Nepal

Christkindl

I haven’t made any Nepal posts lately because all of my flash drives got misplaced in the last apartment relocation, and one of them has the photos Elizabeth gave me from her trip. Normally they would have made the move in the safety of my purse, but my purse went out to a local repair shop to have its main zipper fixed right around the time of the move, and the flash drives got packed… elsewhere. In a Safe Place somewhere. If they don’t turn up soon, I’ll have to ask Elizabeth to dig up her copies of the pics and resend them so I can wrap up the Nepal saga.

Lost items aside, we love our new home. Technically we’re in Englewood now, just south of Denver. It suits us perfectly, it’s very walkable and charming.

The pandemic has hit the local economy hard. All the small family businesses are a big part of what gives this area its appeal, so we have resolved to support them as much as we are able. Last weekend we took a break from the chaos of moving to visit the Denver Christkindl, an outdoor Christmas market where (mostly) local vendors can sell their holiday wares.

In the spirit of supporting small businesses, we started the day with drinks and sandwiches at our neighborhood coffee shop.

In the background you can see the white bridge/staircase of a light rail station:

Denver has the best light rail system of any city I’ve ever lived in. We definitely want to support that, so we try to use it as much as possible. It’s easier to get to downtown Denver by rail than by car anyway, especially with traffic and the cost of public parking.

After breakfast, we walked to the station.

The C Line to Union Station comes through every 15 minutes.

20 minutes later we rolled into Union Station.

We could have taken the H Line and arrived closer to the Christkindl, but we wanted to walk around downtown and look at the holiday decorations. Denver loves Christmas.

It was the kind of bright high-altitude fall day that’s warm in the sun and cold in the shade. Luke said his head was chilly, so we stopped in a couple of hat shops in Larimer Square. At Pendleton he found a nice wool hat that suits the “railroad baron” aesthetic he has been cultivating of late.

We continued exploring, and found these awesome statues near the Opera House:

We finally saw the Big Blue Bear in person!

Fun fact: downtown Denver has warmed itself with steam since 1880. On cold days you can see it rising out of vents in the ground.

The Christkindl Market is usually right downtown near Larimer Square, but for Covid safety it’s been relocated to the spacious Civic Center Park.

We did our best to support the local vendors. We bought some ornaments and cards and so much food that we had to bring most of it home with us. Since I wasn’t driving, I got to enjoy some hot mulled wine. One stall sold handmade woolen items from Nepal, and Elizabeth found a hat that perfectly matches her Nepali jacket!

We wanted to stay until it got dark enough for all the lights to come on. After we left the Christkindl we walked around admiring the local architecture and art installations.

I love the life-size reindeer and sleigh on the roof of City Hall:

The Capitol Building is beautiful too:

But we had come early in the day, and we ran out of things to look at. And when the sun finally did disappear behind the skyline, it got cold very quickly. We decided to head back to Union Station, and come back another day to see all the lights.

On the way back we stepped into a bookstore and bought a couple of Christmas-themed books. This guy was trippy:

He’s a wax figure, not a live person. Looks super real, though.

Union Station was lit up by the time we got back to it. Denver does love Christmas.

The train home (electric tram, really) was cozy warm. Colorado is nice. We like it here.

Categories: Artwork, books, Christmas, Family, food, Holidays, Life, Nepal | Tags: | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal XIV: Patan Durbar Square

After the Monkey Temple, the next stop on Emma and Elizabeth’s guided tour of Kathmandu was Patan Durbar Square. There is a palace here where the Malla Kings of Lalitpur resided long ago, and a museum filled with beautiful antiquities.

Lots of gorgeous architecture here, presented mostly without comment:

The second floor of this temple has a dirt floor:

More to come!

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Adventures in Nepal XVIII: Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple

January 29 was Emma and Elizabeth’s last full day in Nepal. They started with breakfast at the hotel and exploring the hotel grounds.

Good advice for us all:

Emma’s mom had arranged for the girls to have a guided tour of Kathmandu. They were both feeling better after a good night’s sleep, but to be on the safe side they opted to wear masks for the remainder of the trip.

The first stop was Swayambunath, the “Monkey Temple.”

