An amazing breakfast with no calls of “black tea, black tea” or porridge etc which had been replaced with a jaw dropping array of options: cereals; fruit; pastries; yoghurts; curried vegetables; fried eggs, bacon and sausages; teas and juices; pancakes; waffles; bread and toast with options of jams including the non-descript “fruit” jam we had been eating each day on the trip (which we have finally discovered is apple based with some form of indistinguishable red fruit to give it some colour).
We arranged for three taxies to take a group of us the 3km west of the city to “Swayambhunath”, otherwise known as the Monkey Temple. The journey, whilst short as the crow flies, weaved its way through the bustling streets of Thamel and the dusty suburbs with some challenging sites on route. One of these was a pregnant cow on the back of a trailer being paraded as she gave birth – not the most relaxing of experiences for her I would have though although she appeared somewhat un-phased!
A lesson learnt is that you don’t want to be an electrician here as the wiring is a nightmare:
The taxies dropped us off at the bottom of an extremely steep set of steps leading up to the stupa and other religious buildings at the top of the hill. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site set on a hill with great views back over the city.
The monkeys greeted us as they used the maze of wires that adorn the telegraph poles as an aerial highway screeching at one another as they went – assuming they weren’t being hit by electric shocks…:
The climb up to the Stupa was a long one but gave us the promise of good views back over the city.
The site suffered some damage in the earthquake and as a result parts are being rebuilt with some challenges ahead as to the high quality of the timberwork they are replicating.
The site is somewhat confusing as to whether it is a market or a religious site, with all sorts of stalls selling, art, woodwork, chanting CDs etc whilst worshippers and tourists pass through side by side and the monkeys eye everyone up for titbits.
As we drop back down the rear side of the hill we find “The Italian Job” style parking – not for the faint hearted!
and decide to delay lunch – favouring a pizza over chicken:
We tried to book Rum Doodle which is well known amongst Everest summiters, but appears to have moved and may have gone down hill as a result as speaking to them on the phone got us nowhere. Instead the venue changed to “Fire and Ice” – a pizza restaurant which became very busy, including a rotation of Buddhist monks complete with MacBooks and the requisite i-Phones!
The afternoon brought a slower pace as Phil and I spent it shopping for family in Thamel. Phil braved a local barbers for a long awaited shave which we followed with a well deserved coffee and apple pie in an English style coffee shop.
Food was clearly the order of the day and we found ourselves back in Thamel for our final evening meal, dodging heavy rain for our return journey in taxies, soporific from more good food and a delicious local gin and tonic.