The first stop of my trip was Kathmandu, Nepal. Initially, my plan was to stop here to start a tour that was going into Tibet. However, due to the political circumstances at that time, I was not able to complete this ‘tour’, and instead, completed another tour with some fantastic people! I must add firstly that the people that I met during this trip made the trip. I had a fantastic time with Bron & Gerry – thanks again guys :).
We ended up doing a tour of Nepal, with some Tibetan experiences as well. We mainly saw the southern end of Nepal, so no Base Camp for me. However, the first thing is first. We were lucky enough to do a flight tour of the Himalayas, and we saw the majestic Everest and its brothers and sisters. I have to admit, you know how you read how mountains are majestic, and inspiring and all that stuff they say about them? Well, I never thought I’d say that, but it is. When I first saw it – I was completely awestruck. It was truly amazing, I instantly felt like I’d been touched by something just by looking at the range, something I cannot explain, but I instantly felt inspired, as if I could do anything, including climbing it.
We saw a few other things in Kathmandu. Our tour guides were fantastic. We visited a Tibetan refugee camp (I know it sounds awful, doing a tour of where people live – however, the people need the ‘propaganda’ to get the news out there so that foreigners are able to see what really goes on in this area [I won’t go into the politics or my opinion on the subject]. Plus, the people run small markets at each camp, where they can make some money selling their crafts to foreigners. All the money they raise, goes back to their community, monasteries and educating their children) and monasteries. At the camp, the women of this community had set up a Tibetan carpet factory to sell to the public. For some of these women, this is their only form of income. Women of all ages work in this factory, the elder ladies prepare the yak wool, and the younger ones make the carpets. They are sold at their showroom which is upstairs. What I saw was an old generation teaching a new generation how to make something so traditional and true to their culture, that would last and can be passed on. The carpets were amazing, great colours, amazing patterns and were all hand-made. This was true craftsmanship at its best. I had decided to buy a small carpet to take home. I bought one with the Buddhist symbol of the endless knot – which I think it means compassion and wisdom (yay! 🙂 ). They way I saw it, my money was going to something good. I felt very proud 🙂
The Buddhist monasteries are amazing, I can only imagine what the Potala Palace in Lhasa would have been like. The buildings are delicately and colourfully decorated, such detail in their work. I went to Kopan Monastery (just outside the city, on a small mountain, overlooking the Kathmandu Valley) on my own and with the tour group we went to the Boudhanath, the large and holiest Stupa. The Boudhanath is beautiful, with a couple of small monasteries around it, markets selling Buddhist beads or prayer flags. This was probably my favourite place in Kathmandu.
One thing I loved about this place, was the visit to the Tibetan Thangka Painting school. We saw students paint their mandalas which such concentration and detail. If anyone has ever seen one of these paintings, they are very detailed and have very intricate designs. Each symbol or picture means something etc., but the process of making one is used a meditation and teachings are part of Buddhism, so it can be considered as ‘study’ for them. It is truly incredible the discipline and patience that the students exercise.
We also went to UNESCO listed Dubar Square in Patan to see the Hindu Palaces and temples (we couldn’t go into the temples, we were not Hindu). The intricacy in the woodcarving was amazing! Some areas have been restored as it is very old, but the locals seem to want to preserve it – as they should, this is part of their history as a human race. The other temple we visited was the Pashupatinath Temple dedicated to Shiva, which also UNESCO listed. Again, we were not able to walk inside, but we walked around the area and saw it from outside. We also saw the funeral piers and all the cows around the area.
There are other places I visited and many more photos, but again, I have only selected a few. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos! I’ll be posting more of each city that I visited in Nepal, so keep an eye out!