When in Bhaktapur

By | April 17, 2010

We started off our day early. Bus was leaving a little before 8 so we could beat the heaviest part of rush hour.

Today we were heading to Bhaktapur, the home city of our tour guides AK and B. Interesting ride. 13km took us a little over half an hour in a bus that spewed black smoke like it was a big rig, but atleast we had air conditioning. As we waited for the bus a government water truck pulled up in the middle of the busiest corner in Kathmandu and started pooring out water. Men, women, and children all fighting to get their bucket, their jug, their mouths under the pooring water which looked clear, but you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to drink it. The few pictures I took could not begin to describe the gravity of the situation.

The bumpy ride on a semi paved road was a sign of things to come…

The small district of Bhaktapur was one of Nepals 4 (or 5) main kingdoms from the 17th century, it is a world heritage site. While touring the city, we saw many ancient temples and palaces. We saw statues created for the king, and an area where there are 108 animals sacraficed per year for religious purposes (I really should take notes, but there is sooo much news stuff in my brain it hard to catalogue it all properly).

We ate an authentic Nepalese meal at a very nice hotel/restaurant near Durbar Square, which is the city centre. As we were heading to the restaurant I asked Captain Canada (his name comes from the fact he loves Captain Morgans, and he’s from Canada), if he had ever had this meal before. He said ‘no I haven’t, but when in Bhaktapur’. I figured that was a good title for today’s blog entry.

Our tour guides set us up with a seminar on Nepalese artwork known as Thanka. The one I was most interested in was called Sand Madala. I don’t have time to write it all out, but I would google or wikipedia it as it us extremely facinating. I purchaced a piece of extremely high quality Sand Madala Thanka art. It took a monk, who is a master at Thanka (there are 4 grades if Thanka artists, student, teacher, expert, and master), 6 weeks to complete. It is painted on cotton canvas and contain 24carrot gold. I am getting excited just thinking about putting it up.

It was getting late and we had a long drive ahead of us, so we headed for the bus.

As we passed these huge statues of dogs which both stood 15-18 feet tall, our guide AK informed us that these were one of a kind pieces of art, and there was nothing else created even similar by the same artist. He knows this because the king who had these statues created, cut off the hands of the artist so he could never duplicate his work. (below you will find a picture of one of the statues)

There are a lot of things I will forget from this trip over time, but here are a few I will not;

The cow I saw today was the most malnourished create I had ever seen. Tied to a pole with little to drink, if any, a small amount of hay, barely enough for the bed of a goat, ribs I could count, and who’s hips I could see like it was a moving skeleton. The children playing in a river so dirty I would have a hard time pissing in it. The mother with 5 children, picking rice up off a dirt road that had spilled from a broken bag on the back of a truck.

On a bus with 14 other trekkers, in essentially the middle of no where, my eyes started to tear and the only thing I could do was close them and think ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no places like home’. I wanted to leave, right then and there. I’ve seen a lot of things in the past week, but this was a low.

We leave on our trek tomorrow at 5am. Today we were at the bottom, and we only have up to go! (stupid joke/pun, but still kind of amusing)

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