From diary 3,
and the birthplace of Buddha, I now return to Kathmandu and the
Despite I have set a alarm
till way too early, I actually get some sleep. When I go out, all is
dead. A few sleepy people are gathered around a single bus at the
square, and it is mine. A cup of tea in a plastic cup, and off we go.
The first hour is through pitch darkness, then it kind of lightens,
but the mist is heavy.
We pickup people as we go, but it is not the common local bus.
People are better dressed, and they do not get car sick. Back
through Bhairahawa and Butwal, then east in the lowlands. Just
around Bharatpur, the sun slowly peaks through, after five hours of
fog-driving. We do a few short stops, one for lunch.
We head northbound, a bit into the heights around Muglin, and the
sun gain more strength.
We reach Kathmandu after four; more than ten
hours on the road.
I had hoped, but not counted on being here this
"early". Then I can skip the night in central Kathmandu, and head
straight for the suborn; Patan. That way, I don't have to carry my
bag during the day tomorrow, and I might save some time.
Two mini-busses bring me the roughly
ten kilometres right through central Kathmandu. The traffic is
rather intense, and the streets rarely sealed. I still can't figure
how they get this to work in the rainy season? Now, it is a hazel
with the real uneven surface, huge boulders and unmarked holes. When
the dust is transformed till mud and holes into ponds - or lakes???
I'm in the right part of town; Patan, but finding a hotel proves to be
hard. I have upgraded my self slightly, and the hotel I planned, is not
interesting anymore. When I finally find a hotel, it is too posh - or at
least; expensive. I'm pointed to the other side of the road: The
Hungry Treat Home, which I can relate to. A bit expensive, but a
nice room - I'm told, I can't see it: The power is out.
I head for their restaurant, and they insist on I try their Pork Curry,
and why not? It is actually good. When the power returns, I get the
computer, and start working. Not really mush to report today, but it
was planned to be a transportation day, and that worked fine.
Beside from a plastic Christmas tree in the restaurant, I have not
seen or heard anything reminding me of it. Every time I get a
milk-tea, it seems to taste different - even the three I get at
this restaurant tonight. Some have a clear taste of cinnamon, some
other species, some rather spicy, some just warm milk and tea. So
fare, I haven't had a bad one. Those I have seen being made is by
pouring powder - mainly tea - into boiling milk and let it boil for
some minutes, sometimes added some sugar. Alternately, I get warm
milk with a bag in. The price go from 12 to 60R. I guess it is my major
26/12. I get up too early for breakfast,
and while the sun fights the mist, I find my way back to the bus
station. Here are hundreds of busses, and I spend some time,
finding the right one. While I search, I come across Lagankhel stupa
on a hill - quite strange in the city. Another strange thing is the
crusting on the grass, but some will consider it Christmas
When I finally find the right bus, I'm told I have to wait for an
hour. Well, that gives me time to find some breakfast - or at least
try. It is hard to find anything like noodles, nana, continental or
alike. I end up with a real sweet and crusty cake and the usual
I return to the bus after half an hour, just in case, and that was
vice. We drive through the chaos, heading south. We cross some huge
hills, and here, the mist rules. I looses the feeling of altitude,
but as we descent again, it clears a bit.
I jump of in Dullo, a small village - or
intersection outside Phraping. It is a lovely valley with small
farms and some strange, huge and apparently very rich Tibetan
Buddhist monasteries. The look strange with all the bright paint,
golden towers and roofs here, among farmers clay huts. I thought
Buddhism was about being humble! Here are signs with "Beware of the
Dog" and plenty of real nasty barbwire. I'm glad I didn't go here to
The path is teaming with school kids. Normally, I only see them
after nine, but they might start this early this fare out?
I get a milktea, two boiled eggs and two rottis - pancake-flat bred. Real nice and for the symbolic price of 60R. Then I'm
ready to explore the valley. I follow the trail pass farms and monasteries,
great the locals and try to figure what they grow on their fields
and their plastic greenhouses.
The trail end at a huge, real colourful statue and the pines. The
sun is gaining strength and both the locals and I enjoy it fully. I
walk slowly back to the junction, and head up towards Pharping. It
is a steep climb, and the narrow, dusty road is rather heavily used.
