Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Apartment, Trekking and Holidays

Well the first big news is that we decided on an apartment! After discussing what we really needed a bit we did decide on taking the cheaper apartment in eastern Lazimpat. The home owners seem very nice, the apartment is very sunny and it really is a good location. We signed the lease today and put the deposit in for three months yesterday. Now we just need to get a gas cylinder for the stove, internet hooked up and buy bedding and kitchen stuff. We owe a big thanks to Pradip for all his help in finding the place and helping us with the stuff we need to to get settled (not to mention putting us up in his home for the last three weeks!). I'm excited to get moved in and will post some pictures as soon as we get them. The location is just about a quarter mile east of where we had been, and though it's a bit further from Lazimpat proper, it's closer to Bhat Batani (a good sized shopping complex).

Next up is trekking. Looks like our first trek is going to be in the Langtang region, Kim and I are going to do the Tamang Herritage trail combined with a trek up the Langtang valley to Kyanjin Gompa. For those not familiar with their Nepali geography, Langtang is a region just north of Kathmandu and on the border with Tibet. When I was here last time in 04' I hiked the Helumbu region which is directly north of Kathmandu, and I made it just to the southern edge of what is considered Langtang. The Tamang people are directly descended from Tibettans who moved into this region over time. This area was the major trade route between Kathmandu and Tibet and was famous for its salt trade. The Tamang Herritage trail supposedly lacks a little in views, but is said to be much like what Langtang was like twenty years ago, and not too many tourists. That part takes us within a days walk of the Tibetan border before we head south into Langtang proper. The langtang valley should be a good first hike, ascending only to about 12,000 feet (although there is a day trip I might do that gets you up to 15K) and is a gradual ascent up the valley. At the turn around there is spectacular views of mountains and Glaciers. When we know when we are going I'll post a map and itinerary. I've read the bus ride, only 120+/- kilometers is a brutal ride that takes upwards of ten hours to get to the trail head.

Nepal has more holidays it seems than any country on earth. This Friday is Maha Shivarati, which I don't know much about but when we were here in 2002 we attended part of the event. It has something to do with Shiva, and lots of Sadhus (Hindu holly men, ascetics) travel to Pashupatinath, Kathmandu's most sacred Hindu temple. Kim and I could get close, but as non-believers we are not allowed inside. Something like a quarter million people descend on this place on Friday. Last time I saw this it was kind of interesting to see all the Sadhus in their body defying yoga poses, with their ash and paint covered bodies. I'm not sure if we will go this time though. The other upcoming holiday is Tibetan New Year (Losar) which kicks off on Sunday and goes for two weeks, We will most likely stop by Boudhanath again to see any thing going on up that way. Supposedly at night they blow horns and light thousands of butter lamps. If we go trekking soon enough up around Langtang, we may even catch something up that way as I've read the Tamang people celebrate Losar as well.

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