Kathmandu

After a 35 hour trip with about 20 hours of flying we arrived safely in Kathmandu. We being Judy, Paul and I. Three of seven taking a 28 day trek to Makalu base camp to the east of Mt. Everest. We start Monday by flying to Tumlingtar, up to Makalu BC and backtracking a bit then west to Lukla and then back to Kathmandu. Tomorrow, Sunday, our group meets each other (I think I’m the only one now everyone hasn’t met, and the key support personnel. Off to a group dinner. We we arrive early enough Monday to start our trek. A bit apprehensive about walking mostly every day for a month, but here goes.

We arrived late Thursday and by now, Saturday evening feeling a bit over jet lag. Weather is nearly perfect, in the seventies, a chance of rain which makes for nice clouds. Took it fairly slow the last two days. We’re staying at the Tibet Guest House in Thamel. The hotel is large and pleasant spread over several buildings, and inexpensive. Thamel is the center of the tourist district. Not high end, not sure where the five-star hotels are. But here lots of shopping and eating possibilities.

Yesterday we took the two hundred some stairs to Swayambhunath temple. Swayambhunath is a large Buddhist stupa sitting on top of a hill. Gold leaf covering the top, monkeys scampering around and views of the sprawling humanity of the Kathmandu Valley. The population of Kathmandu is about 900,000 and 600,000 in the surrounding areas. Crowded, noisy, and dirty like many third world countries.

Today we spend much of the day at Boudhanath Stupa which is the one most of us associate with Kathmandu with a pair of eyes staring to each point of the compass. Judy and Paul visiting Boudhanath years ago and we arrived by taxi, Judy was sure we were in the wrong place because the stupa was out of site. When they visited before there was nothing else around, now it’s part of the sprawl of Kathmandu. The stupa itself is ringed by building from maybe two to ten stories. Most are stores and restaurants, but there are several temples. Today is the first day of a multiday featival so the stupa was well attended by locals.

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