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Published: February 1st 2008
Hangging from the top of a temple, the wind spread the prayers printed on the flags
After recovering from the altitude sickness from the Tibetan plateau, we arrived in Kathmandu.
Nepal offers you many outdoor activities. From 10 seconds bungee jumping, 9 days rafting to 30 day hiking and so on. Is as the Lonely Planet says, backpackers Disneyland. Many of the activities can be done by yourself, without any guide or tour. For the famous Annapurna circuit just take your bag and start walking!
Although we could have done all this fantastic activities, we were to lazy to leave the hotel except for a few visits to the supermarket or to the internet, and this way we got stuck in Kathmandu for a week.
First took us ages to visit the Durbar square (the main tourist attraction, 500 meters from the hotel)
and second, day by day we had something very important to do, one book to buy, one massage to go, Lili's Indian visa to wait.
Nepal is broken in two worlds, the Nepali world and the touristic world. Nepal for the Nepali is a poor country in war (Maoist movement)
, with bad public transport, bad medical care, dirty, with houses that we have to admire how they still stand. But on
On display in Thamel
the other hand, Nepal for the tourist is rich, with nice continental food restaurants, excellent tourist buses, clean. The contrast is huge, you can easily see the difference if you walk a few meters out of the tourist areas in Kathmandu.
The Thamel area (where our hotel was located)
is a big maize of shops selling "zen" products for the tourists who arrive here looking for peace and tranquility for meditation or any spiritual experience, but end always sitting in a restaurant eating western food, drinking more beer the they should and smoking weed the hole day. By the time they have to leave, they fill their bags with mantra CD's and other souvenirs to remind them how spiritual was their trip! - Nothing against it, you have the right but it just doesn't fell real....
Another funny aspect about Nepal is the many massage places. First we were impressed with the amount of them. Every building has at least three signs offering relaxing massages. Looking at them some suspicion came to our head, so Fernando and Lili decided to investigate. They went to inquire at a few massage places.
In the first one, as Fernando stepped into
Kind of sexy, isn't it?
the reception, the receptionist was just putting a hand full of condoms in the desk drawer! This was clearly NOT an auyrveda, shiatsu or reiki a massage place!
The second one Lili went first, and the guy show a room with a single bed with dirty sheets. Not noticing Lili's horrified expression, he even offer her about other more private
rooms! The massages were always described as "relaxing" never the standard Auyrveda, Shiatsu, Thay or reiki. Besides the places, the prices also seamed a bit strange: $200 to $2000 for the same duration and same "relaxing". Our only conclusion of the difference between them is the use or not of hands by the masseur (use your imagination!). We were to give up and really believe that there is no massage at all in Kathmandu and all the signs were from prostitution houses offering "massages with happy end". But after checking a dozen places, we finally found one real massage place!
Once more relaxed with the massages, we were ready to go on. After Tibet we weren't in a mood for more mountains or monasteries, so we jumped in a bus to the Royal Chittwan National Park, famous for their
Looking over the city from Monkey temple
elephants and single-horn-rhinos.
After so long in cold places was really good to take some clothes off and jump in the water to play with the elephants during their bathing time. The experience is amassing, you jump in the river together with a 5 ton animal and play like if he was a little dog. Following orders from his master he let you climb his head, stay on top of him having a bath from the water he sniffs at you using his trunk, then he throws you in the water again.
Next day we decide to do an elephant safari. Early in the morning you leave the park headquarters and aim the middle of the jungle on top of an elephant. The safari doesn't go far, but the experience is very different from a jeep. Your view point is very high among the bushes and the animals don't get scared of you. We manage to spot two rhinos (a mother and her cub)
sleeping on a river bed, and even better we approached them closer then 2 meter without they bothering to wake up.
The last destination in Nepal was Lumbini, the holly place where Buddha was brought
Ofering goods to their gods
to the world. The journey to Lumbini included many of the most common aspects of Nepali transportation. We had to walk 4 kilometers to take the bus, after that we traveled in the roof of the bus (the best journey ever, the view is great, the wind is so pleasant, its not crowded as inside, I wish this was allowed in Brasil)
, and in our last bus ride it took us 1H30M to run 20 kilometers. The road was good but the bus stopped literally every 30 meters. They don't have the concept of bus stops, they stop whenever anyone want to go down and people don't want to walk even 30 meters.
Lumbini was really a place to meditate. Their isn't much there, but the environment is great, quiet and beautiful.
After two weeks of Nepal, in the next day we crossed the border to India!
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