LAST SUPPER IN KATMANDU

If you just go with the flow, no matter what weird things happen along the way, you always end up exactly where you belong.   —Tom Upton

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FIRST, YOU HAVE TO GET THERE. MY DRUK AIR FLIGHT was supposed to leave Bhutan at 0900 hours, but they cancelled the day before and gave no reason. Lotay and Fin warned me this might happen. And it happens more times than you might imagine in a country with a king who hits the bulls eye with a bamboo bow from a football field and a half away, with airlines owning a monopoly on flights, where the former king supported four wives (all four sisters), and where nobody panders to backpackers.

So now I’m scheduled for the earlier 0700 flight. Luckily, the airport is only 10 minutes away from my hotel. As Fim likes to say: “expect the unexpected.” Go with the flow. I’m usually better at flowing than I am at hard knuckling a pre-set plan, but I’m ambivalent about this change: I prefer later flights, even red-eyes, so I don’t have to worry about missing them. But on the other hand, if you arrive at your destination at 0800 in the morning, you have more of your day to play.

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I have one goal at 0500 in the morning: change my Bhutan ngultrums back into dollars. Important because you can’t exchange ngultrums (the “g” is silent) in other countries (who even knows what they are?). Same goes for Myanmar rupees. I know this now. I didn’t know it before I left Myanmar.

Lesson learned: change your currency before you go through security check in tiny foreign airports with only two gates, many do not have currency exchange booths, or much more than seats, past immigration inside the terminal.

In Myanmar, I had gone through security without a thought to changing my money into Bangladesh taka or back to dollars. So I now possess a wonderful souvenir of 193,000 Myanmar kyats, worthless anywhere else in the world. You’d think that neighboring countries all with worthless currencies would exchange each other’s worthless currency for their own worthless currency. Apparently, no matter how worthless your currency is, nobody wants nobody else’s worthless currency.

 

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Another thing I didn’t know was this: Paro Airport is probably the most dangerous airport in the world, so dangerous only eight (8) pilots are qualified to land there. The plane has to weave between 18,000-foot mountain peaks and then slither down the mountainsides into valleys to land (with houses and trees right there, so close you see people and dogs in the yard), and the runway is shorter than the elevation of the valley.

What I did know was that the Himalayas would be on the right side of the plane as we flew from Bhutan to Nepal, so I requested a seat on the right. Soon after take off, a menagerie of mountains appears, one leviathan after another, a wild skein of natural beauty perched precariously on top of the world. We see Lhotse, at 8516 m (27940 f). We see Nuptse at 7,855 m (25,771 ft) and Changse at 7,580 m (24,870 ft).

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And then the South Face of Everest peers through our window like the king of the pride, wearing a wild and flowing white mane of cloud. In Nepal, they call Mt Everest Sagarmāthā, and in Tibet, Chomolungma. I believe in both languages (say them out loud to yourself), it means something really close to “freakin-ass-big mutha.” If you could climb to the summit of Everest and not die trying like the 219 climbers who have died trying over the years, and you spread your legs, you would have one foot in Nepal and one foot in China.

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At my hotel, they inform me that Katmandu shuts off the power everywhere in town for at least three hours every day, so no place in town has electricity during that time. They say there will be no wifi, no lights, no hot water in my room. It feels odd that Nepal has a problem with electricity while so nearby, Bhutan’s main export is electricity. Perhaps if they don’t exchange currency, they don’t exchange exports either? The electricity never went off in Bhutan, a rare and wonderful experience in this part of the world where in most countries here, electricity “black outs” are just another quaint tic box on your agenda.

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I’m not here, however, to sit in my hotel room, I won’t need electricity. I will walk  and explore the streets of Katmandu. Another blogger, James, suggested since my stay in Nepal would be so short, that I spend all my time in Bhaktapur. And that was actually my original plan (thank you, James). But then, more ambivalence seeps into my day: I had stayed in Bhaktapur the last time I visited Katmandu, in a hotel with a view of the backside of the Bhairabnath Temple. Bhaktapur has been described as the best-preserved medieval city here. I absolutely loved the town, it’s temples, its statues, its narrow streets brimming with atavistic buildings; its shops, its people, its aura, its vibe, its array of aromas. Its color. It’s cafés, so traditional and non-Western.

