in Pakthapur

Doors, doors, doors... amazing. 

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