It has been tough keeping up with blogging in Nepal with only a few hours of power at a time. Somewhere in Vietnam my computer battery stopped holding a charge, so when there is no power, there is no computer time, despite there being wifi 24/7. There also isn’t a lot of excitement from day to day like there has been in other locations, so I’ve had to let the interesting stuff build up for a while in order to have something to write about.
Today we left Dhulikhel after 19 days and, although we are moving to warmer locales, which we’re all really happy about, we are all a little sad to be leaving. Of the 19 days we were in Dhulikhel, Ray worked 17 of them, so he really had a different experience from the boys and me, which he has promised he will write about soon. But, we’re all agreed that the best part of our stay was the people that we got to know. From the young couple who run the guesthouse to the German medical students to the Indian professor and all the others who stayed for a time, we really enjoyed everyone’s company and it’s what kept us at the guesthouse for the entirety of our stay. Most nights 10 to 16 of us would gather in the kitchen to eat delicious, homemade dinners and chat about the day or travel or the weather or the lack of hot water and electricity or whatever was on our minds.
Most days, the boys worked on getting caught up on homework. Between subjects, the boys and I would walk down one hill and up another (there are few flat areas in Dhulikhel – everywhere you go you are walking either up or down a hill) into town for lunch, which many times was momos – little dough pockets filled with either chicken, buffalo, or veggies. We walked through the narrow streets of “old town” on several occasions and visited the many temples that popped up in the middle of cobblestone streets. Everywhere we went, RJ was first to greet people with “namaste” and a smile, which almost certainly was reciprocated with a similar greeting and smile.
On one of only two occasions that we hired a taxi, the boys and I made a visit to Shiva (Kailashnath Mahadev). The statue is 144 feet tall and is the world’s 40th-tallest statue, four places below the Statue of Liberty. The statue sits atop a hill overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Unfortunately, as was the case for most of our stay in Nepal, the valley was blanketed with smoke and haze, significantly limiting our view.
On Saturdays – the only day that Ray had off – we would start our morning with banana pancakes, chocolate french toast, and coffee at a little place we found called Nawaranga Guesthouse and Art Gallery. Besides the delicious food, the owner is a charming older man who took great pride in his family-owned establishment and support of local artists. This was, by far, RJ’s favorite place to eat. We ended up purchasing a few watercolors to remember our time in Nepal, too.
After our delicious breakfast, the whole family made it up the 1000 steps (there’s actually only 685) to Kali Temple. Tyler ended up walking up with a young man about his age and felt like he had a great conversation. There is a 3-story tower at the top that you can climb and look over the valley to the north and south. On a clear day you would also be able to see the Himalayas, but, sadly, not on this day. On the south side of the peak, there is rock that juts out over hill. There is a line of people waiting to stand on the edge of the rock and have their photo taken, making it look as if they are about to plummet over the edge to certain death. Ray couldn’t pass up that opportunity!
In our final days in Dhulikhel, while Ray was on an overnight outreach, the kids and I decided to make the 12 km trek over to Namo Buddha, which, it turns out, would be our only trekking adventure on this trip to Nepal. The first part of the walk is up the stairs to Kali Temple, which is where I realized that I had not replaced the battery in my camera. There was no way I was going to go back for it, so I did the best I could with my phone and I am hoping Ty got some good video for his vlogs. We opted to stay at a place called Namo Buddha Resort, which is a fabulous little place at the top of hill with views stretching to the north and south and even to the Himalayas on clear days. They have an organic farm that supports all of their vegetarian meals and they even bake their own bread and make their own cheese (paneer). Even better was the fact that there was electric heat for almost 8 hours as well as hot showers!
After a late lunch at the resort, the staff pointed us toward the Buddhist monastery, just down the next hill and up the other side. No pictures or videos were allowed at this ceremony (not that I could have taken any) but it was an experience that all three of us will remember. This is Tyler’s description of the ceremony:
“Everyone at the resort told us to go to the monastery to watch a Buddhist ceremony. We observed around 50 monks singing/chanting and praying with a few of them playing instruments. The music consisted of a large drums being hit frequently while a few conch shells were blown to make a loud, deep, resonating sound, similar to someone using too much air to play a tuba. We also got to share in the milk tea and cakes that were served to all the monks and guests. I felt very out of place, but it turned out to be a cool experience.”
Dhulikhel turned out to be a really fun place for all of us. It’s a place that I could see us returning to someday in the future. Although next time, we’ll definitely choose warmer months!