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During that trip a few years ago, I also fell in love with this building and this woman of Bhaktapur who I never met, nor spoke to, but only photographed. She never noticed me below her window, never glanced my way, never moved. I’m still in love with her. I still try to imagine what she was thinking, what so thoroughly consumed her thoughts. I wanted to return and possibly see her once again, or at least to photograph the window even if she wasn’t there.

The other side of that coin is that I had heard the earthquake in April of 2015, almost a year ago now, devastated Bhaktapur. That earthquake, known as the Gorkha earthquake, killed over 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000. It had a magnitude of 7.8 and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of IX (that means freakin Violent). I know one thing about violent earthquakes: they are not pretty. In 1985, I was living in Manzanillo, Mexico, when an earthquake hit, its epicenter just off the coast of Manzanillo. I sat drinking my first coffee of the day and watched my books fall off the shelves, I watched as the water in the swimming pool sloshed out of one end and then rushed and poured over the other end of the pool as though it were in a pail being carried by a careless boy. The ground under Manzanillo is rock and solid, so there was little real damage there. But nine hours away (and 900 kilometers), Mexico City, on unstable land, was devastated — it is built on the former lake that surrounded and protected the city during the Aztec period, and that ground acted more like jelly than rock.

I decide I do not want to see a devastated Bhaktapur; I want to remember Bhaktapur the way it was, a 500-year-old city with unique architecture—atavistic, sensual, whole. A maiden at her window. I spoke with a woman who had seen Bhaktapur recently. I asked her what it was like, hoping for a positive answer. “Bad,” she said as she pursed her lips and slowly shook her head sideways, “real bad.” I just didn’t want to experience a real-bad Bhaktapur, I didn’t want to talk about a real-bad Bhaktapur, I didn’t want to write about a real-bad Bhaktapur. So I stayed in a hotel near Durbur Square in Katmandu. But I was not quite prepared for—nor will I relish writing about—what I found there, either.

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It’s true, Katmandu almost appears normal in some areas, and you can still find interesting sights you may see nowhere else.

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And many buildings are still in tact, show minimal apparent damage.

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People go about their day as if the very earth below their feet were stable and dependable instead of a moving and fractured fault line, which shoved Mt Everest 1.2 inches to the southwest during that last earthquake, the opposite direction it had been moving for centuries. Makes you wonder if it grew taller, or shorter. Or just moved sideways.

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Many other buildings portray a more dangerous story, with cracks and loose bricks in the walls, yet they still stand and are livable, if a little dicey. And a bit scary.

But once you get to Durbur Square, it’s a different story. Many of the older structures that survived so well during the last 5 or 6 hundred years are falling down, or gone.

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The Hanuman Dhoka Palace is being supported by scaffolding.

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The walls and roof have been weakened and ruined.

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The street is barricaded around some buildings to protect people. It appears they may be working on the buildings trying to restore them. However, I saw no workmen while I was there.

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Last time I visited Katmandu, I stood atop this structure and photographed a holy man wearing dreadlocks, an orange robe, and large beads around his neck.

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This wall and ancient windows seem totally unscathed. Why can’t all graffiti be as beautiful as those cave drawings in Lascaux, France? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

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A rickshaw awaits its driver in a narrow alleyway off Durbur Square.

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Many structures and temples still stand, with the help of wood support beams. People seem unconcerned about potential problems. Is it a lack of fear, ignorance, denial, faith? Acceptance?

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It feels comforting on one level to know that some businesses are not disrupted in the least by earthquake damage, like this shoe repair shop complete with stool for customers waiting.

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You pass piles of bricks, which were formerly walls, layered in thick stacks throughout the town. As you wander, you might realize there are way fewer tourists here now than in the past. More ambivalence: if you’re a tourist, prices are lower, but at what cost to Nepalis?

Confession: I have coveted one of those hammered singing bowls for years, decades really. I walked into a shop on Freak Street merely to window shop. One bowl stood out above all others: its vibe, its feel, its sound all spoke to me. But once again, I had left most of my cash in the hotel believing I was not going to need it, I had not intended to buy anything. I had only sixty dollars in my pocket and a few thousand Nepal rupees. Binod, the shop owner, was asking $175: the bowl was old, it was in perfect condition, it was very  thin and the highest quality, its sound was superior. Remarkably superior—you could easily hear three different tones at once. I wanted that bowl. But I simply did not have $175.

