I say a little prayer... that I make it out alive
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An expedition out of the Summit Hotel was needed. One can easily fall into the trap of staying in the hotel grounds as the surrounding gardens are so peaceful (bar the 5am dog chorus where the local strays gather to play the fun game of My bark is louder then yours) and the staff attentive to your every need. I was keen to experience more of the city that we had whizzed through on the way from the airport a few days ago.
Luckily birthday girl Alice suggested a group of us venture out to the Patan museum for the morning. Situated a short cab ride away, it seemed the best compromise of true Nepal and short distance which meant we could avoid the strong mid-day sun.
On a note about Nepalese roads, if you think living in London (or another large UK city) is crazy when trying to cross the road, one should experience traffic in Nepal. Motorbikes are ridden with three to a bike (this can include very small children) who all bar the driver are sans helmet. If its not people crammed on a bike, you will see people holding on tightly to a large package such as a painting, fresh food or a pool table! I should say that the passenger lumbered with such task holds the package and not much else, one can only assume the Nepalese have legs bigger then WWE star John Cena. Alongside the bikes, you get these little passenger vans/busses crammed with bodies, if you are the last one on more likely then not you'll be half out the door holding on with a steely determination. The other thing to note is horns. Your journey will be a symphony of horns in all tones, not requesting you to move or warning you of an imminent crash, but more a game of I have a horn to which the person next to them responds I too have a horn and so on and so forth until you have no idea what is happening.
Back to the wonderful temples and palace in Patan, there are moments when you experience complete silence, which proves to be a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Kathmandu. Another amazing thing about Patan, which suffered a lot of damage in the 2015 earthquake, is the work that the community have done to rebuild this beautiful area. Whilst a few temples remain a pile of rubble, you can see small glimpses of the artefacts saved and loving cleaned/restored ready to be returned to their rightful home. Our group commented on how quick this was when London was still struggling to complete Crossrail! For only 1000NPR which is around £8.00, you get access into the museum and palace which is well worth the money.
As part of our guided tour (well recommended to get the best out of the area) we were taken to visit a local doctor who specialised in healing bowls. The concept of this alternative medicine is to place the bowl on your head, back or knees and perform a series of taps to the side of the bowl. These taps cause a series of waves to radiate throughout the body which is said to provide healing to your body. The doctor also explained how the healing bowls are created by hand out of a single lump of metal which is hammered out into the bowl shape.
Our guide also took us to the golden temple Hiranya Varna Mahabihar (cost for entry is 50NPR which is around 40p), which houses a statute made of silver, alongside other smaller versions of deities all decorated with gifts from locals who come to pray each morning. Situated around the edge of temple is a series of prayer wheels which must be spun clockwise whilst prayers are said. We were invited to try this and send our own prayer to the heavens.
The museum of Patan itself although small is perfectly formed, with a few items that you can get up close to along with viewpoints out over the area - perfect for photos!
After a morning of culture, we decided to walk back to our hotel. Whilst I was delighted to experience life on Nepalese streets and take in the colour and smells of the country, I fear that I almost died several times from the aforementioned motorbikes. Forget saying prayers in a temple, I was praying that I’d make it back in one piece with my camera intact! Don’t get me wrong all the people I met were lovely (even when trying to run me over) but I now have a new found respect for the slow crossings on Tottenham Court Road.
Ending the evening, the team celebrated the birthday of team member Alice who turned 19 whilst in Nepal. We showered her with traditional bad singing of Happy Birthday and lots of cake and beer. For those in the group who had stayed behind at the hotel to prepare for our two-day conference, it was a welcome break from practising speeches and staring at screens filled with data. It was also an opportunity for the team to regroup and prepare for the upcoming arrival of our trekkers.
Only a few days now until we meet them all again, and they get to experience this amazing country (and the boy racers of Kathmandu) themselves.
Comments on this article
|By: Richard Jackson||When: 30th Mar 2017 17:40|
Sarah. You need to get a grip and immerse your self in the local customs. I suggest Everest Beer.