Report from EBC Trek: Great Food and Culture in Kathmandu
Hello to everyone from the controlled chaos of Kathmandu, Nepal!
Deana with school children from the Nepalese orphanage she started. Stewart Wolfe photo
Last night we had a team orientation to go over the logistics of the trek, briefly introduce ourselves, and share why we came on this adventure. After all questions and concerns were answered we headed out to team dinner at a local restaurant that is a favorite of Deana’s. We sampled some delicious traditional Newari food featuring smashed rice, fish, beans, vegetables, and mushroom gravy. That was just the first course! We then had a main course of dal bhat, which is rice, vegetables, lentils, chicken curry, and potatoes. Quite an introduction to the culture of Nepal through my favorite component — the belly.
Today we ate a continental breakfast at our luxurious hotel, the Yak and Yeti, before heading out on a city tour to visit ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples. Because we are a group of 21 we split into two groups with Deanna in one van and me in the other, as well as two local tour guides to better give us insight on the intricacies of the religion and culture.
Windows in monuments at Pashupatinath. Stewart Wolfe photo
Our first stop was Pashupatinath Temple. This is the most important temple in Nepal dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in Kathmandu, located on the Bagmati River which flows from the Himalaya all the way to the Ganges River in India. It is also a sacred place for cremation funerals, which we witnessed. Many of our members commented how this mind blowing experience really put things into perspective. We were also able to meet some local Sadhus, wandering ascetic yogis who are trying to acquire liberation from the cycle of life and death by meditating.
Sadhu Yogi. Stewart Wolfe photo
Then we went to the Great Boudha Stupa (Boudhanath), listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. This spectacular dome was built in the 5th century AD and dominated the skyline of Kathmandu. There are numerous monasteries within this small sacred city within a city. We also had the good fortune to meet a group of school children from the Nepalese orphanage Deana started, as they were in Kathmandu for a few days.
MM traveler Christine receiving a blessing from a Buddhist monk at Boudhanath. Stewart Wolfe photo
We stopped for lunch at a rooftop restaurant within Boudhanath, with a view of this awesome monument of Buddhism. For appetizers we enjoyed momos (local dumplings filled with chicken or vegetables and a spicy dipping sauce), pakoras, and chili paneer. Main courses ranged from traditional dal bhat to spaghetti depending on each member’s mood.
Boudhanath. Stewart Wolfe photo
After lunch half the team returned to the hotel, while the determined went off to see the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath). As you can imagine from the name, there are monkeys walking, screeching, and jumping all over this religious nexus of Hinduism and Buddhism. There is a stupa, variety of shrines, and monasteries occupying this large hill. Everyone was blown away by the amount of ancient cultural significance this holy complex holds. I have visited these sites many times, but each time I am still amazed like it is my first experience.
Tomorrow we will meet at 5 a.m. to head for the hills. I will check in when we are in Phakding to describe the next leg of this adventure. Until then, the Madness continues in Nepal as we pack our bags and get ready to begin the trek to our main objective: the base of the tallest mountain on the planet.
~MM Leader Stewart Wolfe