When a bus passes, I jump on. It turns out to be a school bus, but they
don't care. I jump off with the kids at a monastery school. In front
of it, several huge Arcucaria bidwilli; Monkey's Puzzle from
Argentina mark the entrance. Bit strange to see them here, but why
not? Most of the plants I pay the first attention to, happens to be
South African of from Madagascar.
It is a
bigger village, and it seems like it at
one time was kind of rich. I follow the old main street, letting the
busses and trucks take the ring road. Almost every house has a small
stone in the red brick sealed road. Here are made offerings with red
colour and flowers. There are many small temples along the road, and
they seems to be in use.
I find a trail, leading out through some fields, along a big
After a good walk, I meet the main road again, and turn down towards
Dakshinkali. I pass through pine forest on a steep hillside, and
despite the hazard, I make shortcuts to investigate the plants. Here
are not that many, the most interesting, beside from the pine, is a
small Peperomia. Some epiphytic ferns are real hairy, and a
few plants are flowering, though I suspect them of being foreign.
I reach a long line of small stands, offering - offerings. Flowers,
hens, red die, smoke-sticks, fruit and spices. Among
them are the
usual ones with cheap plastic toy and tacky plastic souvenirs and
jewellery. Then the restaurants starts, and I try a tea here.
I had expected a bit more "Indiana Jones"- like
atmosphere at this blood offering temple of Dakshinkali, but it is
not that lame. It is located in the bottom of a rather deep and
narrow gorge, surrounded by forest. I can hear the hens screaming,
the entire area is dripping with blood, although they apparently are
washing it away quite often. I don't feel for removing my boots, to step in the
red-black-brownish liquid. Not that it bothers me, but putting my
feet back in my boots will. Well, none ask me, and one is working
there has his shoos on.
Here are numerous bells, fantastic brass sculptures, smoke, blood,
pigeons, diseased hens and people praying.
I try to make some describing photos without offending anyone, and
leave while I can.
A sign point to Mata Tampled, and I follow it. It is a steep trail,
leading up on the other side of the gorge. It winds it way up
through the forest, and I spot some absolutely massive
Bulbophyllums in the trees.
The temple is not that impressive, but I remove
my boots on request, just to get to the view. Fare away Phraping sit
on its hill, else it is endless pine forests as fare as I can see. I
don't get credit for taking a photo of the inside of the temple -
can't please all. As I descent,
a small clay path leads uphill, and
I'll give it a go. It leads to another peak, passing more of the
huge clusters of Bulbophyllums and even a couple of small
Dendrobiums. The area is hard to penetrate due to the steep
slopes, but I do my best. When there don't seem to be more plants to
be discovered, I return. On the way down, I see a weasel-like
creature, black with a brown middle. Small Asian Mongoose;
The trail back, is down through the gorge again. I reach Phraping by
the car road this time, and make a loop through the nice, ancient
centre of town again. When I reach the road, I'm told the next bus
will be the Patan, and I wait five minutes. I figure; this causes
for a slideshow: Dollu & Phraping &
This time, the
Kathmandu valley is visible, and a
the brown rice fields can be seen for kilometres. At some point, I
realises; I'm heading right into the central Kathmandu, not the
southern suborn of Patan. A bit asking around, and I'm on a bus
going the right way. I have half the afternoon, and I think I might
jump of near the Golden Temple, and see some of Patan. I walk
through some narrow, old streets, filled with tiny shops. Each and
every one of them selling religious brass statures. Several gats;
deep holes with stairs to a pond or taps seems to be the normal
source of water here. In some, people are lined up with plastic
containers. Here are small temples everywhere, some in courtyards. I
see several before I get to the famous Golden Temple. It is actually
amassing! It is one of the biggest, and the roofs, the walls and the
thousands of stature are in brass. I try to capture it, but the size
of it and the small yard make it impossible. Here are not many
praying locals, but the first pale tourists I have seen for quite
some days. A sign outside points out the Kumbeshwar Temple, and why
not? It is fare from as impressing, but the pigeons seem to like it.
Here, they have taken bells to a whole new level.
My next target is the Durbar Square, and here, my
mind is blown! It is huge, it
is packed with ancient buildings and
they are so beautiful. The Patan Museum should be a visit worth, but
that will be another day. I walk around the square for some time,
until I have an overdose of temples. Then I head down the
almost-pedestrian street, which I hope leads home.
