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Sharon McRae
India and Nepal 1998 (with kids)

Politics


Kathamandu - Nepal



Politics and Peacefulness

The next few days are spent relaxing in the relative comforts available in Kathmandu. Liam has a bout of Delhi Belly, but recovers quickly. We decide not to tempt fate and stick close to our hotel bathroom! The politics of this tiny kingdom have also played a role in our decision to relax for a few days. The communist party has staged a one-day strike, and absolutely everything is closed. Even the indefatigable rickshaw peddlers have disappeared. After my "up close and personal" escapades with officials over the past few weeks I fear my luck may have run out, so we hunker down and obey! The streets are virtually empty, a sharp contrast to the norm, and periodically, hordes of surly-looking protesters shouting political slogans surge by...not the right climate for a family outing.

The political climate returns to normal in a few days and we head off to Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. This temple sits on a hillside overlooking the city, and is reached by scaling a steep set of 365 stairs ...visions of our trek return. The view from atop the temple is great, the Kathmandu valley spreading out below, and the ever-present mountains dotting the sky. This stupa dates from 460 CE, and is overrun by rather aggressive monkeys challenging your right to ascend. Monkeys are fine creatures, but believe me, keeping tabs on your camera and kids as these mischievous beasts approach from every angle is a lesson in vigilance.

One sight from that day which epitomizes the peacefulness inherent in Buddhist temples was an old woman who was seated cross-legged on the ground cleaning grain by hand. A small puppy approached, insistent on hopping into the pile of grain; the woman repeatedly lifted the dog up and gently placed him to the side, a futile exercise. She was eventually helped by two very young monks, who held and stroked the puppy, allowing her to finish her task. The puppy got the attention he so desired, the woman cleaned her grain, and the small monks made a new friend...neither a harsh word nor an impatient gesture was displayed-a peaceful, beautiful solution.





We leave Nepal in a day or two, but amazingly we meet up with Bob and Renee from our rafting trip, which provides us with some much needed adult companionship. Traveling with the kids has been a great, oftentimes hilarious, experience, however the lure of chatting with someone over four feet tall is very real. Bob and Renee are headed to Eastern Europe via India, so we meet and swap suggestions for their few days in Delhi. This couple is fascinating, and we end up communicating with them by e-mail throughout the remainder of their journey. They have been on the road for four months and have another six to go before they return to the U.S.A. They both gave up careers (shes a lawyer, hes a surveyor) to travel for a year, and are having a blast...ah, to follow in their footsteps!

Before heading back to India, I feel a word or two on the hilarity of signage in Nepal is due. The Nepali aim to please and have taken to tourism with gusto, translating most stuff into English- or rather their version of it! We almost stayed at "The Homeliest Hotel", have eaten "Puncakes", "Cowmein", "Fried Children" and have been advised in a menu that "Order may be placed 20 minutes earlier when it is actually required" ...hmmm! Hotels carry the oddest names, such as "The Lubbly Jubbly Guest House", and the "Hungry Eye Hotel". Were definitely not in the staid west!

Leaving Kathmandu by air is a carnival ride of monumental proportions. Imagine a roller coaster that reaches a top height of 30,000 feet! As the weather is starting to get warm, planes must take off with half loads, or risk not getting enough lift, not a good risk when youre surrounded by mountains. Tribhvan airport has more than its fair share of rescue helicopters, and although I know these are used primarily for rescuing people stranded in the mountains, it adds a hint of uneasiness while boarding. The flight takes off, and we get that G-force feeling of being plastered to our seats. Takeoff is very steep, as aircraft need to get higher than the surrounding peaks. Soon we are at cruising altitude, and looking out the window we see that we are skimming past the mountaintops as they playfully peak from above the clouds. We bid a sad farewell to the magnificent mountains.



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Kathmandu
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Back to Delhi & Home( the end...alas)
  Sharon McRae - Bio and Journals
  India and Nepal 1998 (with kids) - Intro Average Rating of 10 Viewers
Chapters of India and Nepal 1998 (with kids)
  And we're off...
  Into India
  Delhi
  To Pushkar
  Jaipur
  The Taj, Reptiles and Cows
  Train to Varanassi
  Border Crossings
  Nepal/ Pokhara
  Trekking the Himalaya
  Whitewater Rafting
  Kathmandu
  Politics
  Back to Delhi & Home( the end...alas)

       

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