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Kathmandu Day 1

A short on my long layover in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to my final destination of Kathmandu..

sunny 12 °C

With nothing but love in my heart and an open mind I was ready to leave Thailand and South East Asia, my home of 3 years.

I left to continue the endless journey of finding a higher mind and learning more of what this world has to offer in a spiritual sense. I’ve met energy healers, psychics, astrologists, tarot card readers, people who can speak to plants and dance with elephants and horses.
These people inspire me to find out what my own special gift may be.

So several hours after leaving Bangkok I walked down a broken escalator and underneath a sign that said, “ Welcome to Bangladesh”.
I had an 11 hour layover here. It was dark and dingy. They had fake free wifi zones.. The Duty Free shop had knockoffs from the 80’s. I walked around for a bit and right through immigration. I just told them I needed to check up on my bag to make sure it got to Kathmandu all right. They couldn’t care less as they were busy playing solitaire behind the counter, and they thought I was a journalist. Something about my military look these days and a camera hanging around my neck. I could have walked right into the country unstamped and unnoticed..

I saw ole’blue being tossed onto the conveyer belt and then quickly confiscated as she was a ‘transfer’ item.
I headed back upstairs to the strange smells and blaring drama shows on the t.v.

Finally I saw a relatively quiet and deserted set of plastic chairs that I decided was going to be my bed for the next few hours. I lie down and read a few paragraphs from my book before knocking out. I woke to a woman sitting on my hair. My eyes opened and there were about 20 people sitting around me. I must have been in a real deep sleep. I got up and moved. I fell asleep again and then someone sat on my feet. Now there’s just no reason to sit on me. There’s were a lot of empty chairs. I like to think that they just wanted to keep me warm because I don’t have any other ideas.

Now I was just awake. I walked over to the transit counter and checked myself back in, and then walked over to a stall with a guy making something with a green leaf. I saw many men que’d up to eat this. I walked up and asked what it was and they just said, “Like a beetle nut’ I know generally beetle nut turns your teeth red but I saw that this was only a leaf so I didn’t see the harm. I asked him to make me one that he’d think I’d like. He took the leaf and stuffed it with spices and what looked like candy. Then he wrapped it up quickly in a triangle and stabbed a piece of clove through the top to ‘lock’ it and handed it over.

There were several people around me watching to see what I’d do. So I just took the whole thing and shoved it in my mouth as instructed.. Without facial expression I chewed.
It was sweet, spicy, bitter, and it got me a bit high. I think this is what the ‘beetle nut’ reference was about..
I took some photos and walked to my next culinary adventure in my slightly high and tired daze.

I’d spend the next half an hour with two women about my age behind a café bar. I chatted them up about the different types of Punjabi mixes and which was best. They gave me samples of the mixes and some sweet milky, cheesy thing, and some chai tea…We talked about food, nose piercings and weather or not I was from Nepal or not. Sidenote: Thanks mom and dad for giving me such a diverse look.

Soon it was back to finding more plastic chairs and falling asleep. It had been a pretty sleepless night. Finally Biman Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu was called..

About 100 people that looked like they’d never seen an airplane before bum rushed towards the ticketing counter.

As I approached the ticketeer he triple checked my passport and quizzed me on my passport facts. I really do look like a different person then I do in that photo taken back in 2005.. He asked if I was Nepali. I thanked him and told him ‘no’.

Then we had to get scanned. Normally in any other developed country everyone knows the drill. You take off everything that would make you beep and get through as soon as possible.
Well this group of folks were a different breed. They all tried to rush through. Every single one of them beeped as they were still fitted with watches, belts, sunglasses, spoons, lighters..
So everyone was frisked by security who could care less had a glowing cow pranced through… Two second frisks for show and then to the gate you go!
I had to be frisked in a closet by a woman who actually didn’t touch me. She just asked if I was Nepali. I thanked her and said “no”.

Sitting at the gate was nice. Those chairs were right in the sun. I couldn’t see that far because there was a lot of haze.

Like cattle we walked down to the beat up bus that looked like it’s heyday was in 1974. It looked like it’d slammed into a couple of planes and was making lots of angry noises as it carted us across the tarmac and to the plane. I was just crossing my fingers that the plane didn’t have the same technicians working on it as the bus did..

