On to the next Country: Nepal ... Saturday 10/17
One week ago (Saturday) we flew from Sacramento to Los Angeles, from there we flew (Sunday) to Beijing, China, and then to Tibet on Monday. Now it was time to leave Lhasa, Tibet, which I thought was a wonderful place to visit. After breakfast in Lhasa, we said good-bye to our Chinese guide at the airport and were on our way to Kathmandu, Nepal ... and wowee-zowee, what a sight! We were blessed by a clear day over the Himalaya Mountains ... mountain peaks that looked close enough to touch. One of them was majestic Mount Everest, but I'm not sure which. The entire range was in full view!
If you judge a country or a city by their airport, you may come to an unfair conclusion. In this case, our group's first impression of Kathmandu based on its crowded, claustrophobic mess of an airport might be pretty spot-on for the entire city. Apparently we arrived during Dashain, one of Nepal's longest and most auspicious festivals. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate ... and I think most of the were jammed up in this airport! I did see an amusing sign here, tho!
Our luggage was gathered and we met our new guide, an energetic, spontaneous and charming young man named Krish, who herded us into our little bus for a ride to Bhaktapur Square, site of shrines and monuments (some of which were damaged in the April 2015 earthquake). One good thing about Nepal is the elevation has dropped to approx 5,000 ft level, meaning people can breathe easier! Kathmandu is two hours and 15 minutes behind Lhasa (yes, 15 minutes). Along the way, I took a few pictures of some of the street sights (taken from the bus).
Because of Dashain, more street vendors were displaying their wares.
Kathmandu is a full-fledged city of some four million people, which was another surprise for me. In my mind's eye, I saw it as a small foreign kingdom, filled with spices and smells, rubies and riches, dusty exotic-looking people, and maybe throw in some camels like the Old Silk Road in some silly Hollywood-esque way. I mean, c'mon, "I'm going to Kathmandu!" OK, I'm off a little bit, but not altogether ... still this is a big city and it's mobbed with festival goings-on. Hi-ho, and away we go, and we're looking forward to exploring as much as we can in the next four days. But, first on to Bhaktapur....