Bhaktapur

Going Back in Time in Bhaktaphur, Nepal

Visiting Durbar Square in the city of Bhaktaphur in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal feels like going back in time to the middle ages. Narrow brick streets. Towering three tiered temples. Wells for gathering water. Intricately carved wooden doors and windows. Stone statues.

It feels like time stood still here. Until you turn the corner and see a modern coffee shop.

Bhaktapur

Still most of the buildings, temples, and sculptures in Bhaktaphur have been standing since medieval times.

Except, of course, the ones that fell during the 2015 earthquake. Bhaktaphur was hit hard during the earthquake and evidence of the damage can still be seen throughout the town.

Rand and I sat one evening on the steps of a platform where a temple no longer stood. We looked across the square to a building with an entire section missing, like a giant dragon had trampled it under foot, leaving a pile of bricks and ragged edges.

Bhaktapur

Looks like Godzilla has been here

We spent several days in Bhaktaphur, exploring the winding brick streets.

Bhaktapur

One day we came upon some women weaving. One of the old women gestured for me to come try my hand at the spinning wheel. I sat down next her and began turning the wheel while she guided the thread through. At a pause, I called the girls over to each take a turn.

As we left, we thanked the lady for the experience. Her friends shouted for us to give her some rupees, so we did. Sometimes it gets annoying when it seems like locals are only being nice to get money from you. But this time I didn’t mind giving a few rupees to a lady who invited me to share in her craft.

In Bhaktaphur, I began to ponder these fascinating places I have traveled that seem stuck in time. I enjoy visiting them, but then (eventually) I go back to my modern life. Bhaktaphur is an amazing place, but I wonder, would the locals give it up for clothes dryers, working internet, and larger homes that aren’t in danger of collapsing?

Perhaps, I have been traveling too long and am missing my modern conveniences and assume others would wish for them, too. Perhaps, I am letting my guilt over what I have and others do not cloud the beauty of what am experiencing.

In any case, Bhaktaphur is worth visiting. Despite the earthquake damage, and maybe even because of it, this town is deserving of your tourist dollars.

 Bhaktapur

Nagarkot

“Trekking” from Nagarkot, Nepal

While in Kathmandu, we took an overnight trip to Nagarkot. I was hoping to see the Himalayan mountains and do a short trek.

I felt like a loser, coming all the way to Nepal and not trekking. And the air pollution was so bad in Kathmandu that any snowy peaks we might have seen were covered in haze.

Rand hadn’t planned for us to do any trekking. He had done the Everest Base Camp trek 15 years ago and, to be honest, the rest of us (especially Sierra and I) are kind of wimps.

I looked online for easy trekking routes and found one from Chisapani to Nagarkot to Changunarayan. We decided just to do the Nagarkot to Changunarayan section.

We arrived in Nagarkot by bus in the afternoon and settled into our hotel. The view from our hotel overlooked the valley. We could see villages and fields and foothills, but still no snow capped peaks.

Nagarkot

At sunset we walked up to a view point and could see the faint outline of the higher Himalayas. Somewhere in that faded distance was Mount Everest.

Nagarkot

The next morning we took a taxi to a view point. We climbed the metal tower and watched the sunrise over the distant peaks. We were still unable to pinpoint the highest mountain in the world. The view was lovely though.

Nagarkot

A group came and performed sun salutations below us.

Nagarkot

Because we are lazy and because the first part of our “trek” followed the road, we took a taxi to where we picked up the trail.

It was a wide trail through pine trees. On the ridge there were supposed to be mountain views, but they were obscured by the haze.

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Just before arriving at Changunarayan, we passed through a village and saw some tents donated to those who lost their homes in the 2015 earthquake.

Earthquake damage was also apparent at Changunarayan Temple. Two by fours braced the large temple and piles of rubble lay stacked around the edges of the complex.

Changunarayan

Still much of the temple stood as it has for hundreds of years.

