Swayambhunath, the monkey Temple in Kathmandu and our jorney to Pokhara
Swayambhunath, also know as the monkey temple is an ancient top of the hill Buddhist sacred site, at the Kathmandu Valley on the west part of the city.
This massive stupa and temple complex are easy to see from the top of a high hill. Because of the enormous variety of beautiful trees surrounding this complex, Swayambhunath is also commonly known as the “Sublime Trees” in Tibetan.
As a religious site for pilgrimage amongst the Buddhists, you´ll easily find Buddhists from different sects and traditions, being the Tibetans the ones in larger numbers.
As most Nepali stupas, we noticed the bue eyes painted at every corner of the 4 walls and in between something reminds us of a nose, although this is a symbol of unity in the Nepali traditional language.
At the foot steps of the complex we’re immediately presented with a massive and impressive sight of a series of Buddhas, some really giant and imponent, but always with a tranquil and serene face.
We spent quite a while walking around all the different Buddha statues in absolute aw!
To get to the top, there are 365 steep steps, one for each day of the year. There´s an entrance fee for foreigners, so bring cash with you! And be prepared for the intense step trekking up the hill!The inside part of the complex is majestic and now we know why Swayambhunath is also known as the monkey temple: it´s crowded with monkeys.
This little guys walk around all day, immune to the several aggressions and robberies they perform, specially against tourists. We were specially amused at an attack one of them did towards a child, who started to cry hysterically, while a Tibetan monk laughed his butt off with the child´s panic.
It was nice to stroll around and we stayed till sunset. I managed to take a few nice photos and I totally recommend staying till the sun goes down, especially if you enjoy taking photos.
The monkey temple was an amazing place to take some insight of the country and understand the incredible sites and monuments Nepal had to offer.
A week in Kathmandu was a great detox form India, but we wanted to get out of the city. We heard about a beautiful lake called Lake Phewa, in the beautiful little picturesque city of Phokara. I think that’s all we needed a little peaceful, tranquil place on the side of a lake and surrounded by mountains.
We had no map or travel guide with us, so we relied on what people told us or what we’ve read wherever we passed. We got a bus ticket. There are no train services and by the time we were traveling, there were no special tourist buses available. We wanted to take a special tourist bus, not because of the comfort level or any other commodity, but because we were terrified with the way Nepalis drive and the terrible conditions of the roads.
Nepal is very hilly and mountainous, with extremely narrow roads and massive cliffs with no side of the road protection. When coming from the border to Kathmandu, we realized how dangerous a road trip can be, and we saw on the newspapers a great amount of car and bus crashes on a daily basis.
When driving tourist buses, the companies are a bit more careful, as accidents involving tourists and foreigners can ruin the business and bring much more trouble than the normal daily accidents involving nationals and local people.
If you’re extra scared, you can hire a Jeep and get the driver to drive slowly and carefully, but it’s not guaranteed it will be safer, because in India and Nepal, the law of the road says the biggest and most aggressive gets to pass everyone and go first.
No one really cares about driving on the proper side of the road, wherever there’s a space and a possibility to pass, it’s where your driver will get.
We saw a lot of car and bus accidents along the way. We even saw trucks and buses hanging from the side of the road. There were a few trucks and buses down the cliffs, some burned and some totally destroyed. I think the chances that someone survived those accidents are very unlikely.
There were not so many tourists in our bus. The ride was full of adrenaline and I have to admit there were times I had to close my eyes and for the rest of the time… I think I was squeezing my travel buddy’s arm. Now that I know I survived, it all sounds funny and adventurous, but back then; there were some moments I thought we were going to crash. Some other times, I just felt like kicking out the crazy driver and drive the bus myself, but hey… I’d never manage to get us to Pohkara on time! Those guys rush like crazy!
But we got to Pokhara! And we got there alive!
Next episode: Pokhara and everything it has to offer!
*featured image: www.wallsave.com