A Travellerspoint blog

Morning in Pokhara

And a couple of lost gems from Chitwan

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Before moving on to Pohara, I "lost" a couple of photos from Chitwan and our Journey from Chitwan. Fortunately "lost" does nor REALLY mean lost, just misplaced in many gigabytes of pixels!
I have mentioned the terracing of rice and other crops. This terracing can progress well up a mountainside. THIS is what I mean!

And while this appears (and IS) grand in scale, what we saw of harvest was definitely done on a small scale -- lots of work and little automation. Whether it be rice, hay, or anything else, the harvest, transport, and storage was definitely old school.

And one last lost view of Chitwan before we head out again:

We finally worked our way by bus from Kathmandu (the largest city in Nepal) to Pokhara (the second largest city). We stopped along the way when we saw something interesting. We saw quite a few very large bamboo swing structures. These were in high use and high demand and certainly had the best view of any swings I've ever seen. Bob took a swing. Alas, I didn't manage a good photo of that glorious sight.

Pokhara (at least the part where tourists hang out) was very European. This is the launching point for treks in the Annapurna Circuit. It is also home of a beautiful lake, which is even more beautiful at sunrise. We had the opportunity to take a boat across the lake for some nice sunrise views of the lake and another boater who was doing some pretty artistic paddling for the cameras.

Pokhara was also our first real look at the Himalayas, including Annapurna. The Annapurna peaks are climbable and, like Everest, have their own base camp. Everest itself is further uprange from where we were. Unless you are a lot sturdier than my father and I, it is accessible only by daily morning flights.

Posted by wangard 14:08 Archived in Nepal Tagged pokhara Comments (0)

The road to Bandipur

And on to Pokhara

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We left Chitwan and the plains behind with our next stop being Bandipur. On the way out, I couldn't resist a picture of this very odd beautiful flower.

Along the way, we made a couple of nice little stops. This included large bamboo swing structures. A couple of photos of swings on way up, but much better luck on the way down (which will be on the next installment)! Bandipur is a beautiful little town and we again stayed in a restored heritage hotel that was very nice. After settling in we explored the town and found some nice people, cool little details, and again stunning views.

We found evidence of public health and parochial school

The following morning we took in sunrise in Bandipur. Clearer skies would have been welcome, but clouds can provide nice drama as well!

And Bob made a new best friend.

And the Day ended in Pokhara at the World Peace Pagoda, which was stunning in and of itself and for the views it afforded. This was definitely a Buddhist experience, not a Hindu experience and sincere attempts to maintain peace and quiet around the site.

Posted by wangard 02:40 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

From the hills to the plains

Yes, this is the one with elephants!

95 °F
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We travelled from Nuwakot perched on its mountainside to Chitwan and its national park and surrounding villages in the plains of Nepal nearing the Indian border. This was the general area where flooding occurred in August, but we were not in the area that was damaged. This was about a 40ish mile journey. No sweat, right? Unfortunately, much of the road was being "repaired." Further more unfortunately, in its vast wisdom, the Nepalese government contracted the project to a number of Indian contractors rather than have their version of the Army Corps of Engineers do the work. I think it is safe to say this to s not priority one for many of the contractors. For the ones doing a good job, there was beautiful paved road. For those not (which would be a firm majority) the road resembled the ones traversed by covered wagons after the homestead act. 40is miles=about 5 hours! Not the promised completion date of the road...

On our evening of arrival, we again wandered the surrounding country and village. Being a plain with rice fields as far as the eye can see, it was hot. Think 95 and almost 100% humidity as irrigated fields evaporate. We met people playing, working, and moving and enjoyed a totally different Nepal landscape.

Ok, ok, here are the animals. In the morning, we entered the national park and later had the opportunity to watch elephants have their daily bath. Photos include rhinos and deer. Crocs were being shy. Every once in a great while, a Bengal tiger is stted, but alas not this day.

Yesterday, we covered a sign that was stolen by the Nazis - the swastika -- which has nothing to do with hate in Nepal. We also have been seeing another symbol that means EXACTLY what you think it means.
This is the symbol of the third most powerful political party in Nepal (Maoists) and is yet another sign of China's attempts at hegemony of southern and Southeast Asia as the Middle Kingdom expands. You can be sure that being neighborly is not the end game.

On that happy note, we will be starting our climb toward the Himalayas in the next installment!

Please excuse any typos. Typing while driving with autocorrect "helping"!

