Kathmandu oh Kathmandu, I love you, I hate you

After a long flight I reached the notorious capital of Nepal early in the morning. After the Immigration necessity I got picked up from my empress TY and we went into town, direct into busy Thamel, the tourist quarter in Kathmandu. Happily that she chose a hotel a little bit outside of that mess, in a small alley away from that street-hustlers who want to sell almost everything a human mind can imagine. While my former visits the Swoyambhu Stupa was mostly the first sight I visited, so as this time too. This stupa is set in the western part on a small hill nearby the town center, actually it is an easy stroll, but we decided to take a ricksha because it is quite fun to get well shaken in that backseat. As I can imagine how strenuous the work as a rikshadriver is we jumped out half way and walked the last stretch uphill. We passed by the Bisnumati River and I could not remember that this place was so polluted. It seems that the town get rid off all waste and garbage here in this small river, maybe it was like before, but this time I came directly from sterile Europe and probably I recognized it more than before. On the foot of that hill a long and sweaty climb (231 steep steps) brought us to the entire place of that monastery hill. Sadly that the main stupa was hidden behind a scaffolding caused of construction work, fortunately I am not a first time visitor so I already enjoyed that in its full glance. We enjoyed the fresh breeze above the city and strolled around the extended area. I realy feel good to be back in a world where the senses are more claimed than at home. The smell of burned incense, the sound of rattling prayer wheels, the mantras sang by worshipers or the colorful wind-horses waved by the wind are a feast for the senses. Also aplenty of monkeys inhabit this hill, which gave this monastery the nickname ´monkey temple´ and are waiting for donations in form of any kind of food given by the many visitors. Later we strolled back into busy Thamel and enjoyed a dhaal bhat tarkhali dinner (rice, lentils and vegetables) with some Tibetan friends who were in Kathmandu too. Also on our schedule was a visit at Bodnath, called by the locals easily Boudha. We visited Sonam, a Tibetan salesman who has his shop nearby this holy 40m high stupa, and just enjoyed the peaceful but slightly crowded atmosphere there. Later on we also went to the Durbar Square, the old center of Kathmandu with its many ancient palaces, holy shrines and temples. But quiet the most fun of all activities for me is walking around the old town situated between New Road and Thamel. In these small alleys a typical bazaar offers things for every daily needs. Woman shove through the lanes in their colored sari, Tibetans in traditional dresses, youngsters showing the latest fashions and children in their school uniforms struggle the way through. One alley mainly offer household stuff, the other electronic goods while in another the shoe business is atop. There is always something else to explore, small hidden stupas and temples, one of the very few old style Newari houses which are rare in Kathmandu nowadays or simply the farmers selling their vegetables on every corner.
But after all, a few days are quiet enough, as it is good to come again it is good to leave after a few days too. The negative signs like every big city are present here of course too, even more because Kathmandu is quite small, compared to other Asian capitals. So then we headed directly to Pokhara, which I would call meanwhile my home away from home.


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May 2010
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