Travel Notes from Changu Narayam, Nepal
This day last year was definitely warmer. Blame it to climate change, i can't even fathom walking around at night here now. My tipping point is at 9PM when my hands start to become numb. I usually use my hand warmers during this time, and cover all skin.
I'm back at Pilgrims Guest House, located north of Thamel. It's particularly quiet around here, and the courtyard/garden restaurant is the icing in the cake. It's great that i get free breakfast every day. Today, i got Trekker's Breakfast which is a heavy meal, i must say. The deluxe rooms here are located on the third floor with views of the the local houses. Shree Tibet, where i stayed before, had standard accommodations but people were more friendly.
Sometimes, i wave at my neighbors early in the mornings. It's such a delight to be back in Kathmandu. People hate it because it's congested, polluted and bitterly cold during winter. I love it. January is really the perfect month to visit. Although peak season is October and November when the views of snow capped mountains appear on the horizon. I love the city during this time because there's less foreign people, and more local people.
Today was eventful. After waking up rather late, and beating the last minute for the breakfast, i decided i will go to places around the valley which i haven't been to before. It's quite tricky because my first visit was jam-packed with all the must visit places.
After a quick stop at Fire and Ice, i hailed a cab to take me to Ragna Park where buses bound for Bhaktapur leave. However, i'm totally bypassing the durbar square for the more off the beaten path destination, Changu Narayam. After an hour of brisk walking, and finding myself lost most of the time. I found the perfect spot to catch the bus for the ridge. The problem was, it's always full. So, what i did was to get to where the bus first makes a stop and grab a seat the soonest possible time.
The view going to the top was spectacular. I wonder why there's very few tourists heading out here. With magnificent views of the lowering city, the valley ridge, and if you're lucky, the snow-capped mountains, Changu Narayam could totally top all the popular durbar squares. I especially find it fascinating walking up the steps that lead to the two-tiered temple. It's so peaceful out there, and i would have spent overnight if only i was carrying my rucksack. Mind you, Changu Narayam is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There were plenty of kids surrounding me and asking for chocolates but as any responsible tourist, i won't give in to begging. It just sucks that poverty in Nepal is so apparent. But what i realized was, the outlook in life of most Nepali people is so admirable.
By the way, i made new local friends today. And in the photo above, we've established Nepali version of One Direction. When they heard that i didn't sound like anyone of them, that's when the conversation started. As mentioned before, i looked like everyone. If last year, everyone was calling me Gurung, this year, everyone was calling me Pundit. Both are types of caste in Nepal. I should totally head to where these people live, and i will surely feel visiting my hometown.
I walked around Bhaktapur soon after, and watched the sunset. Be minded, there's no light at night even in the durbar square so walking is extremely cautioned so you can avoid bumping another body. I ate at Namaste Restaurant with the friendliest waiter I've ever met, and ate my chicken fried rice which was excellent.
I'm about to sleep in a few minutes, trying to avoid the 2 degrees celcius temperature expected at 2AM. It's extremely cold outside, and i could't finish my cigarette in the balcony. It's good that my baby yak wool scarf is keeping me warm. I paid 120% off the original price quoted on this, and gave the man 1000 rupees. Blame it on my bargaining skills or perhaps, my charisma ( more like local price). Next, i bought a couple of playing cards which I regretted not buying last time i was in Nepal. Again, the endearing seller gave me a special price. He whispered not to mention my price to anyone i know. Just sharing it here. :)
Good night, from beautiful Nepal!!!