<bgsound src="http://www.ijigg.com/songs/V2BFBCGCPAD" > My Big Big Adventure: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nepal Trip: 20-26 December 2008

Departing early morning around 4am from office to airport, I nearly forgotten my winter jacket. Luckily enough, my mother brought it just in time before I began my cold journey to the west.

Before departing to Nepal, we need to cling-wrap our bags at the airport (cost RM9 per wrap) before the Royal Nepal Airline allows you to check-in the bags. It is not unusual because lots of the Nepaleses who are heading home did the same. Heard it is for security reasons.

Due to wear and tear, the plane looks awefully worn out. Even the engines emitted loud sound. Quite a scary experience. But I must say, the meal tray and its little cups and bowls looked pretty cute (which I have saved a couple back home). When we are near landing, I witnessed the magnificent view of the Himalayan range and Mt. Everest. The view was breathtakingly beautiful. I was captivated by the beauty of the snow-capped mountains and developed a good feeling for Nepal even before I stepped foot there.

Arrived at Tribhuwan International Airport on 20th December. Once out of the airport, we were welcomed by a shuttle bus service to the main terminal, although the distance is just a minute walk away. How ironic! On the other end, it is a provision towards cold weather. In fact, I could feel the immediate chill after stepping out the aircraft.

The airport is small, and has a feeling of the 50s. Small counter, all manually operated staff, which is why the custom clearance took us some time. Some of our members have their cling-wrapped bags torn. Luckily nothing had reported lost.
Inside the airport, I made a new friend, Lil. He is a Nepalese who is going to serve at the British army in the coming year. He was flying from Brunei earlier. Good to make new friend with locals for a change.

After stepping out of the airport, I could immediate smelled fumes and dust. And, also seeing a sea of Indian-looking nationals outside greeting their friends and relatives make the whole experience felt exciting.

Our tour guides, Mr Sujan, Ms Ramilah and Ms Sushma came to greet us with flower rings over our shoulders and "Namaste" greetings. I felt so welcome and relieved. Hopping on the bus to our hotel, I noticed trees and any green plants were covered with mud-thicked dust, which resulted the trunk and leaves turned grey at that instance. It is not wrong to judge that Kathamandu people has higher risk of contracting tuberculosis than other residence in other parts of Nepal.

After lunch, we were headed to Swyambhunath Stupa on the hill (monkey temple) for sightseeing. It is located near the hilly side, where the whole cityscape of Kathmandu valley is visible. The beauty of this place is that you could enjoy both Hindu and Buddhist temples within the same premise. Once on your way up, you could see lots of monkeys too. Here, you could get some cheap souvenirs like nice elephant carvings with your bargaining price.

We were heading to Kathmandu Durbar Square (a place of the Malla and Shah Kings of Nepal) to see Kumari temple which houses the virgin goddess Kumari. Also, near palace, we saw Dakshinkali (famous temple for animal sacrifices).
Bhaktapur City refers to "The Town of Devotees" and also city of culture. It is a town for traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craft works, magnificent windows, pottery and weaving industries, excellent temples, beautiful ponds, and many more. The temples are of Pagoda-style architecture, where famous pieces of work could be found in the Durbar square area surrounded with temples and palaces. Most buildings were constructed during 15th century. The famous 55-window palace constructed by King Bhupatindra Malla housed royalty until 1769. The golden spout and gate leads into Mulchok Court where it lies the Taleju Temple dedicated to Taleju Bhawani goddess. Entrance is restricted to Hindus and photography is forbidden. Durbar square showcased the skills of Newari artists and craftsmen.
Not far away from the capital of Kathmandu, a place where breathtaking sunset view over Himalayan range at a resort in Nargakot. Here, I met a new Israeli friend, Shay.

Pashupatinath (Hindu temple) along Bagmati River, where it is a widely used cremation area of the deceased. It is the most sacred temple of Shiva in Nepal. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple, where non-Hindu are allowed to look across the bank of Bagmati river. The temple has pagoda architecture with two level roofs made of copper with gold covering. At the entrance to the temple lies a street market. Vendors and peddlers sell souvenirs such as cloth, dyes and religious supplies.
We left for Pokhara the next day, which took us 8 hours to arrive. On the way, we witnessed scenic mountain terrain. Pokhara has a fame rests on the natural beauty of its lakeside location and it is near to the mountains. It is a starting point for many famous treks in Nepal. In the morning, we went to see sunrise in Sungakot. After a short visit, we had an opportunity to visit limestone cave of Mahendra Gufa for its stalactites. Also, we managed to feel the glazier water from the Himalayan range. In the evening, we visited Phewa Lake, which is just outside our hotel. Too bad the weather was too misty, we could not admire the stunning view of the Fish Tail's Peak (which can be seen in Sungakot). I was told that with fair weather, the wonderful Annapurna panorama would give a magnificent backdrop for Pokhara from the lake. Too bad we didn't go to Manakamana Temple by Cable car on the way to Pokhara, if not, if would have been a better trip while travelling 8 hours on the bus.

On Christmas day, we went to Boudhanath Stupa (The largest stupa in Nepal and center for Tibetan school Buddhism, and also the UNESCO World Heritage site). It is around 11 km from center of Kathmandu. The stupa has massive mandala making it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. It also houses large populations of Tibetan refugees from China, where this place has a nickname "Little Tibet". Around Boudhanath Stupa lies over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Mnonasteries).
At dinner, we had a typical Nepalese Dinner Boghawan Ghat at local restaurant with feature cultural dance. On our Mountain flight with Buddha Air to see Himalayan Range and Mount Everest.
Patan City , second largest town in Kathmandu, which means "City Of Beauty". Patan city boast its famous city features of arts and crafts. It also houses many Saris and Punjabi suits and cloth materials for you to choose from. The highlight in Patan is the Shikara (Krishna temple), Patan Durbar Square (UNESCO World Heritage site) with Royal bath, Hiranya Varna Mahavir (Buddhist Monastery aka Golden temple). Patan City was planned in Vihars and Bahils. The water conduits, stone spouts, Jaladroni (water tanks), artistic gate ways, Hindu temples and Buddhist Vihars adorn the city. The cultural heritage like the royal palace, with intricately carved doors and windows and beautiful courtyards adorned with exquisite icons enhance the beauty of the city. Such art pieces are found in stone, metal, terracotta ivory and other objects. All these artefacts exhibit artistic excellence of the craftsmen and the whole city looks like an open museum.
After dinner, we proceed to airport for our late night flight back home. Goodbye Nepal!