Talking to Harri, our host, we learned some insider info on the culture. It doesn't surprise me, but I didn't expect the Indian influence. There are multiple Hindu festivals and celebrations each month. The city closes down around 10 pm, but unlike Myanmar, it doesn't wake up especially early. The food is a mix between Indian and Chinese. Since there was a revolution only 8 years ago, things are changing dramatically. The infrastructure is improving and more roads are being paved than ever before. Though, this does not mean Google maps is accurate. When following Google’s most direct route from Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath) to home, the road disappeared into dirt and rock piles. After cutting through an abandon parking lot and a hole in the fence, we were back on route only to find out the road turned into stairs. Now it makes complete sense as to why the taxi took a roundabout way to get to the temple!
The next day, Suzie and I explored Boudhha. This is the biggest stupa for…. The prayer flags strung from the peak in every direction was gorgeous! Shops and restaurants surrounded the square. As we were told, this was the most expensive area in all of Kathmandu! A short 30 minute walk away was Pashupatinath Temple. This is where the holy river flows into the city and has become the location for cremations. How far upstream the body is cremated depends on the class of the family. It once was segregated by occupation, but now is based on price. Bodies are being burned all the time. We witness two during the two hours we were there.
The best part of Kathmandu, other than shopping for scarves, was our sleeping arrangement. Suzie and I laid our heads down under a sleeping bag and numerous blankets on the roof of an apartment building! Yes, we slept outside every night and woke up by the sun every morning if the dogs and roosters didn't wake us up first. It's crazy how you can be in the middle of the tourist center and still feel like your camping. This is a once and a lifetime opportunity and we have to thank Harri for making it possible!