Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nepal 6: Namaste, Nepal

In the end our trek was about 28 miles total. 

'I hiked stairs for four days and all I got was this ID card'

After we unloaded our gear at Kim's, we went out for more Kathmandu tourism.We learned more about the country, and passed vehicles with interesting spellings like "pik up" or "pawared by [fill in the blank]" 

Kim's family car was a motorbike called a "Unicorn." I thoroughly enjoyed the Unicorn.

It was on the Unicorn that I had the exhilarating experience of riding on the back of a motorbike through the streets of Kathmanduliterally so close to the traffic around us that at one point I hit my knee on another bike's mirror while we navigated the city streets. This is how it looked at times:

At another point, we had three of us on the bike, as Kim, her husband and I all "carpooled' to dinner.

We basically looked like this, but more cramped:

Christin's flight was before mine, so before she left, we all wandered around Kathmandu together. We rode a rickshaw to Thamel, and passed by the many "Northfake" (fake NorthFace) stores. 

Monks window shop too

Me in my rickshaw taking a photo of Kim in her rickshaw

Streets around Thamel
 We saw Durbar Square again

Chillin' on the steps of "hippie temple" where rock legends used to hang out to find enlightenment

View from hippie temple of Durbar Square

And went to see: The Kumari.

The Kumari is believed to be a "living goddess" in Nepal and the story fascinated me. From what I gathered, a committe selects a little girl through a series of tests (must have good family history, can't have any cuts, can't show fear when left alone in a scary building at night....interesting stuff.)  And she becomes the Kumari until she's reaches puberty. She can't ever bleed, so she has to be carried everywhere outside so that she doesn't cut her feet or anything. She lives in a building in the square without her family and has keepers and teachers around her. At a certain time of day, people are allowed to catch a glimpse of her for just a second. It's considered kind of like getting a blessing from her. 

I of course had to see this little Kumari.

The current one is about 9 years old I think. We weren't allowed to photograph her (although, don't be silly, you could purchase photos of her outside), but sure enough, at the time alotted, we all gathered in the inner courts of her house and were told to watch the upper center window. And all of a sudden, this small girl with elaborate makeup appeared in the window. She looked serious and almost bored. She looked around and then disappeared again. 

inner courts

I did not take this photo! They did - http://asianitinerary.com/magic-kathmandu-basantapur-durbar-square/

I wondered what it must be like to be swept away from your family, told you were a god, then have that all yanked away when you got your first period and you then lived like a "normal person" from then on. One of the former Kumari's is now a software engineer in the U.S. somewhere. Crazy.

Christin left and I spent my last day seeing more of Kathmandu. I saw another square: 

Patan Durbar Square with a million of my closest friends

And again realized how much I really don't fit in Nepal:
oh HAI ceiling!

Yep, mind your head indeed
And I also had a "Trekker's massage." I once again rode though Kathmandu streets with no helmet on the back of a motorbike with a man I just met (sure, it was Kim's husband, but still) - my parents would be so proud! -- and then arrived in front of a dusty building. It definitely didn't look like a typical "spa" from the outside, but hey, it was like a third of the price of a DC massage and it ended up being lovely. 

I had dinner with Kim and her husband before finally boarding my plane around 10 pm headed to Dubai. 

...where a slew of new adventures awaited me during the 24 hour layover I would spend in the United Arab Emirates. 

More in the next post. 

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