It is rather full with locals and a big variation of shops. I stop
at a bakery which sell milktea for just 12R. I watch the
bakes work, but restrain my self. I end up at the bus station, just
as I had hoped. It is four o'clock, the sun has been shining all
day, and I gamble on a hot shower - and wins! Once again, a power
failure marks the dusk, and I head to the restaurant to work. It is
lit with two Christmas tree candles, but my camera completely
fail to capture that: It look just normal lit.
27/12. I find the
just at is it about to leave, despite it is almost empty. Then,
before we are out of the bus station, it is stuffed. Today, I drive
south-east, down through the valley. I reach the village Godavari, and find
the road leading up along the wall, surrounding The National
Botanical Garden. The trees along the road has many orchids from at
least three genera. I follows the wall for more than a kilometre, and
reach a tiny village; Garden Corner. Even further down along the
wall, I reach the entrance to The National
Botanical Garden - half a hour to early. That calls for a
milkyea in the village.
The entire area is apparently a weekend pick-nick area for big
groups. Each bringing their speakers and amplifiers, and we are
talking serious stuff!
As I returns to the entrance, a school bus turns up, and by some
freak mistake, all the kids think I'm their fluffy host this day. I
play nice, but loos them soon, as we enters. Inside the 82 hectare
large park-like botanical garden, more pick-nicks with speakers and
games are taking place. I'm issued with a big folder with a tiny map
in. The only text I am able to read - glasses or not - is the useful
information: "You are here". Well, that is clearly an error...
Doing my best to escape the kids, I start with the Lilly Garden. It
is, not that unexpected, not the time of year. Lots of green leaves,
but that is it.
The Rock Garden is more year-round appealing with some Agavas,
Euphorbia bushes and a few Opuntias. Then I reach the big
and blue Tropical House, which so fare is closed. A loop through the
arboretum - or forest, reveals more orchids,
which I'm sure are wild
specimens. I see one of the employees, loaded with dead plant
material. She look more like a farmer's wife - or gra'ma. In the
Special Garden are two familiar plants:
sp. which probably is a
recurvata and a
The area with annuals are a bit barren, and the Fern House too. The
Cactus & Succulent House not really impressing - kind of survival of
the fittest - in this case Mammillarias and Opuntias.
The open Orchid House on the other hand is lush, but lack the
flowers. Here are the Bulbophyllums, and Coelogynes
I have seen, but no Dendrobiums. Here, like the plants in
the wild, the totally exposed plants seem to do best. One house has
mixed tropical plants, but like the rest, except the orchids, they
lack a bit "freshness". A better soil and some occasional fertilizer
might do it. The last house is all about Ornamental Plants, and a
few flowers do show.
The botanical garden was established in 1962, but the houses look
significantly older. The total number of species is given to 550,
but I guess the "wild parts" of the waste park counts way more.
I do a few more loops to see the Terrace Garden, the Japanese Style
Garden and finish up with the Rose Garden. Bit hard to tell what is
what... I finish the visit in the now open Tropical House, which
have a number of pots with common culture plants on the ground
underneath a few big trees. A single plant catch my eye: A
Stephania glandulifera, a species I'm not familiar with, in that
genera. It has nor leaves nor flowers, I can't guess.
The last houses are the shop, and it is a sorry sight. After two
hours, I have seen it all, I think, and head out. The National
Herbarium and Plant Laboratory look a bit deserted in the front of
the else impressing building. The back does look real deserted out.
A short tea break at the Garden Corner, and then
up the trail in Godavari Kunda Forest, which is a local project. It
seems to be a forest, a water plant and a small forest nursery. A
few orchids in the high branches, that is it.
Back out, and back to the bus stop, where a road leads up through a
huge gorge and the forest of Pulchowki Mountain. I pass several
pick-nicks, but finally I make it out to the wild. Here are loads of
interesting wild plants, and I see numerous orchids, wild vine;
Vitaceae, a real potent Urticaceae (after 12 hours, my
hand still hurts and feel num at the same time. 24 and it is
slightly swollen and real num, 72 hours, and it is almost gone), the flower of a
sub-terrestrial parasitic plant (Hyobrata
?), wild ginger,
some bushes with magnificent blue berries (once, I remembered their
name), Finger philodendron, wild pepper (Piperaceae),
Hedera sp. and much more. I manages to scare a single
Barking Deer. After spending the better part of the day here, I end way up, on a narrow trail. It is a long
walk back to the bus, which I just reach as it pulls off. I make a
slideshow for the Botanical Garden and
the forest around it.
