♫ … going to Kathmandu?

Kathmandu is awful. One of the most polluted cities of the world. Traffic is a nightmare. Drinking water highly risky. The airport is horrid.

UPDATE – the core streets of the tourist area Thamel have been made mostly pedestrian only. That’s a BIG improvement.

On recent trips I’ve flown into Kathmandu — then departed as quickly as possible to Bhaktapur or Pokara.

For one thing, many visitors get sick in Kathmandu within the first couple of days.

In 2019 I ended up staying in Kathmandu two days at the end of my trip as the departure was out of the city.

As always, I visited my favourite attraction — the Monkey Temple.

Swoyambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley … It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living (there) …

The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. …

The stupa consists of a dome at the base, above which is a cubical structure painted with eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions with the word “unity” in the main Nepali dialect between them …

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The second night I went, as usual, to the Great Stupa. Had dinner on one of the rooftop restaurants.

The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. …

Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath. …

Here are a few other random photos from my last days in Nepal.

Sizzler at Rum Doodle (new location)

unique and excellent donair Nepali-style

I’ll be back. There’s no better way to hike the Himalayas than from Nepal.

Looking to river valley between two 8000m peaks

farewell Pokhara

After over 3 weeks in-and-out of the (former?) hippy enclave of Lakefront, Pokhara on lake Fewa, I’m finally moving on.

Within 30 kilometres (19 miles), the elevation rises from 1,000 to 7,500 metres (3,300 to 24,600 feet).

My guest house was up high with good vistas.

Pokhara, like Kathmandu, is usually hazy with poor mountain views. But we got one very clear day.

Machapuchare (Fishtail) is my favourite mountain.

Colourful row boats are emblematic of the city.

Fishing is popular with locals and visitors from the subcontinent.

There’s not all that much to do in Pokhara. Most spend their time relaxing meal-to-meal.

My go-to Himalayan dinner is called a Sizzler, for obvious reasons.

Some randoms.

Political Party parade.
Police Force laundry.
Pema Dechan Ling

shawarma, doner, gyro, …

Grilled, pressed mystery meat. 😊

Doner kebab … is a type of kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.

Seasoned meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element. The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks.

The vertical rotisserie was invented in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, and doner kebab inspired similar dishes such as the Arab shawarma, Greek gyros, and Mexican al pastor. … 

Happy Diwali

As I like Nepal in November, I’ve been here for the Diwali festival a number of times. Even Buddhists celebrate a version.

On day 2 dogs are fancied up. Other days it’s crows and holy cows.

Families clean, renovate, and decorate their homes in advance of the holiday.

The main purpose is to invite Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth – to visit their homes and bless them for the coming year.

oil lamp or diya with crackers, sweet or mithai, dry fruits, indian currency notes, marigold flower and statue of Goddess Laxmi on diwali night

Nepalis illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), electric lights, and offer puja (worship).

Family gets together for feasts. Many goats are slaughtered.

Diwali is expensive!

The highest quality goat come from high up in the Himalaya. We felt honoured to have the chance to buy dried, smoked, spicy Mustang goat.

They call it Sukuti. The tastiest thing I’d eaten so far in Nepal.

Groups of children arrive at your door singing and dancing for money. It’s a bit like Halloween.

Adults arrive doing the same, but they will be collecting money for local charitable causes.

Diwali also known as Deepavali and the “festival of lights“, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year.

The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. …

Tonight. 🙂

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visiting Budapest

Prague is better than Budapest. For the tourist. For me.

That said, it’s a somewhat similar experience. LOTS of walking. And I was happy to finally visit Buda and Pest.

I stayed near the Great Synagogue, largest outside NY City, on the floodplain Pest side. And not far from the NEW Budapest Eye.

Most of my photos are architecture and statuary. Much of this is more modern than Prague as Budapest has been destroyed in so many wars over the centuries.

The highlights are mostly over the Danube river on the hilly Buda side.

Autumn is a good time to visit. SLIGHTLY fewer tourists.

Buda Castle is no more. It’s a palace complex today, most built between 1749 and 1769.

This Archive building was one of my favourites.

Like Prague, Budapest is plagued with tourists, all Instagram influencers. 😀

Parliament in the background

walking Prague

I hadn’t realized how tourist-swarmed Prague has become. I visited in October, low season, yet everything was packed.

My hostel — Mosaic — was superb. Best breakfast I can recall.

To get oriented I took one of many available free walking tours: Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, …

Guides on free tours are paid by tip. They only survive if they are very good at the job.

My group had one awkward moment at the Jewish District when a tourist brought up the Palestinian cause … An important issue, but standing on ground where Nazis had murdered 90% of the Jews was wrong time, wrong place. We shut him down.

There are quirky, unusual attractions at every turn.

Wandering Prague at night with a flask of red wine was even better than daytime.

Yep. I hung out around the Charles Bridge every evening.