Category Archives: TRAVEL

A collection of the best photos I’ve taken on my travels…I love looking through other fellow traveler’s pictures and hope my photographs inspire others as well.

Training For My First Triathlon

While I usually keep my blog focused on food, travel and horror movies, I’ve recently decided to blog about one of my other passions: endurance sports.  This year I’ve blogged about Why I Run and the Mississauga Marathon.  I hope you’ll continue to follow my racing adventures as I write about training for my first triathlon! 

I had been eyeing the REV3 Niagara Falls Barrelman 70.3 race for a few years now.  I came across the race after signing up for the Multisport Canada newsletter while marathon training.  What I find humorous is that it never occurred to me that there were shorter triathlon options.  Nope, I had figured that this was what a triathlon was and it sounded pretty awesome!  So I jotted down “do a triathlon” on my list of New Year’s resolutions and kept an eye on the registration deadlines.

Unfortunately I was stuck in a bout of unemployment so I had to hold off on any unnecessary costs.

Months past.  The September 17th race day was now four months away.

I completed my 6th marathon at the the Mississauga Marathon in May, and had an interview the next morning.  Thankfully, I got the job and would now be biking to work. With the triathlon in mind, I started increasing my bike mileage a little bit each week.  I was a leisurely cyclist at best when I lived in the suburbs but after I moved downtown a year ago, I became a much more avid biker.

Now that I was employed, I could also afford to get a pass at the local community pool to brush up on my swimming.  Swimming is second nature for me and I feel perfectly at peace in the water.  What can I say, I’m a Scorpio – a water baby – at heart!  I grew up taking swimming lessons and continued onto the swim team in high school.  I had also left behind the pool in my condo when I moved downtown, so I hadn’t swam regularly in the past few years. Despite this, I was able to swim 2km no problem the first time I hit the water.

Summer flew by.  The day before the final registration deadline arrived.  On this particular day at work, we were told that our project was going on hiatus, for an indefinite length of time.  A normal person’s reaction might have been one of panic or anger, but nope, not me.  My boss and the CEO of the company looked at me bracing themselves for my reaction, and I merely replied “well I guess I will sign up for that half Ironman”.

Signing up for a half Ironman felt much different than signing up for a marathon. One lingers over that “confirm registration” button just a bit longer fighting off excuses and uncertainties.  But then that little voice in your head goes “ah to hell with it” and suddenly you’re signed up for your biggest challenge yet! 

Naturally, I panicked.

My biggest concern was the bike.  I knew that I could do it, but my current bike was a 7 year old urban hybrid and I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.  The weekend after I registered, I biked to 43n kilometres to Oakville, about half the distance of the triathlon.  My pace was OK but my legs felt pretty wobbly, and I realized the advantages of lighter, faster road bike.  As luck would have it, a few days later I got a flat tire riding back home at night from volleyball practice.  The next day, I was complaining to my boss about my bike, and she told me that her ex-boyfriend had been a serious cyclist and had worked at a cycling store.  She had a brand new road bike that she had only ridden a few times before they broke up.  She offered to lend it to me and I nearly cried with joy!  Suddenly I had been upgraded from a crusty, heavy bike to a beautiful, brand new, light as a feather road bike!  I knew nothing about road biking and suddenly I was swimming in questions in regards to clipless pedals, aerobars and cadence.  

This is me testing out the road bike for the first time.  The bike was borderline too big for me, but I remembered having sizing problems when I bought my urban hybrid.  I have short legs and a long torso so I remember having to saw down the saddle pole, so we did the same for this bike.  The hoods were incorrectly placed on the stem, and I also ended up swapping out this stem for a slightly smaller one.  Once the stem was adjusted and the saddle was shifted all the way forward, the bike felt perfect and was way more comfortable than my old bike, which now felt small and awkward. 

Training For My First Triathlon

Testing out my new road bike

With five weeks left I threw myself into training.  I became one with my road bike, read up on anything I could get my hands on about triathlons, and watched You Tube videos on tips for swimming and biking.  I also read Barrelman race reports from previous years and found videos on You Tube of race day . 

The difference between running and triathlons is that running can be a very solo, individual journey.  I had always trained on my own and saw my training time as a sort of private ritual. Triathlons feel like more of a community.  I joined a Facebook Group called Women for Tri and found the support to be amazing and inspiring.  I reached out to friends who biked to go on long rides, and got to know the folk at my local bike shops who helped teach me bike maintenance 101.  I tested out my first open water swim in a wetsuit with the local triathlon club and when I went to the cottage I asked friends to canoe beside me so I could practice sighting while swimming across the lake.

