Part VII Himalayan Times In The Kingdom of Nepal
Chapter 32 The Emerald Waters of Pokhara
Chapter 33 What to Do in Kathmandu
From India up into Nepal – a profound transition!
I saw far fewer people along the roads than in India, and they were more reserved, though we did draw a few small crowds when we stopped. People waved from tiny mud houses that had straw roofs and clung to narrow ledges of land next to the road. Throughout this drive, you saw that every bit of arable land on the slopes was terraced for agriculture. In the wider expanses between the low mountains, the slopes looked like green Venetian blinds from base to summit. Others were cross-hatched with foot-and-hoof-paths, giving the mountains an argyle look. The soil was a bright orange-gold, especially around Tansen.
The area was populated mainly by Newars. I stopped to take a photograph a painted brick farm house that had a thatch roof. Four Newar children came up to me and of their own accord, also put themselves into this picture.
An example how helpful people can suddenly come into your life – to your rescue!
As I was riding up a curvy road near Tansen, Melawend stalled. I checked and found the battery cable had broken. These Nepalese children began to gather around. I needed to melt the solder on the cable to fix it. The children gathered twigs for me and we started a small fire in a dirt-filled barrel that is just behind them in this photo. It worked! I re-attached the repaired cable and the children happily posed for this photo beside my Melawend!
INSERT – boat on Phew Lake…. and one of Pokhara
A friendly holyman resting beside the Tal Varahi Mandir (temple) on a tiny island in the middle of Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal.
Water buffalo grazing on a remote shore of Phewa Lake.
To the mild curiosity of locals by Pokhara Gate, yours truly and Melawend prepare to hit the road to Kathmandu – approx. 125 miles away.
Convenience store rest stop on the road to Kathmandu.
So green and serene and soothing to the soul – beautiful Himalayan foothills, both natural and cultivated, on the road to Kathmandu.
Women on the road near Kathmandu – carrying bundles of leaves, likely to be used for food for livestock.
Cows have the right of way!
On the streets of Kathmandu…
Coke, Cates, and Conan… Western culture seeps into this amazing city.
Finding erotica in my travels thrilled me! For me, I loved discovering artistic artefacts of the universality and timelessness of human sexual intimacy – especially, in my heart, when it was associated with love. And I especially loved finding it unexpectedly. For example, I had not read much about Durbar Square in Kathmandu – so when I looked up at the pagoda roof supports on the Vishwanath Temple, the delight of sexual discovery filled me – and my lens! As it did later when I learned that this temple went way back – built in 1627. And I remembered even older erotica discovered in Greece.
Do you find foreknowledge to be a good or bad thing?
I thought that if I had read up on all the places I would be visiting, I would probably have spent most of my time just trundling my gear along well-worn footpaths, massive checklist in hand, finding the real thing, click, and then tick it off. I just did not care much for the “been there, done that” school of travel. On that journey, as now, I love making discoveries! Yet in looking back, I also continue to learn how much I missed out on, people, places, and things that I had been so close to!
Swayambhunath – “The Monkey Temple” – 365 steps up on a hilltop in the Kathmandu Valley…
Part of the temple grounds are inhabited by Rhesus Macaque monkeys – revered as holy. According to mythology, head lice on a human were transformed into these monkeys.
Almost everywhere, monkeys roamed freely. I tried to approach one who was clutching a railing. He looked me in the eyes with such a fierce intensity that I thought he was going to attack. Indeed, he reached out and swiped at me, never taking his eyes from mine. But I lingered long enough for the monkeys to accept my presence. In a secluded area behind the buildings at one edge of the hill, there were several families of these monkeys. I sat by the corner of a building for a time and gradually they stopped starring at me and finally ignored me. One family in particular even moved closer to me as I slowly raised my camera and clicked away.
In seeking a rooftop vantage point to take photos of the main stupa, I saw these girls in the doorway of a shop close to it. They obliged me and then shared conversation of themselves and their lives in Kathmandu. Immediately below is one of the photos I shot. Being that high allowed for a view of the Kathmandu Valley below and the Himalayan foothills beyond to be included with the beautiful, massive stupa.
INSERT: me photographing the stupa on the rooftop.
Near Swayambhunath… a monkey removes lice from a woman’s hair.
Heading home in the late afternoon, outskirts of Kathmandu.
PHOTOS to insert: boat on Phewa Lake… Laxman… Pie Alley… Melawend… Hotel Shakti… Narayan’s… around Kathmandu and views of the valley…
Be sure to BUY MY BOOK! Through it, you will get the most out all the many life-transformational lessons I learned on my world journey – lessons you can turn into actionable plans for your life!
That certainly included hard-won lessons wrestled out of my “Himalayan Times in the Kingdom of Nepal” – dealing as I was a sense of isolation and loneliness…. with dysentery as it stripped 24 pounds off me in just 16 days (a lot of weight for me!) It made me look gray and gaunt – not exactly like an ambassador of goodwill! … and the dysenteric time I was having while trying to get sponsored onward passage. I thought surely the government would help, imagining the executives saying to themselves: “Yes, let’s help him out. Let him die in some other country.” But I was being facetious – a lesson in itself. I also found a hero in Nepal.
Below is an excerpt… starting with a clever “beggar” outside a much-relied on pastry shop near where I was staying in Kathmandu…
One time, he was sitting outside the shop with two ragged friends, eating a granular food from their hands. He followed me in. I was not hungry but I thought a roll might make him happy. He snatched it from my hand like an ungrateful monkey and went to his friends. In the next instant, they were upon me with hands outstretched. I let this audacity get to me and I motioned for the persistent one that he might share his roll. The two of them laughed and rejoined their munching comrade who was also laughing. But initially I did not really mind their game. I too was about to go with my hand out as it were to RNAC (Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation), seeking a lift for Melawend and me to the next odyssey destination. If only I could get rid of Monty first.
Therein did my 41-day Himalayan nightmare begin.
(Dear reader, to go into the details of the bureaucratic ineptitude I dealt with while I was also battling bascillary dysentery might seem more like using this story as a blotter for self-pity. It might also present an unfair portrait of the Nepalese officials who ran the RNAC show. I was an uncredentialed crusader who dropped in uninvited on their doorstep, not unlike one of their own beggars. And it is easy for inexperienced westerners to be rather intolerant of other countries that have inferior infrastructure. Looking back, however, this was a fascinating ordeal and an education in testing the limits of body, mind and spirit. So hang on!)
Next… Melawend and I fly back to the future… to a paradise of the modern kind – SINGAPORE. Come along!
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