The monkeys of Swayambunath are considered holy. According to Buddhist lore, Manjushri —- the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning who raised the hill that the stupa is on —- let his hair grow long. He got head lice, and the lice transformed into the monkeys.

Overlooking smoggy Kathmandu:

More to come!

Categories: Animals, Covid-19, environment, Family, food, Friends, Holidays, Life, Nepal, Travel | Tags: | 1 Comment

Adventures in Nepal XVII: Back to Kathmandu

While we were sorting through the photos for this post, I realized that I am hopelessly confused about the family relationships between all of the friends Elizabeth made at Paljorling Camp. I think the older couple that I credited in an earlier post as part of “the family next door” are actually the couple in whose home Elizabeth and Emma stayed, but I’m sure the younger man is their son and Elizabeth says he definitely lived next door with two brothers and someone she thought was his mother. I may never figure out who is related to who and in what way, but I deeply regret any hurt feelings I may have unintentionally caused by misidentifying people in earlier posts. I am so grateful for the kindness and hospitality Elizabeth received during her stay among the Tibetans. She returned home with a lively light in her eyes that had been missing for too long.

On January 28, their last morning in Pokhara, Emma and Elizabeth had breakfast with the family next door.

Then they all said their formal goodbyes.

The khatag is a traditional Tibetan silk scarf that is presented ceremonially on special occasions, in this case the parting of friends.

A family member drove the girls to meet their bus.

Goodbye Pokhara!

Goodbye Himalayas!

It’s a long eight-hour bus ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu. But the scenery is nice, even in the rain.

The Prithvi Highway follows the winding course of the Trishuli River from Pokhara to Kathmandu. I only know the name of the river because I just now looked it up, and I also found this reassuring paragraph on Wikipedia: “Trishuli River is also one of the dangerous river of Nepal. The curvy Prithvi Highway is a bad fate for many Nepalese people traveling to and back from the capital. Every year, several buses and trucks fall and disappear into this wild river, making the corridor a dangerous pass for people.”

The bus stopped for lunch at the Riverside Springs Resort

The girls stretched their legs and had a nice lunch, and then continued on.

Their bus did not fall into the river, so that was nice. But after they arrived in the city and checked into the Kathmandu Guest House, Emma mentioned in our Messenger group chat that she was not feeling well. Fever, weakness, fatigue.

I made some awkward coronavirus jokes and then said that maybe she should wear a mask to be on the safe side. We speculated on what would happen if she still had a fever at flight time. Elizabeth said nothing during the chat, but told me later that she had felt ill too. They both went to bed early and had a restful sleep.

That same evening, a senior medical adviser at the US Department of Veterans Affairs wrote in a group email to public health experts in the governmennt and universities, “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad. The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

More to come!

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Adventures in Nepal XVI: International Mountain Museum

January 27 was an eventful day in the Covid-19 saga. A prominent virologist in Hong Kong gave a three-hour presentation on YouTube basically warning everyone that the new virus was way worse than people thought. First cases popped up in a few more countries. The first confirmed asymptomatic transmission was reported in Germany. In the US, the Surgeon General dismissed the coronavirus as “low-risk” and urged Americans not to worry about it. The President was likewise unconcerned.

Emma and Elizabeth were following the news, but at that point it was an interesting story to monitor as it unfolded rather than something to actively worry about. This was they day they visited the International Mountain Museum.

They wandered for a bit, trying to find a bus going in the right direction.

Eventually they found a bus and got to the museum.

Adorable girls are adorable.

The museum grounds are lovely.

Blep!

This mandala is made entirely of colored sand!

Too sexy for my beads.

More derpy taxidermy.

Is…is that a Yeti?

This is a really pretty museum. I’m keeping this post reasonably short, but the girls took billions of great photos here.

There is a temple inside the museum.

Outside, a scale model of Mt. Manaslu and Machapuchare (Fishtail Peak, the highest point in the Annapurna range) lets visitors try their hands at mountain-climbing.

This was the girls’ last full day in Pokhara. On the 28th they returned to Kathmandu to begin the long journey home. I am so glad that they got to share this experience before the virus surged and the lockdowns started.

To be continued!

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Covid-19, Friends, Health, Holidays, kids, Life, Nepal, Travel | Tags: | 2 Comments

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