Training For My First Triathlon

Swimming across Haystack Bay to Gardner Island

Training was coming along well and every day, my confidence grew.  Swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run.  Because of my condensed training schedule, my only “rest” days were Wednesdays when I played volleyball.  Swim, bike, run. Swim, bike, run. Each week I increased my distance and twice a week I would do a full brick training trio so I could run through my transitions.  I also made sure I had my nutritional plan down.  I decided to stick with gels for the runs and gummies for the bike.  I tried gels while biking and the goo went everywhere and I ended up with very sticky stems!  The road bike came with a small bento box which fit a gummy pack and a broken up Cliff Bar.  I planned to tape two gummy packs to my bike frame for easy assess.  Before the run I planned to drink some coconut water and have a Honey Stinger Waffle for a motivating treat.  I trained with water and coconut water since the race was not going to have Gatorade like all the other races I had run.  I would later regret the coconut water, as you will read about later.

As luck would have it, I met a girl who had done a few Ironmans and was looking to start coaching newbie triathletes.  She helped me shop for a trisuit, gave me race day tips, and not only gave me bike tips regarding clipless pedals and my cadence but also lent me her set of aerobars!  Some of the more important tips she gave me were to use salt tabs to help with hydration and as a break from all the sugary gels and drinks.  She also went through the steps I would go through at the start of race day. I learned to set up my transition area and to carve out my own space by laying out an old towel on the ground to place all my bike gear on.

Here I am trying on my first trisuit.  Before signing up I fully thought that on race day you changed right out in the open between sports, haha!  I went with a Sugoi sleeveless trisuit which was super comfy and in my price range.  The polka dots were a fun bonus!  I’m wearing a Moving Comfort adjustable bra underneat, one of the best sports bras I’ve ever owned!

Training for my first triathlon

Trying on my first trisuit at Enduro Sport

Now that I had my trisuit, I focused on the bike.  I went to Mountain Equipment Co-Op and bought the Garmin cadence meter, spd bike shoes and clipless pedals.

I was cramming a lot in a short amount of time, but I loved every minute.  Looking back I think the training kept me sane after the disappointment of going on unemployment again.

Two weeks before race day, I was at the cottage with some friends and was greatly enjoying the change of scenery.  Swimming in the open lake water was a welcome change of pace from the chlorine dosed waters of the community pool.  I was also trying out my aerobars for the first time and the quiet, winding country roads were an ideal place to test them out.  On the second day at the cottage, I received some unfortunate news.  My Mom’s mental health had been declining for some time and my dad called to say that she had had a mental break.  She had started to physically abuse him and today he had called the police and she was taken away.  I had never heard my dad sound so shaken and to be far away from him during his time of need was hard to deal with.  Needless to say, I appreciated the time alone on my long bike rides and runs.

As soon as I could, I hopped on a plane to Ottawa.  My mom was in a mental health hospital now and seemed to be doing better.  I continued to train in Ottawa, finding a bike rental place nearby and thankfully there was even a YMCA with a clean, brightly lit pool across the street from my parent’s house.  I went for some beautiful long bike rides and runs along the canal and traveled out to some beaches and parks that I had never been to before.  Every day I would train and then we would visit my mom, and this became the new norm.  I’m amazed how, with the exception of two marathons, disaster always seems to strike right before a race.  Almost like a final test before the big day.  But what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and once again I was thankful to have my training as an outlet for the emotions I was feeling.

 

Training For My First Triathlon

A quick selfie by Hog’s Back Falls, Ottawa during a 21 km training run

One evening while at the hospital I found out that I would definitely not be returning back to the project that was still on hiatus.  I was really sad because I loved the company and had barely begun the project.  However, I could not afford to turn down any job offers at this point and that evening I accepted a job at the same company I had been at a year ago.  I was happy to be back among friends and on a solid project.

My first day back at work was the day after the triathlon.