This time, I'm on the right bus, and end up at
Patan bus station. A strengthening cup of tea and a test on some
entreating cakes. They are made by milk, I'm told, and they did look
more interesting, than they taste. Down the "pedestrian street" to
Durbar Square and the Patan Museum I missed yesterday. Now, I'm
charged 500R to enter the square - because I'm pale. At first, I
think it is a hoax, but the guy is quite persistent. Later, I chat
with him for a long time. He make 7000R a month, working here, a
waiter earlier told me, he made 5000R. I can spend that in a hour!
After I have entered the square, I have to pay additional 400R for
the museum and 20R to use my camera. The museum is not big,
but the building is astonishing, and so are the few but awesome
objects they are displaying. Mainly brass figurines, sorted in gods
and gestures, more than time. Here is also the Nepalese thrown from
Back on the street, I first am amassed of how
many ancient buildings here are. It is a majority of buildings
around Durbar Square, which seems to be hundreds of years old. Then,
when I notes how bad a state they are in, I realises; It is not
because the area is well preserved. It is only because they haven't
been ably to renew it. And - thanks to any god - here have never
been a serious fire, despite the masses of wood, which have gone to
Once again, I am astonished how many temples here are. Both on the
street, in courtyards, as entire houses or even blocks. Most have at
least two lion-like statues in front, other are only marked by a
real low door-way. I make a fast glimpse in to some, but I have
had my doze for some time by now. The buildings, the people, the
shops with colourful cloth and their cupper and brass is still
fascinating, but the sun disappears, and it is time to head home. As
usual, a long working evening in the bar, but the internet
mail-functions again, and uploading my photos fails. Never the less,
I make a slideshow with
28/12. An early start leads to a
sandwich with some sweet spray on, at my
usual morning joint, and a run
for the bus for Bhraktapur (elev. 1401). It feels like we never
leave the city, the neighbourhood just get real lousy in a long
stretch. I'm kicked of near the centre of Bhraktapur, and quite soon, I'm
at the Ganish Guest House, as planned. Room with bath; 500R,
without; 400R. And the view from the room and the roof terrace is
The steep streets are sealed with red bricks, the houses are made of
red bricks, and it all seems to be rather old. I have to pay a
rather steep fee to enter the old part of town; 1500R. It is used to
preserve the buildings, and I guess it either ought to be more, or
they should get more tourists. It is the old capital, and most of
the great buildings was made from 800 to 1500, but it remained as a
sovereign state until 1800.
It is still too early for the sun to reach the streets in-between
the three or four
story buildings, and I figure a milktea
will be a nice way to start the day.
When I hit the streets, it is for an overdose of
motives. I follow the main street towards the tall Taumadhi Tole;
the tallest temple in Nepal. The crocked road is lined with shops.
Here are most colourful clothing, endless brass figures, vegetables,
pottery, wooden carvings, butchers, convenient stores and much, much
Here are only a few tourists, but even the more souvenir-orientated
shopkeepers let me in peace.
The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is teaming with life, surrounded by
amassing buildings and a truly living museum. I try to capture the
fantastic buildings, which is in the sun this morning. Later, I will
re-visit to get the others.
The local people is enjoying the sun - unfortunately mainly with
their back to the sun. I see the beautiful Ugrachandu and Bharirab
statues in front of the art museum, the Golden Gate next to them,
the 55 Windows Palace, Taumadhi Square and
all the other temples, gaths, stupas and constructions.
I am without
any doubt on a straight route to motive-overdose! I head on, and
pretty soon, I reach Potter's Square. Numerous clay works, working
artists, local people, hens and dogs, pigeons and as everywhere
else: Those bloody motorcycles. It is hard to capture anything below
second floor without getting several of these modern invention in
I do some of the backstreets, alleys and even a few farmed fields.
