Early afternoon, I joined a group of eight volunteers, set out to explore the historical Newar town of Bhaktapur and enjoy breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountain range from Nagarkot. Starting with a confused hunt for the right bus, we squeezed inside one, anticipating a very interesting journey.
Nepalese passengers smiled at us amused, but friendly. The pompoms hanging in front of the windscreen danced to the rhythm of the potholed streets and Nepalese music playing in the bus, and it felt like we were well on our way.
Bhaktapur was welcoming. The Durbar Square looked very impressive with monumental and artful buildings made from puce bricks.
The palace of 55 windows and the golden gate, are only two of the many fascinating things you can look out for here. Bhaktapur was calmer than Kathmandu, and we found out, it is not only famous for its artworks and pottery but also for its delicious yoghurt, Juju Dhau.
Morning began with the sound of hundreds of small & big bells ringing, as Hindu people worshipped deities early on.
After a relaxed walk through the busy streets of Bhaktapur and browsing around the market, it was time to take a bus to Nagarkot. Seems easy but Nepali buses require time and flexibility, for they don’t follow a proper timetable.
We waited for almost an hour inside a parked bus. It was raining heavily with frequent thunderous noises.
When the driver did not arrive, the passengers were asked to shift to the next vehicle. The second bus leaked from the roof at places and was crowded.
After another 45 minutes, is the bus got full but still no driver had shown up. Slight change of plans and we decided to take a cab. But it was quite an adventure getting to the front door from the last seat in the bus. The luggage? We pushed through the windows.
Then we drove through winding and narrow streets, passing farms and rice fields along the way. Laying on a height of 1950m, Nagarkot promised a spectacular view of the Himalayas.
But unfortunately, the rain and the thunderstorm meant, the mountains were hidden behind clouds and fog.
The alarm rang while it was still dark and the starry sky promised a clear day and a beautiful sunrise. The first rays of sunrise tapped the peaks of the mighty mountains and illuminated some clouds in the sky which shimmered in shades of gold and orange. Kathmandu valley lay hidden beneath a thick layer of cloud.
The ‘being above the clouds’ perhaps made us all acutely aware of our solitude. Nobody spoke and the moment carried on undisturbed.
The day began with a breathtaking sunrise followed by a very aromatic milk tea.
Afterwards, a hike to the Nagarkot tower opened another scenic view of the Himalayas.
Clouds had slowly begun to cover the mountains beneath. It was about time we returned to Kathmandu.
Story & Photography: Sonja Marie Michel
(Sonja Marie Michel is a German citizen, currently working as a photography intern, under the guidance of professional photographer Mr. Kumar Ale at NepalSutra™).