After 3 weeks, I decided to explore the city of Bhaktapur, only 10 Km from Kathmandu.The name of this ancient city literally translates to “place of devotees”. When I quickly read the travel guide book (no mine, I am allergic to them) it said it is “the best preserved medieval city in the Kathmandu valley”.
It was an interesting 45 min bus ride, as driver´s skills and standing up with another 30 people, really tested my arm strength, holding onto whatever I could find to keep my balance. Arriving there mid morning, I was feeling happy as it was the first warm and sunny day since my arrival in Nepal. I started walking towards the main square, and after only a few min, my heart sank, as I could see all around the city the terrible devastation caused by the 2015 earthquake. Until that morning, I had seen only a few places with debris in Kathmandu, but nothing prepared me for the scale of the destruction witnessed in Bakhatapur. I walked all over the city for more than 3 hours, looking at all the houses and monuments falling apart, rubble and dust everywhere, and this was the day I completely embraced the spirit of the Nepalese people. Despite all these chaos almost 10 months after the tragic events, people where sitting outside their houses (it was Saturday, the “Sunday” here in Nepal), bathing under the sun, washing their hair using small pots (no running water in most of the houses) chatting and laughing with their neighbors, children were happily playing around, saw lots of offering processions to the Gods, in other words, a city full of life and vibrant energy, truly enjoying the moment when the sun comes out and offered us the first “hint” that winter was almost over!
During my walk, I also saw teenagers girls, working in the rebuilding of some houses, and the strange thing was that there were group of men watching them loading the stones, and carrying more than 50 Kg on their back, so no sure if they were just curious bystanders, or the owner´s of the house….I felt terrible sad, watching these girls, walking back and forward, constantly been loaded with stones, and at that moment I made a mental note of never ever complaint again in future, when carrying bottles of mineral water from my car to my house.
My opinion is that Bhaktapur is by far the most amazing city in the Kathmandu valley, despite its chaotic current situation. It is a fascinating ancient city, the wood crafting you can see in main monuments and houses are spectacular, and also worth the visit for its legendary King Curd (sweetened custard-like yogurt)!. I treated myself to a bowl of king curd at the end of my visit and it was superb, it is made with buffalo´s milk, so it has a richer texture and a more cheesy flavour than regular yogurt.