There is nothing I love more than being able to get lost in a foreign city, escaping all of the heightened tourist prices and still feeling safe. Kathmandu is a warm and friendly city with warm welcomes and big smiles from everyone you meet. I somehow managed to acquire a new Australian friend along the way whilst visiting a little oasis, the Garden of Dreams, who then joined me on our first exploration of the city.
It truly is a beautifully cultured place, littered with temples and shrines paying respects to both Hindu and Buddhist religions. A rich combination of incense and spiced food would come in welcoming alternating waves. Streams of smoke would flutter and undulate in the intermittent breeze. Within Buddhism, incense is typically used to cleanse and purify. I gazed upon a shop keeper meticulously blessing his store with a lit incense stick, stopping in different places to focus and dress with fumes in a clockwise motion, each time leaving a beautiful trail of smoke and smell behind.
I believe it’s a shame that amidst the beauty you can’t help but feel over-shadowed by the rubble and remnants left from the earthquake which struck in April 2015. It’s honestly heart-breaking and empowering at the same time, to watch people work around and rebuild so much. Durbar square in Patan is floored with red tiles, yet lined with scaffolding, whilst many people work together to reconstruct fallen monuments and temples. What’s even more disconcerting is that multiple buildings are literally propped up by large sticks or stilts; I hate to say it or to be disrespectful but it’s almost something you would see in a cartoon or a comedy sketch. It doesn’t look safe or like a permanent solution, but it is all the Nepali have and it works for them.
Having attempted to visit another of the cultural sites, we were distracted by a tent playing loud, lively music. Being as inquisitive as I am, with a camera, we approached. Much to our amazement it was a charity fundraiser to help acquire funds to contract some form of accommodation for children affected by the earthquake. Having felt touched already by the adaptation of everyday life since the disaster, I felt that this was truly beautiful and it was a fundraiser like no other, with singing and dancing of a whole community uniting to help such a just cause.