Flight to Kathmandu is quick, we are rewarded with amazing views from our right hand side seats as we are coming in. Mountains to green... to teracotta coloured buildings... to runway. We board the little airport bus on the runway looking marginally elegant (we are not true trekkers yet). The bus goes about 50m (!!!!!!) and we all troop off to passport control. Smooth.
Our new man with sign is waiting and we are whisked off to Tings Teahouse for our first 3 nights. Spirit of the Himalayas (thank you Alan for this invaluable recommendation) go-to guy, Sanam Singh, is waiting at Tings for us, as is our trekking guide, Dhan Raj. Time for the first of a thousand cups of tea, and Tings does it so very well.
We chose to stay at Tings based on the many good reviews we had read and Tings photos and website. It fit the criteria - small, personal and funky. http://tingsblog.com/?page_id=2
We really enjoyed our stay here, a perfect introduction to Kathmandu and we were fortunate to meet many interesting people, as well as the owners,Thomas and Annette, the couple with great dreams for the hospitality industry. They have
built an oasis and their staff are a credit to them. The location was good- easy walking to Thamel for trekking supplies, The garden of Dreams, etc. We enjoyed wonderful food here, their breakfasts were amazing (actually, so were their dinners). We arrived in the midst of wedding celebrations for a group of German travellers attending their friend's Nepali wedding. It was great to see the comings and goings of the group, and the traditional Nepali clothing that they had tailored especially for the wedding. We also met a lovely retired guy from Switzerland volunteering his engineering and management expertise to a struggling Nepali company.
Whilst at Tings we have a Kathmandu Day Trip planned. We visit sites in the Kathmandu Valley and city. In Durbar Square we see the Kumari- Living Godess, I have mixed feelings for this little girl. The architecture here is incredible, ornate wooden relief carvings, doors and windows. How young modern Australia is... On to Swayambhunath Temple. The temple is well described in every guide book as a must see- indeed it is. The 365 steps up should not be missed. Sea level Perthites, we feel the 1300m altitude already- the steps are challenging.
The many shrines and temples and the Stupa are awesome. The birds in cages for sale for release, the beads, the Tibetan chant CD's, the monkeys.... all very cool. It was still pretty early in the day that we visited so it was not too crowded. We spent time in the Shree Karma Raj Mahavir temple- an active Buddhist Monastery, it is lit with hundereds of yak butter candles. It is here that I first feel very moved by something in Nepal (pretty unusual for me; I am normally a very controlled, no nonsense, black and white, etc.. kind of person). It turns out that this is the first of a few times (the sensation still intrigues me).
After lunch we explore Patan and then Bungamati Village. Bungamati Village is perched high along a bumpy road. It is a 16th century Newari village. Wood and stone work are on display, the dirt streets are lined with small stalls. The highlight here for us though was the wedding that we stumbled upon. The bride was exiting the temple in her red sari, weeping and wailing. We watched her being carried around the square and the car three times slung across
her uncle's shoulders. She was then placed into the ornately decorated wedding car, still weeping and wailing. The villagers' expressions ran from bemused to joyous to concerned (actually the uncle looked concerned- maybe the exertion of the carrying process, through to relieved- as he slung the weeping bride into the car!).
We spend the next day doing things that have to be done- buying the last few items for our trek. Shonas in Thamel seems to be the place, and off we go. Trekking poles (2) 2000 NPR, fleece pants 1000 NPR, fleece hat 200 NPR, legionnaire style hat 350 NPR and iodine plus taste tabs 1200 NPR are purchased. Lastly my invaluable "Survivor Buff" (I love Survivor)- all up AUD$57. Wish I had bought a lot of my other stuff there instead of Australia. We are now ready. Back at Tings Mary and I pack, repack, pack, ditch more stuff into the bag to stay in Kathmandu, pack, repack.... you get the idea.
Big day tomorrow... Can't wait.
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