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Long story short: Binod sold it to me for the $60 and another 1500 rupees. The bowl fits easily into my Mountain Smith fanny pack where I carry my camera on day trips. When I got home, I looked on Amazon, and a bowl half the size of mine, and visibly thicker, is selling for $128. Ambivalence—ecstasy and guilt—runs through me like muddy water in a beautiful rice paddy.

 

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The Kumari Bahal is the home of the Kumari, the girl selected to be Katmandu’s “living goddess” until she reaches puberty and reverts to being a normal mortal—the structure is damaged, weakened, yet still in surprisingly good shape. You might begin to wonder just what can be done to facilitate repair of this town. You might imagine this is the kind of help some richer countries would be able to offer. But apparently do not. You might wonder why. Shouldn’t the “bottom line” be raised up to where people are, rather than simply puddling down around the ankles of the world where money lies?

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Wander a little further, and you find boys playing around the town square water well. Last time I was here, this whole plaza was filled with vendors and tourists.

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A wild berry vendor shoos the flies and bees away.

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You might wander past some businesses utilizing private petrol generators to run their operations during the electricity black outs. And weakened buildings leaning askew just across the way.

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Other businesses, luckily, don’t seem to need electricity, or walls, like this drum maker’s shop on Freak Street.

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Anywhere you walk, you will easily discover statues of Buddha, and masks of various deities who help ward off evil…if not earthquakes, which perhaps are more about karma, or mere reality, than evil.

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No matter where you roam, you will always find something to eat in Katmandu, like a vendor selling six varieties of banana or the smallest watermelon in the world.

At the airport when I leave Katmandu, I decide to upgrade to Business Class, which is less expensive from here; and after all the travel, all the flights, all the hustle and bustle, all the rickshaws, boats, taxis and tours, all the planning, all the meals with noodles and rice and spices and names I can’t pronounce, I just want to relax in a big seat, with legroom. I want to believe I’ve earned it, but I surmise the truth is merely that I am just plain tired.

I realize I’m no longer the young man I once was: the kind of man who would never consider Business Class, the kind of man who would carry his bag from the ferry to a hotel in the heat of day at the equator, the kind of traveler Bhutan boycotts. The tired man I have become walks into the Business Class lounge in Tribhuvan International at 7 pm on 9 April 2016. They have brownies, and ice cream. I have a whole couch and a corner of the room to myself. I begin to feel almost normal.

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And then without warning, it hits: an earthquake tremor. In downtown Katmandu and Durbur Square, people run outside to open spaces. They move away from the buildings reinforced with wood beams. Fear runs slightly amok. A young girl carries a small dog in each arm. The tremor measures 4.5 on the Richter scale. Inside the airport, some travelers wobble slightly as they wheel their carry-ons. Inside the Business Class lounge, people sink into their chairs, their eyes widen, eyebrows rise, foreheads furrow, lips part. A grizzled old man wheezes as he sighs. Nobody moves. Apparently, we do not harbor the same level of fear as the Nepalis; maybe we imagine this more like a fire drill—if we ignore it, surely it will go away. Perhaps we have faith in a benevolent god. Perhaps, we’re good at going with the flow and believe we are exactly where we belong. I take a bite of brownie—if this is the end, I’m going down with chocolate in my mouth.

 

ENTER THE BADFISH PHOTO CONTEST!!

Here’s your chance to win big money. It’s easy to win.

THE RULES: Guess how many photographs I took on my recent journey to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Katmandu.

THE PRIZE: 193,000 Myanmar kyats (caveat: winner pays postage)

If you’re considering a visit to Bhutan, I recommend booking with Bridge to Bhutan — a highly-respected, local and low-key tour company operated by two very interesting and highly intelligent brothers: Fin Norbu and Lotay Rinchen. They offer trips of three to 30 days, and will make you feel like an honored guest in their home. They can set your itinerary, or you can create your own, or change it while on the move.

 

You can find other entries in Jo’s Monday Walk here: Monday Walk

You can find other entries in Lucile’s Photo Rehab here: Photo Rehab

You can find other entries in DP Photo Challenge here: Dinnertime

 

114 thoughts on “LAST SUPPER IN KATMANDU

  1. Beautifully told and witty as always, Badfish. You must have been chuffed to see Everest and Lhotse from the plane! I too forgot to exchange all my Myanmar kyat before leaving Yangon – so now I have an envelope stuffed with crisp 5000 kyat notes. Thanks for dropping in a mention of my blog.

