Friday, April 15, 2016

Week 2 - Goodbye India, hello Nepal!

Day 11.
Went on a guided walking tour of Old Delhi today. I grew to really dislike this town. The constant noise, the pushing, the getting run over by rickshaws, it’s tiring. The walking tour itself was nice, I guess, but I was too preoccupied with the discomfort of being in this city to really enjoy the tour. The food we ate was good, and fun to eat, which is good, and there were a few interesting things to listen to (The architecture, for instance is built for women to be able to see but not be seen, because apparently in late 1800s if you saw a woman, it meant that she’s indecent. Good thing this changed)
After getting back to the hotel room I just stayed here. I didn’t feel like going out, except for some food.
I can’t wait for Tuesday when I finally get out of this town, and head toward Nepal.

Day 12 and 13.
Worked on both days, and went out the minimal amount of time I could. I could not get away from Delhi fast enough! Don’t have much to write except that the time at the Chabad house was pretty fun, good people, good talks. I enjoyed it a lot.

Day 14.
Finally, leaving Delhi. The flight to Kathmandu was uneventful, the metro ride to the airport was surprisingly comfortable if not for the attendant who tried to tell me that my flight leaves from the wrong terminal (which is on a different station). Kathmandu itself? Well, outside a very well designed tourist neighbourhood, it seems like any South Asian city. But Thamel, the tourist neighbourhood, is absolutely amazing. It is perfectly laid back place, which holds some good restaurants, actual supermarkets, and an absolutely beautiful nightlife.
I’ve read on a blog, that at night, Thamel becomes basically a huge brothel, but it’s either not the case, or they cleaned the place up.
I didn’t do much today, I did get an idea for a four day easy jungle trek to do, so I can get to know myself trekking not on the hard stuff. Now I’m looking for partners to do this trek with me.
Met two Israelis I’ve met in Delhi, and we went out for drinks. Apparently, today is the Nepali new year, and I guess Thamel, because of its nightlife, is a big attraction for locals, looking for nightlife. So we got to experience new years with Nepali people, and boy, those guys don’t seem to hold their liquor very well. The streets are full of passed out Nepali youth. And then we picked a bar, and boy, those guys can party!
We arrived when the night was still young, and the bar was packed. We got a standing table in the corner. The DJ was doing the playlist live. Shown on the projector, using youtube. By picking the next song in another tab. Then the join we smoked went into full blown effect. I told the guys “oh, guys, I think I made this too strong”. I made a joint with the proper amount of weed for 4-5 joints. This stuff is, how will I explain it, sensational.
So, here’s to a good, fun day in Kathmandu!

Day 15.
Went to the monkey temple. A beautiful temple located on a hill overlooking the city, about 30 minutes walk from Thamel.

Met a couple of street children on the steps up, asked to take a photo.

An 11 year old local boy decided to be my guide took me around the temple complex, and did a pretty good job (I actually told him I don’t want a guide, and he ignored me). He took me to a beautiful shop which is also a school, making beautiful mandalas, and I just couldn’t hold back, they were so incredibly beautiful.
I wanted three, and the salesman told me the price, I thought he was talking in Rupi (125 per painting), but then he said the price is in USD :)
Bottom line, I got one small one for $20, and I’m really happy with it. Then we continued to the next temple, and sat down for some ice cream. When my guide was about to finish his, a monkey ran to him and just grabbed his ice cream from his hand, which was hillarious. The kid was a bit shaken, but not too much :)

When I came back, I went to the Chabad house, bought something to eat, and sat down. Two girls came to sit with me, and we chatted for a while. They wanted to go to the same temple as I did, at around sunset, so I joined them. It was even more fun, going with somebody. We went up, took a few pictures, I took them to the same place I bought that mandala, and they also bought one each. Visiting the temple at sunset is a better idea, the air was clearer, so there was more of a view, and generally things are prettier when lighted in red-velvety sunset light :)

We went back to Thamel, and got a REALLY good hamburger, with some great local beer. I really love this place, it’s not hot, the food is awesome, and the people more fun.

Day 16
Woke up, went to the Pumpernickel (an awesome bakery in middle of Thamel, they make absolutely fantastic pastries) and got some breakfast with the girls I met last night. We went on our separate ways and scheduled to meet later and go to another temple. I went looking for a better hotel room, and I ended up taking a 1500 rupi/night room at a place called “The Chillout Resort”. The room is almost perfect, large, comfortable bed, decently designed, and has a nice balcony. Only downside - the window doesn’t have a mosquito net on it, so if I want air, it comes together with a bunch of mosquitos. Good thing I brought a canopy, so I got it set up over the bed and it was okay-ish.
Went to the Chabad house, the girls were late, but I was having a blast. There was a family there, they’ve been travelling for about 4 months now, and their kids (4, 6 and 8) were incredibly friendly. I was chatting with a girl in the lounge area, and the 6 year old came to her, just sat next to her and started playing. We ended up on the sofa, with all the kids, using the computer to show them some cartoons. Great way to pass the time :)
The girls came over, and we went to the Pashupatinath temple, which is the most sacred temple to local Hinduism, non-hindus are not allowed into the temple itself, but we took a look from the doorway and from a balcony overlooking the temple (can’t see much, but still pretty), then we went to see a ceremonial burning of a body, and took a walk around the temples which we were allowed to see.

The experience of watching the burning of the body was an interesting one. In their culture, they seem to embrace death, as part of life. We, in the west, generally try to avoid dealing with death, while they do what needs to be done. The dead woman’s husband was the one who did the whole task of burning her body. The family didn’t cry, I was told they weren’t allowed to. I felt like I was intruding, by watching, and went away.

We came by a few “babas”, sitting near the small meditation “cave” temples. Chatted up with them (apparently, unlike their Indian counterparts, they avoid smoking weed), and took their picture.

Then we came by a rather sad situation - a young monkey was playing on the power cables, and got electrocuted. His friends were trying to tend to him, but were afraid to touch him (good call). Finally, somebody grabbed a long bamboo stick, and pushed the monkey off the pole. The monkeys didn’t understand what happened, and were grieving their fallen comrade, and the larger monkeys were really aggressive towards the people there. The locals reacted with aggression back, which I understand is the right thing to do (otherwise, the monkeys will establish territorial boundaries, and will become constantly aggressive towards people), but it was still quite sad to watch.
Back in Thamel, we went to a nice Israeli place, which makes some good vegetarian food, apparently I chose the wrong dish, as the dishes the girls ordered were by far superior, but we still had a good time. Then we parted ways, they are going to the Annapurna trek tomorrow.

Day 17.

Had a good night sleep, after setting the canopy, went to a small, beautiful garden, called “The Garden Of Dreams”, it was built by a local man in the 1920s, and recently renovated with help from the Austrian government. The garden is located just outside Thamel, and is a beautifully designed garden, with many places to sit, and just relax. I enjoyed it a lot, and will definitely come back with my kindle. The place attracts both tourists and locals, and it’s easy to see why that is - it’s so beautiful and tranquil. There are also some hidden places to sit, and they’ve been occupied by pairs of local teens, making out.

Don't want to do much else today, going to the Shabbat dinner at the Chabad house, will probably chill there for a while...

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