Day 149: Bhaktapur (Nepal) – November 13th

Sleeping in the comforts of our sleeping bag, we dared not venture out into the chilly and darkly lit room until 9am. We were very lazy. Walking outside, the hotel chef greeted us and we ordered breakfast. There, sitting atop a balcony overlooking the centre of the hotel where woodworkers were busy putting some final touches on some delicate wooden tables they spent the last month working on. This hotel may lack some of the amenities others have, but it makes it all up with pure local charm and comfort. And the food is great!

Spending the morning curled up with a book on the balcony, we had some local Newari cuisine for lunch. Despite being in Nepal for so long, we’ve pretty much stuck to a western diet with the exception of dal bhaat and momos. This time though, we were in for a treat! We had a ‘Nepali pizza’ called charapati, and a dish of bitten rice (fried and flattened rice, crunchy and chewy!) with a multitude of sides. Not only was it cheap (compared to the tourist-prices you pay elsewhere) but it was very good too! In general, there aren’t many ‘restaurants’ around the cities we lived in which catered to locals, and if there were they don’t look appetizing or even sanitary enough for our stomachs.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the streets of Bhaktapur, buying some local souvenirs and eating some more yogurt! The streets were literally overflowing with grains, as it was harvest season and it seems like everyone was working hard to dry the grains. Shrines, temples and any town square was filled with woman wafting and sifting through piles of grain that just lay on the ground. Until now, we’re still not quite sure what exactly they’re doing as they move grains from one pile onto another, while others use a simple basket and toss the grains into the air and some would fall onto the bare ground, and this process continued until all the grain was on the floor. Extremely confused! There were also a lot of chickens running around, and they’d just have a feast standing atop of piles of grain and pecking at all the food they’d want! It is a bit strange, as even though this town is full of people and even tourists, if you walk about 500m out you can see farms and cremation pits and all sorts of strange stuff you wouldn’t have imagine existed! And the way the streets are designed, it seems like there’s always a surprise waiting for you at the other end of the turn or past a narrow alley. It’s like a constant treasure hunt!

And since it is Deepavali, today was the ‘big day’, where people worship the goddess of wealth and fortune, Lakshmi. Lights are lit all around town, and within the hotel we stayed at we even participated in a bit of the fun, lighting up candles for the whole house. They also drew a line from the doorsteps and into the building using a thick clay, as it shows Lakshmi the way and because it is said that she does not like dirt so this ‘path’ is pure for her to walk on. Outside, music was coming out of the temples and kids would run around singing and dancing for the locals who would offer them a small amount of goods/candies. Sort of like trick or treating!

The rest of the evening we spent chatting it up with the hotel owner and a volunteer at a local NGO who was staying at the hotel. We even drank a bit of the owner’s homemade raksi, which is Nepalese for homemade moonshine, and had once again another fabulous dinner at the hotel. If anyone ever comes to Bhaktapur, we really recommend this hotel! Unfortunately though, we’ve seen all that that can be seen around here and will be heading out to our last destination in Nepal tomorrow.

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