Fortunately the plane was huge and cozy and I got a window seat with no one else sitting next to me.

Thoughts went through my head of how excited I’d be to fly over Bangladesh and see it from an ariel point of view. I must say however that I wasn’t disappointed when there was nothing but smog and clouds because I quickly fell asleep.

By the time I opened my eyes we were flying over Nepal. I opened my eyes to the arid Himalayan Valley dressed by what looked like dried rice terraces. Beyond that the sky was a brilliant blue that only Crayola could describe..
Poking into the blue were majestic, snowy white mountain peaks of the out Himalayan Mountain Range. Mt. Everest was hiding in there somewhere… With the sun beaming upon the mountains and valley through a nearly cloudless sky at 34,000ft, all I can say is that the view was epic, and all I could think was that this was it. I was at the top of the world and I created this reality for myself. I smiled. I also liked the fact that people thought I was Nepali.. =)

As we descended it just got better and better like I was in an Indiana Jones movies twisting down through the valley trying not to hit a mountain.

Then we landed. Roughly. The sun was shining as we walked off the tarmac and into the airport. I was thinking to myself “why did I just spend all that money on that NorthFace jacket?” Well as if my silly question was speaking out loud, the Universe promptly answered it with a stern chill breeze and threw a few clouds to cover up those rays of sun..

I walked down to baggage claim where I saw ole’ blue. I grabbed her off the conveyer belt and hugged her. We’d been through so much and for so many years and for some reason at that very moment lonliness hit me like dump truck. I stood there thinking how far away I was from everything I knew and everyone I loved, and that ole’ blue was the only thing that comforted me. This inanimate object that I had connected so many human emotions to, was the only piece of familiarity in my life right now.
We then hid behind a pillar and I pulled out my jacket, shoes, and few more cozy warm things. I received my visa hopped into a car from the 60’s looking like it was about to fall apart and made myself cozy in the knockoff Daffy Duck blankets in the back.

There were two guys in the front seat but this time I didn’t feel the fear I did when the two guys were in the front seat in 4am cab ride in Hanoi.
No, the driver spoke no English and the passenger was trying to get me to sign up with him for all the trekking tours. Annoying but understandable. This is a nation of extreme poverty and people will do anything out of desperation for money. At least he was doing it in an honest way. I was firm and told him that I had no sleep and that if he were to take me to his office I’d not pay any attention to anything he was saying.. He was surprisingly understanding… Although he tried to carry my bags in to my hostel. He was going to say something to the guys at the front desk. I stopped him at the front stairs grabbed his hand and shook it firmly, thanked him, and he left me alone..

I walked up to the counter. The guys were really nice and showed me a room. They couldn’t really show it to me as, there’s only 9 hours of electricity a day and there was no power at this hour. This room had no windows and they could only guide me by candle light.. I took it because it didn’t matter. I was tired and it didn’t smell.
After I unloaded myself I hung out with the guys at reception. They asked if I was Nepali. I thanked them and said no. =)
Then we talked about food! Turns out this guy is a chef and told me the best place to go. I finished my steaming cuppa chai and took off to the Yak Restaurant..
I ordered soup and the first thing to enter my mouth in Nepal was yak! Of course! Also known as "buff meat" it pretty much just tastes like chewy beef. I also had chicken 'momos' which are like pot stickers.
It was getting dark and the electricity was still out so I ate my meal in near darkness and silence. I talked here and there with a man from a neighboring village called Pokhara. Google it, it’s gorgeous!!

After my meal I wandered back down the exciting street, filled with hawkers, food vendors, tricycle transport, dingy and colorful buildings and wool clothing hanging out of almost every shopfront. On the way back to my guest house I was offered hash, ganja, opium, and heroin.. I bought it all and now I'm broke and living in a tin shed with no shoes, but I'm high so I'm happy... Joke

I made it to my room to change into something even warmer to explore the rest of the town but I just ended up writing in my journal next to the candle light and then falling asleep. Which I’m about to do again. Fully clothed under four blankets.

I must say however, that I am very cozy! And....happy.