Wherever I go, I find more idyllic houses and locals enjoying the
sun. Some time before noon, it seems like all women are gathering
around water pumps. Here are several deep wells and gaths, but they
don't seem to be in use, despite they do contain water - and other
I se several tight gathered groups of men, assembled
around a Ludo
game. The older men are just gathered in the sun, chatting, while a
few of the older women do some handy work. A few places, building
sights can be seen and heard. Several of them involve new buildings,
made exactly as the old ones, with the detailed wooden carvings and
Everywhere are temples and small alters in the street. So many
courtyards are a temple, some Hindi, some Buddhist and most mixed. I
find the surrounding wall several times, and despite the old city
might not be big, it surely contain a lot of old buildings. I drop
my thick jacket when I pass my hostel, but continues. I try to work
the side- and back streets, and here are even more to see. Well over
noon, I have to take a brake - here is just too much! The city have
retained power, and I use it to upload the last three slideshows.
It is now afternoon, the sun has changed its
angle, and I head out again. I missed only the Erotic Elephants
Temple, but so many buildings have sun on by now, and I can do
it all again. I see it all from the eastern Duttatraya Square and
Suryamdni to the western Bharwacho. When the sun set behind the
buildings, it is almost a relief! No more photos. I slowly
walk back to the guest house, and get a nice, warm bath. Then it is
time for the 315 photos of the day.
That will keep me occupied for some time - if the power returns
soon. I eventually end up with yet another slideshow:
The ancient town of Bhraktapur.
29/12. It is a bit sad to leave this
fantastic city and great
and I leave my bag, just to have an excuse to return, although
breath. I find the place to be picked up by to bus for Changu
Narayan, a little village on a narrow ridge around ten kilometres
north of Bhaktapur.
Pretty soon, we are out in the farmland. Here are vegetables and
barren fields, waiting for rice. As we assent, the valley disappears
in the morning mist. It seems like I'm the only tourist so fare, and
the road leading up to the Changu Narayan temple is still sleeping.
I find a few of the shopkeepers, which all seems to sell souvenirs.
The wooden masks are made within the shop, the fantastic paintings
the same. I wished I could find a place they made the huge brass
statues one day. I tell them; I'm not going to buy anything, but
they insist on telling me the
story anyway, and it is interesting. Then even smile and wish me a
great day, when I leave without buying anything.
I take a peek out to the sides, where goats, fields and misty
valleys deep down below can be found.
The temple is not that big, but it has some
astonishing stone carvings, some dates back to 464 AD. I try to
capture them in the early morning light, but it is hard. It is a bit
easier with the figures, and it really works with the dogs. It seems
like every surface in stone of wood has been carved, and with a
detail richness worth a palace. Many of the figures seems like they
are soaked in blood, but it might be red colour - or not!
The school kids follows a path out to one side, and I tag along.
On the steep slope, along the pines, loads of wild plants are found.
They do have one thing in common: They are all poisonous or real
fault smelling. That is a result of generations of goats feeding on
the slope. Here are some great views down to the Bhaktapur valley,
and on the back side of the ridge, I find the most entreating
village. It is so idyllic, and people so smiling. It seems like I'm
the only tourist who ever found round here.
I could spend much more time here, but I will not
misuse their hospitality. A bus is just about to leave, when I reach
the station, but I let is slip. The road up here looked interesting,
and I rather walk down, and catch the next bus. Some eagles and
hawks are using the ridge to gain height, while other small birds
hunts in the bushes.
Terraces not yet sown, giant bamboo, cattle and goats are only
interrupted by a brick factory. It is where the clay is, and it is
dug up by hand, formed by hand and dried in the sun.
Just as I reach the flat valley, a motorcyclist offers me a lift. He
is an unemployed tracking guide, and try to guide around in Bhaktapur.
He drops me off at the gate, and refuses to receive anything for his
help. I find my way through town, passing the hostel to pickup my
bag on the way.
The bus taking me to Kathmandu's ring-road leave
right away, and here, I get the next bus within minutes. It brings
me to Pashupatinath, where I dropped off at a World Heritage Site.
Well, here is a huge and
long fence, but behind, it looks like a start for a new part of
town. I ask around, and one point out the top of a temple, way out
in some forest. I finally find the entrance, and agree on paying the
1000R, if they will take care of my backpack.
