Last to know

Sometimes, it seems like I’m the last to know. I found myself humping away at a morning forced march through the old cultural city of Bhaktapur.

It was a vain attempt to keep up with Marce who has an insanely swift walking pace.

I was under the impression that we’d walk until a decent deal on a tour up to Changu Narayan presented itself to us. I really need to read the fine print more carefully. Apparently it’s the temple of peace and love featuring a decent view of the Himalayas on a clear day, which we have not got.

You can imagine my disappointment when Marce turned away from the charming old town and headed down a steep grade In Kathmandu-like conditions. It didn’t take long for us to be in flatlands in the middle of nowhere.

Every time a truck approached we lunged off the road raising a cloud of dust in the path alongside.

Just before my total breakdown the land began to rise. It kicked up quickly into a remarkably vertical road with switchbacks. These are legendary tough folks. Occasionally we had to ask a local which road to take and they would look at us and point straight up. Halfway up we ran into a wedding party. It’s hard to believe that ordinary life events could possibly take place on a gradient like this but there it is.

For entertainment we tried to imagine what the occasional old broken down signs of abandoned defunct businesses actually were. Sometimes we slowly plodded through tiny villages. Far ahead we could see mountains and we knew that the temple of peace and love might be on top of one of those. What I want to know is, what happened to my tour?

Breaks for a breather came more and more often. Just when the question of who will take the blame for this fiasco were all I could think about, a parking lot came into view. We collapsed into a vendor’s chair and gasped for drinks.

It turns out we’re not there yet. There’s a path up to the temple, but first you need to buy a ticket and walk up through the gauntlet of souvenir and trinket hawkers. It’s the “enter via the gift shop” paradigm.

With quivering thighs we climbed the final stairs to peace and love.

The earthquake did major damage to the temple up here.

While trying to get some feeling back into our old legs a young Italian couple who are staying at our hotel came bounding into the square through the backdoor archway.

I’m no expert but Changu Narayan is purported to have the highest density of erotic art in Nepal. I guess that’s the love part. Still looking for the peace bit.

We decided to go back to Bhaktapur on the same southern trail that the Italians walked to get here. Instead of wandering around the mountain it just drops straight down towards the valley.

We could actually see the Italians far ahead of us but soon the trail began to roller coaster up and down in an exhausting pattern. We spent a few miles plodding through dusty and desolate stacks of drying brick.

Just when we were sure the trail was heading down to a flat valley road I could see the Italians, by this point far ahead, reach a fork in the road and turn up another long steep hill. I found this particularly soul-crushing.

After the hill we dropped down into another valley that had a few obviously empty, isolated, strangely suburban-looking houses right before the path kicked up again. The significance here is that one house was surround by a small wall. I sat down. I was spent.

I looked at Marce and said, half joking, “I wonder what the chances are of finding a taxi out here in the middle of nowhere?” She laughed but found just enough cell signal to pop up the local ride-hailing app, and in true Marce fashion, found a driver on the map, also out in the middle of nowhere but very close to our middle of nowhere. What are the odds? Minutes later it was bizarre to watch a little yellow four door speck find us on this lonely stretch of road in the middle of nowhere. We crawled in.

Before long we were dropped off at the city gates, flashed our passes and shuffled off in the general direction of our Rupakot Hotel and Rooftop Restaurant.

As my grandfather used to say, “There and back in the same day!” Then he’d look at you as if to say, ”Isn’t that amazing?”

My feet think so, too.

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One Response to Last to know

  1. What a fascinating day you had, but I can’t imagine where the two of you get all the stamina you display.

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