Day 150: Bhaktapur (Nepal) – November 14th

Waking up to the sound of drums and cymbals, I jumped out of bed to take a look at the raucous. It was 8am, but a parade of sorts was passing by the square outside, with groups of people banging on large drums and cymbals, with no particular organization or purpose except to have a good time. Most people were dressed in beautiful traditional dress, and dancing to the beats. There were others playing the flute and even violins, but the sounds were comfortably drowned by the loud beats of the drums. About a dozen groups passed by, each playing similar tunes before it finally ended.

Originally, we planned to head to Nagarkot, a mountain-top village with spectacular views of the mountains. When we told our graceful hotel owner’s wife of our intentions, she quickly changed our minds as the festival was still going on and there would be a lot of festivities going on all day long in Bhaktapur. Being a predominately Newari town, she said they still preserve most of the heritage so we should, and definitely did, stick around for another day.

The rest of the morning and afternoon, we lazed around the hotel thinking we’d spring into action when we’d hear something outside, but unfortunately that never came! We took a random stroll of the area, stopped for some yogurt before returning to the hotel for lunch. This hotel we’re staying at is great, and on our second floor balcony we just sat there researching the next leg of our trip and reading novels, and occasionally watch the world go by beneath the courtyards. And the hotel staff, particularly the interesting and well-spoken owners, have made it feel seriously like home for both of us, the first time we’ve had this feeling since we started our travels in over 4 months….

Just before dusk, the hotel owner came by and was puzzled why we were still here and not outside enjoying the festivities. To be honest, we just felt that we saw all there was to see in the town, but we took up his advice and headed out one last time to tour the town. The lights were up, and the crowds were loud and raucous. Young people would be driving around in cars, banging on drums and dancing on the back of the pickup trucks. Some even had massive speakers blasting out dance music, and the most popular song even in Nepal seems to be Gangnam Style. Ha ha ha, it was awesome.

The streets were filled with what can be described as Christmas lights, and oil lamps were also lit on some alleys, making it extra special and beautiful when the electricity went out while we were walking. Kids would be wandering the streets with a woven basket, coming up to stores and singing songs to entice you for fruits, candies and rupees! The guys seem to have less patience, and have this loud chant which made it seem like they’re scaring you into giving them some cash! The girls on the other hand came up slowly, singing in sincere voices and motioning some marigold flowers around in her colourful basket. We just couldn’t resist giving these kids whatever small coins/bills we had!

The evening was spent lounging around in the hotel’s coziness, reading and chatting up with an American who was doing some volunteer work here in Bhaktapur. The hotel owner would join in and out of our conversation, and the hotel owners always have this ability to make you feel at ease with everything, and also answered all our of naïve questions about Nepalese traditions without making us feel stupid!

We highly recommend this place, Peacock Guest House (www.peacockguesthouse.com)! The rooms are comfy, the balcony is a great place to spend lazy times, the chef makes great food, and the owners are just great people that happens to be running a hotel.

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