Day 4 - Kathmandu, Nepal
Day 3, Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal. 3.1 miles of city walking.
I woke this morning, not exactly refreshed, but at least rested. Today is another day spent sightseeing in Kathmandu and tomorrow morning we leave on the early flight to get up to Lukla and start hiking! It’s been such a strange experience for me to not be the planner on this trip. Up until last week, I had done such little research, I had to double check on google maps to ensure myself that yes, I do know where Nepal is situated in the world.
We meet in the lobby for breakfast around nine, then pile into the van and head just over the river to Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, another former palace which endured a lot of damage from the 2015 earthquake. Restoring it has been the handiwork of expert craftsmen who work in traditional building methods and among other things, carve beams by hand. Today's place is gorgeous, full of delicate intricacies, golden sculptures of deities and open air courtyards.
Next we head to visit Pashupatinath Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest Hindu temple, gardens and open crematorium in the region. It is a most sacred space and we happen to witness 3 funerals taking place at the edge of the Bagmati River, tributary to the Ganges. We all take a few moments contemplating this centuries old ritual of saying final goodbyes to your loved ones. This space is less chaotic than the rest of the city and allows for this kind of quiet thought.
After lunch we visit the Boudhanath Stupa, which is still decorated with strands of marigolds from the recent May 1st holiday, then it’s back to the hotel to start rearranging our gear for tomorrow's trek up to Lukla – some items will go in our daypacks which we’ll carry, some in duffel bags for the guides or porters to carry from town to town and the rest (like laptops and suitcases) will stay here in Kathmandu, safely stored until we return in 12 days. It’s certainly going to take a day or so to get used to a hiking trip where I’m not even carrying a full backpack, but with the major change in elevation, I'm pretty sure I'll get used to it quickly.