Training For My First Triathlon

Beautiful bike ride by the Experimental Farm in Ottawa

With my mom in stable condition and less than a week before race day, I returned to Toronto, picked up all my stuff from my former job, picked up my wetsuit and packed for Niagara Falls.  The day before departure, I went to the park and practiced some yoga.  I wanted some time by myself to stretch out my muscles and calm my mind.  The past 6 weeks had been a whirlwind of events and physically and mentally I was wired.  I felt sad that my parents would not be able to spectate the race because of my mom’s condition, and I felt a bit anxious not just about the race but about the new job I would be coming back to.  As the sun set over the park and the city lights flickered on, I felt proud of all I had accomplished over the past 6 weeks.  I felt ready.  I was hungry.  I was going to kill this.

Next week >> my race report from my first triathlon!

 

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks – Day 2: Patan and Bhaktapur

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks – Day 2: Patan and Bhaktapur

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2449

Patan – streets around Durbar Square

Come along on our journey as we travel Nepal In 2 Weeks – Day 2: Patan and Bhaktapur!  On our second day in Nepal, we took a day trip from Kathmandu to visit Patan.  A pretty city with a long Buddhist history making for an impressive collection of palaces and temples.  Unfortunately our morning was off to rainy start.  We got caught in a torrential downpour and the streets around Durbar Square were completely flooded.

20170523_Patan-Bhaktapur-2451.jpg

Bhaktapur – flooded streets

Patan was also hit hard by the earthquake and again, my heart ached to see so many temples in ruins.  There were signs of hope however, as many sites displayed flags signifying that a country was sponsoring the reconstruction.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2455

Patan – Krishna Mandir Temple with Garuda statue on column

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2450

Patan – metal works

Patan is known for its metal craftsmanship and many temples were adorned with beautifully detailed metal engravings.  We picked up a souvenir metal statue from one of the many metal shops that lined the cobblestone streets.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2480

Bhaktapur – Naga Pokhari

The rain finally ceased mid-morning and we were able to enter the Patan Museum.  The museum was formerly the residence of the Malla kings and houses an impressive history of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal.  There are over 200 metal figurines as well as historical photos of Kathmandu. The dark, narrow hallways displayed fascinating relics including a large ceremonial bench covered with magnificent engravings of snakes.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2453Patan – Golden Gate & Patan Museum, Durbar Square

From the museum we moved into the Patan Palace that consisted of three courtyards that were adorned with incredible carvings: Keshav Narayan Chok, Mul Chok and Sundari Chok.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2457

Patan – The Patan Palace

The royal bath in the Bhandarkhal Garden has recently been restored and dates back to the 12th century.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2459

Patan – The Patan Palace – Bhandarkhal Garden

I loved the sunken fountain in Sundari Chok.  Just look at the detail on each of the figurines! I’ve never seen a fountain quite like this before and was so impressed. The fountain was commissioned by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla in 1647 and each stone alcove is devoted to members of the Hindu pantheon.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2462

Patan – Patan Palace – Sundari Chok, Tusha Hiti

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2466

Patan – Hanuman Statue, Narsingha Statue

Of the three Durbar Squares in the Valley, Patan’s Durbar Square is considered the most harmonious and elegant. Patan was also much less hectic than Kathmandu, and I appreciated the peaceful vibes of the square, despite the rain!

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2467

Patan – Durbar Square

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2471

Bhaktapur – Ugrachandi statue

In the afternoon, we headed to Bhaktapur, the third of the medieval city-states in the Valley and a short drive from Patan.  Named the “City of Devotees” Bhaktapur is home to some of the finest architecture in Nepal, but was also heavily damaged by the earthquake.

 

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2473

Bhaktapur

One of the least damaged areas was Naga Poktari, a 17th century water tank that is framed by stone serpents.  An impressive serpent towers at the end of the tank, where water poured out of a dhara in the form of a goat being consumed by a makara.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2477

Bhaktapur – Naga Pokhari

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2478

Bhaktapur – Naga Pokhari

The Vatsala Durga Temple was severely damaged but King Bhupatindra Malla’s Column still stands tall in front of the temple.  The bronze statue of King Bhupatindra Malla sits peacefully at the very top, and is similar to statues in the Durbar Squares of Patan and Kathmandu.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2482

Bhaktapur – Vatsala Durga Temple, King Bhupatindra Malla’s Column

The Taleju Bell is also in front of the Vatsala Durga Temple and was erected in 1737 to mark the daily morning and evening prayers at the temple.  There was something beautiful about this large bell sitting defiantly over the pile of rubble.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2483

