September 25, 2007 Kathmandu, Nepal
Let me first say that I am enjoying immensely the fine architectural details of my room here at Hotel Harati, my favorite being the ceramic ledge my toes come in contact with on the way to the bathroom in the pitch blackness of evening power failures. We’ll see if I have any toenails left after my time here. The second feature is a second ledge under my window which is several feet wide and runs the length of the backside of the building. It comes very close to a similar ledge on the apartment building next door. Not knowing exactly what sort of visitors might decide to join me in the wee hours, it makes me a little nervous to leave the window open at night, even in this stuffy weather. The front desk tells me that I should call down there five minutes before my shower to have the hot water switched on…really hoping that the system is in place this morning as my hair is in desperate need of a good lather and the tap water currently feels like it has been delivered directly from the peak of Mt. Everest.
We had a full day out in Kathmandu yesterday…first visiting Swayambunath, the monkey temple. I had an especially good time chatting with some of the 200 uniformed school children there on a field trip who were very eager to practice a few phrases in english. The many keychains attached to Sebastian’s daypack are extremely tempting for monkeys and they seem to lurk a little too close for comfort. A similar experience occurred at Pashupatinath…while attempting to cross a wall and a bit of grass to reach a stairway leading to the sadhu courtyard—a local man decided to call the nearby monkeys to feed them slices of white bread which he was kindly throwing in my direction. Imagine my anxiety as 25-30 little beasts came dashing towards my feet.
Rain and drizzle kept my sadhu subjects overly clothed and under the covered portions of the temple. They were unable to put on their best gear and pose out in the prime locations. Nevertheless, I got a few nice shots….can’t go wrong with colorful face paint, 30 year old dredlocks and ash smeared all over the body. Really do appreciate that they enjoy being photographed…..for a small price, of course.
Five or six cremations were in full swing at Pashupatinath. We even witnessed a corpse procession….the body with face uncovered held high above the heads of about 20 men.
Boudha tmple was impressive, as usual…enjoyed the blasts of drumming and horns coming from adjacent monasteries. Our exuberant guide proclaimed that this stupa was indeed the “Biggest Stupa in the Universe!!”
A full day that was, actually starting at Durbar Square which was packed with Gurkha soldiers and locals there to witness the raising of a giant wooden beam, like a telephone pole using only ropes and bamboo sticks. Every minute or so, rifles would sound off, startling everyone there whose laughter may have been more nervous than joyful.
places visited on this trip: Kathmandu, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Mt. Kailash, Lake Manosorovar, Nyalam.