KATHMANDU & THAMEL, NEPAL
After 37 hours we finally landed in Nepal and OH MY GOODNESS I AM IN LOVE!!!! Nepal has always been the number one country I've wanted to visit (along with Norway). I seriously am shocked with how much I have already fallen in love with Nepal and we have only been here one day. Right as we got off the plane and got our visas we met Rachael's cousin Maddie. Nebin, Nepal's in-country coordinator, had his driver pick us up and take us to our hotel. We are staying at this beautiful hotel in the middle of Kathmandu. After we unpacked our bags and got settled in we met Nebin in the lobby and headed out to see the city. Nebin took us to his home to meet his family and his German wife. The entire family is so beautiful and so so kind. Nepalese people are some of the kindest people I have ever met. Nebin's home is very modern and beautiful and had an amazing view of the city. After our tea and pastries we headed out to see the city. But really, Nepalese people are so so kind. Everywhere in the city it is so evident to see how the people take care of each other. All of the crazy traffic comes to a complete stop when an elderly person needs to cross the street. Speaking of traffic, driving here is literally INSANE. It is a straight free for all! Cars and motorcycles and bikes all just go for it, when they want to turn or drive through something you just lay on your horn and push on the gas pedal. It is very thrilling as a passenger to experience but would completely stress me out if I were to be driving haha. Nebin said though that in his lifetime here in Nepal he has only ever seen 1 or 2 car accidents. Maybe having no traffic laws is a thing that actually works here? Our first stop was at the Swayambhu Nath Stupa, also known as Monkey Temple. Literally thousand of monkeys everywhere at this temple! We walked up the steps, saw all the beautiful stupas and finally reached the top to see the temple. I learned that all the trees on this temple mountain are believed to be the reincarnation of Buddha's hair with the monkey as his lice. The painted face on the stupas and temple is the face of Buddha with each side representing each element - earth, fire, wind, water. I also loved loved loved seeing all of the prayer flags and prayer rolls! After the Swayambhu we headed over to Thamel - an iconic shopping district in Kathmandu. We walked up and down the streets of Thamel looking at all the different vendors and buying a few little gifts and souvenirs. From here we were all pretty spent and very tired so we headed back to our hotel for dinner. A few of Maddie's Nepalese friends met with us for dinner and it was so fun to talk to them about Nepalese culture. They are the cutest girls and one of them is actually going to California this fall for university! She is pretty excited. But really, I am in love with Nepal. It is definitely a 3rd world country and a lot of people live in poverty here. It is still recovering from the earthquake and there are tons of people living in tents and shacks. But the people are kind and caring, there is definitely a sense of love and camaraderie here. Namaste! xx, m.