To jump straight to a particular week - week 1 , week 2 , week 3, week 4

Day 22 Kathmandu (Nepal) Saturday 2/12/06                  (click here for the map)

Busy market street

Rita enjoying the
warm afternoon sun

Nepalese version of
a Thali.

Well we have made it through our third week in India. Today we plan to have a quite and relaxing day as the previous day was quite tiring and strenuous. After breakfast I decide to charge my camera, and after checking all my luggage I work out that I must have left the charger for the camera at the Hyatt Hotel,in Delhi. So we decide to go out and try and buy a temporary replacement until I can get the original one back from the hotel. We ask at reception as to where would be the best place to try and find one. The young woman produces a small map and draws a series of dots indicating where the majority of electrical and camera shops are to be found. We make our way to New Road, which is about half an hours walk from the hotel along a big, busy modern road. Small minibuses, no bigger than a people carrier line the street as young lads shout out to advertise the destination of the bus they work for. This plus all the hoards of people and tooting traffic makes the journey a noisy but interesting one. After hunting around a few shops we manage to find one and after paying for it we head back through the local busy market streets. We get back to the hotel and enjoy a drink and a relaxing time sit in the tranquil hotel garden enjoying the warm afternoon sun. When the sun starts to go down and the day starts to cool considerably, we head back to the room to relax.
About 8pm we go to the small, cafe style, restaurant called 'Spicy' a few doors up from the hotel. I enjoy a Nepalese style Thali, which consists of various curries, dahl's, pickles and as I try and finish certain dishes, they keep filling them up and piling loads more rice onto the dish, not bad value for a £1! Rita goes for vegetables in garlic sauce, thinking that they would be similar to ones you get from Chinese restaurants, how wrong she was. The dish consisted of chopped vegetable formed into small balls, fried and then put in a very hot and spicy garlic and chili sauce, she also had a huge egg fried rice, enough to feed a family of four, or a family of 16 from the fukawi tribe. A beer for me and two 7up's for Rita and the bill comes in at a very reasonable £3.77. I leave just over £4 and both parties concerned are happy with the transaction. We then head back to our room with it's lovely heated blanket.

Day 23 Kathmandu (Nepal) Sunday 3/12/06                  (click here for the map)

Swayambhunath Stupa

Monkey enjoys a drink of
water while his friend keeps
a look out.