    It’s amazing that you lived through the massive earthquake of 1985 (that was an 8.0!) while in Manzanillo. You drew a really neat parallel there – Kathmandu, like Mexico City, lies on an ancient lake bed. Good thing the tremor you felt was 4.5 and not upwards of 6 or 7. I might have had the same reaction if jolted by an earthquake midway through a plate of brownie and ice cream.

    Actually, when I was there in December I found that Bhaktapur wasn’t devastated by last year’s quake – it was business as usual and a great majority of its buildings were still intact. Bhaktapur was still magical and full of life – Durbar Square fared much better than its counterpart in Kathmandu.

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    • James, thanks so much, and it’s funny…I mean, I’m sorry…you, too, have a stash of 5000 kyat notes!! The quake in 1985 was massive in Mexico City, but not so bad in Manzanillo where it hit. Bad, but not devastating. Scary, for sure, but mostly after it was over, and after seeing and realizing what happened so far away in Mexico City.

      I was actually unaware that Katmandu lies on a lake bed! Or I would have made mention of that! That’s a cool parallel, thanks for informing us. And I think I’m a little disappointed…if Bhaktapur was not as bad as I was informed. I would have loved to returned there. Durbur Square in Katmandu was disheartening, really. But the Katmandu vibe was still there, and the energy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well thank you very much for immediately brining me back to jealous. There were so many images in this post that I wanted to say ‘oh, ah, amazing, wish I’d taken that’ that I stopped counting. On the sad side of this post is the extent of the devastation and the continued tremors. I hope Mother Earth decides to stop shaking things around here soon and gives the people a break. And I learned the currency lesson early on in the circumnavigation. I am going to throw in 4200 as my guess for photographs taken. I hope to travel to Myanmar someday and would like to arrive with some cash in my pocket.

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    • I think if we are taking a count of who is jealous more of whom, we know I win that hands down…what with all those street people and signs on buildings you capture, missy! And yeah, I guess those tremors have been going on for hundreds, thousands (maybe millions?) of years, don’t know if they’ll ever stop. Unless the tectonic plates start moving in the other direction.

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      • But the tremors seem worse now…or is it just that I have had my head in a sack and didn’t realize that they’ve always been this bad and constant. Probably the later. I love our dance of envy ..I am watching and learning from your brilliant creations (and also adding destinations to my travel bucket list…will I ever go home?!?! – stop visiting such cool places).

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  3. Oh wow what an amazing post. I had tears in my eyes reading it. And I laughed as well of course. How amazing to see the Himalayas. And Mount Everest. And I love that you fell in love with that young maiden. I hope you find her again one day. I’m guessing 1,250 photos.

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    • Whoa…tears, I hate when women have tears…unless it’s from laughing. And yeah, the Himalayas, right there outside the window…how cool is that? I’m thinking that maiden was thinking something like: “I hate young dudes, I wish some old geezer would come along and sweep me off my feet.” It could happen.

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  4. A few random thoughts, since I see there are other posts I must read on your blog to catch up.

    1. We are scheduled for a series of planned brownout days from now through our scorching summer, as here in our 21st century shangrila, SoCalEd can’t manage providing electricity to everyone, all the time. Ah, civilization. We would be right at home in Nepal, and at least there, one can justify the blackouts.

    2. I wonder why Asia manages to live with such vivid color and we are so drab? Our food is drab, our houses are drab, our clothes are dull. Why is that?

    3. Does the bowl sing tunes? Or is it that the bowlee must do the singing?

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    • SoCalEd should buy electricity from Bhutan. How does that work. How does one buy electricity. How does one transport electricity? Asia and most countries are much more colorful than we are. I’m not sure why, but they love color.
      The bowlee does not sing, he meditates while the bowl sings…

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      • Then, I must have such a bowl. Not sure I can afford it. There is a Nepaese store in Berkeley, probably charging way too much for one not half as nice as yours.

        I think I should follow Ed Begley and put a windmill on my roof. That way, SoCalEd will have less power over me (pun intended).

