Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Road to Patan -- Where is it?

I was supposed to start my little free-lance job yesterday, but the boss was sick. This gave me another day to hang out with my new friend, Sabine, and enjoy some more Kathmandu area sightseeing.

We decided to walk to Patan, the town just south of Kathmandu. This was supposed to be easy and we are both completely capable of reading a map. Of course, it helps when the map is correct, which ours was not. So we spend a few hours wandering the streets of southern Kathmandu. We happened upon a funeral -- always a nice highlight of your day.

Patan seems to be a bit wealthier than Kathmandu and the office location for every NGO present in the country. The roads are in better shape and there is less traffic. Although, what traffic does exist is mostly giant SUVs.

We went to Patan to experience its old town and Durbur Square. Again, Durbur Square is where the king used to live -- at one point there were three palaces with three kings ruling the Kathmandu Valley (the three kings were brothers and were constantly fighting for power). Patan's Durbur Square is much more compact than Kathmandu's, but it seems to have more architectural details.

No one asked us for tickets to the square, so we didn't pay. Is that wrong?

We then went on the Patan Walking Tour, which is self-guided. This takes you around the old city. We found the Golden Temple (a UNESCO sight) where I was finally able to convince a ticket booth that I should be charged the SAARC price since I have resident visa for Sri Lanka. That saved me a whole $.75.

Since we had such a time finding the back roads to Patan, we took the main bridge back to Kathmandu. After a couple of wrong turns, which can also be blamed on the map, we randomly found the office for the resort I wanted to stay at in Chitwan. Sabine, good sport that she is, agreed to follow me to this National Park during monsoon and thus leech season, which means I don't have to pay 50% more for being single. After Chitwan we are parting ways as she is making her way to Pokhara for trekking and I'm coming back to Kathmandu for my free-lance gig. I could go to Pokhara for trekking, if I could afford it, so this decision is not based on my working rather than playing while in Nepal.

Anyway, we booked our trip to Chitwan for Wednesday! Yeah. One-horned rhino here I come. The naturalist that booked us also said there have been many sloth bear sightings! Finally, I'll get to see a wild sloth bear. There is also a remote possibility of seeing a river dolphin -- they are blind in Nepal and find their food via sonar (weird wildlife fact that you will remember for the rest of your life).

This means I won't be writing again until next week. Hope you all have a lovely time while I'm enjoying the wilds of Nepal.

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