It’s been a while since I updated the blog, as I’ve been completely immersed in learning Spanish since arriving in Medellin two weeks ago. But before I start describing experiences in Colombia (all very good), here the final episode of my time in Nepal.
Kathmandu was a strange experience. It’s dusty, noisy, and suffers with horrendous smog. Even with the utterly charming people that you encounter, it’s a tough city, and poverty lives alongside wealth and luxury.
In a good sign that in Nepal, as in the rest of the world, people are waking up to green issues, I came across these young student protesters one day. They were demonstrating for increased environmental awareness. I made the mistake of high-fiving a couple of them after taking the pic, which meant I was stuck high-fiving all of them. It was a long procession. They were the friendliest masked protesters I’ve ever encountered!
The city has three royal squares, from the time when the Kathmandu valley was three separate kingdoms. These royal squares contain many buildings from the 1600’s, and all are UNESCO world heritage sites.
Sadly, there was a lot of damage to some of the buildings during the earthquake, but remarkably, many were left unscathed. Those that were damaged are being rebuilt and are clearly going to be restored to their former glory.
Just outside of one of the square, I came across these three gents peering into the shop that sold Gurkha knives (a local shopkeeper told me that they were retired Gurkhas).
Around the squares, life is fascinating to observe. The streets are mostly narrow, crowded, and full of life. Shops are crammed into the tiniest of spaces, and small entrances hide beautiful once glorious courtyards.
Like in other South Asian countries, brick kilns dot the countryside. These kilns often have bonded labour, working in horrendous conditions. On a walk outside of Kathmandu we came across this kiln.
I have no idea what the labour ‘contract’ was, but conditions were clearly tough. Nevertheless, these boys were having a great time on their makeshift football pitch. The game appeared to be secondary to the task of getting as filthy as possible.
Needless to say, it would have been rude not to join in for a while. Those that know my lack of football prowess will be pleased to hear I retired before embarrassing myself too much (or getting too filthy).
Once outside of the city the countryside quickly becomes spectacular and there are beautiful walks to be had.
Tucked into the hills was a monastery that I walked through, and I loved this perfect example of letting sleeping dogs lie!
Of course it’s not just sleeping dogs that are allowed to lie, but cows too. These two formed a great obstacle course for the drivers.
Just as I was leaving, the monsoon rains were starting. In true South Asian style, this didn’t stop everyday life, even if it did mean holding an umbrella whilst being a passenger on a motorbike!
After 2 months in Nepal, I returned to the UK very briefly in order to pick up the beast and fly out to Medellin. I’m pleased to report she survived her ordeal of being taken apart and then transported in a giant plastic bag, along with my very posh Ikea travel luggage (it saved having to check in, and pay for, four pannier bags!).
I’m looking forward to describing this amazing place, which exceeds even the high expectations I already had. I will be sharing my experiences here in future posts. For those that have been worried about my safety, relax. You’re in for a big surprise at just how awesome this place is. Until then, ‘hasta luego’, and take care, wherever you are.