Bhaktapur – Taleju Bell

The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple was heavily supported by beams but the guardians of the temple: female and male attendants who led a child and a dog, horses, rhinos, human-faced lions and camels; still stood their guard.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2486

Bhaktapur – Siddhi Lakshmi Temple

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2488

Bhaktapur – Taba Sattal damage

Behind the Siddhi Lakshmi Temple, two large stone lions can be found.  Some say they are protecting the palace, while others claim they are watching over the site of a lost temple that disappeared in the earthquake of 1934.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2490

Bhaktapur – stone lions

We visited an art school where students with disabilities learn about art and sell their own work, such a wonderful idea!  Most impressive was the sand mandala that the students of the Dalai Lama made for the school.  The detail on the sand mandala was exquisite.   Traditionally after sand mandalas are completed they are swept away to symbolize “impermanence”.  Nothing is permanent – I couldn’t agree more.  Human nature tries to fight against this in regards to, for example, relationships.  We take them for granted and find it hard to let go when it is unrealistic to assume they will last forever. 

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2495

Bhaktapur – paint school. Mandala sand painting by Dalai Lama students.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2502

Bhaktapur

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2503

Bhaktapur – Potters’ Square

Dedicated to Bhairab, the incarnation of Shiva in his fearsome state, Bhairabnath Temple was built in the early 17th century and was rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2505

Bhaktapur – Bhairabnath Temple

Nyatapola Temple is the most impressive temple in Bhaktapur.  This perfectly proportioned five storey temple is the tallest building in all of Nepal and was built in 1702, surviving both the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes.  Legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu lined the stairs, which were also guarded by elephants, lions, griffons and two goddesses: Baghini and Singhini.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2509

Bhaktapur – Nyatapola Temple

Bhaktapur is renowned for its woodcarving, and we picked up a fearsome looking Shiva mask from this amazing mask store.  Picking one mask was a hard decision!

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2510

Bhaktapur – where we bought our mask

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2511

Bhaktapur – earthquake damage

A couple of goats were hanging out in front of the Dattatreya Temple, that is also guarded by the same two Malla wrestlers that are found at the Nyatapola Temple.  Speaking of woodcarving, this temple was supposedly built using the timber from a single tree!

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2514

Bhaktapur – Dattatreya Temple

One of my favourite door shots of the whole trip!  These bright sky blue doors may have seen better days, but still added a happy splash of colour to the otherwise brick and wood architectural landscape.

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2515

Bhaktapur “Blue Possibilities”

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2518

Bhaktapur – Dog Days

As evening came upon us, the sun finally came out and cast a magical glow over the bustling main street of Bhaktapur.  I loved our day trip to these fascinating city-states!

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2519

Bhaktapur

Back in Kathmandu, we ventured out into the winding streets of Thamel to find this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant.  As far as dive restaurants go, this one did not disappoint! We devoured the tasty noodles and had our first taste of the famous Himalayan dumpling: the momo.  A flavourful, juicy morsel wrapped in a soft, steamed wrapper.  We predicted many momos were going to be consumed on this trip!  Especially the buffalo momos…

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2521

Kathmandu – Yangling Tibetan Restaurant, Vegetarian Chow Mein

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2522

Kathmandu – Yangling Tibetan Restaurant, Buffalo Momos

20170523_Patan & Bhaktapur-2526

Kathmandu – Yangling Tibetan Restaurant, Spicy Chicken Momos

Have you ever tasted a momo?  Let me know what you thought of my second day in Nepal!  

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Prayer wheel on Swayambhunath Stupa

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks – Day 1: Kathmandu

My boyfriend and I were all set to travel to Nepal in 2015, but a week before departure the earthquake devastated this beautiful country, and we had to postpone.  Over a year later, we were rebooked for our Nepal adventure!  We had originally booked a tour with Annapurna Foothills Treks and Expedition and we were happy to hear that they would honour our deposit even after so much time had passed.  So come along on our much anticipated journey, as we travel Nepal in 2 weeks – Day 1: Kathmandu!  

