I got up today, showered, ate breakfast (a thick banana pancake with honey and tea), got my laundry, packed my bags (I have a lot of stuff from my trek and now my backpack is stuffed to its limits), and walked out of the hostel, heading eastward to Swayambhunath (also known as the “monkey temple”), which was – according to legend – built by King Vrsadeva in the fifth century Anno Domini – it is also a religious site revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. I walked through many winding dusty streets, then through a slummy part of the neighborhood with some small farms, piles of rubbish, and a few marijuana plants. Soon I could see Swayambhunath in sight with its large stupa and towers, built high on a hilltop. I reached the bottom of the hill and climbed up the many steps leading to the top; along the way were many miniature stupas, statues and reliefs; there were also many monkeys wandering around. At the top of the stairs, I paid the entrance fee and proceeded to walk around the large stupa (very similar in design to the Boudha Stupa I visited yesterday, albeit smaller in stature). There were also two temple monasteries on top, many more statues and miniature stupas, and lots of vendors selling various Nepalese, Buddhist, and Hindu trinkets. Several times while at the stupa, fights broke out between the monkeys and a security guard as well as resident dogs had to intervene to cool the situation (I was glad to see that the dogs had authority over the monkeys – although one dog had a disobedient monkey jump on his back and try to ride him); I was also amused to watch a monkey grab a water bottle from the rubbish bin and bite the bottom of the plastic bottle to get at the water inside – some tourists then gave him an open bottle to drink from, but he poured out all over his face and body. There was also a small museum next to the stupa that had a number of statues on display to look at. Once satisfied that I had thoroughly explored Swayambhunath, I exited down the back stairs; I then walked past some more smaller stupas (with Buddha eyes) to the Whochen Thokjay Choyaling Monastery; after that, I took a taxi to Patan Durbar Square; I’m sure I overpaid (foreigners always do), but since I wasn’t sure how much it should really cost, I didn’t mind so much (ignorance is bliss).
I then reached Patan Durbar Square, bought the entrance ticket, and proceeded to walk around. Patan is the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley and some of the buildings and sculptures date from the sixteenth century. There was a small concert performance being filmed at the base of Jagannarayan Temple which drew a crowd of spectators; I watched for a few minutes before continuing on with my wanderings, listening to the music as I walked around. There are two museums located in the square, but they cost extra and I was not very interested, so I walked up and down the square instead, looking at all the intricate woodwork built in to the brick walls and the wood carvings adorning the roofs of the temple. I also visited the inside (at least the second floor) of the Bhimsen Temple, a temple built in 1680 AD by Srinivasa Malla, and I would’ve liked to have visited the inside of the Krishna Mandir, a stone temple built in the Shikhara style in 1637 AD, but access was only allowed for Hindus (or at least those claiming to be Hindus). After admiring all the beautiful architecture, I decided to eat lunch at a nearby restaurant with a roof-top view of Patan Durbar Square; I had a dismal pizza with some tomato slices and a beer; during lunch some short parade made a lot of noise and walked through the square, but I have no clue what it was all about. I then walked through the square one last time as the film crew was packing up before taking a taxi back to Thamel. Once back at Thamel, I returned to my hostel and worked on updating the website for quite some time (uploading photographs on to the webpage is a very time consuming process). I then went out to have dinner (nachos grande with strips of chicken, a large burger with onions and a ridiculous amount of cheese, french fries, and beer) before returning to the hostel and going to sleep for the night.