|Election Readiness Plan|
The bustling Thamel that we had experienced previously was replaced with a quiet off-season ski town feel where the majority of shops and restaurants were closed. We decided to spend the election day at the nearby Malla Hotel. We ate a delicate lunch garden side, relaxed by the pool, then treated our aching muscles to a jacuzzi and hour-long massage each.
It was only on our last full day in Nepal (Day 22!) that we finally made it around Kathmandu to do some sight-seeing. Since Craig's knee was still quite sore, we hired a taxi to take us up the winding road to Swayambhunath, more commonly known by tourists as the "Monkey Temple." This gilded Buddhist stupa and temple complex is set on a soaring hilltop with panoramic views of the city. We enjoyed watching the sunrise as the early morning haze wandered through Kathmandu's narrow streets.
After passing many Stupas on our trek that were so isolated and alone in the Himalaya it was a different experience to see the vibrant community that visits the temple on a daily basis. Exercise enthusiasts stretched and squatted having made it up the 500+ stairs; the devote worked their way clockwise around the stupa, praying, and lighting candles; and the many tourists were snapping pictures while trying to stay out of the way of monks, along with the monkey, dog, and pigeon infestations. The air hung with the chanting of pilgrims, interrupted by the clanging of prayer wheels.
In the afternoon, Craig led us on a walking tour from Thamel to Durbar Square. After pouring through the Lonely Planet guide, he successfully found 12/32 marked sites, but many more that seemed worthy enough of a mention to be in the guidebook! Upon arriving at the famous square, we found a rooftop restaurant where we could gaze down at the sites, away from the crowds and touts, to get our bearings. The atmosphere rich with history and culture was disappointingly broken by the restaurant blaring the modern tunes of Keisha.
On our way back to our hotel we picked up one last souvenir: our trip patches. The embroiderists took it upon themselves to change our colour scheme, but we were pleased all the same!