After a fourteen hour layover in Hong Kong, we landed in Kathmandu and were greeted by our lovely guide at the airport.  We got our first taste of a third world country before we had even reached our van.  We were swarmed by a few locals who wanted to assist with our bags.  Tired, with our guard down, we assumed that they worked for our tour company.  They immediately asked for a tip and started to harass my boyfriend for more money once his wallet was out.  I sensed something was wrong and luckily he only gave away a twenty before I stepped in.  While I’ve travelled to poor countries before, Nepal still took me by surprise.  Even though I knew to a degree what to expect, reality was still shocking.  Despite this one incident though, once I became comfortable with my surroundings I became immersed in the beauty and peace of this country.

The next morning we met Bijay, our awesome guide for Kathmandu.  Kathmandu is unlike any city I have ever visited.  The narrow streets are packed with motorcycles, cars, carts, people and animals.  An intoxicating ever-present smell of incense lingers in the air, along with clouds of dust and exhaust while the constant beeping of car horns keeps you on your toes. Kathmandu was made the capital of Nepal after the invasion of the Kathmandu valley in 1768 by Prithvi Narayan Shah and the creation of the Shah dynasty.  For decades, the city’s infrastructure has been struggling to sustain itself.  Massive earthquakes destroyed much of the city in 1934 and 2015, and the city was flooded with tens of thousands Nepalis who were escaping political violence in the early 2000s.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks-Day-1-Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple"

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks-Day-1-Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”

We journeyed just outside the city to the hilltop Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath, the “monkey temple”.  Covered in holy monkeys with prayer flags strung from every corner, I felt a mystical energy in the air.  I took a deep breath of incense and gazed up at the bright white Stupa that sat towering in the centre.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple" - stupa platform with religious monuments and monkeys

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple” – stupa platform with religious monuments and monkeys

The site is impressive and intoxicating, peaceful yet chaotic with statues and detailed carvings lining every door.  We walked among the many shrines, ringing bells, temples and Nepali people chanting mantras.  How wonderful it must be to be able to visit a place like this in your daily life.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple" - Shantipura - sky symbol, peace

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple” – Shantipura – sky symbol, peace

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple" - Dipankara Buddha made from a single stone

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple” – Dipankara Buddha made from a single stone

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple" - Mahakala statue

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple” – Mahakala statue

We observed Nepali people praying and making offerings to statues like Mahakala (above).  We spun the prayer wheels and learned the Buddhist mantra “om mani pad me hum” which means, simply to invoke compassion.  I love that.  I think we could all use a reminder to be more compassionate to each other.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Prayer wheel on Swayambhunath Stupa

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. Prayer wheel on Swayambhunath Stupa

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Eastern stairway.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. Eastern stairway.

The view of Kathmandu from the Stupa was spectacular, an awesome way to start the day!

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". View of Kathmandu.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. View of Kathmandu.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Top of stupa.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu.
Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. Top of stupa.

The top of the Stupa is topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha, eyes that we would see all over Kathmandu.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Stupa with air symbol and prayer flags.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu.  Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. Stupa with air symbol and prayer flags.

I loved the prayer flags hanging like vines everywhere.  They became a comforting, recognizable symbol throughout our trip.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple". Holy monkey.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu.  Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”. Holy monkey.

I managed to snap one decent photo of a holy monkey.  Even though they were crawling everywhere, they are fast and like to jump along the roofs.  I really need to buy a longer lens…

 

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square. Bell beside ruins of Kasthmandap

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square. Bell beside ruins of Kasthmandap

We then headed out to the area hit hardest by the earthquake, Durbar Square.  Also designated as a World Heritage Site, Durbar Square is the heart of the old town and was where the city’s kings were once crowned.  The restoration process has been slow, and it was heartbreaking to see so many temples in heaps of ruins.  Photos at the sites displayed the original structures, some dating as far back as the 18th century or older.  The comparison made the damage even more devastating.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Gaddi Baithak palace

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Gaddi Baithak palace

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Trilokya Mohan Narayan Temple

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Trilokya Mohan Narayan Temple

When I saw the intricate wooden detailing on the temples that were still standing, my heart felt heavy at the thought of how much work lay ahead.  They say that rebuilding Durbar Square will take 5-7 years, which probably means closer to 8-10 years.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nautale - Basantapur Durbar

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nautale – Basantapur Durbar

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Bahal

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Bahal

The home of the “living goddess”, Kumari Bahal was particularly interesting.  A real girl lives in this impressive building and is only permitted to leave once a year for the Indra Jatra festival. Once she reaches puberty, she reverts back to being a mortal and a new goddess is carefully selected.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Chowk

