The flip side of happiness

We are leaving this part of the world and returning to the West. Maybe more on Nepal later, but for now, some final thoughts on Bhutan.

Bhutan in general. Yes, we’ve all heard about the Gross National Happiness Index in Bhutan, and maybe that makes you yearn for what must be a heavenly lifestyle. Continue reading

The stupefying Stupa

Kathmandu, Nepal. It was a good day to make a visit to the centerpiece of Kathmandu – Swayambhunath, a Buddhist temple and UNESCO site that overlooks the city. Also called the “Monkey Temple” because there are monkeys considered holy who live around it, it is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. It is said to have been founded about the beginning of the 5th century CE. However, the great Emperor Ashoka is said to have visited the site in the third century BCE and built a temple on the hill, which was later destroyed. Continue reading

Where have all the buildings gone?

Areas around Kathmandu, Nepal. Today we had a driver and visited three destinations outside of the city. Our first was a bit of a bust, as the village we were aiming for, Nagarkot, has the best views of all the Himalayan mountain ranges – unless it’s a cloudy day. No luck for us, this time, but we climbed the steps hoping for the best. One family was partying loudly and heartily at the summit. A bunch of clouds weren’t going to stop them.

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The same, only better

Patan, Nepal. Five miles outside of Kathmandu, separated only by a river, Patan is almost like a suburb, but once was a fiercely independent city-state. Scholars agree that it was a well-established and developed town since ancient times, and several historical records including many legends indicate that Patan is the oldest of all the cities of Kathmandu Valley.

We took a taxi there this morning, as it is a must-see. Though it is similar in layout to Kathmandu, featuring a Durbar Square with a palace on one side, its architectural style is somewhat different and it was less damaged in the 2015 earthquake. It is considered the finest collection of temples and palaces in all of Nepal, so off we went. Continue reading

25 April 2015

Kathmandu, Nepal. Yes, we have left beautiful, calm and extremely regulated Bhutan to enter into Nepal, an ancient enemy of Bhutan, and a radically different environment.

Exactly four years ago, a major earthquake hit Nepal. You may remember hearing that it killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. It occurred about noon, and it was the worst natural disaster to strike this area since an earthquake in 1934. Continue reading

Not really the middle of nowhere

Haa, Bhutan. We took a day trip today, which meant a total of five hours of driving over mountain roads that constantly zig-zagged. Our goal was the remote rural area of Haa, which has only very recently been opened up for tourists, and which is right on the border with Tibet and India.

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Where have all the flowers gone?

Paro, Bhutan. We have reversed our path and are now staying back in the city where we flew into Bhutan a few days ago.

Paro is not the capital, but it does have the advantage of sufficient flat land to locate the airport, so it’s a growing city. We saw the airport from the hills, and realize just how small it is – but how clean and pretty! There are only 17 pilots who are qualified to fly into this airport, as it requires navigating by sight – not radar – through the mountains. We held our breath coming in.

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