Posted by Ole blue 07:53 Archived in Nepal Tagged planes food everest himalayas chicken beauty happiness wonder mt. poverty energy kathmandu bangladesh cold yak taxis magical excitement grime spiritual. Comments (1)

Kathmandu Day 2

Kathmandu life in the streets...

sunny 13 °C

January 6th 2011

It was either the yak or the chicken but all I can say is that I’m not qualified to leave my guesthouse today. Why do I eat chicken? I see them on the sides of the road all the time eating garbage and drinking out of black puddles and I know those are the ones going on my dinner plate.

“Free range” chickens out here are a whole different story. I don’t know which chickens are worse for me. The chickens, drinking sewage and eating whatever is on the ground of a poverty stricken village, or the western ones shot up with Miracle Grow? I guess the local ones are at least allowed to run around. Think I’m going to take my own advice and go veg while I’m here.

Ok.. Several hours later.. Well I decided I was qualified to leave my guesthouse when I got too bored and excited to see what was outside!!
I dressed real warm and headed “left” out of my hostel..
It took about an hour to walk about 100 meters as I just kept stopping to take photos. This town is worn to the bone, dusty, lovely, chaotic, eccentric, curiously beautiful.
I stopped and took photos of the colorful clothes, the colorful broken doorways, the colorful saris that were draped around the women.

As I weaved and dodged out of the way of hundreds of people, honking motorbikes, minivans, and cute little alien like Suzuki's from the 1970’s, in the narrow streets, I couldn’t help but find everything fascinating. No matter how dingy it was it had history and an energy that I cannot describe.
The smell in the air (once you get passed the exhaust) is that of Himalayan flowers being burnt in the form of incense. The smell of sidewalk samosas, wontons, and fresh strawberries are also dominant depending where you walk. Spicy chai tea from the endless amounts of tea shops also permeate the air..

A massive white shrine caught my eye as I walked passed an alleyway. Curiosity hooked me, and reeled me into the center of a sealed off courtyard surrounded by several old delapitated buildings..

I was the only foreigner in there. I felt like I was in Iran or Pakistan. I've pictured this type of scene before, in journals I read and films I've watched about life being lived around war, in the Middle East.

Run down or demolished concrete buildings make up most f this city. Their old paint, cracked and coated in thick dust and smoke. The men warm their hands around fires made of trash and tires. The courtyard is made of broken cobblestone.

Wild haired children with bare feet play with items that they have found in the trash. A broken bicycle wheel. A tin can and a stick. Their imaginations are at good use here.
There's a pack of snarly mangy looking dogs eyeing a few waddling mangy looking ducks from a safe distance. The atmosphere matches that of a woman I see holding her baby. She stands barefoot staring upwards. Desperate lines crease her tear smeared face as she makes her pleas to the sky. Her tattered sari ripples in the cold breeze. Her baby cries with her.

I feel like an imposter. I am. No foreigner goes into these court yards. I stumbled upon real life. Uncensored. Another lesson to appreciate that I can even be a witness to any of this.

I’ve seen many poverty stricken areas in my travels but perhaps it’s the near absence of tourists, the political strife, and the harsh reality being lived in freezing temperatures that make this particular trip so intense. Is that the reason?
Maybe it's the uncensored tears here and the genuine smiles straight from a lot of hearts there, that pull on my own heart strings harder than ever.

Perhaps doing this without a travel partner also changes my perspective. I'm a single female traveler in a country where women have little to no rights. I land here on the day when an international warning is advised to keep from traveling to Nepal.

I only have to worry about myself though. I'm comfortable with that. Growing up with a mom like mine was much like attending a lifetime at 'Street Smart' University.
I can sense a bad situation like a shark can sense a drop of blood in the sea. If I'm caught in one I can disappear out of it before anyone has a chance to even remember what I look like. I blend in. A scarf drapes around my head.
I wear a heavy wool cape that hides my camera and the 10 inch curved Nepali dagger I keep tucked in my waist band. A fully charged stun gun is ready in my right hand pocket. My eyes are bright and my smile is sincere. But, you can never be too careful around folks plagued by desperate aggression.
I'm not paranoid. I'm aware. I make sure to never be a target. If this sounds like PTSD, blame the monkey.

Traveling alone affords me the opprotunity to feed my imagination. My imagination then ignites my inspiration to write and take photos and explore well off the beaten path.There's no complaining. No compromising. No fear. A heightened sense of awareness is born. I'm 100% present and appreciative.

