Sightseeing in Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupa
The monsoon appeared but luckily it ended at dawn. However, we had it also in the room, because when showering the shower hose fell down and water began to come out as it was a source directly from the pipe. We called at reception and all the boys were soaked. Thank goodness we took it with humor and we managed to plug it all together until the plumber arrived. In the end they changed our room and we left the hotel quite late.
But we were going to keep on getting wet. The streets of Thamel are not paved. They are sandy and when it rains a mud is formed. In this case, it was directly a swamp, because there is no sewage system and the water entered to the stores of the basement of our building.
When we reached the street, to the amazement of everyone who waited in all the places on the street to get out, we started to walk with water on our knees. At first I was evaluating some other possible route, but when I did not find it, I rolled up my pants and followed, with applause from the whole street.
Fortunately the floods only affected that exact stretch. We continued walking and go for breakfast in a pastry shop and have a cheese croissant, a lemon cheesecake slice and a cinnamon roll. We had to manage the trekking permits at the tourist office.
It could be done in Pokhara, but it was something that we wanted to get rid of as soon as possible in case complications arose. We took passport photos at one studio and we wandered around watching the daily life of the Nepalese.
So, we walked to the Nepal Tourism Board with a map of the city we had bought. We arrived around 1:00 pm and they were just starting their lunch hour. So they made us wait for an hour, which we took advantage of to fill out the forms for the TIMS permits and the ACAP, which are necessary for trekking in the area of the Annapurna, as was our case.
With the process done, we asked the girl at the counter what was the best way to get to Patan. She told us that it was best to take a public bus that stops almost at the door of the office. We just had to ask what was going to Lagankhel. We did this and there was not the slightest difficulty. They are small white vans with a man who travels clinging to the door ajar and shout.
We saved a lot of money by traveling almost always by local bus instead of taxi and the experience was much more enriching. The people are very nice and anyone will try to start a conversation and want to know more about our life and what Nepal is like. Once in Langankhel, we had no difficulty getting to the Patan Durbar Square.
The surrounding buildings already show the beauty that awaited us. For things like that, I wanted to go to Nepal. We enjoyed the buildings, which were also quite affected by the earthquake, with a better appearance than that of Kathmandu.
There was a smell of small town, with locals sitting in the square commenting on the news. In fact, a couple of grandparents asked us where we were from. With the visit made, we continue to wander through the streets of the town looking for a place to eat. We ended up randomly on the inside terrace of a place with a fairly familiar look.
We asked for the momo, and in addition, a vegetable spring roll and chicken rice, accompanied by soft drinks. There we found that asking only momos was enough, since they usually always put about 10 units per serving. We ate well.
At the edge of 5 o'clock in the afternoon, we wanted to go to the temple of the monkeys to Swayambhunath, to the west of the city. We assumed that the combination of public transport was quite complicated. We took a taxi, something expensive, but at the end the same price to go from the airport to Thamel and in this case it was a similar distance.
We drove through impossible streets, very narrow and in the middle of brutal traffic. Finally we arrived not long after and we began the ascent to the temple by its rickety stairs full of monkeys. We pay for the entrance and although also in works, we enjoy for the first time one of the impressive Nepalese stupa in white, gold and surrounded by colorful banners.
From the top of the hill, there are also breathtaking views of the whole city. We spent a lot of time wandering around that magical environment and before nightfall, we walked back to Thamel. It is not too far away, and you will see many everyday scenes of those that we love.
One thing we loved is not getting involved in a tourist environment. We do not meet any Westerners all day until we reach Thamel. We toured different travel agencies with the intention of booking the bus to Pokhara on Friday. Many were closed at that time, but we were looking at one and a young boy who was just leaving told us if he could help us.
We told him what we were looking for and he took us to a very enthusiastic apartment. He told us that he had studied tourism and that just that week he had opened his own agency and that we would be his first clients. He is a guide for the trekking of Manaslu.
He was happy to help us with the bus tickets without taking any commission in exchange for helping him start the bus agency with positive comments on Tripadvisor. All I said was that we wanted an air-conditioned bus, and so he called a contact and got them.
After browsing for a while by souvenir shops, and after showering, we went to dinner at a restaurant right next to the hotel with a very good look, although totally oriented to tourists. It was recommended in the Lonely Planet. The decoration was beautiful, in wood, with plants and candles and we had paneer tikka and Nepali barbecue chicken.
