Tuesday, May 28, 2013


After spending a lovely week in the countryside near Kathmandu, it was back to the bustling capital for a couple of nights before leaving for Japan. On our last full day we went to nearby Bhaktapur for the afternoon. I say nearby, since it's only about 17 km away, but like Sankhu, it takes over an hour to get there. We walked to Ratna Park, the southern bus "terminal" -- which is really just a rutted, muddy parking lot of competing bus "companies," honking and driving in every direction, the "ticket boys" shouting (presumably) the route name or destinations. We were approached by several of these entrepreneurial young lads, and when we said "Bhaktapur," they very nearly fought with each other to get us onto their bus, shouting and gesturing (and shoving) us, indicating that the other boys were lying, and that their buses weren't going to Bhaktapur, and so on. It was confusing, mayhem even, and once we were shoved onto a bus, we still weren't certain if it was the right one, but the other passengers and (very young) driver confirmed it. And sure enough, we arrived after about an hour of our bus hurtling down the streets, ticket boys hanging out the open door shouting the route auctioneer-style, signalling to the driver to stop for new passengers through a very sophisticated system of whistles and thumps, and only once getting pulled over by an undoubtedly corrupt cop for some unknown infraction, and the fares being collected in advance to pay the bribe.

But it was worth all the mayhem to get to Bhaktapur: a crumbling, sagging medieval village, still operating much the same way as it would have centuries ago. In the squares, wheat is still being threshed by hand (only now using an electric fan to help separate the wheat from the chaff), laundry washed communally around a central tap, and vendors selling their colourful vegetables from the fields surrounding the village. Late afternoon sun streamed through cobblestone alleyways, turning the red-brown brick to fiery orange, and filling the streets with a soft haze. Streets curve and wind up steep slopes, opening suddenly onto large squares of temples and multi-tiered pagodas, while other alleys narrow and narrow, funneling through hidden courtyards, making you wonder if you'll end up in someone's house before you find your way back to a main street.

After I asked if I could take her photo, she started chanting "rupeeeee, rupeeeeeee."
Clearly I am not the first person to ask.

Slanty shanty...


  1. I love this grouping of photos - the reflection one and the one above it especially. They really give you a feel for the location. I need to catch up on reading all your posts.
    Chey xo

  2. Oh dear, that slanty shanty makes me nervous!
    Love the shot down the darkened alleyway all lit up with sun at the end.
    Counting down the days until we get to see you!
    How soon after you get back will you be ready for a visit!??!

  3. Okay, there is that building with the crack down the left side. Yeeks!
    Fabulous photos you have been sharing with us.
    Can't wait to see you both!!

  4. Looks like a really interesting little village!