As I entered Durbar Square (lots of temples in this area) I stop and I’m filled with the same sense a dog or cat gets when it hears a can of wet food or tuna being opened.. My heart races. My invisible tail is wagging!! It’s beautiful!!

There’s temples, broken brick buildings, old men and women sitting on the temple steps, children playing hackey sack, a communist rally going off, a six year old Hindu goddess, (the Kumari) living the life of a child god behind closed doors, cows wandering amidst the chaos, and armed military in groups at every block.

Photo candy heaven.

I walk further on as I’m starting to feel hungry for the first time today.
I keep it vegetarian at a tiny café crammed with locals. I order dahl, garlic nan, and a bottle of sparkling water.
I try and read my book but I can’t help but look at all the different types of food coming out. The steam from the bowls of curry fill the room. My stomach growls. I stare into space and get lost in my reflection of the days adventure.

What a great day. Every day is better than the last.
I’m so lost in thought that when the food comes I’m pleasantly startled and I say out loud “YAY! Deri deri danyubad!! (Thank you very much)
I feel so greatful for everything… I lay my eyes on the dahl and take a slurp. It’s amazing, how on earth did they make this taste exactly like liquid magic? And then the nan you ask? It’s like none I’ve ever experienced. It’s topped with garlic, chives, and love.

I pay and move on going deeper and deeper along the winding and cracked paved roads. I come across a street called Freak street, that was much like a Haight& Ashbury back in the day. Now a days there's no flower haired hippie bums to be seen. For now the it looks like the hippie trail here has died. Still I explore to see if anything catches my interest.

I enter a dark small doorway that I have to bend down to get into. It opens up into a cramped little area filled with locals. I order a chai and go outside and talk a man named..? Doesn't matter. He was born and raised in Kathmandu.
He talks about his trip to Dallas where he has a brother who works as an IT.

He then tells me he has rooms for rent $200 a month. I tell him my friend might be interested but he changes the subject and gets to the point by telling me his mother wants him to get married.
Hmmm… awkward.. I respond by laughing and telling him that EVERY mother wants their child to get married, and then quickly flash my cheap fake wedding band to scratch me off his desperation list. I leave shortly after…

I continue my walk back. The electricity has been out for several hours. City wide power cuts are from (2pm-8pm) then (3am-8am) sometimes longer, but that’s the schedule this week.

It's dark. Shitty. I head back and try and retrace my steps. I get pretty far in the dark but then get side tracked by an incense shop. The man greets me with a warm “Namaste” (this translates literally to: ‘greetings from my god to your god’ or ‘greetings from my inner divinity to your inner divinity’ How special and loving is that?

Everyone says this around here. It’s easy to pass up a “Hello my friend” from a shady suit tailor in Bangkok, but it feels slightly blasphemous to ignore a “Namaste” from a thin framed man shivering behind his counter lit by candles..

I greet him back with the special word and enter his shop smelling everything on every shelf. The smells set such a lovely ambiance. I don’t even try and bargain. This is the best incense I’ve ever smelled in my life. I buy some from the very friendly man. He thanks me graciously.
I rub my palms together and generate heat. I take his ice cold hands and hold them for a moment to pass on my heat . I tell him to keep drinking his hot tea, I wish him good luck and a warm “Namaste” on my way back out into the dark and narrow traffic jam.

I make it to a familiar corner but I wrongly second guess myself several times.

There’s comfort in the dark streets lit by the headlights of the many cars and bikes. Plus I’m amid a thick crowd of people and pack of friendly street dogs.
Finally, I find a store and buy some more Punjabi mix that I’m addicted to and a huge mess of candles to keep my room warmer at night..
The friendly family at the counter lead me in the right direction. I pass my hostel and keep moving. I’m not ready to settle just yet, so I explore my own neighborhood. How exciting!!

There’s live bands playing above and shwarma vendors below. I stop for some more chai and some interesting looking chocolate.
I end up chatting with a man from Cameroon. He’s a soccer player training here for the last two months in the high altitude to build up lung strength. At least this is what I understand…

I think about grabbing a beer and trying to meet some people but I have not felt like drinking since NYE. I even make the effort to go into a bar but then leave. However, I see a poster for a yoga class posted on the wall and think that this may be something I really want to do well after my belly gives me a break from the poison..