For dessert we ask for a lemon cheesecake. Everything was great and we enjoyed dinner with a chill out music in the background, which was more expensive than the morning meal, but at a very good price for our pockets. We retired to sleep in our new room. It was surrounded by nightclubs and the music was thunderous until the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, we were too tired to not give up.
We woke up early to see the morning rituals at Pashupatinath. The day before, the guy from the agency, recommended us to go before 9 and take a minibus in the Jamal area. We walked there and took a bus that left us at Pashupatinath. The truth is that we were a little disappointed.
There was a small temple, some offerings, a pile of water, flowers and people from there. We went down the street and we did not see much, and we could not believe it was just that. A little disappointed, we stopped for another van in the direction of Boudhanath. Then we would discover that what we had seen was not the real Pashupatinath.
Before entering, we look for some trekking clothes through the alleys around and without realizing it, we end up inside the square. The stupa is really impressive, the largest in the world and one of the most revered by Buddhists. In fact, the area is the residence of many Tibetan refugees.
We begin to surround it clockwise like the rest of the faithful and we marvel at its dimensions and colors. The place gave off an energy that could be felt. We had breakfast, but in the covered part, since at times it drizzled. There are many restaurants with magnificent views but we opted for that and it was a success.
Inside we were alone and ate at a traditional low table with cushions. My girlfriend ordered a honey and lemon tea and some apple pancakes and I had a masala tea with banana pancakes. When leaving the square, we saw a large procession and decided to join the faithful for a while. It is very interesting to listen to their chants and see the intensity with which they live their religion.
When we got away from the main street, we went back and asked to reach the Tibetan monastery of Kopan, located on top of a hill. It is a very popular destination among Buddhists and Westerners looking for a spiritual retreat. As we had time, we decided to walk through alleys.
At the beginning of the road, an elderly gentleman wearing a heavy basket of vegetables and nuts on his head beckoned us to follow him, because we were going in the same direction. We began to understand each other by gestures. My girlfriend offered to help with the basket, but he declined nicely.
We continued with the rise and it was time to separate. Suddenly, he took a piece of newspaper, made a cone and filled it with peanuts that he had in his bag. We told him it was not necessary between smiles, but he insisted and we took them. These things are what bring true value to a trip.
Soon, we reached the point where all the buses and taxis that go to Kopan on that side of the mountain stopped. It was quite hot and the last section was hard, but we managed to get there and were greeted by the chants of the monks who came from the inside. Of course, it is a privileged enclave and it is worth taking a walk around the gardens.
Although they are not spectacular, the tranquility that is there is appreciated to rest from the hustle and bustle of the city. We thought that the visits would take us more time, especially that of Pashupatinath. So we did not have more visits scheduled for that day until the night, when we wanted to go back to Boudhanath to see its other side.
Having left the hotel very early, we had finished before lunchtime. So we decided to return to Thamel by taxi and we made the purchase of trekking pants, a Tibetan bowl and some bracelets, t-shirts, magnets, postcards. We stopped by the hotel to stop shopping and shower. The heat was not suffocating, but it did show. We ate late at a fairly small place in the vicinity of the Durbar square, a chow mein and a couple of vegetable sandwiches.
We walked back to Jamal to get another van to Boudhanath. On the way we met some brothers of Lumbini who were traveling to see Kathmandu and were very interested in talking with us. We talked about travel, Nepal, the education system and life. They made the trip very pleasant.
The Boudanath area was much busier than in the morning. We went back to wander to enter the square and decided to have lunch on one of the rooftops while watching the sun go down. This time we chose the opposite area of the morning and enjoyed a banana pancake to share, a ginger and lemon tea and a sprite.
Boudhanath kept hypnotizing me. The night fell and although I expected the square to light up more, the atmosphere continued to be fascinating. We were so happy that we decided to have dinner there and we decided on some chicken momo and chicken chow mein, which did not sting. In a couple of days we learned that everything that was veggie was also spicy. It was very good considering the place where we were.
We walked through the square at night before returning to the main street with the intention of taking a bus to Jamal. It was little more than 9 and the area was beginning to be deserted and unfortunately none of the buses were going downtown. We walked to the height where Pashupatinath was and there we ended up taking a taxi to Thamel.
The music of the hotel next door did not stop ringing, but we did not take long to fall asleep.