Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Long journey home

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:30 PM 0 comments


The journey home was long and tiring. I was beginning to have a sore throat and a cold was imminent. I managed to sit on the right side of the plane this time, in a window seat and I got good views of the Himalyas. It's not every day that one gets to see them. Back at Changi, I've explored all 3 terminals and found the sunflower garden which was open to the outside, and Singapore was rainy, muggy and hot. I've checked in to transit hotel at terminal 3 this time and the room was better, with a bathroom that had a glass wall to the room. Had noodles at the Macau Express. Had wanted wonton noodle soup but being at this late hour, most places were closed. Did manage to catch up on my emails and snooze for a couple of hours. Then a 5 hr flight to Incheon. Waited a few hours there watching a Korean movie and then the 10 hrs long flight back home. Bone tired and very sick. She must be getting old!




Saturday, November 03, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Bhaktapur

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM 0 comments

Today E and I took a taxi to Bhaktapur, the second thing I wanted to do in Nepal. The journey was a little over 30 minutes and the view of Everest was ever present. The taxi left us at the entrance to the Durbar Square and we paid our entrance fee. Why did they make the tourists pay to see the place while anyone can go in free from the other side. The morning was quieter and the temples were more impressive. There were 3 major squares in this town, and we walked to all 3. Dattatraya Square was the
smallest with only 1 temple. Not much to see. Not impressive at all. Taumadhi was the most impressive. The Nyatapola temple with 5 levels, had a long staircase flanked by elephants, lions, and griffins. E liked ceramics so we went to the pottery square. The pottery had no color nor designs. Next we argued pricing and with 700 rupees more, the taxi driver took us to Changu Naryan, an Unesco site, up on a hill. On our way, we passed through golden fields of hay, with people harvesting. A glorious magnificent sight that reminded me of Bruegel's Harvesters, brilliant painting. The golden fields were very lovely. E had been in Changu Narayan years before and said the place was very quiet and tranquil. However, commercialism had polluted the place and now it had nothing but souvenir shops. Up on the hill at the end of the single road, stood the oldest temple in the area. Then finally we went to Patan, the city E liked the best. However, again, it was now littered with tourist and local people. It's no longer the quiet town which took E's heart away. We lunched at a restaurant overlooking the Durbar Square. The square was indeed beautiful, intimate with temples close to each other. It was my favorite Durbar Square. But being Saturday, everyone was out and there were many tourists. When afternoon came, more and more tourists and traffic poured in, to a point where I seriously had enough and wanted to get away. Before returning to the hotel, we made a brief stop at the Himalya hotel because E said it had nice views of the mountains. But this too was changed. They were building a complex right in front of the hotel, thus making the view less clear. The view was not impressive anyway. The mountains were far. I had wanted to go to Nagarkot see the mountain range as the reviews said it offered the best sunrise and sunset views. R who's been there, said it indeed had nice views of the Himalyas but the town was very small and offered nothing else to do. Since we got back later that I've planned, Nagarkot would have to wait for another journey. We again dined at the hotel and I had the veggie chow mein which was actually pretty good. I leave tomorrow so this evening I sat in one of the gazebos in the garden to silently unwind. Kathmandu is not a place I'd like to return to. But who knows, the tallest mountain range on earth might be worth a second visit.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

Everest !

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM 0 comments

This morning J and I took the KTM to Mtn flight. We had the first row on Buddha Air, right next to the propellers. J wasnt happy as the propeller blocked the view. The flight was smoother than I've anticipated. They gave us each a map showing all the famous peaks with their names on it. Once in altitude, we could go to the cockpit and photograph Everest. I had the single seat on the right side. Once past the Himalyas, the plane turned to fly back and I was able to see the mountain range in plain view. Glorious Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. I've enjoyed the flight very much. This was what I came to Nepal for. Well worth getting up at 4:30AM. Bought a tshirt that says 'I didnt climb Everest but I touched it with my heart' for the rocket scientits. Then we had our second site seeing. Our local guide took us to the Annapurna area and we walked and walked through narrow alleys, filled with people, local shops selling meat and produce, old houses, cars and motorbikes, dirty dusty streets, small temples filled with pigeons. Reminded me of alleys in Hong Kong, except compared to Kathamandu, the alleys in HK
were clean and sane. Then we came to the famous Durbar Square. Not as impressive as I've expected. The temples looked asian with hindu statues and motifs. No one cared to visit the museum. I found nothing impressive in Kathmandu. We all had just wanted to get back to the sanctuary of our hotel, away from the noise, dust and traffic. We all lunched at the hotel bar next to the pool in peaceful tranquility. While the Brits sunbathed, I returned to my room to take a nap. I had wanted to venture out to experience a restaurant but ended up dining at the hotel again and had fish and chips this time. After the orderly and peacefulness of Bhutan, Kathmandu's vibrancy and confusion was just too much for the Hippo.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012

back to the dump KTM

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:30 PM 0 comments

Hard to say goodbye to such a clean, welcoming and harmonious country. And the beautiful airport at Paro. Really wish we could have stayed a few more days, especially in Paro, which I really liked a lot. The Druk Air flight took off and as soon as it climbed a bit, the plane took the necessary left turn to get away from the hills. Another hair raising moment and soon we were back to the Himalyas again.

Back at Kathmandu, the dust, the noise, the traffic, the people, the cows and pigeons and the Shanker hotel. I made sure they gave me a different room this time. Up on the 7th floor, the windows were small but at least it was brighter and with a better view of trees and some buildings and the Radisson hotel. The bathroom though was small and dark. We had a site seeing tour with a local guide. Nepal was not on my list. Had to come here in order to fly to Bhutan. The Hippo was not for Hindu architecture. I found
their deities scary. The first place the local guide took us to was a temple with monkeys and an Elderly's home. Very depressing. Then to the sacred river Bagmati with dirty polluted water, a cremation site, the Temple of Pashupatinath. Not a very welcoming site to tourists. The dead body was a young man. I should have brought a face mask. Later we went to the Stupa of Bodnath, surrounded by souvenir shops. The place was a mad house of people, monks and tourists. It turned cold by the late afternoon and we were tired. We dined at the hotel. I've ordered a sizzling steak platter that turned out to be a hamburger patty. Should have known better. Was dying for some beef after a week of chicken. It tasted OK but it wasnt a steak.

 

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