Oye, you over there, snap that wire!

Sometimes (read: always) the sequence of events in Nepal is downright bizarre. There is this festival in Patan (a part of Kathmandu) called Rato Machhendranath Rath Jatra. It’s a mouthful, I know. During this festival an enormous (like 20 meter tall – not long – tall) chariot is built from wood and a bunch of other materials I couldn’t recognize from a distance, set on wheels and then wheeled through the narrow streets of Patan. Pulled by people, of course. It’s terrifying. I mean, this thing is 20 meters tall, it’s swaying left and right, and the whole set up doesn’t really seem safe. Not to mention, there are people hanging off from the top of it. Usually, it doesn’t cause much havoc out on the main roads, other than attracting attention from passers-by. However, and it turns out this year is the lucky year, every 12 years this bad boy is wheeled by a longer route for several days. The longer route includes main, more traffic-prone roads. And as the luck would have it, those are the roads I travel each day.

So there you have it. Doesn't look safe, now does it?

So there you have it. Doesn’t look safe, now does it?

Day 1: a warning comes through saying that the chariot will pass that way and the roads will be blocked for the rest of the day. I rush out to get out of the way and beat the traffic home only to be surprised by the sight of men on ladders all along the street. They were taking down electricity wires. It makes sense: a 20m monstrosity is about to be wheeled through. If you’ve ever seen photos of Nepal, you know that there is definitely no lack of wires in the streets, so this was a huge task. So much so, that they didn’t even get to a lot of the wires in time so when the chariot came through, people walking ahead of it would simply snap the wires in half, or the chariot would run through and take the wires down. Traffic was already heavy, but I made it out on time. Later, from the comforts of home, I admired the photos of the chariot posted on Facebook by my friends who live in that area. I felt a tiny bit bummed out I missed it. Quickly forgot about it though, and slept like a baby.

Day 2: got in the car and made my way to the aforementioned chariot-affected area. Never even though that the chariot would make my commute a very very long one. As I got closer to my destination, the traffic got heavier. I silently wondered why: has there been an accident? My question was answered pretty soon: a gigantic chariot was right in front of me, and there I was, in my car inching past it shocked that they even allow traffic to go by this leaning tower. Happy that it didn’t topple over right as I was by it, I continued driving. I have to admit though – it’s pretty fascinating and quite amazing, this chariot. Anyhow, even after passing the chariot, the traffic continued to be heavy. As I was sitting in a jam, annoyed by the guy behind me honking non-stop (what’s your point, buddy? no one’s going anywhere), I realize the reason for backed-up traffic were again the guys on ladders, now hooking the wires back together. And then, suddenly, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Wait, is that…what…that cannot be… oh my god, it’s an elephant! In the midst of the heaviest traffic I have ever seen in Kathmandu, there was a Zoo elephant on it’s morning walk just strolling down the road, chewing on leaves hanging from it’s back, not caring about a single thing, especially not about the honking motorcade behind it.

If that’s not bizarre, I don’t know what is.

What’s good around here

After writing many posts on funny things in Nepal, as well as those things that I cannot, ummm how should I put it nicely, stand, I figured it was time for me to write about something I like here. There should be such things, no? After all, I moved here by my own choice.  So here it goes. Things I like about Nepal.

First place, without a doubt, goes to the weather. Let’s face it. Weather in Kathmandu is gorgeous, all year round. Sure, you need to learn how to handle the rain in summer months, but seriously, who minds getting rained on when it’s hot outside. Getting rained on is like a breath of fresh air. For the rest of the year sun is out every day. Every single day. It gets a bit cold in winter. But what’s taking a shower in an 8°C bathroom in comparison with seeing the sun every day for almost 8 months in a year? So yeah, weather, gorgeous.

It might be a total cliche, but I cannot not mention the historical sights. Kathmandu might  be dirty and polluted and crowded and crazy and all kinds of things. But the sights you can see are amazing. If you start from Patan and move through Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath all the way to Bhaktapur, trust me, you’ll be hooked for life. These places are rockin’. And the best part about all of them – they’re not just tourist sights that are there to be photographed and not to be touched. People actually live there, in them , around them and with them. It’s an amazing sight. My favorite? Boudhanath. It’s a place like no other. Not to be missed.

Zagreb might be trying real hard to be a cosmopolitan city, and in many regards it definitely is, but what’s missing there is a diverse restaurant scene. Kathmandu had me amazed with its variety of restaurants and food. It’s a never ending exploring out here. We’ve been to so many places already, but it feels like we haven’t even tackled into a vast restaurant pool in Kathmandu. I love it! Indian, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Nepali, American, Spanish… Anything you wish for can be found in Kathmandu. Isn’t that just perfect?

And last, but not the least, mornings are what I enjoy tremendously in Nepal! Yes, there is an annoying sweeping lady outside my window every day at 6 am. And yes, the dirty pigeons are making horrible cooing sounds, but once I get out of bed, open the curtains and look outside, I am stunned. The sky is of a blue shade that I’ve never seen in my life. Sun is glistening on the surrounding hills, and snow-covered mountain tops are visible in the background. Kids are playing on the rooftops, their laughter carrying across the neighborhood. Bells can be heard in almost every house making everything seem magical. It’s impossible not to love this place!

Ignore neighbor's laundry and focus on the beautiful mountain tops in the distance.

Ignore neighbor’s laundry and focus on the beautiful mountain tops in the distance.

Too beautiful for words

I intended this post to be a hymn to Nepal. One of those posts where I would beautifully and with many poetic and romantic words describe absolutely best places in Nepal that everyone has to visit in a liftime. The truth is I was too lazy to do a lot of research and come up with a whole bunch of educated and informative details on Nepal and its beautiful sites. Maybe I’ll do that some other time. For now, I leave you with some of the great shots I took during my previous trips.

Patan

Patan

Patan

Patan

Pokhara, on the lake

Pokhara, on the lake

Pokhara

Pokhara

On the way to Pokhara

On the way to Pokhara

On the way to Pokhara

On the way to Pokhara

Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur

Durbar Square Kathmandu

Durbar Square Kathmandu

Boudhanath