Thursday, 4 December 2008
After a restless night (too much food?) we woke up early and headed downstairs from our room for our hotel breakfast. Over the morning coffee we made our plan for the day, then decided we had better get moving!
We planned to take a taxi to a local Buddhist template then walk back to Thamel (about 6km). We found a taxi for the right price who took us through the peak-hour traffic through some shonky looking backstreets in order to avoid the worst of the traffic. Eventually we arrived at Boudhanath Stupa, a beautiful centuries old place of Buddhist worship and the largest in Nepal.
We drew parallels between the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Stupa; there was chaos, noise and maelstrom outside, but inside was serene and very peaceful. We walked the circuit around the Stupa a few times, soaking in the atmosphere and hopefully topping up our karma points.
The stupa is 138 feet high and painted white and is surrounded by Tibetan shops, restaurants and hotels, all with a view of the stupa. There are prayer flags from every available space and the blue sky against the white stupa highlights the flag colours and just looks amazing.
We climbed to one of the many rooftop cafes for a lassi and coffee, an opportune place for some more photographs with sun gleaming on the white dome. We wandered around the circuit a few times, visiting the monastery (the Tsamchen Gompa) and was given a short tour and blessing by one of the monks, we exchanged donations; rupees for him and a traditional white scarf for SB. With our karma back in balance we left the peace and went outside.
We couldn’t get a taxi to Patan as we would have liked, and we believed we had absolutely no chance of ever finding our way back to Thamel on foot, so we reluctantly took a taxi towards Thamel. The roads were less furious than the morning, but still pretty hectic. The taxi dropped us at the start of Thamel and left us to our devices to figure out where we were. We started walking in the direction of where we though we were, keeping our eyes open for any familiar landmarks. Eventually we figured out we were in a section of a day walk described in Lonely Planet, so by following the route there, we ended up back in Durbar Square (luckily we still had our tickets from yesterday). We took the opportunity to head up to a rooftop cafe for momos and pakora (steamed dumplings and friend vegetable patties). We we knew where we were, finding our way home was easy.
Siesta beckoned – some traditions die hard.
After another lengthy power cut (frequent here as the river level has dropped there isn’t enough water pressure for electricity generation and with no other option means no power). The hotel has a generator but for some reason that didn’t kick in.
We headed back into Thamel for a Nepalese dinner but due to a power cut we could only have snacks – hmm nice but not what I was expecting.
We found an internet cafe but just as SB was starting to sort out photos it froze – our karma hasn’t been flash as we are having memory card problems and have had to buy two new cards here in Nepal. We arrived back to the hotel with the power still off.