After our Durbar Square visit, Michael & I hopped into a taxi (I tried, but just couldn’t convince him a rickshaw would be 3 times as much fun), & weaved our way through backstreets till we arrived at Swayambhunath (called Monkey Temple because there’s quite a few very naughty monkeys living there).
Being Saturday, there were thousands of Nepalis dotted all over the grounds – playing drums, having large group picnics, even playing cards amongst the stupas. I knew I was in for an uphill walk but never imagined how steep that uphill walk would be. It was hot & humid, rain sprinkling on & off, as we headed up the steps. I thought the first set of steps was all there was, sweat beading on my face as I arrived at the top only to find an enormous amount of steeper steps awaiting me – crap! And monkeys running around the stupas, climbing the trees, & being generally cheeky, as you would expect with monkeys.
I finally managed to climb the stairs, with my heavy pack, paid the 200 rps entry fee, dodged the drumming hoardes, & made it to the top. People absolutley everywhere. Strangely, even though this is a Buddhist Stupa, there were all these Hindu celebrations taking place all around the huge stupa (I was told later that this is a shared religious space). It was loud & hectic pandemonium everywhere with people praying, drumming, lighting incense & butter lamps, eating, & shopping in the various Buddhist shops scattered about. Michael wasn’t at all comfortable or amused, but I was fascinated. We spent about an hour looking in the museum & shops, spinning the stupa prayer wheels, & taking photos. Then headed all the way back down & got out of there, heading by taxi back to the tranquility of Kopan.