Posted by wangard 21:41 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

From the city to the country

A bumpy adventure from Patan to Nuwakot

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We started the day in Patan at Swayambhunath more commonly known as the Monkey Temple. It not called the monkey temple for any religious reason. It is called that because a whole boatload of monkeys live there. And they own it. And they are not nearly so hospitable as the Nepalese people. This is the site of a major Buddhist temple, but as Buddhism and Hinduism coexist, it is also the site of a Hindu temple.

After an early morning with grouchy monkeys who clearly have not embraced the Buddha, we checked out of the Inn Patan, which was gorgeous in all of its details as is so much of Nepal. And it was the home of a truly HOT shower.

This meant hitting the road for Nuwakot through some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. This also meant getting a little more into the mountains with the Famous Farm Inn in Nuwakot perched on a mountainside. Also perched on mountainsides are rice fields. Throughout Nepal the mountainsides have been terraced to allow planting. These go quite a ways upward and are quite the engineering feat, especially given that they have been dug largely by hand over centuries.

All along the way, there were river crossings in the form of suspension bridges. For all you Camp O folks, think of 300 yard Amantacha Bridge. These were mostly for foot traffic connecting villages back to the road, but this being Nepal were also crossing for some of the many motorcycles.

When we arrived at the Famous Farm we found an Inn frozen in time. Well, except for the wifi.

After a family style late lunch, we went exploring the town down the hill. There we found earthquake recovery, a beautiful sunset, and a living goddess. There are 7 Hindu living goddesses (Kumasi) with one selected for each of the kingdoms of Nepal. She was hanging out in Nuwakot and perfectly happy to have her picture taken. We were told these girls have a much more normal life these days except during festivals and except for the living goddess in Kathmandu who doesn't get to leave the temple until she is sprung from her gig as goddess upon reaching puberty.

And FINALLY for you history geeks out there, look carefully at this flag
Yes, my fellow geeks, that is a swastika. So why are there Nazi symbols in this very peaceful nation? Because, the Nazis and Hitler stole the swastika from Hinduism. Swastika is even a Hindu word. It is a symbol of prosperity, good fortune, and auspiciousness. So, in the west, this is a symbol of pure evil, but here, as it has been for centuries, it symbolizes good fortune. There were a pair of Swatikas on our bus to Nuwakot, in fact. I suspect if Hitler had tried to hijack the Christian cross, we would proudly reclaim our symbol, as is the case here. Still, a little strange to see this symbol and have happy thoughts.

History lesson is courtesy of our awesome local guide Bipin who knows all!

Posted by wangard 11:04 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Worshiping, playing, and working

A country in festival

85 °F
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Today started early with photos from the rooftop of our hotel into the square. Already, Kathmandu Valley had been up for a while with markets being prepared, traffic on the streets, and (for the festival) parades of drums and cymbals. I was fortunately prewarned of these things and had earplugs on hand!

The celebration Of Dashain is ongoing. Here is what Wikipedia had to say on the issue "It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Bikram Sambat annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese people, along with their diaspora throughout the globe. It is the longest and most anticipated festival in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and North Indian hills. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. All government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the festival period."
Fortunately, most tourist services go on as normal! There is celebration of different Hindu gods or goddesses on various days. There is crazy traffic as people go to their family's homes with many leaving Kathmandu for the countryside. There is animal sacrifice. I was happy to learn that the animals are eaten at family feasts rather than burned! For many, this may be one of the only times that meat is eaten during the year.

On this particular day of Dashain we witnesses much worship

We encountered many either playing, or out and about in their festival best

And for all of the celebration, work still needs to be done. This is not a country with Wal-Mart, Target, or Schnucks. It is a country of small shops with many stops required to obtain the basics.
Markets are open in the squares every morning and evening with daily shopping required to get fresh and safe food. The upside is that the food is VERY fresh in some cases.
With indoor plumbing not the norm, even getting water is a chore requiring a visit to public wells.

All of this adds up to a whole lot of work to complete daily tasks that are much easier at home. I have mentioned before that the logistics of this city are amazing. There are contradictions everywhere. There are live chickens sold in the market twice daily, but great cell service everywhere and everyone on their phones just like everywhere else in the world. All if this is happening as earthquake recovery is ongoing with many treasures flattened, amazingly, not only the treasures, but other buildings, are being restored not to a modern look, but in keeping with the artistry evident everywhere. And, behind the facades, reinforced concrete lintels and framing will hopefully keep these treasures standing the next time.

Posted by wangard 09:35 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

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