“You’re off to the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…. get on your way!”
(My Aunt Karen loves to quote Dr. Suess’ great book “The Places You’ll Go” when ones of us girls heads out on an adventure. I think of it a lot here.)
So… anyway we have gone some places in Kathmandu the last few weeks. No mountains this time but culture, critters and kids instead.
The Zoo – It is Nepal’s only zoo and it is just a quick walk from our house. I went through this stage in my life where a zoo was just a depressing animal prison and I reasoned that if I wanted to see these animals I should put in more effort to see them in their own homes. Right, so come to find out, my sanctimonious notion of zoos really isn’t compatible with having children. So to get them out of the house, we go to the zoo. The Kathmandu zoo is a depressing animal prison, but there is no way in all goodness that we will be able to see half these animals in their native habitats. I actually hope that I don’t see some of them, the Bengal tiger and the white rhino for example. They are miraculous creatures who shouldn’t live in a zoo, but I don’t want to be anywhere near them if they are not. However, getting a glimpse of them, even behind bars, makes realize what precious and beautiful creatures they are and makes me more determined that their natural homes should be protected habitats. So other than my pseudo animal rights stance on zoos, it is a great place to go. Our son particularly likes the cages full of squirmy white rats and giant gerbils, which I’m fairly certain are for feeding the reptiles, but we haven’t had that conversation with him yet.
Garden of Dreams – The Ranas, the ruling family in Nepal from 1846-1953 , built these amazing palaces all over Kathmandu, some with gorgeous gardens. Swapna Bagaicha or Garden of Dreams is one of these gardens. Once the Ranas fell from power the garden and the arches, pavilions and architecture fell into disrepair. It was discovered sometime later and brought back to life, albeit in a smaller version that what the original gardens had been. Now it is a fanciful, dream like place where lovers curl up on every bench and walk around trailing flowers and perfume behind them. I half expected to see Cupid or some other spritely creature floating about and to hear someone playing a harp. There was no bench cuddling for Dave and I, we split up and played mark defense with our children, keeping them from falling into koi ponds and down mossy, stone stair cases. Probably not a repeat place to bring children, but we got some good photos out of it.
Thamel – A neighborhood in Kathmandu that is a bit of a tourist ghetto. There were lots of Bedeshis, more than we see in our usual day. So we did some tourist watching. I wouldn’t have been suprised to run into an old boyfriend, people we went to college with, or some other similarly funky folks from home. It is a cheap, part-time place to stay for trekkers and other bedeshis who are temporarily in town. The Thamel shops cater to western tastes as evidenced by the pizza and ice cream places, coffee shops and myriad of souvenir shops. We went for an afternoon, just because it worth knowing where Thamel is and it was a stellar place to pick up some Christmas gifts.
We head out of the city this week to Tansen, where we will move in January. Hoping to check out the hospital, the school, our new home and maybe meet some neighbors, colleagues and folks who will be our friends for the next two years.