Today we had a wonderful person names Anil who is an artist here in Kathmandu. He led us on an hour walk to the Monkey Temple aka Swayambhunath which included a plethora of stairs to the top. We were huffing and puffing and were happy for the training for the LangTang trek later on next month. The sun was out in full force and already at 9AM I was over the heat, but we had some cool breezes here and there. I decided today after a significant headache overnight to wear my mask. We are walking through dusty streets, past trash, dodging motor bikes and cars, chickens, dogs, merchants and the air quality is just rough. The hot weather made it hard to breathe with them on, but it was needed. I saw a peak of a mountain in the distance but the haze was still too dense to see anything else but some hills that were pretty impressive.
When we made our way up to the temple we were greeted with more monkeys. A really spectacular view though down to the valley and prayer flags galore. We walked left around the top of the temple and spun the prayer wheels lining the walls. I pulled away from the group as I noticed these beautiful panoramic canvasses hanging that depicted mountain ranges and looked for the artist. I was happy to talk with him a bit and even take a picture of him. I haggled (or negotiated) a lower price which is what you do here in Nepal (always negotiate down), and bought a beautiful oil painting from him for a gift and was happy to buy from local artists.
After another 40 minute walk, we made our way to Swayambhu Environmental Park (here) and took a little time to rest and look at the huge Buddha deities in front of us. There was some construction going on one, but still a sight to see. Interestingly enough the construction scaffolding was put together with bamboo and we questioned the integrity of the frame. Our guide for the day then took us to a wonderful rooftop restaurant overlooking Durbar square, where we had a superb lunch and Haley and I even split a coca cola. Was that the best thing ever! Following lunch we head downstairs to Anil's gallery where he generously took the time to show and talk to us with great detail about Thonka art. Check out the link (here). It reminded me of Iconography and I shared with him along our walk earlier that my mother was an Iconographer and how intricate the detailing and egg tempura technique were along with the gold leaf. I personally felt much correlation between the two religions in regards to their artwork. It was highly impressive and I felt he could have his own gallery in Soho. He just returned from an exhibition in Shanghai which proved to be successful so I am hoping to hear more good news for him.
After lunch Andrew took us through the square where folds were gathering for a festival taking place the next day (the Kumari festival explanation).
When we made it back to Thamel and we were exhausted, but needed to go shopping for last minute items for the clinic. We then had dinner at a great little cafe where I spotted a bottle of Jameson and was thrilled to have a drink before we head back to the hotel to pack up and get an early start to head out towards Kogate.
Though I am still adjusting, it is proving to be more and more interesting. We really do not know what to expect and I have learned to just go with the flow. For the first time in a while I do not have to tour manage. As I observe Andrew the past few days making arrangements, talking to people on his phone and checking the clock, I smile with delight and admire him taking care of us, but even more so that I don't need to worry about the next thing to be coordinated. That in itself has been a treat.
I will be excited to publish my next entry and share how things are going out there. No expectations and an open mind. That seems to be the wisest thing I have said in a long time. Oh Nepal, don't make me all soft and woo woo.