Monday, January 22, 2007

this weekend's weekend getaway

this weekend's getaway from the smog of kathmandu was to nagarkot, about 2 hours east of kathmandu, and 800 meters higher. it's amazing, it's only about 30 km away, but takes a couple hours to get to, due to changing busses in bhaktapur, and slow crowded windy, dusty, thin roads.
the big draw for nagarkot, is a clear view towards the himalayas. it's famous for the sun rising above the jagged snow-capped peaks. the town is high above the kathmandu valley, with a panoramic view of the tallest range in the world. after sunrise on sunday morning, the plan was to head down to changu narayan, a hindu temple and unesco world heritage sight on the way back to kathmandu.
of course, both sunrise and sunset at nagarkot were filled with clouds, with sunrise looking like the ocean beach fog in san francisco.
lit a butter candle in front of a buddha for good luck in bhaktapurhand made wooden masks in a shop in bhaktapur, a place i visited a couple weekends ago
here is where magnificent photos of the himalayas would have gone, but fog killed that idea. but all was not lost. ended up hiking most of the way back to kathmandu, partially for hiking exercise, and also because of a nationwide blockade on the roads of nepal by 'public transportation' (a very loose term) drivers. last friday, a student protester was killed by maoist cadres in the southern region of lahan. protesters then torched 14 busses in protest, and a curfew down there was established. on sunday, the 'public transportation' workers closed all roads to traffic except for motorcycles and a few taxis. so it ended up that protesters were protesting other protesters burning busses due to a protester being killed.........but anyway, the hike was great, as we passed through chhetri villages, holy temples, and an old sadhu. the hike felt a bit like a holy pilgrimage.
these girls greeted us at the start of the hike. i gave them a passport photo of me as a souvenir, and took photos of them for the same reason.

the hazy farming countryside on the way back down to kathmandu
this was the greatest part of the journey. halfway on the trek back, some village kids had us climb a little hill to meet this man, babu, a geniune sadhu, or a holy hindu man who renounces material things, and wanders from time to time on spiritual journey. here he is offering us coffee, in his tiny, rammed-earth abode.
he's 73 years old, is originally from calcutta, india, has been a sadhu for 50 years, has lived in this home for 40 years, has been visited by many, and speaks a pretty good amount of english.
here he is holding a picture taken by a former volunteer building a school nearby. you can't see it, but in the background of the photo, the leaves of the trees right above babu's head looks like the hindu god, vishnu.
his secret to staying healthy and alive is eating nothing but vegetables, removing grains and rice from his diet, and smoking lots and lots of dope. homeboy tokes every day, and is popular with the male villagers aged 16-25.
elephant at the hindu temple, changu narayan
wood carving details on the eave of one of the temples
a nepali tradition, sitting around with afternoon milk tea.

speaking of wandering holy men, does anyone know Dónde está Ché Pelotas?


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