Thursday, 14 February 2008
We both slept well this night. Around 8.30 we got up, shower, breakfast and 10.00 to Himalayan Encounters (from now on H.E.). The guide coming with us, his name was Kiroj Man Sing. A very nice guy and a great talker. He studies Buddishm and Sociology, so except from the touristy information he could tell us a lot of other interesting facts.
Although I was in Bakthapur before, it was like the first time. We entered from a different street, so I saw everything from a different angle. It was about 45 minutes drive from Kathmandu to Bakthapur, with a private car.
On the way at the petrol stations, we saw a long line of motorbikes. Kiroj explained that, with the elections coming up, the government is creating a shortage of petrol. To get more voters, in their propaganda they promise no problems concerning petrol.
Bakthapur is known for the woodcarving, all the buildings, the doors, windows, are showing this craft. The population of Bakthapur is 60.000 people. Nepal total 23 million, Kathmandu 2.5 million.
In Bakthapur the people are 65% Hindu, 20% Buddhist.
The main difference between Hindu and Buddhist is: Hindu believe that they had many lives before becoming human. As a human they are striving to do as good as they can (karma), to accumulate as much as they can (of good behavior, favors) for their next life. That way they will come back as human again and not as animal.
Buddha also believes strongly in good karma, but for THIS life, to reach enlightenment, Nirvana This life.
The average age of the people living in Bakthapur is higher then in Kathmandu (pollution, slower life tempo). For the men it is 61, for the women 59 years.
At our question about the elections Kiroj said: "we don't know what is going to happen". The Maoist are communist, so the literate people will not vote for them, they will understand that it will mean no progress, but going back. The non-schooled people will most probably vote for the Maoist, that is why the Maoist is focusing their campaign in the countryside and the remote villages.
Most of the people think that buddishm is coming from Tibet. Kiroj told us that the Princess of Nepal was Buddhist, when she married the Crown Prince of Tibet he followed her religion. That was when Buddhism became THE religion of Tibet.
The Buddhist Chant (Mantra): "Om, mane padme hum". Hail, Jewel in the Lotus.
First take a long breath in, on the way to exhale, try to say "OM". Again inhale, holding the breath, "Mane Padme Hum", exhale at the last word "HUM".
Many pictures from the pottery square, where we bought an elephant, and Renske got a frog for good luck.
Sitting on the roof Terrace in the sun, overlooking Bakthapur, watching the people down on the square. Here Renske tried her first Momo (vegetable), and she quiet liked it. I tried two momo;s, but then it was pugju (enough) for me, still remembering the bad momo with food poisoning form 3 years ago.
A group of schoolchildren passing, the local tempo;s (3-wheel tractor), colorful people .
In the Royal Palace Kiroj took us to the "Royal Jacuzzi", a pond where the king used to bath. The builders did not know how a crocodile looked like, so the 'tab' of the bath turned out as a crocodile with a trump and a goat in his mouth (called crocifant by us).
After Bakthapur we still had time enough, so Kiroj took us to Swayambunath (Monkey Temple). The view over Kathmandu was fantastic, it was a sunny day.
This stupa is important for both Hindu and Buddhist. The pylons on the site are from the 17th century, the stupa itself is older, but unknown how old exactly. The story goes that on the spot where the stupa is, a lotusflower is buried. Lotus is the symbol of Buddhism.
Around 16.15 back to Thamel, overfilled with information and impressions, the both of us.
A day like this with guide and private car is cheap for us: 1500 Rupies for Kiroj (17 euro), 1800 rupies for the driver (20 euro) for a whole day.
There is a problem with electricity in Kathmandu. Many hours during the day we have no electricity (also reason why we can not email so often). This is because the water in the rivers is very low, so there is no power enough of the stream of the water to get electricity.
In the evening we met Gelu, we went to a traditional Dahl Bath place, where Renske had her first Dahl Bath. Afterwards for a drink to a bar in Thamel, where all the trekkers from the Mount Everest meat, the whole place was covered with "footsteps" written with comments and names of the people who 'made it'.
A bit later also Dill (manager of Kathmandu office) joined us and they took us to a local karaoke place. Another experience, but soon we had enough of the singing of the ladies (it sounded like she also had a bad momo for lunch), so time after a nice day to go back to the hotel.