Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 20: Chillin’ in Kathmandu

A monkey cleaning a companion at Swambuktah temple
Today’s goal was to visit the Swambuktah temple, the Buddhist shrine renowned for its hyperactive monkey monks.

A delicious (steaming fresh) apple strudel breakfast and we were off on foot at 7AM, in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. Shorts were at the cleaners so I was wearing my only other pair of trousers which happened to be my waterproof Cactus Lifty ski pants. They are pretty breathable but brisk walks around a 30 degree Kathmandu were probably pushing the limits of their design.

Continuing a theme of navigational creativity we left the map at the hotel and took the scenic route past the banks of the river, sickeningly plastered with household garbage.

Walking past the Bajaj industrial district with its asphyxiating smoke stacks we finally made it to Swambuktah with the guidance of a friendly policeman.

More monkey preening action
We knew we were on the money when we spied a large surly primate snacking on rice. First attempts at photos with the monkeys were cautious as I noted a rabid glint in their eyes.

Yawning monkey
Climbing a marathon set of stair to the temple, the monkey show began in earnest. It seemed as if picking seeds from a companion’s fur was the preferable way to spend the day with dual benefits of clean fur for one monkey and a nutty snack for the other.

A monkey with no friends has to clean himself
The younger and more energetic leapt from tree to tree with dazzling displays of gymnasticry. Some even attacked a string of prayer flags, double teaming the fabric till it was threadbare.

We sat for a good hour, taking photos and observing the monkey’s remarkably human like behaviour. A truly awesome close encounter with none of the cages or crowds of zoos.

Walking back to Thamel, we set about our final task of spotlessly cleaning our bikes to the high standard of New Zealand Customs. A greasy rag, brush and sample sized bottle of shampoo did the trick and we were all boxed up in time for an afternoon nap.

Our final ceremonial dinner at an authentic Tibetan restaurant came served in dish with an oven of glowing coals at the centre, heating a delicious broth containing all manner of delicacies including our favourite momos.

A relaxing last day in Kathmandu and we are all prepared for our midday flight tomorrow.

It is sad to be leaving this amazing land but both Michi and I are excited to be heading home to New Zealand.


Tinkerbell said...

Freaking awesome Ollie! Inspirational reading.

Wasabi said...

That was a very inspiring tale. Thanks for the inspiration and great pictures & videos!