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  5. This brings back some memories of my three-week stay in Nepal, at the time when the fuel crisis was at its worst. But the Nepalese are resilient, kind, and friendly people, and I do believe they can go through this ordeal.

    Speaking of rich countries helping Nepal, I guess it’s the Nepalese government the First World countries want to avoid. The locals told us how useless, corrupt, and inefficient their government were.

    I would guess 3,300 photos, just for fun! 🙂

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    • Yes. You are correct. It’s not that no one would help, but it’s been my experience when I was with Red Cross, that many governments in these areas will loot provisions as soon as they arrive and much of it seldom makes it to their destination, plus governments often make it difficult by banning items for one reason or another. When it comes to offering relief, you just don’t know all that can go wrong along the way.

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    • I never understood the fuel crisis in Nepal. Who does that to a third-world nation like that? And you’re right. Nepalis are resilient, they’ve been there since forever, will probably stay until forever after. They are a beautiful people.

      And governments: oh, yeah, that old song and dance. Isn’t that the problem everywhere?

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    • Hey girl…glad you have come along for the ride here. Travel like this is actually not for everyone. I see people all the time in foreign countries who are so disappointed because it’s not like it is “at home.” But there’s really nothing to fear. It’s better with a friend, though. But if you simply prefer to stay home, stick around and I’ll take you everywhere I go!

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  6. Your post tugs at my heart. I love those mountains, the scary airports and, especially, dusty, tired, but still lovable Kathmandu. I love that nearly every photo of a building captures those snarled messes of electric wires. I love your singing bowl and the story of its purchase; it reminds me of my endless knot medallion and the day I had tea with the shopkeeper when I bought it. And I love that you had the wisdom to upgrade out of Tribhuvan; my last memory there was a 9-hour delay, overflowing toilets, and no chairs to sit on.

    Now, through a complex algorithm that I will share with readers far and wide when I win, I have calculated that you took 3816 photos. I’ve not been to Myanmar, so that fistful of very artfully arranged currency will come in quite handy someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lex…it’s funny because in most photos of landscapes, I detest electric wires…that always seem to interfere with the photo. But in Katmandu, I feel like the photos cannot quite capture the “snarled messes of electric wires” well enough. They are like living monsters clinging to the buildings. And yeah…I would imagine my bowl is a lot like your knot. Maybe I’ll use the bowl as my gravatar!!! Too bad they don’t have singing gravatars.

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  7. Dude, first off, only 8 pilots can fly into that airport? That is an exclusive club. At first I thought that plane said Drunkair on the side which is what I’d need to be landing there.

    That is crazy that so many of those buildings are in disrepair a year later. That is a sad thing for the people.

    I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for taking us with you as you shot 4211 photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flying into Bhutan was quite cool, literally sinking below the tops of the mountains into the valley. Hairy, and cool. And Katmandu…yeah, you’d think someone would help them with the repairs.

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  8. Badfish I felt very soothed reading your post. A real sense of peace amidst the chaos and catastrophe. I chuckled at the non planning guru who knew which side of the plane to sit in to see the Himalayas.
    I shall guess 3610 for the photos and just the glory of the win shall be enough for me. No need to send the cash…please and thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit, Nepal is a place where the mind does settle down a bit.
      And when there are Himalayas to see, even a “non-planning guru” plans on which side to sit on, if only out of honoring the mountain.

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  9. Another wonderfully enlightening look at the world. I’m just constantly shakin’ my head when I read your blog. I’m bored as can be here at home with my feet tied to the earth, but for the life of me I don’t think I’d survive one of your adventures! LOL The singing bowl is beautiful. We have a bell choir at church and often they will turn the larger bells upside down and run their gloved finger around the edges. They sound very, very similar.

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    • Calen…I’m so glad you come along for the ride….even if you think you wouldn’t survive an actual journey, but I believe you would survive. Maybe we should start a Badfish and Chips Travel Company, take trips, get lost, see what happens. See if you survive?
      Interesting about the church bells, I would have imagined they were too thick, but maybe a good bell is a good bell, and sounds like a good bell?

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      • Badfish and Chips Travel Company! OML! How adorable is that! If I were 20 years younger I’d be SO tempted!!! LOL I love your blogs. They open my eyes to the world, just like my first trip to the library when I was five or six. Always magical.

