After lunch I decide to take a walk away from the city to the Swayambhunath temple.
I head towards the recommended junction but can’t see the obvious route. I head down a quite road passing very Nepalese surroundings. The road reduces down to a lane, which is a little unnerving at first, but I soon enjoy seeing real Kathmandu, and the lack of touts.
In the distance I spot the unmistakable sight of the temple. I didn’t realise it was perched on a massive hill, but then remembered reading that the views were amazing.
I head down a hill and across a bridge. I follow the dusty road for quite a while, the walk is longer than I expected, but is good. I chat briefly with some school kids retuning from school. I figured they wouldn’t be tour guides trying to sell me something like most other people.
As I near the temple there are more people and I am excited by the experience. There are a lot of steps to climb, so I get stuck in. I pay about 3/4 of the way up, and as I finish the climb the beautiful temple rises out of the hill.
I have seen this image many times in the film Baraka, but it is awesome to see it for real. I take a minute, turn away from the temple and admire the view of Kathmandu. When my heart rate returns to normal I take a slow stroll around the sight, in a clockwise direction as one should. I ring some of the prayer wheels, as I have always wanted to do.
Around the main temple are smaller temples and interesting buildings. There are quite a few of the monkeys that give this temple the nickname of the Monkey Temple. I do another lap and explore some things towards the back of the sight.
I see the taxi stop at the top of the hill, which is good to know in case I stay until dark. I return to the main sight and stop at a tiny uninviting roof top cafe. I order a black tea and enjoy the view.
A monkey steals sugar from another table, and I enjoy a long conversation with an Australian couple from Albany, where my friend Zoe’s parents live. The conversion turns internet related as John, the Aussie chap, in involved with an Albany community website.
We all leave the cafe together, say goodbye, and I take another lap of the temple.
It is dusk, and I decide to try the walk home. I didn’t walk down the obvious route to the sight, and am proud of myself of finding my way back to Thamel, without a map or road names, in Kathmandu in the dark. A compass and a good sense of direction gets me a long way. It’s an interesting night time walk, which I reward with a trip to the New Orleans cafe.
A beer turns into several, Tibetan Mosas and apple pie with ice cream – all for about £5. Before I leave the cafe and head back to the hotel a musician plays some music with his traditional bamboo flute, more reminders of Baraka.