For the longest time, when anyone asked me where I wanted to travel, I always said, “India, Nepal, Russia, and Tibet.” I’m not as keen to go to Russia, Tibet means giving money to the Chinese government, India’s been great, but I always wanted to go trekking in Nepal. I didn’t end up going trekking at all - but it was still awesome.
Back in Dharmashala, I met a nice bloke named Jules. He was a writer and photographer, and we became fast friends. “Come visit me in Kathmandu.”
Somehow, I had a few days and it kind of made sense. I booked a plane ticket up to Kathmandu and figured I’d bus it to Darjeeling. Off we go!
I arrived and Jules was sitting in the courtyard, writing, smoking, drinking coffee, just like before. We caught up, he checked me into my room at which he got me a ridiculous discount, and then we wandered. He pointed out some key things, and I took it all in.
We got lunch at New Orleans, and I was happy to eat delicious tofu (not always the most common thing in India). Then we walked around some more, and Jules introduced me to a few of his visiting friends, and we all went to a giant stupa in the middle of the Tibetan neighborhood of Kathmandu. The top of the dome had been moved slightly (though not damaged) during the earthquake, so it wasn’t purely beautiful, but still, quite wonderful.
We had tea on a rooftop, talking, getting to know each other, and catching up.
I went back to my room to practice yoga, and then we all went out to dinner. I was feeling tired (Getting up at 4a.m. does that to you…), left the after-dinner show on the early side.
The next morning, I got up and went for a run….and run...and run….I discovered a lovely road in the hills above the city. Okay, so there were trucks that blared their horns and exhaled noxious black fumes, but it was nice the same. It was mostly quiet, with less traffic, friendly people, and nice views. My hour long run turned into over two hours.
I got back, showered and ate. Then Jules and I tried to figure out my travel plans. The overnight bus I had planned to take was actually 18 hours, not 12. Somehow a flight seemed more appealing. After What’sApping with my friend Arpan, I decided on plane, even though of course it was more costly. (I talked to someone who had taken the bus to Darjeeling and it was 28 hours total! It had been messed up. Yikes!)
Jules and I went to the Monkey Temple. It was really fun, with monkeys everywhere. I began chanting Om Mani Padme Hum along with it...everywhere. I bought some beautiful mantra beads, and some bigger prayer flags for our camp at Burning Man. The top of the temple (365 steps…) was covered with monkeys, and a building destroyed by the earthquake.
If you went to Kathmandu, you wouldn’t think, “Oh, there was an earthquake.” But if you look around - notice the rubble - notice the things being repaired, then it makes sense. (It could just be a developing country….but no, that’s not it.)
After, Jules and I did a bit of writing and there was a crazy thunderstorm. Figures; I send my umbrella home with Wayne and two days later, it rains. Oh well.
We went out to eat, and then to bed.
The next morning, I repeated my run, and then went to an excellent yoga class. I then went to Black Olive for breakfast with Jules and his friend Agee; Jules said he had been sick all night. We kept it pretty low-key; writing; Agee and I went to the Garden of Dreams (which was undergoing post-earthquake repairs); Jules and I took a walk around an interesting neighborhood. We went out for dinner.
At 4 a.m., I went to the bathroom. And again. This repeated quite a few times. Running was out; I tried to do yoga but felt very poorly and could not do anything too substantial. I pulled myself together for a hot shower (Ahhhh, Hotel Mandep had the best showers I’ve had in Asia! Even if it was all over the flower….) and then crawled outside. I forced down a piece of toast; Jules teased me, “Ultrarunner and yoga teacher, she’s too delicate for toast.”
I took some Immodium and then left Kathmandu for Darjeeling.