Upon arrival to Kathmandu, Nepal, I noticed how reminiscent of India it was to me....construction and rubble everywhere, chaotic traffic, pedestrians crossing like a Frogger Atari game, cattle in the road nonplussed about the circumventing, zooming traffic and a lot of trash - everywhere.
On 1 of my 2 days pre-18 day hike, Craig, a Scottish guy who's a Muay Thai boxer living in Phuket and my soon-to-be hiking companion, and I had a full day guided tour visiting holy sites around Katmandu.
This area of town has ancient temples of various styles and eras clustered in Patan Darbar Square, smack in the middle of the city next to racing cars, houses and stores. Tourists and locals wandered the square or sat on the ancient temple steps chatting or taking a break from school/work.
As I continued to learn that day, Kathmandu has a mix of Hindus and Buddhists. Each temple has some symbol or stylistic design to show it's dedicated to Shiva (the Destroyer) or Vishnu (the bird man) or their respective female partners, Parvati and Lakshmi or Buddha.
You shan't be sentimental when coming to Pashupati because across the river there are stone slabs where recently deceased bodies are cremated. First, the body is ceremoniously washed by the river, which is polluted and floating with trash, and then he/she is carried to the stone slab while friends and family watch the body be covered with straw and set to flames. To me, it was a rather emotional and sad site.
We had lunch overlooking the 43 meter high stupa of Boudhanath. This is an important place of worship for Buddhists in Nepal and also Tibetan refugees. It's a pretty awesome structure.
NEXT STOP: Final trip prep and packing for Everest basecamp hike.