Thursday, December 22, 2011

Asian Adventure: Day 4 Bhaktapur

Waking bright and early on our second day in Nepal, we decided to grant ourselves a temporary respite of the big city chaos and crowds and take a day trip to the town of Bhaktapur - an ancient Newari town perched on the hills above the Kathmandu valley.

After some considerable searching we managed to locate the correct bus and headed out to Bhaktapur . The buses in Nepal are not marked - instead a young boy rides along with the driver and hangs out the front door yelling the bus' destination to potential passengers.

Local bus
The town is a tight collection of intricate brick buildings set on a maze of narrow alleys and plazas surrounding an impressive central Durbar square. Entering Bhaktapur is like stepping back in time. Despite the crowds of camera-wielding tourists, the town offers a glimpse into the real Nepali life. We got to witness first hand the locals going about their everyday lives - buying and selling fruit in the markets, spinning wool into yarn, husking grain by hand in the wind, spreading grain in the sun to dry and gathering hay to store for winter.

Wheat drying in the sun
Husking the wheat by hand

The town is famous for its pottery and the Pottery Square is crowded with piles of raw clay, pottery wheels, giant wood burning kilns, finished pots drying in the sun and, of course, the mandatory pottery souvenir shops. I ended up buying a large Tibetan-style lion figurine for 600 rupees ($8).

Pottery drying in the sun
Pottery Kiln

For lunch we got brave and tried our first street food - spicy vegetable pakoras, steamy buff (water buffalo) momos and fruit from the market.


Street vendor
Vegetable market

We spent hours wandering the streets absorbing in the buzzing town life, fascinating architecture and massive temples.

Typical Newari architecture
Durbar Square

Once we were thoroughly exhausted we caught the bus back to Kathmandu. It had been our intention to catch a bus first thing the next morning to the trail head of the Annapurna Circuit trek but Dave had begun to have second thoughts about our itinerary. He was worried that the Annapurna Circuit would be to busy and commercialized for his liking. He had found a brochure for a trekking agency advertising trips to the Kanchenjunga region on the Eastern border of Nepal which had peaked his interest so we spent the night scouring the guidebooks and Internet looking at what other trekking options were available.

Nothing like changing plans on the fly to make a vacation interesting!

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