We flew from Paro on a 45 minute flight. The right side of the plane had a great view of the Himalayas including Mt Everest. I was on the left side of the plane and saw nothing.
We did visa on arrival, which I have never done before but it was easy.
We dove right into sightseeing, starting with Swatyambhunath Stupa, a 2,000 year old Buddhist shrine on a hill overlooking the city. We had no view due to the smog.
We also visited Durbar Square, the heart of the old city. Unfortunately, the earthquake last year took out most of the Royal Palace and surrounding temples. One of the only standing structures is the home of the Kumari. From what I understand, the Kumari is the living reincarnation of a Hindu goddess. She is chosen as a young girl from the community (each large community has one) and is kept in the temple with caretakers (not her family) until she has her period or she has to go to the hospital (or outside world for some other reason). Then, she is done and a new Kumari is chosen. She is brought out once a year in her chariot for a festival.
We went to a Nepali restaurant for dinner and had momos (dumplings), curried vegetables, rice, chickpeas and chicken.
Nepal borders China and India but is much more like India – the majority of people are Hindu, the food has lots of curry and the people look more similar to Indians. Also, they have free movement between Nepal and India, so many people come and go between the 2 countries. The border towns with China have been closed since last year’s earthquake (yet to be rebuilt), which tells you how little they value the exchange with China.
Day 2 – We attempted to take an Everest view flight. We woke up early and went to the domestic terminal, quite the experience in itself. They apparently always have a first ‘test’ flight (but has passengers) that departs to see what the conditions are like. Then, other flights will depart. We were booked on the third flight of the morning, after getting bumped from the second which we actually a good thing. First flight departed, second flight boarded and sat on the Tarmac and we sat in the terminal. The weather was not good (too cloudy) so the first flight was diverted, the second flight had to come back to the gate and the third flight never boarded and we were able to get out of there quickly – or semi quickly. There was no marked exit, so we went through security backwards while people were trying to go through for their flights.
We visited Patan, one of the 3 medieval cities in the Kathmandu Valley. We also visited a more traditional farming community of Bungamati. Both have been very badly damaged in the earthquake.
This section is under construction–
Nepali New Year – April 12
A note on earthquakes:
There was a tremor (4.5) on Saturday. People here are very superstitious about earthquakes now as we are coming up on the anniversary of last year’s on April 25. Much of the country is destroyed. Nothing has been rebuilt and they are still in the process of cleaning up – lots of bricks everywhere, partial buildings, etc. There are still people living in aid tent camps. It is sad and makes it hard to sightsee, as most of the sights have been badly damaged and have photos of what used to be there or plans of what will be there. Some sites are UNESCO, others are being supported by NGOs or foreign aid, and some by the Nepalese government. It will take at least 10+ years to rebuild monuments, more for housing and towns.