Thursday, January 19, 2012

bus to Kathmandu

January 19th, 2008

I gazed at the Annapurna range for as long as I could until it finally faded behind the billions of particles in the air between here and the mountains.

After a couple of hours of winding through the hills, possibly mountains in most other places, we stopped for breakfast, a big plate of dal-baht, yellow lentils and rice, the Nepali staple. The food here isn't very different from Indian at all, but just seems to taste better. I don't know why. I walked around for a bit, not sure how long it would be before i could stretch my legs again, and enjoyed the view over the ravine and the beautiful, full-sized poinsettias, growing naturally along the side of the road. I've seen many of them throughout this journey but these were the nicest ones I've seen. My mom had a huge poinsettia plant that survived long after one Christmas, and even changed its colors for her when the new ones sprouted. I'm sure she would love seeing these.

The bus followed the river for hours as we wove through the countryside. I managed to read the entire "Shopping for Buddhas" book I'd bought in Pokhara. I'm usually not one for shopping, but my goal in Kathmandu is to find a nice bronze casting and a singing bowl. I've already seen beautiful ones in McLeod Ganj and Pokhara, but I've been told that the nicest ones are made in Patan, just outside of Kathmandu, in the Kathmandu Valley. Reading the book made me realize that even there, you really had to search for a well crafted statue. The author spent a month looking for his, I have a day.

The book entertained me the entire way to Kathmandu, until the bus pulled over on the side of the road so the men could get out and pee in the ditch. Over the ditch was a great valley where rice terraces tapered off towards a huge city. This must be the Kathmandu Valley!

I joined the men lined up on the side of the road, except I had a camera in my hand. Ever since elementary school, when my family sent a monthly donation to help a community in Nepal, Kathmandu seemed like a mythical place in another world to me, not somewhere I would someday be riding into on a bus. I wanted to take a moment to soak in the place where I stood but the driver came out blowing a little whistle calling us to get back on the bus. "Quickly!" he urged me, "Rush hour is coming!"

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