The most incompetent rickshaw man in Kathmandu

Today we have decide to go for a nice long walk to go and see the Monkey Temple (Swayambunath Stupa) on the hill that can be seen from our hotel rooftop. We get directions from the hotel staff, who inform us that it should take between 30-45 min's, but as we leave the hotel we both have different views what they mean by out of the hotel and turn right means. Rita thinks that it means follow the road around to the left and then turn right and I think as the road starts to bear left, we need to turn right. Anyway for some reason, we opt for Rita's plan and reluctantly I follow behind Rita, mumbling to myself 'I know this is not bloody right, we are going in the completely wrong direction here.' Rita confidently strides out in front with me dawdling behind. After about 30-45 min's of walking and not a single hill in sight I ask a local police woman who points us back in the direction we had just come from. For the sake of harmony I avoid saying the obvious 'I told you so'.
After about an other hour of walking we cross a stinking, putrid excuse for a river that seems to be a favourite place to dump rubbish and dead animals, judging by the large number of eagles swarming around the area. We then have to walk part way up the hill before we get to the foot of the temple. We make our way up the 365 steep steps leading to the temple, avoiding the begging women and their sorry looking, dirty children, all of which gesture food by putting their hands up to their mouths and pulling a sad face. We continue further and further up the steps, and as we get closer it is obvious why it is called Monkey Temple. The place is infested with monkeys, all strolling around, some looking cute, others looking a little menacing. Every so often there is a load squealing as a number of monkeys fight for territory. We arrive at the Swayambunath Stupa. Right brace yourselves, here we go on a little history and facts story.
'Swayambhunath Stupa is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Its lofty white dome and glittering golden spire are visible for many miles and from all sides of the valley. Historical records found on a stone inscription give evidence that the stupa was already an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination by the 5th century AD. Its origins however, date to a much earlier time, long before the arrival of Buddhism into the valley. Swayambhunath's worshippers include Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, and the Newari Buddhists of central and southern Nepal. Each morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, file past the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa (Newari Buddhists circle in the opposite, counterclockwise direction). On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective. There is no nose between the eyes but rather a representation of the number one in the Nepali alphabet, signifying that the single way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye, signifying the wisdom of looking within. No ears are shown because it is said the Buddha is not interested in hearing prayers in praise of him.' There that will do on information and facts for now, we don't want you overdosing do we?
We wander around the various temples and shrines and look out over the great view over Kathmandu. Today it is a little misty or it could be the amount of pollution that is often evident in Kathmandu. We also do a little shopping at the various stalls that surround the temples. After a lot of hard bargaining and some gifts, some for us and some for others we stop and have a coke each at a cafe on the roof terrace, with a fantstic view over the city of Kathmandu. After our relaxing drink and sit down, we head back down the steep steps, still avoiding all the begging women and their kids. We cross the stinking river and head back into the old centre of town. As we are now taking the original path we should have taken this morning instead of the route that we did take, none of the road and landmarks are familiar to us, but we know we are heading in the right direction. After about half an hours walking we reach a steep hill that we make our way up before coming to a small square with about four or five roads leading out of it. Unsure which one we need to take, and knowing that we are very close to the hotel, we ask a cycle rickshaw man how much to take us to the hotel, none of the ones we ask seem to have heard of the hotel showing on our small map given to us by the hotel for just such an eventuality. Suddenly a skinny, tall man cycles up on his rickshaw and says that he knows where it is, we haggle over the price. He wants £2, I insist that I will only give him £1, he finally and reluctantly agrees. We squeeze into his rickety rickshaw and head off down one of the streets before us. After about 5 min's of strenuous cycling, he stops to ask directions from a fellow rickshaw colleague. After looking at the piece of paper, they laugh and inform him that he is going the wrong way and give him a playful kick on his bum. So we cycle back down the same street and enter the small square where we have picked him up at the beginning and as we do so the rickshaw cyclists we had earlier asked all started laughing at us and shaking their heads. Then we head back towards the Monkey Temple, back down the steep hill we had just walked up and back to the exact point where we had crossed the river about half an hour earlier. Although we have protested all the way down this road, he kept insisting that he knew exactly where the hotel was. On getting to the bridge, he stops and points at a building on the hill, just below the Monkey Temple with a smug grin on his face, implying 'See I know where it was, I'm the expert here', when we say no that's not it, that is not our hotel. The smug smile drains away from his face as quick as it arrived. I read him the address again, yet again a clue comes into his mind and he turns the rickshaw around and starts to cycle back up the long steep hill we had just rattled our way down just a few minutes before. After a few minutes off huffing and puffing and sweating like a pig he tries to slowly cycle up the hill, getting slower and slower and when he gets to a virtual standstill, he looks at us with sad sorry eyes and we offer to get out the rickshaw. We walk back up the hill, we had walked up about 40 minutes ago, seeing the same shops and the same people again, whilst the most incompetent rickshaw rider in Kathmandu struggles to push his rickety rickshaw back up the hill. Rita and I look at each and cannot help seeing the funny side to all this and both start laughing. On reaching the top of the hill, we squeeze ourselves back into the rickshaw. We cycle back into the square we have already left on at least two occasions already many minutes ago, much to the amusement of the still waiting rickshaw lads waiting in the square. We then take another route out of the square, both of us sensing that we may see the little square again shortly, down a road we have not been down yet, and after a couple of hundred metres from the little square, we arrive at our hotel, about half an hour after we had originally left on this rickshaw ride. He looks absolutely knackered, I agree to pay him an extra 50p. He looks tired but grateful. We make our way back to the hotel, still laughing at that amazing little ride we have had. Well at least we had used a mode of transport we have not used so far on this journey. We have now used cars, tuk tuk's, buses, trains, domestic flights and a boat.
We stopped off in the hotel garden and ordered some food and drinks, I opt for the tasty Nepalese meat curry again and Rita decides to go for the Thai noodle dish Pad Thai. We make our way back to the room where we relax for the rest of the evening before falling asleep for the our last time in Nepal, as we head back to Delhi and India tomorrow.






To jump straight to a particular week - week 1 , week 2 , week 3, week 4