Week 1 in Nepal - Kathmandu
26.03.2014 - 04.04.2014 28 °C
Namaste from Nepal!
Albeit ready, we were both a little sad to be leaving India. Expectations of Nepal were that it wouldn't be far off the Indian culture. Its only a 2 hour flight away, right?
We applied for a 30 day visa on arrival into Kathmandu airport, purchased a local sim card and took our airport pickup to the hotel. We could immediately notice our arrival in one of the world's poorest countries, as the car struggled on the rickety roads. The whole city was in darkness, as there is a limited source of electricity throughout Nepal, and the countries capital city was not a patch on the busy streets of New Delhi.
Our first day was spent exploring Kathmandu by foot, passing small temples where chickens were being sacrificed, numerous small dental clinics, and crowds of VERY smiley elderly Nepali men wearing Dhaka Topi's (traditional Nepali hats). We explored Durbar Square and managed to see "The Living Goddess" as she sat in her courtyard. The living goddess, also known as the "Kumari Devi", is a young girl who lives in the building known as Kumari Bahal in Durbar Square. The living goddess must be chosen from a certain class and be between 4 years old to puberty, as well as fitting 32 strict physical requirements. The selection process involves suitable candidates being placed in a dark room where they're subjected to a series of terrifying noises and masked men. An incarnation of Durga is known to remain collected, so the young girl who is most calm during this process is selected as the living goddess until she reaches puberty. She must appear in the window of her courtyard for a certain period of time each day for the visiting of tourists and locals, however photos are forbidden.
Kathmandu - Durbar Square
Patan - Durbar Square
Whilst in Katmandu, we also visited Pashupatinath. Here is Nepals most famous Hindu temple on the banks of he famous Bagmati river where cremations take place. It was a beautiful place home to many elderly and hundreds of Sadhus (men who devote their lives to Hinduism and achieving enlightenment whilst practising yoga and meditation)
Bodhnath Stupa, the most famous Buddhist stupa in Nepal, was also phenomenal! It was gigantic and very bright in colour next to the deep blue sky. We watched from a rooftop cafe as hundreds of Buddhist monks took their daily walk around the Stupa, spinning each of the prayer wheels as they passed them. This small village was alive with Tibetan culture and the shops sold lots of authentic handicrafts. We spotted a number of western monks, draped in maroon robes, who had converted to Buddhism.
Next we headed to The Last Resort, three and a half hours from Kathmandu by bus, where we did a tandem swing together and Amiee did her first ever bungee jump. The bus journey and the nerve wracking time spent waiting to jump gave us time to befriend the small group, and we all offered to support to each other. The 165m high rickety bridge hung over a huge canyon gorge with a fast running river deep at the bottom of the valley. This was the only place in Nepal to do a bungee jump, and also the second highest in the world after one in New Zealand! As we had booked to stay overnight in one of the resorts tent rooms overlooking the valley, we decided to do the tandem swing first so that we had each other for company! We we harnessed together and attached to a long rope which hung from another wire out in the distance. Fitted with a go pro camera, Daniel shouted a few typical phrases like "This ones for you Salad Fingers!" and "Go on the Walliams!" whilst Amiee was stupidly close to chickening out! We did a bunny hop after shaking with terror on top of the platform, and experienced 7 uncontrollable seconds of free fall before swinging through the valley like Tarzan and Jane. Dan was even screaming "AHHHHH AHHHH" from the huge harness wedgie! We watched the rest of the group do their jumps and our fear grew for the bungee the following day. Dan was up in the night and awoke with food poisoning, whilst Amiee was petrified and convinced she couldn't do the bungee. With Dan not well enough to do the jump and the following half an hour steep hike back up the valley with no water, Amiee had no choice but to woMAN UP! There was no refund for not jumping and there was no way both of them could walk away without the experience. Thankfully that days group of jumpers were awesome, and Amiee didn't feeling alone waiting on the bridge for her turn. She told the bungee master that he may have to push her to stop her from chickening out as he fixed the rope to her feet. Unaware at the time, she reluctantly edged herself forward until her feet hung over the edge and waited for the countdown. 3..2..1.. bungee!!!! It was the most petrifying but unbelievable feeling ever experienced! Dan was always the one who was keen to do a bungee jump whilst Amiee was always unsure if she could do it. Looks like we will have to do another on our trip so Dan doesn't go home disappointed.
The rest of our week in Katmandu was spent browsing the what seemed like millions of handicraft shops, stuffing our faces with steak and chip butties!!!, and chatting to some lovely people. We are very much in love with Nepal. It's been lovely to meet locals who actually want to practice their English with you as apposed to just wanting your money, to see the childrens beaming smiles, to witness the families who live in the remote mountain villages, to learn about the Buddhist religion from the relaxed and patient Nepali people and to not hear "RICKSHAW RICKSHAW RICKSHAW" with every step!