Pashupatinah, Patan, and ...parasite?

Trip Start Oct 22, 2007
Trip End Dec 12, 2007

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An uglier side to traveling to " exotic locales" is coming across very unfriendly parasitic microorganisms, nasty creatures that lurk in the food and water. Barely ventured into my second day in Kathmandu when stomach churning and other nasty bathroom related episodes started to occur. Who was this culprit and who was its accomplish? Was it the East Indian chicken curry? The Tibetan momos? Or perhaps Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the batch of bacteria? Neeedless to say, the next three days were a bit of a discomfort, making it even difficult for me to digest any food. And I'm the renown big eater. Still, for the first two days, I persevered, and like a good intrepid (or stupid) traveler, I explored more regions of the Kathmandu area. Midday my energy levels were pretty good, albeit many trips to the bathroom.

I visited Pashupatinah, Nepal's most important Hindu temple, which sits on the banks of the holy Bagmati River and is one of the most important Shiva temples on the subcontinent. Like varanasi on the Ganges, in India, Pashupatinah is a popular place to be cremated, on platforms called ghats. Several cremation cermonies occurred while I was there; ashes to ashes, dust to dust, into the next world.

From Pashupatinah, I took an enjoyable short walk through a small village on a dusty road. Very friendly greetings from everyone along the way. I soon arrived at the enromous Buddhist stupa, Bodhnath, a structure dwarfing Swayanbhunah. Oh yeah, you know I had an easy time asking for directions to these places, trying to pronounce their names. I'm sure my conversations sounded like a Jerry Lewis comedy sketch.

Surrounding the stupa, are Buddhist monasteries called gompas. I had the opportunity to observed a Tibetan monk religious ceremony, with accompanying chanting, deep tone gongs and flickering candlelight.
Under the ill-effects of my predicament, I felt an inner calm lying down near the rounded top of the stupa, soaking up the sun's rays, reviewing the procession of people down below.

The next day, I visited neighboring town of Patan. An amazing blending of ancient medieval history with daily life as 13th, 14th, and 15th century temples and shrines appear at literally every turn through courtyards and narrow streets. Newar ( local Nepalese) architecture is balanced in perfect harmony around the temples.  Very friendly people as well, as big smiles and shouts of "namaste!" greet you everywhere.

Figuring  I had a form of travelers diarrhoea (I know---uuuugh ) and in 48 hours I should start to recover by the third day I falsely thought my condition was improving, however, no such luck so I reviewed the health problems section in the Lonely Planet book again and deduced that I might have acquired a form of giardiasis, which comes from a parasite present in contaminated water. Yet, Id' solely been drinking safe bottle water, checking the seal. Or was the brief touching of hotel tap water on my toothbrush sufficient to catch the bugger. Who knows, but I did seek a pharmacy and purchased tablets which contain metronidazole. After a few prayers and a few tablets, I must say things started to improve.

I sat on a bus to Pokhara yesterday without incident and was able to eat all foods again. I've been eating ever since!

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