Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
25Trip End Sep 01, 2011
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After checking the Net for hints and tips on what to do, the sky at last cleared up and I jumped on the first taxi to two of the most interesting sites of Kathmandu Valley: Pathupashinath and Boudha.
The first, a very beautiful piece of Hinduist architecture is located right outside the Ring that surrounds the capital. At first it looks quite uninspiring and almost dull, since most of the best parts are reserved to Hindu pilgrims only. I am usually against limitations of such kind, but then you only need to think about places like Notre Dame in Paris and how it basically became a mall. Anyway, time to get to the accessible parts of the complex! Once crossing the river you'll see a few ghats, just like the ones in Varanasi. Even the droves or touts are included. Don't you worry, though, a couple of weeks in India is the strongest vaccine.
A couple of them just came to me and started to introduce themselves as students/tourist guides.
"Want picture 1 euro"
"You aren't goodlooking enough to ask for money"
Finally reached the upper hills where votive stones and some stupas are located just by the side of the river. Some kids played soccer, while older couples walked around having a good time.
As I reached the end of the path I turned back only to hear a young woman screaming "Help me!". It wasn't a thief, unfortunately for her. A monkey holding a woman's purse ran off from a nearby corner and jumped on the top of a tree. As the two girls reached the culprit, a policeman joined the small group of curious onlookers that gathered and prevented a monkeycide by telling the girl to drop the brick she wanted to throw at the tiny thief. The monkey then sat on the highest branch of the tree, opened the purse and started to bite and spit everything it wasn't of his taste: banknotes, lipstick and a package of tampons.
It was difficult to hold back laughter while the girl yelled at the monkey chewing and spitting everything inside the purse, at last the feisty animal decided to do the best thing: the little monster threw the empty purse into a pool of mud, then disappeared into the forest.
At this point I strengthened the grip on my personal belongings and headed back to the bus parking, only to find the entire site swarming with monkeys. Hundreds of them all over the place! I took a few shots of the gang while kids intimidated the ones that came too close to the game field.
As I crossed the bridge passing over the ghats I could only hear monkey screams and smell burning wood and incense. I resisted the temptation to go back and try to organize a meeting of touts and monkeys, choosing to get as soon as possible to Boudha, the magnificent home of its most famous landmark, the Boudanath stupa.
Masses of pilgrims and fellow tourists revolve around the mail stupa, touching the prayer wheels and walking clockwise around it countless times, while the most devoted stop by the inner courtyard and perform nonstop prostrations, meditate or pray together in the upper terraces. The area around the circle and its shops was a bit too touristic for my taste, so I kept the pace of the real pilgrims and walked until my feet couldn't take it anymore. Just too beautiful for words.
I then entered one of the monasteries around the mail stupa, waiting for the sunset and a stunning finale for the day; unfortunately the only red things of the day were the monkey butts and my face, as the sky simply turned dark blue. Who would have thought, all that pollution should guarantee Star Trek skies. Disappointed but still happy I went for a delicious Newari meal and finally some deserved sleep.