Bhaktupur - Day 2

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April 14th 2019
Published: April 15th 2019
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Today I had agreed to meet up with my guide from yesterday to go for a hike. As hiking is not something I do regularly (cough cough), I’ve rocked up, fully prepared in active wear, hiking shoes and fully stocked backpack. Roshan turns up in jeans and converse. To be fair, it was probably more like a casual stroll to him, to me….I’m hiking the Himalayas bitches! We started the day by stopping for breakfast. We had agreed to meet at before my guesthouse opens for breakfast so I needed food. We stopped at a coffee shop that sold very nice coffee. A little luxury I did not expect here. But I’ll take it. We then hoped into a taxi and took off to Changu Narayan.

The taxi dropped us in a little village (whose name I forgot to ask) and we hiked up from there. On the way up there were so many villages and farms I would have loved to take a photo of. But it the Himalayan roads are a little bouncy. We were on a road the whole way, granted it was a pretty dodgy old road, but still made for very easy hiking. The first half hour was a pretty serious hike…. feel the burn! Roshan said it was a two hour hike up, but I think even he was worried I might not make it. However, he was quite happy for me to set my own pace. “If you are happy, then I am happy.” And to be honest, I have to walk at my pace…who else’s pace can I do. After about half an hour or so the path levelled out quite a lot. There were a ups and downs (I really liked the downs) but it was pretty smooth sailing.

As expected, the walk was beautiful. Lots of green trees, I know some were pine from the smell and all the pine needles. As we got higher the trees gave way a little and I could see the valley open out beside us. It was pretty misty as we are so high up. If we had been walking later in the day the clouds may have burned away and I could see more. But I may have also passed out from heat stroke. It does get really hot here. There were few houses and villages along the way. The scenery is so photogenic. Even the people looked amazing, lots of wrinkled old faces that showed years of hard living. And also, lots of kids running around. The Nepali kids are so ridiculously cute. All big eyes and cheeky grins. And if you think I’m getting clucky in my old age, calm yourselves. I’m just saying. They’re cute, but I’d still rather have a puppy.

So after two hours of trekking in the mountains we came to Changu Narayan. This is the oldest temple in Nepal and dates back to the fourth century. It is a testament to the strength of the architecture. Nepal had huge earthquakes in 1934 and again in 2015 when many of the ancient temples did not stand up to the intensity. Changu Narayan however cruised through in style. Some might say Vishnu is still here protecting his temple. The story goes that one of the kings owned this land and he had cows. When milking one of his cows she would not let down half of her milk. She walked past a tree which produced a baby (don’t ask how) and the baby started to suckle from the cow. The king, furious with the cow, cut down the tree, but instead of the tree just dying it started to bleed. At that point the king knew the tree was the embodiment of the god, and he had done a great wrong to the god. So he built this temple to Vishnu.

After visiting the temple, we caught the public bus back to Bhaktupur. The public bus was quite cosy. Imagine a thirty-year-old 16 seater bus with about 50 people on it. I sat in the middle of the back seat, because that was available when we got on the bus. As it got closer to departure time the remaining seats filled up. Including four teenage girls sitting next to me where there was really only space for two. Granted they were tiny little creatures, but there were really only two seats there. The aisle filled up and then we took of down the bouncy Himalayan road. I must say the driver handled the traffic very well. A couple of times we passed other cars and buses going in the opposite direction. The road is not wide and there really wasn’t much space but both vehicles gently edge their way past each other without touching. Overall not the scariest bus ride I’ve ever been on. Maybe that is because I was sitting in the middle of the bus so I couldn’t see how close we were to the edge, or maybe it is because when passing other vehicles, we were on the inside lane so no scary looking drops.

After we made it back to town we went for lunch. I decided it was beer o’clock so we went for lunch. Over lunch during which I only had one beer we got into a very interesting discussion about religion and gender relations. I have been impressed with the Hindus in that they put women on more equal footing as men. They have goddesses. And the feminine is just as important in the story of creation as the female. As it turns out, that doesn’t put us on equal footing culturally. Apparently a good wife is supposed to treat he husband as a god. I needed another beer. Roshan is pretty cool, I asked him a lot of questions some of which may have been seen as a touch offensive. (I’m just curious) but if he was offended he didn’t show it. He treated it all with humour.

As for the afternoon I decided I had expended enough energy for the day. Time for a little retreat. Plus I don’t know if these tired old legs will carry me much further. So I went back to the little coffee shop I found yesterday, ordered myself a coffee and started blogging and watching the world go by. It sounds frightfully boring but with so much going on around me there is plenty to see. The myriad of colours the women in their traditional dress wear, marching bands running through the streets and dancing, more of those cute little kids. It was a nice chill afternoon and a nice rest for my now worn out body. According to fitbit I have done 18,147 steps today. And I definitely feely every one of them.

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