Got up at 4.20am and showered. Left at 5am to the domestic airport. We got on a 30 seater plane but we only occupied the window seats. The flight took us all the way along the Himalayas to Everest then turned around to let the people on the other side of the plane have a look. The air stewardess came and pointed out the mountains in the range - yes there is more than just Everest in the region. I don't know much about mountain climbing but they were all really famous! I wished the plane could have got a bit closer to the mountains but the (female) pilot let us go up to the front and take pictures from there so that made up for it. It was still pretty amazing though. Got a certificate to say we had flown around Everest and then headed back to the hotel for breakfast.
Left at 10.30am for the regeneration ground at Pashupatinath Temple. We watched several bodies being cremated. Each body takes about 2.5 hours to burn through and when it is finished the ashes are brushed into the river. About 55 bodies are burnt per day.
Had my photo taken by a religious tramp (Sadhu) dressed in orange and dusted in white powder. You are supposed to pay for the privilege. I thought 5rs would be enough but when he saw my 5rs he started whispering 100. Felt like they were out to fleece tourists. He put his 5 feet dreads over me which was a bit gross but I think I was just getting the full treatment!
The burning bodies just smelt of the wood palets they were resting on which also hid the smell of the river! Adults were using the river to clean the cremation sites and the kids where splashing and playing in the water too.
Back in the coach and off to Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites. This town boasts the biggest Stupa in Nepal. Went to watch how the Circle of Life paintings are made. Watched a master craftsman who had been studying the art for over 20 years add the finishing touches with 24ct gold paint. The gold is supposed to remove bad spirits and give a calming effect to the viewer.
Had lunch in a Soho style restaurant off the tourists trail, dead cheap, no windows, squat down toilets and full of monks! Only 800rs for 3 meals with rice and cokes. Wandered around the square and looked at the Stupa. It was enormous and we were able to climb on top of it. While on top I was stopped by a couple with a camera. I gestured that I would take a photo of them but the man insisted that he took a photo of me and his wife. A bit weird but they seemed to think this was normal. I think they just liked my novelty tallness and my odd socks!
Drove to Bhaktapur, where Little Buddha was filmed. We were issued with our city passes. Tourists are not allowed to wander in the city at night and in certain parts during the day. The bus drove as far as it could but eventually dropped us off at the bottom of the hill. We walked up through the old town and Steve explained to us that the German's had rebuild the sewer system which is why there were so many western style manhole covers.
Our guide showed us around the town and we split off to go to our hotel. Due to sizes of accommodation constraints I and 3 others stayed in a hotel with the same name as the hotel we stayed in Kathmandu, Vajra. And the rest stayed in a hotel across the square. After check-in we had a wander around the town to buy water and supplies and got a bit lost. It was beer o'clock when we got back so a quick shower and out for a pre-dinner G&T. Found a really nice roof top restaurant and sat with some friends. Halfway through I noticed lightening in the background and the thunder started to get closer. 5 minutes later it was chucking it down. We hid under the umbrella with a group of women from Holland but by that time it was time to go to the restaurant.
There seems to be no urgency in Nepal so after ordering dinner we still had to wait almost 3 pints of beer for the food to turn up, but this seems to be normal. I had sizzling pepper steak with chips and veg which was delicious. After dinner everyone from the other hotel left and we hung around chatting.
The whole town closes down about 9pm so there isn't anything to do or anywhere to go so we stay in our room and chatted over a final beer before bed. I was bunked with Jon. His claim to fame was that the Call Of Duty team re-tweeted his tweet about advancements in the ACOG sights. Which is not a bad claim to fame!
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