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        • First trip to the library! Now that’s a good title for a post. My family was not much into reading. No bookshelves, except for the encyclopedias. Now, I can’t live in a place w/o a bunch of books. Odd…eh?

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          • Nope, makes perfect sense to me. Your soul was craving that knowledge. And everywhere you go you write more books in your heart and add them to the library of your soul. 🙂

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          • Do I love this or what: “And everywhere you go you write more books in your heart and add them to the library of your soul.” I am going to need to quote that in a post one day, I believe. Library of your soul…yeah, but something has to be done about this waning memory.

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          • Whatever you do, don’t lose all those memories. That would be such a waste. Even if you just print your blogs off and organize them into a book. They would make a fabulous book. 🙂

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  10. I’m with FBG Badfish, my eyes are full and my heart is sad. It began with the singing bowl and your mixed feelings about your bargain, those poor people whose lives have been turned upside down, I wonder what kind of future they have. I wonder about the beautiful young woman at the window, what could have happened to her, and I’m no longer a young woman, I wonder how much more travel outside the UK I will be able to do.

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    • Gilly…I’m so glad you enjoyed this (or did you…what with tears and sadness. Sorry). But yeah, I’m trying to enjoy my bowl, still ambivalent about the bargain price. I just told someone else that I think the young woman was thinking that she wanted some old geezer to come along and whisk her away.

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  11. I don’t travel like you. I do the weekend get-away thing and the occasional road trip. But since I’ve started reading your blog, I’ve become mindful of my experience and look for wonder and magic. This post is another example of great inspiration.

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    • I don’t think anyone travels exactly like me. I’m chaotic, and unpredictable. A four-dollar hotel room beside the Nile one night, a five-star in the Maldives the next. But I’m so glad you get some kind of inspiration, and that you are reminded that wonder and magic exist in everyone’s lives…we just have to expect it and recognize it when it appears, eh?

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  12. A reall wonderful post, Badfish. I loved the fact that your girl at the window is still right there in your brain. What a romantic you are! I think I’ll let you keep the jackpot kyats. I’m sure you must have taken at least a thousand photos. Mt favourite out of tis batch is the one of the rickshaw. Going down with a mouthful of chocolate brownie can’t be so bad, but I’d rather live to eat another one or two more. 😀

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    • Well, yeah, I guess I am a romantic. And a bit outdated. I like that rickshaw, too. So colorful, so lonely somehow, and all those blue doors going down the alley. I stared at it for a long while before and after I shot it. Never did see the driver. And maybe it’s always good to live another day to eat chocolate!

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  13. Ngultrums, taka, rupees, euros, dollars. It’s all worthless FIAT money anyway. It’s just that more people believe in Euros and Dollars than ngultrums. It’s similar to all the gods that humans have invented: just because more people believe in a specific god, doesn’t make the god more real.

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    • Cardinal…I think you must be right: all “worthless FIAT money.” What we believe is true, is true, is reality. And gods…Oh god, don’t get me started on that human fiasco, I hear you. And right–same concept: what we believe is what is real for us.

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  14. Great story and great photos. I love the all blue photo from the window in the airplane. It looks like a painting! I also love the stunning photo of the woman in the window. I could certainly understand why you were so taken with her. And yes, for goodness sake, if it is your time go down with chocolate in your mouth.

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    • Bulldog…Glad you enjoyed. And I as soon as I saw that blue photo, I knew it was a cool shot. But I had to shoot over the lady in the seat next to me, and only got that one shot, and couldn’t actually frame it, just sort of shot from the hip. But I do like the way that one turned out. The light hit the mountains at that moment in a certain way, and then it was gone.
      I’m going to put it in my will (if I ever make one) that I be buried with chocolate in my mouth. Or yeah, rubbed all over my body.

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  15. I absolutely love this post! Your photographs are so personal and very touching – they capture the place and the feelings so well.

    Nepal has always been high in my list of places to go to. Even with the devastation that occurred I do feel so drawn to these people and this place. Your post reinforced that for me.

    And I do love the chocolate ending! I would choose gnocchi as my last meal, but a really good brownie would be a close second.

    2,478 photos in Myanmar?

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    • Peta…interesting that you’ve never been to Nepal, you have been EVERYWHERE else, eh! And I think you would love it, and the people…it’s one of my favorite places on the planet, still, even with the disaster. The vibes and energy are still there. And they have chocolate.

