Back to Kathmandu for the last leg of our trip. It felt pretty hectic returning to the city after spending a couple weeks in peaceful zen nature, but we needed to visit the famous Swayambhunath Stupa before leaving Nepal!
Swayambhunath Stupa is the most ancient holy shrine in Kathmandu Valley and has been an important place of worship since before 5th century AD. The legend goes like this: a past Buddha planted a lotus in the lake that once covered Kathmandu Valley. That lotus shone a very bright light, so many people came from afar to visit it. One of these visitors rode in on a blue lion and thought the lotus should be made more visible, so he cut a gorge in the mountains with his giant sword and drained the lake. Once the water was gone, the lotus turned into a hill and the light turned into Swayambhunath Stupa, and that’s how it’s been ever since.
It’s still a place of worship today but has been inhabited by a bunch of monkeys and is more commonly referred to by tourists as the monkey temple, and is an unreal attraction to visit in Kathmandu. 365 steps are lined with vendors selling coconut water, mehndi tattoos, beads and souvenirs, and the stairs lead up to the most beautiful 360 degree view of the valley.. and the whole area is filled with the cutest little monkeys all racing around trying to play and/or thief your things.
We got a little bit of mehndi done on our way back down the hill, and again two more times while walking through the streets of Thamel; once from a guy who claimed he could do a full arm sleeve in less than 5 minutes (fail) and again from this 12-year-old street hustler child who was the biggest boss we’d ever met.We expected to spend the rest of our time in Thamel and then leave for Thailand, but Thamel is just such a beehive compared to Chitwan and Pokhara and Lumbini, so we relocated back to Boudhanath Stupa as soon as our hotel reservation was up for our final two nights in Nepal.
We could have spent another 2-3 weeks in Nepal, no problem. This country is so full of depth and pride and history and culture that cannot be understood in a single month, and we would have stayed longer had we not committed to a month of work in Thailand. Next stop, BKK!