The top of the long staircase leading to the Swayambunath temple complex, aka Monkey Temple.
Honestly, the main reason why I stopped to take this photo was that I was out of breath – and I was in pretty good shape when I went to Nepal. But the dust and pollution in the air made it hard for me to breathe at times and by the end of the week my nose and throat were sore with a burning sensation. I can only imagine what it’d be like to live a whole life breathing that air.
Nuisances like polluted and dusty air are far from big enough deals to ruin a perfect trip. I would love for Kathmandu to get cleaner air, but a part of the problem is that Kathmandu sits right in a valley with the world’s highest mountains on one side. The pollutants have nowhere to go, but stay in the valley and form a thick smog that obscures the nearby mountains from view as you will see in some of the photos I’m going to upload later on.
Aside from getting exhausted climbing the steep stairs the Swayambunath temple is one of the most worth while visits in Kathmandu. I spent hours at the top of the hill, looking out at what I saw of the urban sprawl and surrounding hills and mountains. I watched the monkeys running around, there were hundreds, if not thousands of the little creatures jumping, playing and scrambling for crumbs and peanuts left by other temple visitors.
I remember sitting on a bench in the sun, enjoying the quiet far above the crazy traffic of Kathmandu, and feeling accomplished. Like I had actually done something with my life. I was there to see something so completely different to what I was used to, and yet I didn’t feel alien.
That is the essence of travel: to find oneself to be the same as everyone else, just a little bit different.