I come back to my room fully excited to download my photos. Tomorrow, I’ll try to upload the rest of Bangkok and Phuket, so I can move on to these photos. I’m very excited about them!!

I’m going to end this on some Nepali awareness:

Some 10,000-15,000 Nepali girls are sold for $2500USD to the brothels in Mumbai. There are a reported 100,000 women who work in the brothels there and half are believed to be HIV positive..

The Nepalese Youth Opportunity Programme has come up with ways of encouraging families by giving them a piglet and a stock of kerosene for every daughter that they keep. So far the organization has steered roughly 2,500 girls from slavery…

Posted by Ole blue 08:55 Archived in Nepal Tagged children food soccer sun books love drinking bars beauty wonder photography sex energy magic yoga cold stars yummy chickens goddess slaves yaks warmth higher consciouness camaroon falafel schwarma diety Comments (0)

Kathmandu Day 3

Kathmandu Life

sunny 11 °C

January 7th 2011

I have to admit this has been the longest time I’ve gone without taking a shower..

I’ve been so bone chillingly cold that the thought of cool water hitting my skin intimidated me. But I had to. Just because the folks living in the shacks outside looked like they just crawled out of their own graves doesn’t mean I have to.

So I turned on the water and waited 20 minuets of it before it actually got hot! HOT! I couldn’t believe it!
I must say it does wonders to the soul. I felt fresh and clean and ready to change the world!! Even with the uninvited parasites that have taken refuge in my system that like to keep me up at all hours of the night.. My tail was still wagging!! =)

So I dressed & drank an energy drink that made me feel cracked out and I headed out to check out my hood. I really hit the jackpot on this one. Everything cool in Kathmandu is right around the corner from my place.

I kept taking side streets making landmarks for myself so I’d know how to get back.
I stopped for samosas and chai at a rooftop café. Beautiful. The samosas came out on a little basket made out of dried leaves covered in wax. After that I was ready..

I went deep. I went so deep that I think I wandered into what was the valley of the shadow of death. I think that’s how that Biblical saying goes.. Garbage piled high, dead cats on the side of the street, old ladies in their colorful saries and scarves grilling corn with black ash and dirt on their faces. ….. And lepers.. Dad says they’re not contagious. They’re just shunned from society because of their shocking looks. I didn’t take photos because it didn’t feel right.

The air was dense with smog and desperation. It was time for me to leave…

I took enough photos to put it away for the day.. My mission was to get back to this cool little neighborhood and explore it while the sun was still up..

However, I ended up in bookshop after bookshop. If there’s one weakness I have it’s bookshops and stationary stores. I spent hours in them. I bought, “The Power of Now” by Ekhart Tolle and a journal.. I almost bought pens but I learned from the Dalai Lama that, that would have been a “flashy need’ so I put them away. (all 3 of them)…
The book was also a ‘flashy need’ but after listening to several of his seminars and having the book recommended to me countless times, I felt I needed to add it to the collection of books I’m already lugging around with me..

Now that the sun went down I walked onwards. I saw a group of people walking the opposite direction. I decided to turn around and follow them. It had to have been fate because they walked right into a café I’ve been searching high and low for!

How cool was that? It was a cute little outdoor area with plenty of tables and a fire pit in the center. Inside was brick walls and plants. They had music from what sounded like 1920’s New Orleans playing in the background. The ambiance was nice. I settled for the babaganoush, hummus, and pita, with chai. Delicious, again. I left happy and continued on down a really dark alley way to see if I could find cheaper accommodation, which in turn led me to a cool bar. I’ve been such an introvert lately that I decided I wanted to make friends.

I met several people but the coolest guy was a man who first got bit by the travel bug in 1975. He’s been working odd jobs to support his travel addiction since then. He just came back from a trek where it snowed on him the whole time… Luckily he was from England so he was used to it..

I also learned that he was good friends with a few ex-Gerkas. If you don’t know what a Gerka is I’ll explain it in short before you google it.. They’re the Nepalese fighters who play a fiersome role with the British army.
The selection process has been described as one of the toughest in the world and is fiercely contested. They’ve been known to train with broken bones. They’ve mastered almost all fatal fighting skills and heart and mind manipulation. There are only about 3,500 of them right now and about 28,000 in training. Most of them are fighting in Afghanistan at the moment..

