Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 118 - Swoyambhunath and The Kumari

I woke up this morning at 7am to a rat crawling on top of my body. Now I know how I would react to a situation like this, and no, I would not scream like a girl. I left the window open through the night to get some air flowing, and the rat managed to climb through the window on the fire escape. My bed was right next to the window, so the rat naturally crawled on the bed...and on top of me. When I woke, I quickly pushed the rat off me, and it ran back through the window, or at least I hoped it did. I searched the room to see if it was still there, but I think it was gone. Luckily, after I calmed down, I was able to go back to sleep. What a great first experience in a Nepalese guest house!

I met with Jonas and Rachel in the morning to head to the Swoyambhunath, which is another stupa also nicknamed the “monkey temple” because of the numerous monkeys that hang around the area. We climbed the steep steps to the top, and the stupa looked very similar to the stupa I saw at Boudhanath yesterday. Maybe this is what a typical Nepalese or Tibetan stupa looks like? We saw the whole of the Kathmandu Valley from the top, which provided panoramic views. I ended up running into a friend I made while traveling in Myanmar, Niels, from Holland, who just arrived in Kathmandu yesterday. We got in touch through facebook and planned on doing a trek in the Annapurna area together. Small world? We didn't even plan on meeting here, and I wonder if we would have bumped into each other even if we hadn't contacted each other through the internet.

The four of us walked around Thamel, which is the major backpacker/tourist area. There were numerous trekking shops scattered throughout the area, along with many different restaurants and Nepalese souvenir shops.

Afterwards, we headed back to Durbar Square to catch the festivities. We met up with Sophie, who was hosting another girl from the United States who just arrived as well. She was from Maine, and had just graduated from high school and was going to volunteer in Nepal for a while – such a rarity for an American to do that! We also met up with another Cser from Austria who I had kept in contact with over the past few months because we both planned on being in Nepal around the same time. Funny how I was alone in India less than a week ago, and now I'm in the company of some great people from all over the world.

We sat on top of one of the temples to watch the Indra Jatra festival, which seemed very unorganized. We must've waited for about 2 hours before the Kumari showed up in a wheeled cart. She was whisked through the city so everyone could see her. It wasn't much of a festival in the end, but more of a showcase of the little girl.

Niels and I decided that we would head to the city of Pokhara tomorrow to plan our trek in the Annapurna area. We would hike for around 12-days to the Annapurna Base Camp, which would be at its highest around 4,100 ft. The weather is perfect right now to trek, and it is a couple weeks before the real trekking season starts, and when more tourists will come.


Touristy Thamel

A Tiny Glimpse of the Kumari in the Wheeled Cart

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