Okay, so it's not really Kathmandu, but it's in the Valley, and it's
like we've got a Kathmandu mini-series going on!

Dhulikhel was stunning. We stayed at a guest house along a dirt path,
past a Shiva temple covered in pink and red paint and marigolds. From
the rooftop, where we ate and sat in the sunshine, we could see the
Himalayas - every day they became clearer.

One day we walked the long way around (inadvertently, but 'scenic
route' would be true, not just a euphemism) to the Kali temple. In the
end we never found the temple itself, just the picnic spot nearby,
where a Maths teacher and his pupils were having a day off - there was
a gas stove and an enormous pot of curry. They were joined at one
point by some evangelical Christians, and it was like something out of
a Louis Theroux documentary, minus the gangly man politely questioning
his way through the process. I've never seen someone in the flesh
believing they were casting the devil out of a person. I don't think
the poor Nepali guy they were trying to help had either! We were
joined by the maths teacher, who was also interning at a tourist
agency, who enthused about Pokhara and the need to return to Nepal in
2011 - the 'year of tourism' - they are trying to get one million
visitors to Nepal with the tagline 'once is not enough for Nepal'.

The next day, we left Merilyn to recover from her bout of food
poisoning, looked after by the extremely friendly and helpful host,
and walked up the thousand steps on the way to Namobuddha. We met
Dorothy, an Australian woman in her later fifties, who had recently
cycled the Rockies and was fresh from a trek to the Annapurna Base
Camp. The walk was pleasant, and although the stupa at our destination
wasn't that interesting this was redeemed by the monastery which
towers in full resplendence above it. The one room inside that we saw
was one of the most extravagant we have seen. There was scaffolding
around the walls, paints crushed in pestles and mortars, and the
elaborate sacred paintings on the walls were half-finished. Depictions
of the Buddha were as yet undetailed, the heads of vanquished foes on
the garlands around protector deities' necks were uncoloured - that
was interesting. Dorothy decided to stay at the monastery, and Josh's
knee was a bit sore, so we bid farewell and went to find a taxi back.

When we returned, Merilyn was well and sat in the kitchen with our
host, hostess and a German man who had just come from India. The daal
bhat was tasty, made using mostly homegrown vegetables. Nepali people
always find it funny when we eat with our hand (right hand only - left
hand is for use only in the toilet). After any meal, we could follow
it up with freshly picked mandarins from the trees! The woman was
surprised, insisting that they weren't ripe yet, but they were really
sweet - I wonder what they taste like now they're 'really' ripe!

We headed back to Kathmandu to meet Sean, while Merilyn went on to
Bakhtapur to begin her mini-trek.