Ashes and the Confusion, Kathmandu
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 10:55
DSC_0237Ashes were dropping from the sky and the smoke was burning our lungs. In one side the cows getting feed from the trashes on the other side the monkeys running around without minding anything. We passed through the wood mass. As getting inside of the garden of the temple in a surprised mood we were getting the sounds of the lament coming from inside. People were silently watching the consecutive ceremonies on the steps called Ghat by the Bagmati River and the sadhus with their white face were just behind them. At the Pashupatinath temple, the only place for Nepali Hindus to give their last breathe...

Land border passings always used to be interesting. But China - Nepal border passing has been the most sudden and interesting cultural change so far. Our farewell to China became so fast where we spent more than 2 months. We just walked through a bridge and get to Kodari town at the other side of the river and everything changed immediately. We were in the middle of the life in a new country anymore. The brunette women in colourful clothes with their red points on their forehead and piercing on their noses,DSC_0123children with kohl eyes running on bare foot, always horning lorries, dust and confusion met us at this side. And of course the warm weather welcomed us after Tibet. There were no more Chinese alphabet but there was Sanskrit instead. Although the country exit procedures were so strict in China nobody asked about our passport and visa while getting into Nepal. We could just get in the country without any visa or entry stamp. We looked for immigration office ourselves to get a entry stamp on our passports. There was not a single computer in this old looking office with broken windows. The helpful officer men over their middle ages registered our entry to Nepal by using a pen and paper. Officers in Nepal were so helpful that even they let us exit from the custom without any process upon our request. The soldier wanted to chat with us with his Indian accent English.

DSC_0047After bargaining we got in one of the jeeps in order to go to Kathmandu. During the bargaining the drivers head shaking habit was telling us we were so close to India. We moved towards Kathmandu on a broken road which was barred sometimes by land sliding and sometimes by dead cows. One of the things changed was direction of the traffic but the drivers looked they were not minding the direction and they were using the both side of the road due to broken roads. Inside the buses on the road were full of people and even the situation on top of the buses was the same and not familiar to us. During the lunch break on the way everybody in the car ate "dal bat" (rice lentil) which is the most basic and famous Nepali food. But something was weird, they were eating with hands! It seemed to me that we had many things to get used to. Our astonishment did not finish as we got to Kathmandu. We encountered more confusion that we had in the border town Kodari. There was no addressing system in this capital city where the roads were more like a village road. Thus we had to find our place by asking people. We used to stay in Chhatrapati area which is considered to be as a touristic area. Even in this area streets were polluted too much by trash. Hygen is a big problem here. Perhaps that's why I had health problems with my stomach at the second day of arrrival and I have been to the clinics of Kathmandu. In fact one phrase of Scot doctor who took care of me was enough for explaining the situation. "You are in the worst place in the world to be sick." Anyway we could find a Turkish restaurant that we can trust its cleanliness and I got recovered in few days after treatment. But I couldn't drink any ayran (milky Turkish drink) after I saw the cows eating from the trash.

DSC_0276Actually Kathmandu is one of the three cities of the region called as Kathmandu Valley. All streets of the city worths to visit but in order to experience the Nepali life it is enough to walk in the Thamel streets and observe the life in the Durbar Square which is in the UNESCO's world heritage site list. When we were around this square it was not surprising to meet marijuana sellers because the famous hippi place Freak Street where Bob Marley used to come is just by this square. Swayambhunath temple where hundreds of monkeys run inside and which is also called as monkey temple, Bouddha Stupa which is visited mostly by Nepali Tibetans and the Pashupatinath Temple where cremating occurs. Pashupatinath was the most interesting place in Kathmandu. This temple is the place where Nepali Hindus wait for dying and to be cremated. According to the Hindu belief the person died here will be released from the birth and death cycle and will reach to Nirvana. Thus there were many old people there waiting to die to reach Nirvana. Even there is a nursing home for old people just by the temple. There are many sadhus around and in the temple. Sadhus are people who left their all material and sexual demands behind and they just care about meditating. Their faces are painted with white, yellow and red paints and before meditation they smoke marijuana most of the time in order to reach high Nirvana. Only Hindus are allowed to get inside of the temple building. My damn curiosity, as I looked inside from the door of the temple a monkey attacked my leg. How the monkey knows that I am non Hindu? The children around the temple always want to talk with foreigners. They have fluent English and they are interested in collecting stamp or coins from foreigners so they asked from us for the same things. Unfortunately we could only give them how to say hello in Turkish since we are on the way for 6 months we have nothing regarding Turkey with us.

DSC_0388One of the problems in the city is regular electricity cut in the evening time. If you don't have a flasher with you it is not a good idea to walk in the dark streets because there is still traffic. There is no public transportation like bus or metro instead rickshaw which is a tricycle and three porters are common. The other cities of Kathmandu Valleys are Patan and Bhaktapur. We also spent a day in Patan Durbar Square and its streets.

We got some visas before leaving from Turkey and we get some of them on the road. Our next stop was India so we headed to Indian embassy. In order to apply for Indian visa I needed to transfer my Nepali visa to my new passport which meant I had to go to immigration office. After some annoying bureaucracy process I transfered my visa. Due to delay in my application for Indian visa I had to go to embassy 7 times totally. As soon as I got my visa we moved to Chitwan.

Dancing With the Elephants, Chitwan

DSC_0607One of our friend who has been here before recommended us to go to Chitwan. National park of Chitwan is Nepal's one of world heritage sites. In order to observe the wild life in the park we spent 2 nights in Chitwan. After a hike by the Rapti River we met only one rhino which was not satisfying for us. The following day early in the morning we had a safari on the elephants in the foggy jungle. We saw many deers but it was not satisfying for a wild life. Until a tiger attacked to the elephant in front of us. The roar of the tiger was quite satisfying. The driver of the elephant didn't realize the tiger in the grass which was eating a deer. Fortunately nobody was injured. There are many elephants in this area and they are mostly used for safari and carrying woods. Those elephants are breeded in a centre in the park. The most funny moment of Chitwan trip was watching the elephants bath in the Rapati River.

In our 15th day of our Nepal trip again we had a tough bus journey to Sunauli which is at the border of India. We got a rickshaw to reach to border from Sunauli and we saw table "Welcome to India" which told us the end of Nepal trip. Let's see what we will meet in incredible India.