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Chowk

The detail on the balcony and doors is stunning.  I loved learning about the symbolic meaning behind all the various elements, and how everything is connected.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Chowk

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Kumari Chowk

 

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Nasal Chowk in the Hauman Dhoka Palace was one of the few places we could enter. The most famous courtyard of the palace, Nasal Chowk is named after Nasadya, the God of dance.  The space was used for performances, rituals and coronations, as recently as 2001.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

As you can see the detailed carvings that adorn the chowk are absolutely incredible.  Snake imagery is common throughout, symbolizing rebirth, death and mortality in Hinduism.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Nasal Chowk (Nine storied palace, Kirtipur Tower, Basantapur Tower)

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Degutaleju Temple

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Degutaleju Temple

Degutaleju Temple is also part of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace.  Degutaleju is another manifestation of the goddess Taleju, who embodies the living goddess Kumari.  I remember our guide also telling us this was the “love” temple.  With Nepali people sleeping and begging among the crumbled ruins, I was struck by the tragic beauty in this scene.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu, Durbar Square, Kal Bhairar

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu, Durbar Square, Kala Bhairab

We were getting used to seeing statues covered in offerings and the Kala Bhairab monument in Durbar Square was no exception.  Bhairab is the deity Shiva in his terrified state and is the protector of temples and women.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Vishnu Narayan Temple

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Vishnu Narayan Temple

There is a sense of irony when you see how dedicated the local people are to their faith. They make daily offerings for prosperity and health, yet their country is impoverished and the temples that they depend on now lie in ruins.  Yet, despite their poverty, you feel a certain peace in this place, and overall Nepal has a low crime rate.  There’s something to be said about that.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Shiva-Parbati Temple

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Durbar Square, Shiva-Parbati Temple

The Shiva-Parvati Temple was built in the 1700s by Bahadur Shah, and if you look closely you can see white Shiva and his consort peering out from the upstairs window.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Boudhanath "The Great Boudha Stupa"

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Boudhnath “The Great Boudha Stupa”

After Durbar Square we headed out to Boudhnath, “The Great Boudha Stupa”, that is said to contain the relict of the past Buddha Kashyapa.  The stupa is enormous, one of the largest in Nepal and is perfectly proportioned and highly symbolic.  I loved the area around the stupa, a bustling market filled with monks, pilgrims, religious shops and monasteries.  I could have easily spent a whole day exploring.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buffalo momos.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buffalo momos

For lunch, we had our first taste of momos, and it was everything I dreamed.  Soft dumplings filled with juicy buffalo, dipped in a creamy, spiced sauce.  I vowed to eat as many momos as possible on this trip!

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buffalo momos

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buffalo momos

We also had a daal bhaat tarkari platter, another staple meal of Nepal.  Curried vegetables and meat, lentil soup, steamed greens and chapati (unleavened Indian bread) are dipped and poured over rice.  Fresh, flavourful with endless refills, I was loving the local cuisine.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Daal Bhat Tarkari

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Daal Bhaat Tarkari

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Daal Bhat Tarkari

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Daal Bhaat Tarkari

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Tasting our first momos.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Tasting our first momos.

Happiness is tasting your first momo!

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buddha wheel of enlightenment with deer disciples, on top of monastary around Boudhanath

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Buddha wheel of enlightenment with deer disciples, on top of monastary around Boudhnath

As the clouds rolled in we managed to visit one monastery in Boudhnath.  On the roof of the monastery among rows of glowing candles sat this beautiful wheel of enlightenment or “dharma wheel”.  The wheel is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and is used to symbolize Buddhism.

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Pashupatinath Temple

Travel Nepal In 2 Weeks- Day 1 Kathmandu. Pashupatinath Temple

We tried to visit the Pashupatinath Temple but unfortunately the rain poured down and the streets flooded.  Luckily we were coming back to Kathmandu at the end of our trip and planned to revisit the temple then.

After a long but awesome day, we returned to our lovely Hotel Shakti in the Thamel area. Clean, safe and cozy, the hotel is conveniently located near plenty of shops and restaurants.  The staff are friendly and helpful and a decent breakfast is included.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of our Nepal trip when we visit Patan and Bhaktapur!

Have you visited Nepal?  What did you think of Kathmandu? Do you love momos as much as me? Let me know if you enjoyed this post on how to travel Nepal in 2 weeks – Day 1: Kathmandu!