Posted by: benphia | November 24, 2008

Kathmandu insanity is nearly over.

Hello friends,

Yesterday Sophia and I had yet another whirlwind experience here in Kathmandu.

Early yesterday morning we met with Karma (Babu) the head of our guiding company. He bought us fancy coffee (as opposed to the Nescafe available around and on our trek) and we talked over an hour about our trek and American and Nepali politics.

After coffee we talked with our taxi driver and negotiated a price with Karma for a trip to Bhaktapur. We arrived in this ancient city and took a tour with a guide the driver had contracted with. Bhaktapur was a refreshing tourist destination that felt clean and less populated. The architecture there was different, with brick buildings and pathways, and detailed wood carvings for windows, doors, pillars, etc. Though it was impressive to look at, Bhaktapur felt like a tourist destination and not a holy place. As I (Ben) have written about before, the ritualistic Hinduism practiced here felt different from how I relate to eastern religion.

When we got back we wandered the streets of Thamel a bit, Ben (unwittingly) trying his barganing skills by trying to leave a shop without buying a certain item we’d been looking at. (Wow, the price really goes down, but it’s a very tiring experience. We still prefer shops where prices are marked.)

In the evening we had dinner at our favorite restaurant in Thamel (coincidentally, it is co-owned by Karma’s wife, Manila). We usually get dal bhat, but this time we opted for Tibetan noodle soup (thakpa), veggie momos (like dumplings), and some drinks. Karma told us to try tongba (an alcoholic drink made of millet). I (Sophia) really liked the tongba (like a kind of sweet, kind of syrupy, just ever so slightly beerish warm drink). It is made by putting millet into a metal glass with a lid and metal straw. Then you add hot water and let it sit for a while. It’s only about 2% alcohol, but it was enough since we haven’t had any alcohol for a while. 🙂 Ben had “Nepali brandy” (which on the label said rum)… quite a bit. Karma’s friend and cousin were also there, so a few little bottles came out.

We had a great (long) evening chatting about Nepal, our trek, America, Karma and Manila’s children, motorcycles/scooters, traditional Nepali music versus rock and roll, etc. Both Karma and Manila are great people, and it’s sad we won’t have more fun conversations with them.

Random quote of the day: “By bravely facing it’s past and learning from it, in a spirit of cooperation, there is a good chance that the human rights of all Nepalis will be respected.” -Richard Bennett, Rising Nepal newspaper; November 24, 2008

We sure hope so.

Dandebat (thank you in Nepali) to Nepal, Mountain Tribes and all the boiled/filtered water we’ve been drinking. It’s been fun.

Benjamin + Sophia

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