Looking for Yeti
Wanting to visit Nepal has always lurked in the background of my mind. Whether it was the required reading of Siddhartha in high school, the intriguing media coverage of the 70s rush to enlightenment on the streets of Kathmandu, or maybe just my penchant for Himalayan cats, I’m not sure. But here we are – in Kathmandu.
My primary objective was to see the famous Himalayan mountain range and Mt Everest. A fly-by seemed just our style. Flights leave at 7 AM, so it’s another 5 AM wake-up. It was dark and hazy and at 6:30 they decide if the mountain is clear. If it is, you go, if not, you try again the next day. November is reported to be the best month to do this and we had a perfect day, heading out with 14 other passengers in a Buddha Air, 16-seat Beech 1900D.
Everyone has a window and the helpful flight attendant passes out souvenir maps and points out key mountains along the way. Looking out the windows was fine, but pictures weren’t good because the windows are scratched. We got to visit the cockpit twice during the flight and the friendly pilots helped us get better shots from their perfectly clear vista. They must never get tired of flying that route.
The Himalayan range is so imposing. It’s so big and looks so unforgiving. Brown where not snow-covered and barren. I can’t even imagine trekking.
After regrouping, we headed off on a city tour to Durban Square. Nepal is still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2015 and pretty much everything is under renovation. The temples and palaces in the square included. Local efforts are slow, but funds from US, China and Japan have made a huge impact and the people here are grateful. Today Chinese dignitaries are in town and there was a bit of a “show” on their behalf to look impressive. Notice the new hard hats on the workers sitting on the ground. Apparently, no one actually wears a hard hat to do anything.
Partly because of the construction it is incredibly dusty here. Temps are chilly and humidity very low. Traffic seems like nothing after India.
It was interesting to visit the house of the “Living Goddess” Kumari. I’ve seen TV features about this unusual tradition of selecting a child as the goddess. A role she keeps until puberty when she returns to a normal life and a new goddess is selected. She did make an appearance and no pictures are allowed; she is about four and a chubby little thing with a lot of elaborate makeup. It’s a huge honor to be a Kumari, but I just felt sorry for her.
Visiting the Monkey Temple at Swayambhunath was nice. A revered Buddhist site its origins date from about 500 BC. It has great views looking over the city and is the oldest stupa in Nepal. There are Rhesus monkeys everywhere.