This is the Bachareshwari Temple, known for its human scarifies. The
temple it self is only possible to see inside, if you are a Hindu or
Buddhist. Along the river, on the other hand, everything can be
seen. Corpses are prepared and burned along the river on ghats, and
the thick smoke and smell of burned flesh, thickens the air. I have a
long chat with one of the women, selling necklaces, and she give me
a short tour, just out of kindness. The entire area is scatted with
Shiva shrines - small "huts" made of stone, housing a holy stone to
offer on. Here
must be hundreds, most around fifteen square meters and
five tall. Many other temples are found around, along with some
"holy men", which has a rather perfect pronunciation of "photo". The
locals don't pay them any attention, nor do I. The few tourists I see
here, might ignore them too. Same goes for the monkeys.
The entire area is scatted with plastic litter, and even the river
the burned bodies goes into, has its share. I find a long set of
stairs, leading up towards the Vishwarup Temple - I hope. On top of
the ridge, a long line of even more Shiva shrines leads one way,
while some massive Araucarias form a 65 meter tall alley
towards the Vishwarup
Temple. Once again: Hindi only - but I'm here all by my self. I do a
few circles in the area, before I returns through the Bachareshwari
Temple area once again, where the burial fires really burns, and fills the area
with thick smoke. I get my backpack, and head on.
I did plan to take a but further on, but it is a
long walk up to the busses, and I having a hard time figuring where
my next hotel is in Bodhnath or wherever they want to call that
town. A taxi driver offers me the tour for 300R, and that is hard to
turn down. We passes the rather big Charumati Stuba, which in any
other day would be interesting. Unfortunately, he do not know the
hotel, and just drops me off at the huge Bodhnath Stupa, the biggest
in Asia - they say. I think some of those I saw in Sri Lanka was
significantly bigger. I pay the fee to enter the area, and it is the
right way to the Pal Rabten Khansar Guest House, but I passes it the
first time. On my attempt to find it, I stumble on a pretty nice
While I desperately consults my bad map, a well dressed woman come
to me and guides me. Then she ask - not for money, but for milk for
her child on her arm. It sounds like a familiar scam, but I have not
meet many here, and I give her the benefit of doubt. We walk to the
store near by, she ask if she can take two, and then the smiling
shopkeeper ask for nearly 5000R - a whole month's pay. I doubt they
look surprised, when I leave the shop without a word - or paying.
Later she try again, along with one just alike. I wonder how many
times the same two boxes of dried milk have been sold?
I check in at the very nice hotel, and head out
to find Ka-Nying Sheldrup Ling Gompa - I can't recall why: It is
half a year since I made the plans, and I failed to read up on that
last night. It seems like none know about it. Finally, a tourguide
get a bit stubborn - he want to know everything around here, and we
find it together. It look like a private gate, but after a closer
look, the magnificent building can be seen way back in some trees.
The blocks are huge in this town! I make a fast look inside, but the
garden I'm here for (I later learned) fails to catch my eyes and
Back at the Bodhnath Stupa to do some clock-vice walks, first on the
outside, then on the base of the stuba.
Here are packed with praying people, monks and a few tourists. A
large tent on the sidewalk houses a lot of praying people, and they
add to the atmosphere with their chanting, sinning and drumming. It
is a annual world peace gathering. I do an additional tour around
the stupa, this time to look at the shops along it. So many pretty
things, I especially like the sinning balls. They are made of
cupper, and a one centimetre chick, 30 centimetre in diameter ball
with fantastic inscriptions cost 2000R. But no way I'm going to
carry it for six weeks. Further more, I have not room for another
toothbrush in my bag, when I reach Bangladesh and the nice, warm
Back to the hotel to pickup the other jacked, and down to the
recommended Garden Cafe for supper. Rather dull beef carry, and I
have to try a applecrumple next door. Back to start working after
dark - wishing the room had a fireplace or any kind of heater. 15C
is just too low for me. Someone have taken 250 photos with my camera
today. That means; I have to create a slideshow for Changu
Narayan temple & village + Pashupatinath with Bachareshwari and
Vishwarup Temple and Bodhnath Stupa.
Despite I still roams around in the amassing
Kathmandu Valley, I will now start Diary 5