The first night in Kathmandu my alarm woke me at 5:30—I believe the only time I slept later than 4:30 the whole trip. I was tired from the plane rides. My normal bed time on the trek was 8PM plus or minus ½ hour—and sometimes earlier.
We had a day of sightseeing in Kathmandu and Patan while waiting for Tim’s son, Kevin, to arrive. Seems the small airline that serves his Hawaiian island is not all that reliable. Kevin wasn’t concerned, but Tim sure was. Kanchan Pandey guided us to three temples: Swayambhu (the “monkey temple”), Pashupatinath (Hindu), and Boudha which dates to the 5th century and has the world’s largest Stupa. Mostly on a bus, so calf wasn’t too bad. We also visited Patar (my third time) and ate at the museum in Durbar Square there—also my third time. At the Hindi temple we witnessed 6-8 cremations at various stages. Both Buddhists and Hindus cremate within a few hours of death, day or night. It was quite an intense sight across the river from us.
That evening we spent an hour with 12 people from Nunthala who travelled to Kathmandu to honor Leeli. In order to spend this hour these people took 9 days out of their life—three days walk to Jiri (they walk much faster than we do), a day’s bus ride to Kathmandu, a day in Kathmandu, and 4 days back. Very impressive.
After the speeches and presentations I was elected (probably because I had the biggest camera) to travel to a far part of Kathmandu with Leeli and Chhongba to document the purchase of an initial group of metal power poles that Leeli’s foundation is purchasing for the people living in and near Nunthala.
The wooden poles carrying power from the mini-hydro plant near Nunthala and supplying a number of communities are rotting and falling down. Replacing with trees contributes to reforestation but the villagers need the minimal electricity that the hydro plant supplies. So Leeli is raising money for metal poles.
The poles, 200-300 of them, will be trucked to Phaplu then carried for several days by the people of Nunthala where they will paint and install them in concrete. Chhongba signing a payment check by flashlight on the hood of our taxi was an interesting sight. After the trek we saw a number of finished poles and Chhongba ordered and paid for more.
Here is a slide show of our day in Kathmandu before the trek.