My work schedule in Nepal unfortunately did not allow me much time to travel very far outside of the Kathmandu Valley. The good news is that there is no shortage of things to see in the valley so I was never bored on the weekends. I was also lucky to make a friend here who lived here several years ago and was willing to show me around. I have already mentioned a few of the trips that I took early in my internship, but I wanted to talk about a couple more that I have taken in last few weeks. Both of the places that I visited in the last couple of weeks were close enought to walk to so I was also able to get a nice tour of the city.
The first place that I visited took me back to Boudhanath, which I visited my second weekend here. This time when I went I was able to see a lot more than the first time because I did not have a guide ushering me around. This provided many more opportunities to explore the area around the main stupa. We started the morning off eating breakfast at the monestary next to the stupa. After breakfast we toured this monestary and two others that sat on top of the hills behind Boudhanath. I was surprised by how large the monestaries were. The three that we visited all had a huge main hall with high ceilings that were decorated with intricate paintings and sculptures. I probably could have spent the entire day walking around one of these monestaries just looking at the paintings. I was also lucky to sit in one of these halls while the monks were chanting. Perhaps one of the best parts of seeing these monestaries was that it got me out of the city and up into the hills. It was great to just walk around the hills where it was peaceful and the air was clean.
The second place that I visited was a very important Hindu temple called Pashupatinath. Unfortunately, I was not able to go into the temple itself because you have to be Hindu to enter, but I was able to explore the area surrounding the temple. Part of what makes temple so important is that funerals are held here. A river flows throught the grounds right next to the main temple. Cremation ceremonies are held on the stone steps and platforms that line the river next to the main temple. The other side of the river is the main area where visitors are allowed to explore. There are a number of smaller temples that can be explored, and there is a small fenced in zoo area where I was able to see some wildlife. Outside of this fenced area there are a ton of monkeys. One of the more interesting experiences of the day involved me accidentally getting in the way of two monkeys that were fighting. I was standing on a lower terrace when I heard a terrible shreeking from the terrace above me. When I looked up I saw two monkeys flying off of the terrace coming straight at my head. I am not quite sure how I avoided being hit (I do not exactly have cat-like reflexes), but luckily I was missed and the two monkeys carried their battle to another part of the terrace. Aside from this episode, the day was peaceful and relaxing.
These two trips were not the most exciting that I took during my time here, but it was a nice way to get away from the center of the city and relax on the weekend.