Thursday, April 8/FLY TO KATHMANDU on Druk Air flight KB 400, departing Paro at 08:20 AM and arriving in Kathmandu at 09:05 AM. This Hindu kingdom has a rich cultural heritage, where both Hinduism and Buddhism have coexisted for centuries. Although Buddhism was introduced in 250 BCE, today the majority of the people practice Hinduism although the many Tibetan refugees settled there, still adhere to their Buddhist beliefs. Buddhism and Hinduism are strangely combined, and it’s not uncommon to see Hindu devotees paying homage at Buddhist shrines. This co-mingling adds to the richness of the culture.
Upon arrival, you can arrange a pre-paid taxi at the airport and get to your hotel. When you check-in, there will be a letter from your agent in Tibet. You will need that when somebody goes to the Chinese Embassy with passports, extra photos and whatever the current fee is. I think the Chinese Embassy is only open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but you want to make sure you get it set up in advance or it will mess up your plans. After you get your visa application taken care of, grab a taxi and go out to the Boudnath stupa, the heart center of the community where large numbers of Tibetans circumambulate and prostrate around this massive shrine. You can also walk on the stupa and enjoy a panoramic view of the area. Look for treasures in the many fine antique and statue shops and visit some of the active monasteries in the area. You might take a drive out to Bhaktapur, a restored medieval city and now a world heritage site, and have dinner downtown before returning to your hotel.
Friday, April 9/KATHMANDU VALLEY Today, you’ll have somebody from the hotel travel agency take your passports to the Chinese Consulate for Tibet visa. You can only get the Tibetan visa in Kathmandu before the flight. It is easy but you don’t want to wait in line when somebody will do it for you for a few bucks. Once that is handled, visit the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal, Pashupatinath, where you might see morning cremations along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. Then continue to old Kathmandu with its Temple of the Living Goddess, the 6 year old ‘goddess’ who is revered by both Hindu and Buddhist devotees. On a walking tour of old Kathmandu visit Durbar Square with its temples, palaces and erotic statues of the gods and Hanuman Dhoka, the historic place of the ancient kings. In the afternoon take in the ancient city of Patan, known for its classical Nepalese architecture and artwork.