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  16. These are fascinating places and that picture of the Himalayas, all blue, is so beautiful. The earthquake at the end — I’d have been eating another bite of brownie as well. I bet you took a couple thousand pictures…

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    • Fascinating is the right word for these places. So much NOT like home. So much like some place Indiana Jones might search for lost treasure, and get beat up by mobsters and bad men. I love that all blue shot, too.

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  17. Wonderful pictures and description as always, and I absolutely loved that picture you took from the plane of all those mountains stacked one above the other!

    I also learned a very interesting new word, which I intend to try out tomorrow when I march proudly into the bank and ask them what exchange rate they’ll give me on ngultrums.

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    • Bun…thanks again for haning out here. The photo of the stacked mountains just sort of happened, then disappeared as the light changed. A lucky shot, but I really like it also.
      Ngultrums…yah, a new cool word. I bet your banker doesn’t even know what they are, though!! Let me know what happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This is probably the most beautiful post anyone has ever shared with me and I count myself truly honoured. The facts that you present astound and dismay. Everest sidestepping 1 and a half inches! Those buildings with their pit props. The fear and trembling, literally!
    Thank goodness that wasn’t your last brownie. How many? I can’t begin to guess. I’ve only been in the Algarve 6 days and I’m at 700. None of mine will match these.

    Like

  19. Wow this post is as memorable to me as your girl in the window is to you. I have a daughter going to Kathmandu and Everest base camp, my heart trembles for her when I read your post. She leaves in 2 weeks time. I will send her this post to read. What an incredible journey you have had through countries I can only dream about. btw did you get to meet Katherine and William in Bhutan? Are you back home now with Duncan? I’m guessing 2589 photos… So where is the next adventure?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Beautiful post, Badfish. All photos are magic and what you have seen is so beautiful that makes impossible not to be jealous, even of the flight change.
    It is sad to see the devastation of Nepal and the way that their government handles the reconstruction. Ima with you on that, there is so much money floating around the world and being used for stupid reasons.
    I loved the quote you started this post and how you ended it.
    Now I I know we are soulmates, as my last thought would also be to die with a piece of chocolate in my mouth. You’re da man.
    That brings me to 3000 photos. Right?

    Like

  21. Excellent post, Badfish… I love your retelling… nice writing…

    I was particularly surprised by the stories concerning money and exchange… Also I had no clue about how dangerous Paro Airport might be… All new to me.

    The photograph of the woman on the window is great … I can see why you say you felt in love with her… It is such a poetic shot, and many things and feelings seem to be hidden behind her.

    Thank you very much for sharing… Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aquilieana…thanks so much, glad you like the retelling and writing. And that I had something to share that informed you of new stuff! I like doing that…the way YOU do it all the time!!
      The woman in the window still haunts me. So much to love about her.
      All the best to you this week!

      Like

  22. Wow wow wow what a fabulous post. I am heartbroken for Nepal, and Katmandu. And still fascinated, and still want to go there and boost the economy a bit. I loved the line:
    ‘Shouldn’t the “bottom line” be raised up to where people are, rather than simply puddling down around the ankles of the world where money lies?’
    And this:
    Ambivalence—ecstasy and guilt—runs through me like muddy water in a beautiful rice paddy.
    And so many wonderful photographs – the layers of blue mountains, the women sitting on the steps.
    Yours was not a schedule we would contemplate that’s for sure. If we remotely believed we could afford business class we’d have been upgrading too.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know…heartbroken is a good word. And still fascinated, yes. I’m sure you will love it there…nothing like India. It is one of my favorite places on the planet, still. The vibe, the people, the mountains, the spiritualness everywhere, the openness, the architecture, the electric wires in globs of living globs.
      My schedule–no, I would not recommend it. And I would never do it. And I will never do it again. It just sort of evolved out of necessity of getting from one country to another. When I leave here, there will be no more upgrading to business, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. 4,035 photos, though it would be cool if it was 193,000 photos (guessing both) just because it’s the amount of money we’ll get. 😀

    There’s so much to say about this post, but I have to back and re-read it because I had too many thoughts, and some got thrown under the bus on the way down this not slippery at all slope.

    I do love the way you think on wanting to make sure that should you ‘go out’ it will be at least tasteful (pun intended).

