Kathmandu – 3.25-28.2012

After the scenic flight of Everest and the great Himalayas, we visited Kathmandu’s Durbar Square.  We were fortunate enough to see Kumari, no photos allowed, the living Goddess and bodily incarnation of Taleju.  We enjoyed our time here and received a blessing at a temple of Kali, a “terrible” form of Shiva who destroys evil and acts as a protector.  We also visited Ashok Binayak, one of the most important temples of Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, where we made an offering of garlands.  We then visited Swayambhunath, also known as the monkey temple.  This is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples and has an amazing view overlooking the whole of the Kathmandu valley.

The following day, we hiked to the top of Champa Devi (7,472′), which is the highest peak of the Chandragiri ridge southwest of Kathmandu and is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists alike.  It sometimes has incredible views of the Himalayas, but unfortunately it was extremely smoggy and our views were very limited on our visit to the top of this important local peak.

We spent a day in Patan City as well, which is one of the three main kingdoms comprising ancient Kathmandu.  We saw many important Hindu and Buddhist temples and received blessings for a safe journey.  After some nice meals at the Rum Doodle and our hotel, the incredibly memorable, action-packed, and special first phase of the trip came to a close.  I dropped off Carla at the airport this afternoon with promises of a safe return home in six to eight weeks.  Now on to Phase II of the trip…

…at first sight – 3.25.2012

We did a scenic flight of Everest on Sunday morning and for the first time I laid eyes directly on my objective for the past many months and years.  It was a surreal feeling.  Hard to describe… reverence, awe, terror, excitement, thankfulness, hope, inspiration.  All of these at once and more.  It certainly looks huge, even from 23,000′ in an airplane.  The iconic plume of snow trailing from the wind-swept summit like the many Buddhist prayer flags in Nepal reminded me that it is time to put all of the preparation and training to work and go “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”  Bistari, bistari…