Stupas and steps

Bodhnath Stupa
Our final two weeks in Nepal were pretty hectic and largely internet-less, so this post is long overdue.

Let's start with our time in the capital... Kathmandu and it's sister cities/neighbourhoods, Patan and Bhaktapur, are awash with incredible ancient Hindu towns and Temples with some amazing medieval architecture in and around each of their Durbar Squares. Sadly though many have been damaged by earthquakes while others are simply not maintained very well and are quite run down. Impressive none-the-less, and also fascinating to observe daily life that goes on in and around these places.

Spot the monkey
Durbar Square, Kathmandu
Durbar Square, Kathmandu
On the flip side, there are also some wonderful and very photogenic Buddhist Stupas at Swayambhunath and Bodhnath, which are far better maintained and have an air of tranquility about them as you circumambulate, spinning the prayer wheels as you go. That is until the monkeys arrive. I like monkeys. Jo does not.

Swayambhunath Stupa
Swayambhunath (aka The Monkey Temple)
While in the Kathmandu valley we spent one night in Patan, a more peaceful and less touristy alternative to the main tourist district of Thamel. This also gave us a chance to pop into Nepal's WaterAid office and help out for a few hours, catch up with a lovely couple Stuart and Tamsin that we met on the way back from Bhutan, and Jo's also very lovely ex-colleague Jess. Unfortunately it also meant that Jo got eaten alive by some very hungry bed bugs. Not nice. At all.

You can't go to Nepal without going trekking in the Himalayas right? After careful consideration we found a good trekking company (big thanks to Joe Shrimpton) who provided us with the prettiest guide in town called Goma and a very helpful guide-in-training ie. porter called Puru. We plumped for a relatively short 6 day trek called the Annapurna Panorama (or the Ghorepani to Ghandruk Loop) and jumped on the 8 hour bumpy bus journey to Pokhara. Trekker central. Quick-Dry fake North Face clothing central.

In the end we enjoyed the trek and it was certainly a big achievement, but there were times when it did get a bit trying. And the scenery was breathtaking, although that might just have been down to the number of steps we had to walk up to be able to see it.

While up in the mountains, in the lovely village that is Ghandruk, we tried on some traditional Gurung wedding garb...

No, we didn't get hitched.
Oh, and we also saw Everest! (albeit from a plane window a week or so before the trek)...

ps... Anyone need some trekking boots? Size 4 and 11 going spare...

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