Nepal is a land-locked country the size of Iowa, with a population of 28 million. 2.5 million live in the capital, Kathmandu. Kathmandu gained notoriety in the 1960s when its Freak Street was a hippie nirvana.  Marijuana and hashish were legal and sold openly in government licensed shops into the 1970s. These days you’re less likely to see tie-dyed hippies in search of enlightenment than Gore-Tex-clad tourists in search of a good cappuccino (that would be us). The sights, sounds and smells can quickly lead to sensory overload. It is another developing-world city in a slow transition to modernity: crazy polluted traffic, narrow winding streets, restored ancient buildings, temples galore, and decently nice hotels (though electricity can still flicker once in a while). Here’s a few photos from our day in Kathmandu.  
Nepal and surrounding countries.

Nepal and surrounding countries.

Nepal in relation to the U.S.

Nepal in relation to the U.S.

   
Map of Nepal showing the capital, Kathmandu; Pokhara, jumping off point to the Annapurnas; and Namche Bazar, jumping off point to Everest.

Map of Nepal showing the capital, Kathmandu; Pokhara, jumping off point to the Annapurnas; and Namche Bazar, jumping off point to Everest.

Shauna hasn't been this happy to have a blow dryer since we came down from Kili!

Shauna hasn’t been this happy to have a blow dryer since we came down from Kili!

 
On our way up the Swayambhunath Hill to view a famous stupa.  A stupa is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation.

On our way up the Swayambhunath Hill to view a famous stupa. A stupa is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation.

Wow...that is a long climb.

People get their exercise going to pray!

The Swayambhunath Stupa.

The Swayambhunath Stupa with the all-seeing eyes of Buddha.

Budda eyes  are so prevalent throughout the country that they have become a symbol of Nepal itself.

Buddha eyes are so prevalent throughout the country that they have become a symbol of Nepal itself.

Mark makes new friends.

Mark makes new friends.

Swayambhunath Hill is also known as "Monkey Temple" because of the large monkey population that resides on the premises.

Swayambhunath Hill is also known as “Monkey Temple” because of the large monkey population that resides on the premises.

Lunch time.

Got any peanut butter to go with these crackers?

He had a tiring day.

Nap time.

Shauna tosses a coin into the small ring.  This is believed to bring good luck.  Must be true....we feel pretty lucky to be here in Nepal.

Shauna tosses a coin into the small ring. This is believed to bring good luck. Must be true….we feel pretty lucky to be here in Nepal.

One of the famous Gurkha soldiers.  He wouldn't laugh at our jokes.  That is OK....nobody else does either.

One of the famous Gurkha soldiers. He wouldn’t laugh at our jokes. That is OK….nobody else does either.

Patan Durbar Square is  a four or five square block area situated at the centre of Lalitpur city. It is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Patan Durbar Square is a five square block area situated at the centre of Lalitpur city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, preserving centuries-old historical buildings.

Each of these telephone lines reflects a distinct termination point.

Each of these telephone lines reflects a distinct termination point.

Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshiping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions.  In Nepal a Kumari is a pre-pubescent girl selected from the Shakya or Bajracharya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country's Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, with some cities having several, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. Samita Bajracharya, as the Kumari of Patan is the second most important living goddess.  Interesting.....

Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshiping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country’s Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu. She lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, was installed at age four in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy.  This is not our favorite Nepalese tradition; she basically lives in a fishbowl, with a duty to make an appearance every hour or so for onlookers.

Flower decorations for a wedding.

Flower decorations for a wedding. A little more classy than beer cans.

Sweet.

Sweet.

Marriage bands could be heard  blocks away.

Marriage bands could be heard blocks away.

The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This stupa was featured in the movie "Little Buddha".

The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This stupa was featured in the movie “Little Buddha”.

Rooftop cafes encircle the Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath.

Rooftop cafes encircle the Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath.

Sleeping dogs couldn't be budged.

Letting sleeping dogs lie… everywhere in Kathmandu.

Twins.

Twins.

Texas in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu street scene with a little Texas thrown in.

a

Traffic in Kathmandu was wild; every kind of vehicle in no particular lane most of the time.

b

The motorcycles were especially dangerous, weaving in and out in both directions.

 
Shauna gets her eyebrows threaded for 52 cents.

Shauna gets her eyebrows threaded, including a forehead massage, for 50 Nepalese rupees (52 cents). Needless to say, her tip was quite high percentage wise.

Bhaktapur is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, about eight miles from Kathmandu.   It has buildings that are 500 to 600 years old and contains the best preserved Palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.

Bhaktapur is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, about eight miles from Kathmandu. It has buildings that are 500 to 600 years old and contains the best preserved Palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.

I wouldn't want to walk on these porches.

I wouldn’t want to walk on these porches.

This "peacock window" is supposedly 400 years old.

This “peacock window” is supposedly 400 years old.

Buddhist monks trying out different flutes to find just the right pitch.

Buddhist monks trying out different flutes to find just the right pitch.

The ever-present water trucks that distribute fresh water to Kathmandu residents.

The ever-present water trucks that distribute fresh water to Kathmandu residents. Water is in short supply, especially now before monsoon season.

Our Yak and Yeti hotel had some beautiful gardens.

Our Yak and Yeti hotel was an oasis in the middle of the city, with beautiful gardens.

Our Kathmandu guide, Basu Giri, was wonderfully accommodating and always had a smile on his face.

Our Kathmandu guide, Basu Giri, was wonderfully accommodating and always had a smile on his face.

Trip planned by: GeoEx. Local tour agent: Ker & Downey.