We also talked long about the Kumari. A Kumari is a living female child diety who is considered holy from the age of four till puberty. the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy.
A Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju (the Nepalese name for Durga) until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.
She must go under many tests before the right one is chosen. One of the tests is lots of men with scary masks and bull heads surrounding here in a dark room screaming and jumping around to test her fear. If the child is fearless this is one of the signs that she may be ‘the one’…

She used to bless the King of Nepal However about 10 years ago the prince slaughtered his family and now there’s no more King.. Now she blesses the president… She lives a few blocks away in a temple..

So yes, that was my day.

Posted by Ole blue 11:38 Archived in Nepal Tagged temples hot dali lama showers fighting prince kumari gherka solidiers lepers Comments (0)

Boudnath Temple

Unesco World Cultural Site, outside Kathmandu.

sunny 10 °C

“You’re back is all white”, I heard in a Hindi accent. I’d been sitting up against a chalky stupa at the Bodhnath Temple meditating and reflecting. My face was in the sun my back against the stupa while hundreds of pilgrims circumnavigated the massive dome.
With the my eyes closed and my mind deep in thought I could hear the shuffling of little feet back and forth in front of me. I opened my eyes and two little girls were cheekily trying to take a peak under the brim of my cap to see my eyes. I already had a smile on my face and they were shocked and shy when they saw my eyes half opened staring at them. They looked at me and looked at my camera. They wanted their photo taken… So I took their photo and we thanked each other and they danced and hopped away. I meditated a bit more before getting up and moving on.

The dome is pure white. The hundreds of prayer flags dyed red, white, blue, green, and yellow, contrasted nicely with the cloudless, sunny, blue sky. I took many photos of the flags, the stupas, the people, and the buildings.

I walked around the dome myself and spun only a fraction of the hundreds of prayer wheels, and observed life in this little community.

The massive stupa itself used to be an important stop along the trade route from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Tibet. The stop was for the traders who would pray for a safe journey before riding their yaks through the steep passes of the Himalayas.
Nowadays, hundreds of people make the daily pilgrimage from nearby villages to pray. Most of the people living in this area are Tibetan refugees that escaped China in the 60’s. The rest are Sherpas and Tibetan tribes people.
After spinning prayer wheels, and watching in fascination as people prayed, I sat down again and looked down at the village square in front of me. There were many maroon robed monks, old tribal women, children, and pigeons before me.

I watched the day unravel. The children chased the pigeons, the monks kneeled on wooden boards facing the stupa praying, and the old women sat with prayer beads facing the stupa hacking and spitting as everyone does at here.

In fact there's so much hacking up and spitting out that you have to sometimes jump out of the way to avoid getting a nice thick loogey on your leg or foot.

I walked down from the stupa and spun two massive prayer wheels with my own prayers in mind. They were heavy and at first you feel like a mule attached to those old fashioned circular grind mills. But once you start spinning it, it quickly builds momentum and then you find that you’re running with it. If the other massive prayer wheel behind you is going at the same rate then you can grab on to that one and spin with it as well. It was fun and everyone spinning was laughing and smiling. I said the last of my prayers and left feeling so happy and satisfied.

I decided to get a better look of the stupa from one of the cafés.
I sat down on the rooftop of a lovely little vegetarian restaurant/ bookshop.
Soon I was sipping on some freshly grated ginger and lemon tea with the local Himalayan honey and a bowl of tomato lentil soup.
I could see another rooftop café in front of me seated with monks eating their late afternoon meals. I stared at the stupa for quite sometime reflecting on my day and thinking about how much peaceful energy there was in this extremely old village.
The original stupa itself was built in the year 600 A.D. by a Tibetan king as a type of penance for unwillingly having to kill his dad by decapitation. Then in the 14th century a group of ‘bad guys’ smashed it to bits and they had to construct a new one which is the one standing now. Word has it that these domes house pieces of bone from Siddhartha (Buddha) himself. Wow!

After my small meal I circumnavigated the dome once more among the locals and monks. The air was thick with incense. Beyond the Tibetan dharma music I could hear a type of deep throat chanting from some monks. I’ve never felt a stronger spiritual vibe in my life. I left spiritually satisfied for the day.

