October 10, 2013 - Our time had come at Raja Laut and after two weeks, we decided to peel ourselves out of our hammocks and pursue some different adventures. Since we'd decided the rest of Indonesia was out, we booked flights to Nepal. Christina is flying back home from Kathmandu after six months on the road and it's an easy hop over to Europe with Etihad Airlines, so I decided to move up my visit to my sister and my dad.
From Manado, we flew to Jakarta and onwards to Kathmandu. It's the third time for me here and Christina's first, so it was a lot of fun for me to show her around. We spent a good ten days in Kathmandu seeing a lot of the sites, really taking our time and going to back to places we liked and getting lost in various backstreets. I even had two pairs of jeans tailored made. What could go wrong, for $11 each?
One of my favorite places in Kathmandu is Boudhanath, a stupa surrounded by old buildings and small shops.
You can only appreciate the sheer size of the stupa and surrounding areas by walking around the lot for a few hours and ducking into the many side streets to observe the local goings on.
The next stop was Durbar Square in Kathmandu. It's so vast and diverse that countless books have been written on the interpretation of each temple and building. All you have to do is sit somewhere and watch the world go by here, it's the best way to enjoy this place.
We took position on one of the temples to enjoy the view.
Nothing speaks to the imagination more than burning bodies, so we paid a visit to Pashupatinath.
In earlier days, women who outlived their husbands were expected to commit suicide, or at least that's what we were told. It seems drifting downriver for a bit now suffices.
A shot from Patan's Durbar square.
Nepal is the ultimate hiking country. We'd planned to be here for a while and do a few hikes. The first hike was Langtang, nearby Kathmandu, although it took a good seven hours to get to the trailhead with a jeep which we shared with two other hikers from our hotel.
As far as hikes go, this trip was a bit of a bust. We spent seven days on the trail, in dense fog, and never saw a single peak, let alone some sunshine, except in the first few hours of day one. Before we even got there, we got stuck behind the public bus, which we were all too happy we didn't take. We heard lots of horror stories from other hikers, how the locals start screaming in fear on certain sections, with the bus swaying back and forth as it lumbers up impossibly narrow mountain passes. In the picture below, passengers are getting ready to pull the bus over a hill, which worked remarkably well.
One highlight from hiking up to Kanjin Gompa is that you come through Langtang, where they have an excellent cheese factory, bake their own bread and serve good coffee.
Aside from shooting a few locals and prayer flags in the fog, there was not much else to aim the camera at.
After this somewhat damp adventure we decided to decamp to Pokhara to see what sort of mischief we could get into there. Unfortunately, Christina injured her knee on the way down from Langtang, so we are laid up a bit in Pokhara for the moment. It's a good place to slow down.