Mid December we embarked on a wonderful journey, we travelled to Nepal with our girls. This trip had been planned for months, and I was so exited to go, I had to keep pinching myself as we finally boarded the plane.
Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was locked out of Facebook and WordPress during our trip, which did not bother me at the time and I was very happy to just take it all in without sharing it at the time. Being back at home now for two weeks, in full swing of work and deck rebuilding, I do have the urge to recount the highlights of this wonderful time, so here we go.
When we arrived in Kathmandu (late at night) we received a very warm welcome and were picked up by our Nepalese travel agent and it felt that we had landed on a new planet. The dust, the hooting, the busyness of the streetscape was just amazing. For the first few days we stayed in a very nice hotel in Thamel, in the heart of Kathmandu.
Though the big earthquake, in which 6500 people lost their lives, was 18 months ago, it is evident wherever you look, that rebuilding efforts are being made and will continue for years to come. We saw no machinery being used in the building work, just elbow grease and a few shovels. Many women work on the sites to clear rubble and clean bricks. Often their children play alongside their mothers.
Whilst taking in all these new sounds, sights and smells we started a bit of sightseeing, which helped us to categorise some of the ‘impression overload’.
We started at Swayambhunath, the Monkey Temple, which is situated on a hilltop, towering above the city, but still clouded in its dust and noise. It is a big Buddhist temple, a Unesco World Heritage Site – but rather than being a museum or place of detached reverence, it was a site for picnics, prayer, selling trinkets, begging and more. Dogs and monkeys everywhere. It became quickly evident to us that no religion is practiced in its purist form here, Buddhism and Hinduism borrow iconography and Gods from one another and spirituality is everywhere… wherever you turn a corner in Kathmandu, there will be a big or small shrine with incense, a prayer wheel, offerings, candles…
In the afternoon we visited Durban Square, which suffered a lot of damage in the earthquake.
Driving through Kathmandu is so exiting. Our driver was very skilful, not only navigating the narrow streets, but dodging cars, motorbikes, pedestrians, dogs, goats and cows! Makeshift temporary accommodation for earthquake victims is part of the streetscape, like behind this pile of rubble.