After only getting 8 hours of sleep in a seated position over the last two days, it felt wonderful to rest horizontally. I woke up feeling refreshed and hopefully have already put the jet lag to rest. After breakfast, we had a brief meeting in the morning with Dhananjay to get a few supplies (e.g., replacing that missing battery from Barcelona!) and met with a few people from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology to discuss integrating the data we plan to collect with some of there's. Working in the mountains can be difficult due to the remote location and sometimes harsh weather, so opportunities to collaborate are very beneficial. Fortunately, all our preparation for the trip seems to be paying off. Besides a few minor pieces of equipment, everything is ready to go, so we were able to take a bit of time to explore the city.
I find Kathmandu to be a large mixture of excitement and chaos blended with areas of beauty and serenity. One of the first things you learn is that the car horn seems to be their most common form of communication. You quickly get used to being honked at by every passing car - it's their way of saying "as long as you don't make any sudden movements in front of me, we'll both go right along on our way". We started our walk in Thamel (the first photo above), which is made up of narrow streets that are lined with shops for tourists. Here you can find a plethora of trekking gear, yak wool blankets, scarves, paintings, prayer flags, crafts, souvenirs, guide/adventure companies… pretty much anything you can think of, you can find in this market. It's important to keep your head up though because down little allies between these shops are various shrines and stupas that provide areas of respite from those friendly honking cars and a beautiful look into the culture of Nepal.
As you continue through Thamel, the tourist shops slowly shift into more local ones. Instead of souvenirs, you'll find brass and copper pots and pans, clothing, fabrics, fresh fruit, spices, and more common goods. We continued on to our final destination, Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square. This square is filled with ancient temples and shrines that were built between the 12th and 18th centuries. Sadly, these historic buildings were among those that were heavily damaged by the earthquake last year. On the ground surrounding these pagodas were intricately carved pieces of wood that appeared to have fallen down. Other sites were simply a pile of rubble with a shocking image of the before and after. Many of the buildings that did survive were supported by wooden stilts or in the process of being reconstructed. I hope that reconstruction efforts go well because this area provides a beautiful glimpse into the history of Nepal and is certainly a sight to cherish.