After the cultural excursions of the past week, it was time for a different sort of culture. The annual Jazzmandu festival to be precise. With Simon, Jeanette and their colleagues from school. It involved a trip across Kathmandu to the Gorkhana hotel resort complex. A very plush place indeed (naughty monkeys in the trees included). Small by comparison to UK festivals it was very enjoyable, shoes off, sat on the grass, under the trees, wine and food aplenty and a number of different bands playing. No hassle getting home as we all stopped at the resort. A bit of a treat, but for the lack of water in the room.
Monday bought more wonderfully sunny weather, with pleasant UK Summer time temperatures to match. With the aid of Karjen, our friendly taxi driver we arranged to go to Pharping. A small mountain village an hours drive, just south of Kathmandu. Full of Buddhist monasteries to gently wander around. Following the guidebook we went to each one, with their resident monks, that gratefully opened the Gompas for us to to admire. Spinning the small and not so small prayer wheels as we went. I ever tried to tell them that I had shaken hands with the Dalai Lama outside the Hungarian parliament back in the early 1990’s. However, the language gap was too great. After buying some prayer flags from an elderly gentleman seller, we headed off up the steps through the trees to the top of a small outcrop to tie them amongst the trees along with the hundreds of other brightly coloured flags already in place. Looking down on the surrounding valley and up to the higher hills was majestic. Walking down the steps into the village we had a well earned honey, lemon and ginger drink and some vegetable momos, and a relax.
Pharping had a slightly cooler temperature and the fresh mountain air, made a change from the heat and dust/pollution of Kathmandu and it’s valley. Make no mistake, Kathmandu is no 1960’s hippie commune. It is a fully functional 21st century Asian Capital city, with millions of people, motorbikes, cars, buses, lorries and associated detritus from all of these people living in close proximity. A busy, thriving mass of humanity. Even the simple task of crossing the road can take on a whole new meaning. On the plus side, the rural nature of the economy, the bucolic nature of it’s towns and villages and the back drop of the mountains more than makes up for it.
The last day in Kathmandu, was spent in the southern suburb of Patan (or Lalitpur to give it it’s formed older name). The half hour walk to the Durbar square took us into small courtyard and temples. The sound of dogs barking, children playing and silversmiths hammering away, was too tempting to miss. Alie, kindly gave me a quick lesson in silversmith work whilst watching the raising of a container from a flat sheet of metal and chasing of a pattern on a silver plate. These 3 silversmiths were working in a room only 2 metres square.
Patan Durbar square itself is full of temples, cisterns, statues and of course people, going about the daily work. We ended our trip around the square with a visit to one of the best museums we have been to in ages. Explaining fully, both Hindu and Buddhist, religions. From, their origins, right through to statue symbolism. Even to the way the statue is holding their hands (and there can be numerous), and what this signifies. There were no screens to hide the artefacts , no museum police to tell you not to touch or not to take photographs. Just a relaxed peaceful environment where you are free to wander and wonder.
Well, that’s it from Nepal. Sadly, the trip is over. Once again, thanks for all the comments. It is nice to catch up with you all. A very very big thanks go to Simon and Jeanette (and of course Dave the dog). For inviting us over to stop with them in the first place, and to being superb hosts at all times, from sharing a weeks precious holiday with them, letting us stop at their house, to contacts for taxis, places to see, places to stop at and meals to be enjoyed.
Until the next time folks… Happy travelling. Get out there.