February 10, 2016 by Alyse LaHue
We arrived into the charmingly nostalgic Kathmandu airport (aka last updated in the 60s) and officially kicked off the final leg of our journey. It feels like a retreat to enter Nepal after the chaos that permeates India. It’s a reverse shock to not hear the cacophony of horns and the overwhelming sight of too many people crammed into small spaces.
We are staying in Thamel, which is clearly where most of the outsiders stay, but it’s been a pleasure to be greeted every morning by ‘meow’, the cat that lives in the shop next door and the ever present ‘namaste’ for hello. Just say it out loud and you’ll feel better.
Our first few days here we had time to tour and get to know the city, its history, and unfortunately the constant cloud that still hangs on in the wake of last april’s (and may) massive and devastating earthquake that shook this fragile valley and took with it 8k souls. I’ve no idea if this is accurate but it seems to me Nepal has more temples and world heritage sites per square foot than anywhere else in the world. From the numerous ‘Durbar’ squares housing hundreds of years of temples all coexisting side-by-side to one another and to the natives that sell their goods and linger on them to the monkey temples to Buddha park and the list goes on.
It’s hard to process this much history in such a short time. Just the spiritual existence of structures this old can overwhelm the senses in a way that nothing from our present world can accomplish. Upon descent from the Pashupatinath Hindu temple we came across the burning ghats (funeral pyres) along the Bagmati river. It was such a serene scene with strangers gathered along the sides of the river taking in the multiple pyres as the smoke rose up from the river and through the temples. Some things can be written but just can’t be properly described to invoke the experience of bearing witness.