Tour guides are one thing that I can only handle about 20 minutes of before my mind begins to wonder. On Sunday we had a tour that lasted 8 hours. EIGHT hours. Now, don’t get me wrong, the sights were incredible and I loved taking it all in (and captured some great shots…until my camera died), but our tour guide talked and talked and talked – in incomprehensible English. I struggled for those first twenty minutes trying to pay close attention to what he said, but after that I couldn’t tell you where we were.
So the first place we stopped was Swayumbatu, or the “monkey temple.” It had an incredible view of the Kathmandu Valley and lots of monkeys for entertainment – they were the first we saw on the trip, and they were everywhere! The temple was built in _____ by _____. Sadly, I don’t remember much of what the guide said because he talked for the first twenty minutes of the bus ride.
But there was a set of stairs that climbed the entire length of the mountain, top to bottom. And people climb it with giant sacks of, well, I couldn’t tell you, but it looks heavy!
There are also prayer flags EVERYWHERE:
Next we were shuttled to a different area of the city where there is a tributary of the Ganges River. This specific place, we learned, was where they performed the last rights for the dead and then cremate them… right there on the river. We learned that the farthest north platform was for royalty, while the second was for people held in high regard (politicians, doctors, lawyers, educators). The rest were for the common people. Little did we know, we would get to witness the ceremony. The tour guide had just told us we were going to a Hindu temple, and so when we all smelled the smoke we immediately thought “ooooh, bonfire!” He brought us up to a platform where we could see said bonfires, where someone asked what the bonfires were for… where the guide nonchalantly replied, “for burning bodies.” I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth and tried to find some fresh air, which there was none until we crossed over the tributary. Quite the interesting place. It is one of the most sacred sights for Hindus. We were not allowed to even enter the temple that sat parallel to the tributary.
Up on top of the hill were men who devoted themselves to the Hindu practice and have no material possessions, but are more than happy to take a picture with you for a small fee:
Here is a view of the temple from across the river:
The next place we visited was the Budastapa Stupa.
All around the stupa, there are prayer wheels. Each time you spin them, it is like saying all of the prayers that have been inserted inside.
Here are the last few pictures of the day before my camera decided to die on me:
The last few days have been a little hectic, as we all have been getting our research grant contacts in order. I’m still working on getting my contacts, but have one already that I am working with. Which is where I am headed right now!
In case you missed it, I added pictures to my last two posts about my final days in London and my arrival to Kathmandu! Check them out too! =)
Hope everyone has a wonderful 16th of June and a special Happy Birthday to my dad! Love you!