First time in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Are we ready for Kathmandu? — I questioned in excitement once stepping out of the plane and inhaling the Nepalese air. It had different vibe, different, people, different culture and different colors. Flying into Kathmandu, both Iza and I agree that the Arial view from the plane is by far the unbeaten one we’ve seen yet. The popping vivid square houses, surrounded by the Himalayas dropped the jaw and teased the curiosity. What a sweet surprise, lucky us we both had a window view with intro to Nepal‘s biggest metropolitan area and its capital.

Can I say Kathmandu again? Iza loves the name KA-TH-MAN-DU, or Kathmandu Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is know also as the tri-city surrounded by 4 mountains and two sister cities, Lalitpur 5 km south and Bhaktapur 12 km to the east. Kathmandu’s population is nearly 1 mil, and the elevation is 1,400 meters. Higher then what we have been cursing on, in the past 6 months we have traveled through South East Asia where the elevation for the most part stayed at sea level. However, we are ready, ready for higher grounds.
Kathmandu is the hub for all tourists who come here to see the spirit and soul of Himalayan Mountains and it’s here that most start their journeys of higher altitude treks and get ready to surrender into nature best views in the world.
Iza come from civilized, milk chocolate sweet, fondue Swiss cheese Switzerland and I coming from the advanced polluted tech Beijing. (Yes, you read it right, for 10 days the Hot Toddies were separated, Iza had a sidekick errand) It was nice to rejoin our thoughts and pick up our journey, a new journey, which began with flying dust, beeping cars, city’s heat and bad underarm odor.
— Namaste — Greetings from an older man who Iza found in Thamel (the city center and tourist’s hub) who help her pick me up from the Airport. He was surely happy and cheerful until he learned that we would not be staying at his guesthouse. Sometimes people really are nice for a reason. Especially in Kathmandu, be alert for the super nice people. Since we didn’t stay at the guesthouse we met up with Jack and Tamara, CouchSurfer hosts who live in Boudhanath (Boudha) the holiest Buddhist site in Nepal, 11 km from city center and it’s primarily a Tibetan neighborhood with many monasteries and praying monks.
Boudha is easily recognized by the Buddhist Stupa that dominates Kathmandus skyline. Its massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal and in the World. Boudhanath was decelerated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s a must visit.
Few days and we fell right into the chaos of Kathmandu’s life. Colorfulness is what I would describe what we’ve seen so far. The vivid color of dresses, the green veggie stands, the rustic bikers, the grayness of pollution, the sandy flying dust and the blackness of the crippled people, it all combines and forms a special Kathmandu spirit. It’s a good spirit of colorful sites and waving praying flags.
— This place is very different from what we have seen yet.—Deformed people with one arm, no eye, shoeless, feetless look up to others for support and food. The rickshaw drivers who follow us to give a ride, the Hindu man trying to sell us special mushrooms and best hash in Nepal. The random cows on the streets digging in the garbage for food, the little children shitting on the side walks, the two man walking side by side holding hands and the older woman passing quickly with bellies and flab hanging out while this society get’s offended if I wear a tan top. Beeping cars and flying garbage adds to the chaos of a different place.
The more we travel, the more I can say that there is no place on this planet that is the same. If the terrain looks the same the people are different, if the people act the same the terrain is different. Including how we say goodbye to our loved ones.
The Pashupati is the center of faith and religious piety of the Hindus and Buddhist of the world. People from all over Nepal come here to perform cremation ceremonies by the holy river of Bagmati. After each ceremony the crops are laid by the river and are burned. In Poland and most of the western cultures the bodies are buried into the ground, in Nepal and in Hindu religion the bodies are burned. In Tibet the bodies are given to the birds for a sky burial
Visiting Pashupati, was fascinating in a weird way, we were surrounded by the smoke and smell of burning human flesh. According to Wangmo, Tamara’s and Jack’s roommate, it’s not good to be around the burning bodies, she claims that there is a possibility of catching diseases from the burning body smoke. Everything was done out in the open tourist and strangers were around witnessing ones love going away. This was the first time we have seen anything like this, very different, and very interesting to see how other culture copes with the dead.
Getting into a crowded micro-bus (holds 10-15 people max) to check out the Monkey Temple was a ride with many laughs and amusement. The bus was packed, no space to fit, yet the 4 of us, Jack, Tamara, Iza and I were squeezed in like I squeeze the lime. Tamara’s face was all up a strangers face, her ass was in Jack’s face, my half ass was on a man’s lap and Iza face was all up BO arm smell. Afternoon’s heat kicked in and the dust added to the ride, 40 minutes and we arrived to the famous Swoyambhungth know as the Monkey Temple. Just like the nickname this temple is occupied by many jumping monkeys and is located high on a mountain over looking Kathmandu Valley. It’s definitely a highlight in Kathmandu and like the Boudha Stupa it adds to Kathmandu’s skyline.
Climbing, climbing and more climbing we did to visit a monastery across from the Monkey Temple where Tamara volunteered teaching English few years ago. Thanks to her, we visited a non-touristy place just like from the plane we believed it was the best view of Kathmandu. The popping vivid square houses were once again lighten up by the sun’s rays. The delicate sound of waving praying flags made us feel at ease and appreciate the beauty from high above. This is Kathmandu, welcome to Nepal.

Boudha Stupa
Pashupati, Ceremony Ritual. Burning bodies.
Pashupati, Ceremony Ritual.
Tamara nad Jack, our CouchSurfing hosts
Prayer flags in Kathmandu
Climbing hight to the Monistery across from the Monkey Temple
Walking around Bouhda Stupa