Well here I am, at long last back in Nepal. I came in 97 for a MTB ride, which was fantastic, but I didn’t feel that I had seen a great deal of Katmandu.
So here I am again, 20 years later for a trek to Everest Base Camp. It’s the coldest time of the year but it is also the quietest time for me as a self-employed, trainer, leader etc.
I’ve arrived early as my body struggles with the labours of travelling. I’m using Air bnb to find accommodation and Raju, my host has been very hospitable and helpful. Is the room everything that you would desire, well no, but for £9 a night it is more than acceptable.
What have I been up to? The apartment is on a direct road into the centre of Katmandu. To Thamel, the tourist epi centre. What has changed? Motorbikes and scooters. It is still, noisy, dusty, smelly and fragrant as it ever was, lots of people, locals and tourists alike but now we have to weave around these vehicles. There is a highway code in Nepal but I think that it may only be a suggestion. If you are waiting to cross a road don’t wait for space or invitation, you have to go for it or wait for ever. Don’t pick on the trucks or busses as they rule.
The motorbikes do appear to be engaged in some weird race. Not for life but probably death.
So I’ve been to Swayambunath or monkey temple. A not too pleasant walk through the traffic but interesting and fun to see the structures and cultural adaptations. There is a significant set of steps to gain the Temple entrance, I weighed it up and thought that I should be able to make it in a oner, I found myself struggling at about half way so I stopped to take a picture, obviously. Researching afterwards I find the Katmandu is 1350 metres above sea level not high by Himalayan standards but close to Munro level.
The Monkeys are rhesus macaques. They have been here a while, look quite threadbare, always investigating if it is worth eating, so don’t drop anything. They get shouted at, but generally co-exist with the humans. Some of the Temples were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and some survived. The main Buddhist Stupa is still there, keeping a watchful eye on the Katmandu valley.
And so now to start packing for the trip that will start tomorrow.