Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nagarkot to Changu Narayan to Bhaktapur.

Namaste from Nepal! I arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday. After spending a day seeing the sights of the tourist-filled city, I decided to head out and explore the greater Kathmandu Valley on foot.

So, this first map is obviously of Nepal. The second is the zoomed-in map of my chosen route.

On Tuesday, I awoke early and took a local bus eastward to the town of Nagarkot. The bus station was predictably anarchical, with not a ticket stand in sight. I found my bus by asking five separate people which one to board. The buses themselves were rickety, crowded affairs but notably more civilized than India's local buses, and cost virtually nothing (less than $1 for a 3-hour trip).

From Nagarkot, I walked about west 12km to the station of Changu Narayan, from where I proceeded south an additional 8km to the town of Bhaktapur where I stayed the night.

As soon as I got off the bus at Nagarkot, I hopped into a tiny restaurant where I ordered the only Nepalese food I know, dhal baat. In fact, I have a feeling that's all they served anyway.

There are infinite regional variations to dhal bhaat, but this one was chickpeas, curried eggplant and mushroom, pickled cabbage, other kind of pickled root, a bowl of lentil soup, and a huge mound of fluffy rice. The best part about Nepalese food, as I've discovered, are the endless free refills.

And then the walk began. I knew the general directions towards Changu Narayan and Bhaktapur, but I had no map with me. I found my way easily enough by asking the locals whenever there was a fork in the road. The large majority of the way was on dirt footpaths or motorbike roads winding around and through small village communities that dot the rolling hills.

For the first part of the walk, the Lang Tang range (part of the Himalayas) loomed in the background.

The light haze of the winter months didn't make for the best photography conditions, but every step that I walked was set to a sweeping view of the valley below, with its terraced slopes, square brick houses, and bright green fields.

The picture below shows the entrance into the Changu Narayan, and in the upper left-hand corner, their large local temple.

Coming out of Changu Narayan, I was hailed down by these two girls. This picture exactly depicts their personalities. They were curious of everything I owned, so I fished around in my bag and gave the younger one my Burt's Bees chapstick and the older one my mascara. In exchange, the younger gave me a makeover, and the older gave me her plastic bracelets. The older one, a true rascal, tried to ask me for 100 rupees more, but I gave her a mild scolding then for being greedy and pulled myself away.

When I began my final descent into Bhaktapur, the sun was starting to set, and I found myself walking among green fields and the subsistence farmers that populate the area.

Half an hour's walk into Bhaktapur, the road became much more frequented by decades-old trucks that each spewed a mound of dirt on me as they passed. That wasn't so pleasant. I spent the next day sneezing and coughing as a result.

After 5 hours of walking, I finally arrived at my guesthouse in Bhaktapur. Below, what looks like a tan is actually several layers of dust from the road, and I couldn't even shower til the next morning for lack of hot water. Thoroughly wiped out, with a bedtime of 8pm.

Stay tu


Jan Margaret said...

Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!

Pieter said...

Good stuff Faye! I went to Nepal two weeks ago and it was wonderful. Did Kathmandu, Chitwan Park and Pokhara (which is a big recommendation...)

Anonymous said...

Hi Faye:

I am enjoying your blog very much

Dr. Bob Spires

Robin said...

your pictures look incredible! i think these are the most impressive to me (as in, i want to be there so bad!!!) that you've posted so far. can't wait to hear/see more!

Stu said...

brilliant. love it

Nepal trekking tour said...

these picture are very nice. the sunny day and sitting on sun its very interesting and the blog is very informative. thanks for sharing
Ganesh giri

Nepal trekking expedition said...

of course nagarkot one of the best place for sunrise and sunset. and changunarayan is world heritage site and bhaktapure also very nice palce. the picture are so beautyful shoot. thanks for sharing

best regard
Nepal expedition team

K Sen said...

Nice blog with pictures explaining what to expect. Even though Nagarkot is not far from Kathmandu, seems like it represent the countryside lifestyle and landscape of Nepal very well.

SUNWAKE said...

Nice information. Visit Nagarkot to get more information about Nagarkot.

Paula said...

Hey Faye,

Thank you for your blog, you are such an inspiration! I am heading off to my first solo trip to Nepal in a couple of days and I intend on doing the Nagarkot - Changu Narayan - Bhaktapur hike. I was wondering...if there is one advice you could give me as a female solo traveler in Nepal...what would it be? Highly appreciated and keep it up!