From here we took the bus to Baktaphur. I left feeling disappointed by the hazy mountain views and the walk through the woods that couldn’t really be counted as a trek.

Yes, I have been to Nepal. But no, I haven’t been trekking and no, I haven’t seen Mount Everest.

I guess I will just have to come back someday.

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A Day Trip in the Kathmandu Valley

During our time in Kathmandu we hired a driver and took a day trip around the Kathmandu Valley. We visited Dakshinkali Temple, a Buddhist monastery on a hill, and the village of Kirtiphur.

Dakshinkali Temple

Our daughter was named for the Kali Gandaki River, not the Hindu goddess of destruction, but we still thought it would be interesting to visit Dakshinkali Temple while in the Kathmandu Valley.

There, devotees gather to make sacrifices to the goddess Kali, including animal sacrifices. As we walked toward to temple, we saw goats and chicken for sale.

We were not allowed onto the temple grounds, but we could observe from above. We didn’t see any animals being killed, but we did see someone carrying a headless goat and spotted several chickens that had been sacrificed.

Our Kali was pretty disturbed.

Buddhist Monastery

Next our taxi driver took us to a monastery on a hill. Parping Monestary, I think. I forgot to write down the name and now I don’t remember. Up, up we climbed until we had a view of the valley below.

A young monk road his bike around the stupa inside the monastery.

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Having visited many Buddhist temples in Thailand, it was interesting to see difference in the outward expression of the religion. The Buddha’s eyes and the prayer flags being unique to central Asian Buddhism.

Kirtiphur

Our last stop was the village of Kirtiphur. Set on a hill, it felt like traveling back in time. Narrow brick streets and squares with temples and sculptures dating back to medieval times.


The teenage boys hanging out at the base of the three tiered temple brought me back to present day.

Kirtiphur

Then it was just a short drive back to the hustle and bustle of the city of Kathmandu.

Kathmandu

Falling in love with Kathmandu

Fifteen years ago Rand visited Kathmandu and fell in love with the city. I was worried that I wouldn’t be as excited and he would be disappointed.

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Kali Gandaki River

White Water Rafting on the Kali Gandaki River

When you name your daughter after the Kali Gandaki River in Nepal, you pretty much have to take a rafting trip down that river if you find yourself in that country. Even if it means spending more than your daily budget and using all your Christmas money from family to make it happen.

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Paragliding in Nepal

Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

“When I say, run, run forward,” said my guide.

“Ok,” I said.

“When I say, come back, walk backward.”

“All right.”
“When I say, go, sit back in the seat and lift your legs.”

“Go it.”

I ran forward, walked back, ran forward again, then leaned back into the seat, lifted my legs and suddenly I was flying.

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Pokhara, Nepal

Boats, Bad Air, and Beef in Pokhara, Nepal

The traveler friendly main street in Pokhara, Nepal was like a breath of fresh air after 2 ½ months in India. Ok, maybe that is a bad analogy since the air in the town was terribly polluted, but we were very happy to be in a place with a wide variety of restaurants and shops catering to the needs and wants of travelers.

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Lumbini, Nepal

Lumbini, Nepal: The Birthplace of Buddha

Just an hour north of the Indian border, the nondescript town of Lumbini, Nepal is famous for being the birthplace of the Buddha. We decided to stop here for a few days on our way to Pokhara.

We arrived hot and exhausted after 36 hours of travel. Continue reading

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Travel Hell Day

Long term travel is not the same thing as a vacation. Vacation is taking a break from real life for a few weeks. When you are on the road for months or years, travel is your real life. And just like real life, travel has stressful times and bad days. One of our worse travel experiences was the 36 hours it took us to get from Agra, India to Lumbini, Nepal.

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Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal and Agra

It was early, very early. The gates opened at dawn. We stood in lines by gender. Rand in one line and the girls and I in the other. Soon we would see one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal.

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