Not even a pedicab ride through Hanoi’s old town could prepare me for the rickshaw tour of Thamel, the tourist section of Kathmandu. There is no way these photos can capture the experience–the bumpy roads, the breakneck speed, the sounds and smells. It was quite a ride!
Kathmandu assaults your senses. It is dusty, dirty, noisy, chaotic, crowded. Take a deep breath and you will get a lungful of incense, enough to keep you coughing for a few minutes.
We toured the three major cities of the ancient Malla kingdom: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. (That’s what happened when you had three sons–you split up your kingdom so they could each have a place to rule. )
We saw the impact of the earthquake everywhere. It is heartbreaking to see that one year later, people are still living in makeshift shelters.
Still, there are parts of the cities that were not damaged, allowing you to experience their grandeur and the beauty.
While preparing for this trip, I read about the living goddesses, known as the Kumari. (The post “Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Part Two has more information about the goddess.)
After our visit, all of the women in our group felt so sorry for this sad looking little girl, who was chosen when she was three years old. I couldn’t help but compare her to my happy, active nieces. Of course, we don’t know what other options were available to her. Maybe sitting on a “throne” placing tikkas on the foreheads of gawkers was the better alternative.
Despite the hardships they have endured, the Nepali people’s beautiful spirit shines through.
The hawkers are everywhere. The problem is if you buy from one, you are mobbed by many others. Still, I couldn’t resist this woman’s sweet smile, especially after she told me if I wanted to buy more than one, there would be no problem.
Okay, so I bought more than one. Sisters, cousins, nieces, friends…you know the drill…gifts are coming your way, but you may have to earn them. There may be a quiz!
This next one was more of a hard sell. “Madam, blessings for you, blessings for me”, chanted continuously while she walked beside me for the equivalent of five city blocks.
Okay, so I got blessed. I now own the necklace the lady on the right is holding. I expect those blessings to be coming my way!