My long layover in Nepal
Having no idea what to do within my 8 hours of layover in Nepal, I wasn’t really planning on stepping out of the airport at all. But since I got different airlines going to my final destination, there I was, getting myself a transit visa to be able to take my luggage only to check it back in for the next flight.
There were these ATM-like machines where you need to scan your passport for information and select which visa you’re gonna get. It will then give you a token which you’ll be needing for the Visa Processing Counter. In this counter, you’ll be needing to pay 5.00 USD, passport sized photo, and the application form.
I got all settled with the visa, went to take my luggage, and then followed the signs going out trying to find a good spot to stay until my next flight.
On my way out, I passed by this kiosk offering tours around the city. They were calling me, of course it was so obvious I was a tourist. At first I was reluctant, not really sure how long it was gonna take and I was worried about spending too much. But they were very persistent, offering a private tour for just 50.00 USD. I negotiated it down to 40.00 USD and asked them to make sure they’ll take me back to the airport before my flight. We settled the deal and then I was assigned a driver for the tour.
Kathmandu being widely known as the City of Temples, I was first taken to the Pashupatinath Temple where I saw these strange ritual of people burning dead bodies of their loved ones. This ritual takes place at the holy river in Nepal, the Bagmati River.
I wasn’t really expecting to see something as close to the Nepalese’ culture as this scene and I kind of felt uncomfortable having my big camera wrapped around my neck with my GoPro sticking out of my shoulder bag while these people mourn the death of their loved ones. But then I quickly realized it’s a tourist spot for the very same reason. But before I took any snaps, I had to make sure I wasn’t disrespecting anyone.
I was on my way up to one of the temples when this one guy directed me somewhere else. It was the viewing area of the public cremation. That wasn’t really where I intended to go, then the guy started talking non-stop. Explaining everything in the area. The ritual, the statues, temples, and people.
As I was being “toured” by this guy in Pashupatinath Temple, I remembered him saying that this ritual is about returning the body to the five elements and origins. Air-Water-Fire-Earth-Space.
He was so eager to talk about every single thing that I had a hard time trying to get that perfect moment to tell him I wasn’t really interested in a tour (simply because I don’t want him asking for money after).
I kept walking and he kept following me, still talking and talking. Then I got to this spot where I saw these three men called the Holy Sadhu Men. They are solely dedicated to achieving liberation, the fourth and final stage of life, through meditation and contemplation of the Ultimate Reality in the Universe. It is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.
Mesmerized by the way they looked, I asked the guy if it will be alright to snap pictures of them. Again, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t disrespecting or anything. BIG mistake.
The guy took my camera instead and asked me to sit with the Holy Sadhu Men. In my mind, I thought it was cool. So I sat with them while the guy kept taking photos from different angles. One of the Sadhus even gave me a blessing which I thought at the time was an honor.
Then I wrapped things up. That’s when everything changed. They started asking for money. 3,000 Rupees to be exact. Honestly, all my respect for these men quickly disappeared. I felt like I was being robbed. The guide kept talking me into it, and that pissed me off even more. I was not giving them 3,000 Rupees but it was taking too much of my time so I took my wallet, took out 1,000 Rupees, and handed it to the one that blessed me, just to get it over with.
I continued walking around hoping that the guy would just leave me alone but he wouldn’t stop following me. I’m not really the type of person who would just tell people to shut up and leave, so I guess that was my bad.
When I decided to go back in the car, the guy then ask for money. I knew he was gonna do that. He asked me to give him “whatever I feel the tour was worth”. Well, the only Rupees left on my wallet is 300.00. Told him that, he looked frustrated and said that other tourists usually give him 2,000.00. I noticed my voice getting louder as I was talking to him. Yep, I guess that was a very good indication that I was pissed! Like really pissed! I reminded him about what he said. To give him what I think his tour was worth. So he can’t demand me to give him 2,000. Then I said, if he doesn’t want to accept whatever amount I’m willing to give him, then I’m not gonna give him anything at all. I know, I know! 300.00 Rupees is just what, USD 3.00? But it’s not like I asked him to walk with me and talk. I already spent USD 40.00 (4,000 Rupees) for the driver and another 1,000.00 Rupees for those men. I gave him no choice, so he accepted the 300 and then I walked away still pissed with his attitude.
After the Pashupatinath Temple, I was then taken to Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey Temple.
Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises.
Too bad I wasn’t able go inside. Didn’t even try. Weather was a bit exhausting and my feet were starting to hurt. Very disappointing. But since I was already there, I just walked around it and took some snaps.
Now after this, he then took me to the Shree Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple. First thing I noticed when we arrived are the monkeys just running around everywhere.
Yeah, I didn’t really explore much this time as well. I’m so disappointed with myself. As a huge animal lover, I didn’t even care to go in to the temples because I was so entertained by these monkeys just running around everywhere. It was my first time seeing them this many and out of the cage. I just wanted to get closer but they were fast. Lol
We stayed here for a few minutes. My driver went in while I waited outside so busy watching and taking pictures of the monkeys.
When he got out, I asked him if we’re done. He said there was one more temple included on the tour. I decided not to take it anymore as I’m really really tired. I could not even walk properly at the time anymore. I know I’ve wasted this opportunity to see more of Kathmandu, and I regret that I wasn’t properly dressed for this kind of weather. I was even wearing a brand new pair of wedge sneakers. Walking for hours on any kind of brand new shoes is never a good idea. Everybody knows that. But again, this tour was unexpected so I was unprepared. Too bad.
So I just asked the driver to just take me back to the airport and so I can sit back and cool down while I wait for my next flight.
If there’s anything important I’ve learned on this trip, it is “Don’t talk to strangers!” or “Don’t let strangers talk to you!” Lol. No seriously, though this wasn’t even a part of my plan, it was an amazing experience to be a part of their culture and be able to witness their religious beliefs even just for a few hours. It’s always fascinating to learn about new things especially when you’re traveling.
I hope one day, I’d be able to go back to this country. But maybe not to see anymore temples. If I get a chance, I’ll come back to see the Roof of the World, the Himalayas.