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Last days in Nepal

Nepal's sacred canalization, 2 giant stupas with Buddha's eyes, Patan, rafting on Bhote Kosi and so long Indian subcontinent!

After the return from EBC we spent 2 days exploring surroundings of Kathmandu: Patan, Pashupatinath and Boudha Stupa, and Patan.
First we visited Patan, the third of the three ancient kingdoms located right next to each other in Kathmandu Valley (the ones are Kathmandu and Bhaktapur). It was the rivalry between these 3 kingdoms and each one’s desire to overshadow the other two that led to majestic increase of mastery in wood carving, metal works and architecture. Artisans of each of them strived for more complicated and delicate details to build more and more opulent temples and palace for their rulers. I don’t think I exaggerate if I say that the skills of Nepali artisans surpassed the skills of the Europeans masters whom we consider so unbeatable. Also typical Asian pagoda was invented here in Nepal and from here it spread to China and the rest of Asia.
Patan’s square is beautiful indeed and they have very nice museum (run by Austrians, so it really looks like museum, it’s not typical Asian junk house falsely called museum), but overall I liked Bhaktapur much more. Patan was very busy, very touristed, very commercial, far from subtle authenticity and quietness of Bhaktapur. Visit to Patan also meant last portion of Nepali temple hard porn and this time it was accompanied by sadism, with wood carvings showing torture of people, animal-human sex and all other kinds of perverted things. These guys surely knew how to have good time!

Next day we went to Pashupatinath, Kathmadu’s mini version of Varanasi with burning bodies along a sacred “river”. River, yeah, sure. The holy river was horribly disgusting sewer, less than 5 meters wide and knee-deep (we knw because they were kids wading through it), full of plastic and other trash. Ganga in Varanasi might be dirty but at least its size is majestic, this here was a true canalization, nothing else. We saw few bodies being burned, but compared to Varanasi the place had very little atmosphere, more precisely none, despite being Nepal’s most important and sacred Hindu place.
From Pashupatinath we walked to Boudha Stupa, one of two huge stupas decorated with Buddha’s eyes in Kathmandu (all stupas are now decorated with the eyes, but Boudha and Swayamuni stupas are the largest and most ancient ones). As it was last full moon before Buddha’s birthday there was huge gathering of Buddhists around the stupa, all walking around the stupa in clockwise direction and burning ceremonial butter lamps and juniper branches. It had nice atmosphere and we decided to stay for dinner in pizzeria overlooking the stupa, where next to us had its own pizza dinner a congregation of 11 Buddhist monks and 1 nun.

After this we opted for some adventure again and signed up for 2 day white water rafting trip. We selected Nepal’s wildest river Bhote Kosi, claimed to be one of the best short rafting trips on the planet, but since it’s the end of dry season and so the rivers are as low as it gets, we were aware that it was not going to be too wild this time around. But for the minimal cost of such a trip here in Nepal we decided that we would give it a try, especially as Hanka originally wanted to go to the sea in India for which there was no time left, so we thought that splashing in the river might be at least slight substitute and consolation for not going to the sea :-)
Polish/German guy Arkadiusz whom we met on our adventurous flight from Lukla also joined us.
As for the rafting, it was fun and some rapids were pretty wild, but due to low level of water it was nothing life-threatening or extremely adrenaline producing. First day we got transported from Kathmandu (less 3 hours) and did the lower, tamer part of the river, bathed in the river (that was before we found out the next day, how much canalization ends in the river upstream…) and had good fun.
The second day we did the upper, wilder part of the river. The first half was more rock bumping than rafting, because we had to maneuver between rocks and often got stuck on the top of the rocks, due to low level of water in the river. The second part got much wilder, with rapids with names like: “Frog In Blender”, “Oh My God What Should I Do?” and my favorite one “Carnal Knowledge of Deviant Nature”. If I wouldn’t get caught in the last second by Viktor and one British guy who joined our raft I would have ended in the of the rapids, as I involuntarily almost performed scuba diver’s leap backwards into Bhot Kosi during one of the wildest rapids while sitting in the front.
But it was not only those 3 hours of rafting which made the trip a great experience, it was also the setting of the camp where we slept. The climate was tropical, we slept in large fixed tents, there was a small beach along the river and the camp was made complete by small swimming pool and large open air bar. In other words: piece of Southeast Asia. With the sound of river it really radiated the feeling of being in Thailand, and that was just the right mood to soak up, after freezing on the treks.
Overall, the most adrenaline moment of the trip was when I found a tarantula in our tent and tried to get rid of i. OK, it was not really tarantula, but it was fucking huge hairy spider with “huge hairy “teeth”. Ugh!

On our last day together we were in Kathmandu, where I had to pay 30 USD fine for overstaying mi Nepali visa (I got visa only for 30 days) and another 30 USD for the extension of the visa, and where all of us got engaged in typical Asian retail fever, buying all the clothes, bags and souvenirs that no traveler can come home without from Asia. I had to (or more precisely wanted to) buy some stuff before going to Australia where everything will be expensive, but I mostly bought Asian clothes to improve my “hippie image”, such as T-shirt with Shiva riding on a Nandi-shaped chopper (Viktor bought this T-shirt first I totally loved it so had to get me one as well), peace sign decorated bag (yes, basically it’s a purse, so gay, I know…) and a yak jacket in which, as Hanka commented, I look like Rasputin :-)

Being back in Kathmandu we again indulged in its fantastic restaurants and had our share of beer listening to better or worse live Nepalese music and me and Viktor burning down beedees.

Viktor and Hanka left one day before me, so I did my last walk through Kathmandu and visited the other important stupa, the one in Swayamuni.

Just when I was returning form the stupa some girls on the street asked me where was a certain bar and where I would recommend to go, as they just arrived to Kathmandu and so I told them that the best bar was Lhasa Bar where they had solid live band every night. As this was my favorite bar, it’s no surprise that later I went there and so met them. It was 3 girls form Argentina – Victoria, Sofia and Laura and one from Chile – Karin, who were partly traveling together. Thus I had my last conversation with travelers in Nepal-India. After the band finished their music Sofia took over the guitar and played 2 songs and later upon request of the girls I did one song with her – Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin and then I sang one or two other pieces more. Heh, so I finally DID what I was tempted to do all the time while I was in Kathmandu: sang live in bar. Check.
It was very nice evening and decent good bye to Kathmandu.

The last entry/thought that I wrote down to my paper notebook in Nepal, and has nothing to do with anything written above was:
Your character is the sum of opportunities to take, which you willingly didn’t take.
Love is the sum of opportunities to give, which you willingly gave.

On 29-Apr I left Kathmandu and said good bye to Indian subcontinent.
Although I spent there 5 months, I didn’t feel like leaving. ..

3 things I WILL MISS from Asia:
1. The everything-is-possible atmosphere; vocabluraries refer to this as "anarchy"
2. Human - animal harmony on city streets (I don't mean my previous video...)
3. Masala tea and cheap and delicious food

3 things I WILL NOT MISS from Asia:
1. Omnipresent indescribably disgusting sound of Asian-clearing-of-nose-and-throat: KHRIAKHHAHKHKHHH, every 30 seconds!
2. People vomitting all around me everytime I travel in public bus for more than 1 hour
3. Infinite heaps of mess and trash

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak