Hello everybody, long time no write! This will be a little bit of a catch-up post, as I left the US over a month ago for a year abroad and have not exactly been on top of online updates. I’m currently in Indonesia on a semester abroad program (more on that to come), but spent a little over a week in Kathmandu, Nepal at the end of August – so, here’s a bit about that!
Kathmandu was, I’ll admit, overwhelming at first. The traffic alone is insane – no stop signs, motorbikes everywhere, crossing into opposing traffic, absolutely anything goes. Stepping out of the airport after a full two days of flying into the heat, dust, noise, and general chaos of Kathmandu’s streets was a shock, but during my ten days there I fell into a comfortable routine.
The guesthouse I stayed in had a complimentary hot breakfast plus Nepali tea, which I usually ate around 7:30 with a view of the Schechen monastery. A little after 8, I slip through the red metal gates to brave the hectic streets.
First, along the busy paved road, hopping on and off the dusty sidewalk and dodging past scrawny dogs, chatting people, and occasional piles of trash. A sharp right off of the main road down progressively narrower, cobbled lanes past the secondary school, clothing shops, and covered outdoor seating of the food stalls, where I grew used to jumping out of the way whenever I heard the beep of a motorbike behind me. A wave to the woman under whose awning I took shelter when caught off guard by a sudden downpour, a rueful gesture towards my dusty sandals and dirty feet when the man sitting on the shop steps offers his shoe-shining services, another quick dodge of a motorbike weaving quickly through all the foot traffic, and I turn left down and even narrower alley between two tall buildings. It’s shaded and smells strongly of incense, and the vegetable and spice carts look to be constantly in danger of being knocked into in the tight quarters.
Finally, the little alley spills into Boudhanath Stupa itself – one of the most holy Buddhist monuments, its meticulously whitewashed walls and gold-painted tower blinding in the sun. The painted blue eyes really do seem to follow me as I walk clockwise around the stupa amongst tourists taking selfies, monks in maroon robes, shopkeepers, napping dogs, pilgrims spinning the prayer wheels, and a huge flock of pigeons who are occasionally scattered by joyfully screeching children. On the left all sorts of souvenir ships, restaurants, guesthouses, and cafés encircle the stupa, and I duck down a covered psssageway towards a now-familiar yellow building and large white letters: “HIMALAYAN JAVA CAFE”.
In the coffee shop, I settle down with a cappuccino in a cushy green armchair by the window and work on a couple essays for school. I usually join a friend from school who’s spending the semester in Kathmandu, then explore after lunch:
Stay tuned for an update on my time in Bali so far!