Yesterday I took a break from touristy Thamel and equipment shopping and decided a museum was in order. I also wanted to spend time with my friend’s kids and give them a day out with a hopefully educational bent. For those of you reading who are my children or who are familiar with my media business (you know who you are haha) you know that imparting knowledge to children is as much food for my soul as a good salad and a well balanced pinot is nourishment for my body.
So much for my conceived plans. The nine year old didn’t want to go. She wanted to spend time with mom, so Subham, the 13 year old boy and I set off for the Natural History Museum on the other side of town. I had this idea that a kid born and bred in Kathmandu would know the local geography somewhat but that too, I was to find out, was another misconception.
This is a road.. Well a future one anyway.
The roads in Kathmandu are in a state of disrepair, to put it mildly. No one seems to know why they are dug up with some grand plan in mind (probably sewers and sidewalks) and left for years half finished. Corruption, graft , bad planning, budgets… Take your pick.
This is a gleam in a planner’s eye, I assume.
And this a little further along. 5 years the locals said (in this dormant pre-road state!)
We set off on a real traffic choked road (i. e lots of potholes but a bit of asphalt) and grabbed a taxi to go to the museum.. Now Kathmandu is not London and there’s maybe only 5 or 6 museums. The driver assured Subham (my Nepali translator too) that he knew exactly where it was as my young companion didn’t have a clue), a fare was negotiated ($2.50 for the record). And off we jounced. 10 minutes in we end up on a very wide completely torn up road to the National Museum (closed anyway) and it became painfully apparent after aimless drivng for twenty minutes more that the taxi driver (who wouldn’t even acknowledge he was lost) had no comprehension, either geographic or linguistic of the words “natural” or “history” and certainly not together.. He was obviously loathe to display his ignorance and ask anyone either. That make him a typical male? It took me jumping out of the taxi at a stop to go ask another taxi driver the way.
At the museum entrance he asked for twice the fare. Long way he said. It was actually shorter if he had gone straight there but I gave the rogue half the extra he asked for and told him to go learn geography, culture and English, in any order he chose.
My poor 13 year old was a bit upset as I am sure his mother told him to look after me and he knew he had abjectly failed. Well perhaps in Nepali terms but I assumed him vehemently that everything was fine.
The museum turned out to be a very large shed-like structure full of stuffed animals.
An enormous stork..
A monkey out on the town
Flat animals (must be endemic)
Three guesses (it was gorgeous)
More of a research lab for the local University.. But it held our interest for half an hour.
We walked up the adjacent hill to the Swayamphu stupa. Although overly commercialized with sellers of religious bric-a-brac the world heritage site was rather lovely.
And I love this one… Look at the top of the head…
But the highlight for me was a meditation hall with several monks playing music and praying. The lovely thing about Buddhism is that it welcomes you in to have your own experience. Subham , being a good Hindu, wouldn’t go in the room.
I sat for a quiet twenty minutes, feeling peaceful. The last time I meditated in Nepal I fell off a mountain (yes, you can ask) but this time I was a bit more careful and only slipped on a step
while I was taking a photo.. They were kinda steep…
Going down sir?
We walked back home on those pseudo roads above with the benefit of no traffic other than the occasional foolhardy motorcyclist, until we got to one of the market areas where we took tea.. Subham hadn’t a clue where he was or indeed how to get back to his neighborhood. But being the superb navigator that I am….
The poor kid was tired out by the time we got home but just right near the house on a building site I saw a bunch of kids…
Heavy Lego? I guess you play with what’s available..
Kathmandu construction is generally brick… And the unregulated brick kilns contribute to the foul air.
At least I’m in far better shape for the trek now.. I’ve walked maybe 20 miles in last 3 days…