I booked a nice room through Air BnB in the nearby city of Patan, one of the three royal cities in Nepal. My host is an ambitious, intelligent, young Nepalese man who went to college in New Orleans. He is involved in several projects, including teaching American students who come to Nepal for a gap year. The home is in a quiet neighborhood across from the Norwegian Embassy. It is a very open and comfortable place, with people coming and going for various reasons, one being the massage parlor upstairs that is run by blind masseuses and masseurs. I have met several of them and have enjoyed our conversations. A massage may be in my future.
Yesterday, I took time to explore Patan and its “Durbar Square” which is where the royal palace, temples and museums are. Although many of the ancient structures have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, it is still very stunning.
Tomorrow, I will move back to Kathmandu since it turns out Patan is about an hour away from the home where I am volunteering (due to traffic). I’ve had many interesting bus rides back and forth, remembering my first days in Bolivia trying to figure out the bus system there. The smog in Kathmandu is the thickest I’ve ever seen and many people wear face masks. The less commuting I have to do the better. After getting lost trying to find the home, I eventually made it back there and had an amazing experience there today. I’ll have lots to say about it, and already have tons of pictures, though I cannot post any without permission.
Although Patan is much calmer and the vendors are less aggressive than in Thamel, I did not get away without being brought to a special fair trade gift shop hidden down a back alley. I had a complete demonstration of the singing bowls, which are used for meditation and physical therapy. The bowl was even placed over my head and struck so I could feel the vibrations and hear the notes. Well, since they were on my shopping list, and since I was probably put into some kind of trance, I ended up buying two very high quality handmade bowls. It’s amazing how hotels might not take credit cards here, but a hidden gift shop down a dark alley does.