    BBS
    Fim

    Like

    • Fin: 193,000 photos…yeah, that would be cool, one for each kyat!
      Isn’t it a law that when you “go out” they bury you with a piece of chocolate in your mouth? Isn’t that the law everywhere?

      Like

  24. I’ve never been to Nepal, but I would imagine that for a return visitor like you, it was difficult to see the damage that still remains.
    Your brownie and ice cream at the end reminded me that we who travel are very privileged indeed. We see and experience all the wonder – and not so wonderful – that the world has to offer.
    … but sometimes, it just wears you down.

    I’m thinking on this trip, your photo count was exceptionally high – north of 5000. I’ll make it 5,500.

    Like

    • Joanne–yeah, it was difficult to see the ruined buildings. But heartening to see the people as stunning as ever, and vibrant and hopeful.
      And I have to agree, travelers are very privileged…first, to be able to travel, and second, to glean and learn all the things available while moving about the planet. I’ve learned way more by travel than in any classroom. Even how to act. And not act. And react. And not react.

      Like

  25. Awesome pics from the plane! And I love your very creative photo challenge. I might consider entering if I didn’t already have a kyat collection of my own. So sad to see so much of Kathmandu propped up with boards and scaffolding. The future there feels precarious in more ways than one. Nice choice on the upgrade and the brownie. 🙂

    Like

    • Kelly…lucky shots from the plane! But so awesome that we flew so close to the mountains, that was VERY cool. And for a long way.
      HA! You have a kyat collection, also? We should have a kyat party…go back to Bhutan to spend them all! And eat chocolate.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I love this post! Great shots of the people and buildings, and especially the mountains!! I love that really blue one with all the different lines on mountains. So sad about the earthquake.
    Congratulations on your excellent purchase. I love those bowls, and that one was certainly meant for you!
    I will probably never go to these places, so it is really nice to see them through your eyes!
    Peace
    Mary

    Like

    • Hey woman…so glad you like it. I too, love thaat blue shot of the mountains, I think I was really lucky to get it. It was there one moment, gone the next! Light!
      You’re right about the bowl…meant for me. Because I’ve looked at them many times before, never felt right then. This one felt right, right away. And then, it happened…
      If you never go, that will be ok, too. Maybe that’s why I’m here…to take you along for the ride?

      Like

  27. Such beautiful and expressive writing, Badfish, and it really brings home the fact that the world might have moved on but the people of Kathmandu are still living with the aftermath of the earthquake.

    Your mountain photos are simply stunning. How clever of you to make sure you were sitting on the best side of the plane to see Everest!

    Judging by personal experience and knowing how easy it is to accumulate digital photos, I’m guessing 5450 photos!

    Like

  28. I have catching up to do here and a post I have been meaning to come back to! My oh my! But I had I start here today – so interesting – well I came here from the comment you left about prince on rolling blogger blog- – my hubs said the same thing.

    Anyhow dear bf- the maiden in the window is just a special capture! And before you even asked folks how mnsh pics you took – did you know I was starting to wonder as the post unfolded..
    Anyhow – I say 1,000 pics?
    Also – I love bricks and dude – you captured so many I felt in brick heaven and it kept getting better – like the huge pile and all around – the step to the doors is very interesting too -and your honor – one big mutha! Lol

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  29. Catching up and a post that needs coming back to…yeah, I know what that is like. Happens to me all the time. And right–Prince. A real individual, I think.
    Bricks…there is something special about bricks, wonder what that is? I would like a brick wall in my house…if I had a house. But I wouldn’t want one of those Katmandu door steps. I want a veranda. Glad you stopped by.

    Like

  30. Thanks for the tour, the energy, the beautiful pictures. I’m thinking about getting to Nepal this September, to trek but also to give a hand if I can. Reading your article convinced me that it is what we should do. I’ll call my friend back soon and plan things out a bit!
    I hope you get to go back again soon, take more pictures and enjoy Bakhtapur again.
    Cheers!

    Like

  31. Gorgeous photography! Just love the blue hues of the mountains. If only leaders would use the country’s finances in a way that really served their people 😦

    Like

    • Nancy…thanks! Poverty is a bit sad, and when I travel to places like this, I try to put it out of my mind as a problem…but still, it’s difficult to see and enjoy a place at the same time. I try to give something to someone every day.

      Liked by 1 person

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