In the haven of Sattya Media Arts Collective on a hazy Saturday near the end of our stay. Our gang and young Nepalis shot footage yesterday around the busy Patan district of Kathmandu Valley. Now they are putting it all together, mixing sound and image, and adding titles. The theme of the interconnected pieces done by five small groups is waste management, a huge issue in this once pristine valley of many millions.
Nepal's infrastructure is limited and being in the 'most poor' country category, the rapid growth of the capital city and environs in recent decades has put unprecedented pessure on just about everything and everybody. Roads are being expanded, trash is routinely dumped in rivers, large brick or cement housing structures are built in the middle of former rice paddies and vegetable patches. With even a 200% duty on any car or motorcycle purchase, the inadequate roads are choked with vehicles. For our students. there is plenty to think about and discuss with our Nepali hosts.
It's our last weekend in country and students are in fine spirits. We've toured extensively in Kathmandu valley, home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We've trekked for 5-days in the Langtang region north of Kathmandu and reached a viewpoint at 12,600 feet. The view in the late morning light was spectacular and our breathing returned to nrmal on the long walk down. The final ascent was 2,300 feet and when we left the Taruche overlook, we descended about 5000 feet to our overnight stay at the Potala Guesthoiuse in Thuman. The challenge to our bodies has led to a bit of coughs and colds, but generally all are happy and well in the flow of the filmmaking projet underway.
Tonight, we will sleep at Valley Guesthouse near the great Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath. It's an ancient pilgrimahe site and the neighborhood is now home to many Tibetans whose family's escaped Chines oppression since the takeover of their country in 1959. Sunday will be our day to prepare for the long way home. It's traditional to walk around the stupa, spin the prayer wheels and meditate on life. It will be a calm day, and much needed in this most hectic of valleys.
Today we went on a hike to a temple. It was a bit surprising considering most of us did not know we were hiking. Liv slipped into the water at the farmlands, where we had to walk on high up narrow paths. We saw army guys in training while we were hiking. Cody and Kenny raced each other to the top. Needless to say, Kenny tired out and lost. We got to the top and looked around one of the oldest temples in Nepal. There were amazing carvings throughout the temple, and many shrines to Hindu gods. Afterwards, we shopped from the many vendors on the way back from the temple, and then had lunch. We rode a bus back to Bhaktapur. After resting for a little bit, we went to Durbar Square and Potter Square. We got to see how pots were made, from their forming to their firing. Durbar Square was was really amazing. It is the palace square, which is what Durbar means: "Palace." The buildings were very intricately detailed. There was a golden gate, with the statues of gods that prevented evil spirits from entering one of the many courtyards in the palace. This courtyard led to a temple within the palace, reserved only for Hindus. Unfortunately, we couldn't really pass as Hindus so we went to the royal bath, a very large stone bath with many levels, with a giant cobra rising from the center of the water.
We've made it... after an incredible day of travel - nearly 21 hours to be precise since meeting at PDX on Saturday morning. It is now Sunday evening. We are tired... the kids are loaded up with sugar (courtesy of Cody and Kenny!) and we're on our way to our fifth official meal of the day.
Up at 6 tomorrow and seven more hours to Kathmandu.
We're back in Kathmandu after two exciting days in Bhaktapur visiting historical sites. The temples were large, old, and quite beautiful. The people were almost always friendly and smiled when we gave them the polite Nepali greeting of a bow and the words "Namaste." Shopping in and around the public squares was an adventure, and we all worked on our bartering skills. Some of the vendors were more aggressive than others, including a certain silver-encrusted turtleshell salesman who followed Dylan and me for over 30 minutes. We finally escaped him by running up some temple stairs and jumping down the other side. Unfortunately, he found us a few minutes later. :) Persistant, eh? The group returned to the Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu this afternoon and everyone has been relaxing. We select roomates by drawing cards and by some freaky glitch, all the girls drew the same partners as last night!! Pretty soon we'll be briefed about the trek, which starts tomorrow, and then we'll go grab some last minute supplies, have dinner, pack, and go to bed. What a trip so far!
Comments by Margaret Fossand and Dylan Shields