As I walked past the Tibetan herbal medicinal shop, the smell of pine from one of the many huge white sacks of medicinal plants pleasantly filled my nose. I headed towards the street and hopped a taxi back to Kathmandu.

The little orb of a car bounced and honked through the late afternoon traffic. We hit potholes half the depth of the tires, we raced passed children playing cricket with tennis balls in abandoned dirt lots lined with barbed wire. We slung forward as brakes were slammed to avoid hitting orphans and rabid looking dogs.

We passed cold, black, mid evil ponds used for bathing, drinking and religious rituals.
Finally I hopped out in my own little neighborhood called Thamel. I headed for my first cup of locally grown black tea from my favorite guys at a bakery of which I still don’t know the name of.

Luckily last nights bout of brutal food poisoning only left me with more of a sore belly and sore throat rather than a need for a toilet.

If I try not to eat tonight my chances are better of not getting food poisoning because I really want to do more temple hopping in the foothills.

I’d like to make it to the Guhyeshwari Temple. It literally translates into “Goddess’s vagina”. Story has it that Lord Shiva’s wife was so pissed off that she burst into flames after her dad insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. Afterwards, Shiva was so sad that he carried her dead body around and her vagina fell off. This myth inspired the practice of sati, a very real event where widowed women were burnt alive at their husbands' grave. As much as the non-Sherpa women have no power here what so ever, I’m pretty sure they don’t practice this anymore..

So no more food just power bars, no more poisoning, more liquid, and the ability to do what I came here to do.
Ok electricity is out. Time to hit the streets...

Posted by Ole blue 06:41 Archived in Nepal Tagged people children sky taxi temple kids pigeons blue bells valley happy buddha tennis monks ball nepal tibet dome pilgrimage kathmandu cricket medicine prayer stupa spiritual sherpa tribal wheels potholes boudnath siddhartha herbal Comments (0)

Friday Night in Kathmandu

Another Friday night in a different city...

semi-overcast -4 °C

The only constellation I can point out is O’Ryan because of his belt. This makes it my favorite constellation..
I can see O’Ryan every night here because of the early city wide power cuts in the streets.. It’s after midnight, and the stars can be seen straight above, between the buildings are clear and bright.

Friday night in Kathmandu. There are more people out than usual but not many.. After saying my ‘good bye’s” to my new friend Lester, I walked home. Normally I might have taken his offer to walk me home but the street looked pretty crowded so I felt alright on my midnight stroll..

There were pretty multi colored lights above the sea of armed military in the streets. There were about a dozen men dressed in blue camo carrying the standard bamboo beating stick. Amid these blue soldiers was a truck carrying even more soldiers equipped with rifles. The truck’s emergency light was flashing red and yellow. I walked passed un phased. I didn’t know what was going on but I felt safer with military in the streets rather than random creepy men following me home.

The sound of a large gecko echoed through my guesthouse as I rang the doorbell.. That’s the sound of the doorbell to alert the security guard to unlock the front padlocked gate.
I grab my laptop and go into the living room/ reception area. As I begin to surf I hear bottles breaking outside along with screaming. The security guard slowly heads outside. He’s tired but curious. The siren sounds come closer.. The screaming and yelling won’t stop.. About 20 minuets later the security guard comes inside and hits the pillow without saying anything. The staff all sleep in the living room so I’m real careful to keep quiet as I tippity type away..

There’s more yelling in the back of the guesthouse this time. The dogs start barking. I sign off and head upstairs. It’s not a full moon however there was 51 district chiefs elected today so maybe that’s why there was so much commotion on the streets.

My morning had started when the cleaning ladies banged on my door wanting to make my bed.
I headed downstairs and checked my email and watched some local news. I saw peacocks, warriors, people with elaborate costumes depicting deities, and political figures walking amongst them.
It was fascinating watching them walk in circles around what I could only describe as the running track of a university or high school.

Since I couldn’t understand what was being said I just googled in a few key words that I did understand from the tv announcers + peacocks, lol, and read that this demonstration was indeed a celebration for the 51 elected district chiefs.

Another fascinating lesson in today’s cultural anthropology class..

Nighty night..

Posted by Ole blue 06:22 Archived in Nepal Tagged buildings parties night temples happy wonder nepal photography tibet energy yoga kathmandu cold yummy yak tribal yaks diety solidiers herbal Comments (0)

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