Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 20:09 (UTC+0545)

Thomas and Bruno picked us up at Kathmandu airport in their Gypsy King truck, applying a thick red tika to each of our foreheads and handing us each a cup of local beer as a welcome drink. We carved our way through rush hour traffic, dust, and pedestrians to arrive at their three storey house in Patan. Immediately we went out for dinner in Patan Durbar Square: this has been previously reported.

What we couldn't believe was that this guided tourism would continue for several days straight! Delicious breakfast in western style cafes, tours of temples, pub quiz night, and shopping excursions for trekking equipment and souvenirs were all on the program.

We saw monkeys hanging out with folks who were giving them treats at the Swayambhunath Temple, as dogs growled at each other among the statues. (I got in for free by borrowing someone's "journalist pass".)

We watched the remains of the deceased being cremated and pushed into the river at Pashupathinath Temple, where sadhus looked on and the relatives of the dead had their heads shaved. (We were shown where to sneak in for free.) Ladies were doing their laundry just upriver.

Bhaktapur area temples were still recovering from the 2015 earthquake, but already there was a documentary being filmed, and the medieval-looking New Year chariot was ready for a giant tug-of-war at the weekend. (We scouted a new way to sneak past the toll booth and successfully got in for free.)

At Bouddhanath Stupa (we snuck in for free through the bazaar) we spun prayer wheels and then went for drinks at a rooftop bar facing the stupa, as Buddha's giant eyes stared at us. ("Did you really order another Long Island iced tea?")

And yet all too soon it was time for Bruno to leave town (to Dhaka to help poor Bangladeshis who live on floating mats of rotting cattle hides, or something like that) and for Karen, Silvija, Thomas, and myself to head off for several days of trekking, half way between Kathmandu and Mount Everest.