Strolling the streets of Patan

On our last day in Nepal Everitte and I decided to pay a visit to Patan, a city very close to Kathmandu with its own Durbar square, one of the Kathmandu Valley’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The city was originally built in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma Chakra, or Wheel of Righteousness, and is, if possible, even more full of beautiful old temples than Kathmandu. Continue reading

Kathmandu’s Monkey Temple and Boudhanath Stupa

Our return to Kathmandu was once again very temple centred. We returned to the Indian Embassy to hand in our visa forms and passports and pick them back up again in the afternoon on Friday. In the meantime we filled our time with a visit to the ancient cit of Patan and a visit to Kathmandu’s two biggest, most important and most spectacular Buddhist temples, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath.

Swayambhunath is on a lovely wooded hill to the west of Kathmandu, around 20 minutes walk from Kathmandu. On the way we crossed the Bagmati River, which sadly is one of the most rubbish-filled, polluted stretches of water I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Sunrise over the Himalayas and Goat for Dinner

We conducted our visa application business at the Indian Embassy, on Monday morning. It is a lengthy and largely pointless ritual which involves the Kathmandu embassy faxing the Indian Embassy in the applicant’s home country to ask for permission to issue the visa – naturally this embassy never replies as they receive hundreds of these faxes, and therefore the Nepalese branch assumes that if they haven’t heard back after 5 days that means it’s OK, and issues a three-month tourist visa.

The whole process therefore takes three separate visits over 5 days and involves lengthy queuing processes – the first day we arrived at 8.15, queued until the embassy opened at 9.30, then got our numbers, queued some more, then went to hand over our telex forms, at which point Everitte’s was approved and he went to queue once more for payment, while I was refused because I had an expired 5 year visa in my passport, something only available to non-resident Indians, and had to wait two more hours while two separate security officers questioned me about my Indian family members and my many Middle Eastern stamps.

Eventually stage one was completed, however, and we set out for the hill station of Nagarkot, only 60km from Kathmandu, but 3 hours away by bus due to Nepal’s joint problems with poor roads and heavy traffic.

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The Colours of Kathmandu

While Kathmandu is in many ways a thoroughly modern city, a walk through the rambling maze of beautiful medieval houses and temples in the old city is like stepping back into another time.

Everitte and I arrived late on a warm Friday night and got our visas from the most friendly and cheerful border guard I have ever met in my life. We made our way to Thamel, the backpacker hub of Kathmandu, a confusing sea of twisting alleyways lined with a seemingly endless series of cheap hostels, varying standards of restaurant and colorful clothes and scarf shops.

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Fall Seven Times and Stand Up Eight

Fall seven times and stand up eight – Japanese proverb

So yesterday was a very mixed bundle. Since, as will soon become apparent, the number seven was key, I’ll start by giving seven examples of the emotional roller coaster ride I went on in the space of a day.

1) The day began terribly. Everitte and I finally made it to the Indian Embassy, after two mornings spent trying to find it last week and failing miserably, only to be told that they would not issue us with a tourist visa for our trip, which is in less than a month, because we don’t have residency permits.

2) We came home and spent several hours looking on the internet for possible solutions, stressed because we had already spent over $300 each on non-refundable flights and apparently shipping passports across international borders to get visas elsewhere is very difficult and possibly illegal. I was running late for my internship at the newspaper by this point, and had an article due in a few hours, and ended up screaming at poor Everitte like a demented harpy-woman, which unsurprisingly lead to a fight. It was raining and life seemed like too much hard work. Continue reading