Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tour de Kathmandu

The fresh air in Nepal makes a perfect location for rooftop terraces and balconies. For breakfast, we picked out a lovely restaurant called Helena's. We climbed up eight floors to find the best restaurant view in Themal. With mountain views from every angle, we enjoyed yak yogurt with fruit, pancakes, french toast, and my first Nepali tea, a hearty meal for a busy day of touring. 

We first stopped at Sayambounath, also known as the Monkey Temple. Nothing could have been more fun than seeing heaps of monkeys and their babies crawling, jumping and swimming all around. I was so enamored by the wild monkeys, I was reluctant to leave and see the rest of the temple. Nevertheless, I proceeded up the stairs to find numerous vendors, temples, and small children trying to pickpocket us. Once in a while, a monkey would come out from behind a temple or crawl down from a tree - such an amazing sight to see, not to mention the mountain views. We stopped at a second Buddhist temple that, in my eyes, did not compare with the Monkey Temple. 
Such cute monkeys! Can you see the resemblance? 
So many Buddhist sculptures at the Monkey Temple 

View of the Old City from the rooftop restaurant. The tall
building on the right is the tallest temple in Nepal.
Our next stop was Bhakdapur, the Old City in Kathmandu. We stopped for another roof top meal to be surrounded by mountain views yet again. As always, we ordered plentiful momos (basically pot stickers). I of course stuck as close to local cuisine as I could. When finished, we ventured into the Old City and toured the stunning buildings. Some of them were over 2,000 years old. Many were too old to tour inside, but there were others in which people actually lived. The most stunning was the tallest temple in Nepal partly because of its height and partly because of the large statues lining the steep stair case up to the entrance.

This is actually an imitation of a scene in a Bollywood film called Lagaan.
One of the few serious pictures we took.

Our last stop of the day became an exciting race against the sun. Having spent much longer than expected admiring the Old City, our driver had to punch the gas in order to get us to our stunning sunset view in the mountains. As we traversed uphill and through clouds, I felt like I was back in Colorado, except without guard rails. When we finally reached 21000 feet, we had reached our viewing point. There, monumentally standing in front of us was Mount Everest. The drama of this moment caused me travel in time a bit, back in elementary school when I first heard of the Himalayan Mountains. They were so exotic and so far away, and now, probably 10 years later, I was standing in front of them, eyeing the peak that humans vie to defy. In a way, Mount Everest represents a standard of invincibility, and here I was, little me looking right at it. I thought of the Bangladeshi girls who returned from climbing Mount Everest shortly after my arrival in Dhaka. What an amazing feat.

My one successful
airborne shot.
Of course we took a million different pictures on the mountain together. Everything from jumping, serious, and silly pictures; we had a small-scale photo shoot in front of Mount Everest. Once the sun set, local vendors at the viewing point sold us beer and made us Himalayan coffee. Even though coffee is one of my favorite smells in the world, I absolutely hate coffee, but when traveling, I am an in-the-moment person and decided that I had to try Himalayan coffee brewed right in the area where it grows. The glass of Himalayan coffee I drank was absolutely fantastic. It may have converted me to becoming a coffee drinker.

Once the sun set, our driver carefully returned us to our hostel, artfully navigating his way down the unlit roads lining the mountainside. Completely exhausted, we quickly fell asleep yet anxious for our next adventure. To be continued...


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