10 July 2013

Off to see the Himales (pronounced like tamale)

Today we set off on another adventure. Our hired driver, Hari, took us first to the city of Panauti. The route was gorgeous - so green and lush. The drive took us past the world's tallest Shiva statue (143 feet tall!), a water park and rice patties. Panauti is a city that is built upon a large rock where two rivers converge. It too holds one of the seven UNESCO treasures of the Kathmandu Valley. We visited a temple and walked around a bit. The pigeons were EVERYWHERE! They kept fluttering all around us, it was almost unnerving. It was a calm, sleepy town, we were most likely the only westerners in town.

Then we headed to Dhulikhel. First we stopped in the center of town to visit a temple or a shrine. More interesting to me however, was the fact that we ran into a group of ladies who were all wearing red or bright magenta Saris. They were beautiful. We asked Hari why they were all dressed in red. Now Hari's English is EXTREMELY limited, so all he was able to tell us was that they were headed to a special dinner. We wished we could go see! It must have been some celebration, as even one of the religious statues was cloaked in red as well.

The streets in Dhulikhel (as well as some of the other towns we have visited) are made of cut stone. Its a beautiful sandstone that shows a multitude of colors when wet, it's also very slippery when wet. As this is the monsoon season and it rains quite frequently, we had to watch our footing as we walked around.

Dhulikhel is high up in the mountains and nearby is the mountain of the same name. Set in that mountain is a 1.5km trail - it's all steps, all uphill. We climbed it up into the clouds. About half way up was a huge Budda statue. Perhaps the world's largest Budda? Perhaps not, we don't know, but it was huge. We got to the top of the trail and there was another temple. The temple was undergoing reconstruction work, but we were still able to walk around and see it. From here, this was our expected vantage point to be able to see the Himalayas (or as they seem to be called here, the Himales -- it rhymes with tamales!). Unfortunately, it was so cloudy that looking out, we could not even see the nearby hills let alone the Himalayas. However that did not stop us from taking pictures with them in the background (even if they are not visible!)

After Dhulikhel we drove to the town of Thimi. Getting to Thimi was at times a challenge as some roads were precarious and semi-washed away. Thimi was the town of potters. We walked the streets, watching men spin pottery on their wheels, observing the women add artistic features to pots and more. It was interesting to see the process and see all the pots drying. We speculated how many of them might be sold to other countries and where the clay came from. In this neighborhood, it was clear that EVERYONE who lived here - big, small, old, young, male, female - was involved in the pottery business. Thus it begged the question to answer: do you have to be a potter to live here or if you live here are you forced to be a potter?

After our hike, long car rides and exploration we returned home to our room and took a nap. Later we walked back in to Bhaktapur as school was letting out. It was interesting to see all of the kids walking around in their various uniforms. Tammy and I tried to sit in the square and eat our Kofti (ice cream), but soon we were joined by a young girl who was trying to get us to buy her a book for school. This is a scam and she was not the only child who tried this line on us this evening. However, her English was excellent and she was very personable! After we left her, we did a bit of souvenir shopping, buying gifts for some of you back home and then we enjoyed dinner overlooking the square. Another great day in Nepal!

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Location:Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

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