On Saturday 19th I got on the earliest bus I could find to Dumre.I had 2 seats for the first hour of the journey; one for myself and one for my bag. The luxury didn’t last long though as I was woken up, my bag put in the middle of the aisle and an old lady placed in the seat next to me. All would have been fine had she not started to violently throw up only 20 minutes into the journey. It took another 2 1/2 hours to reach Dumre and she vomited the whole way. When I arrived in Dumre, I got straight on another bus to Bandipur. It was uphill the whole way, offering beautiful views of the valley and thankfully it only took about half an hour as I was far too hot. As soon as I stepped off the bus a man named Milan showed me to his guest house offering a very cheap room which I couldn’t resist as he promised an electric fan. Little did he know the power would be out the whole of my time in Bandipur! I spent the afternoon exploring and eating the most delicious Momos ever. “Bandipur was established as a funnelling point of trade by Newar traders from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu valley after it had been conquered in 1768 by Prithvi Narayan Shah. They took advantage of its malaria free location to develop it into an important stop along the India-Tibet trade route. With them they brought their cultural heritage and architecture which basically has remained unchanged to this day. Originally a simple Magar village in the early 19th. Century Bandipur developed into prosperous trading centre and a community with town-like features: substantial buildings, with their neoclassical façades and shuttered windows and streets paved with slabs of silverish slate. Bandipur had its heyday in the Rana times (1846-1951), when, as a measure of its power and prestige, it was granted special permission to have its own library (still existing). In the 1970s, trading fell into a steep decline with the construction of the Kathmandu – Pokhara highway. For technical reasons it was logically built in the Marsyangdi valley, leaving Bandipur isolated up on the mountain. In addition to that, as a result of its poor accessibility, Bandipur lost importance because the district headquarters of Tanahu were moved to Damauli. The tradesmen of Bandipur were forced to move down to Dumre and many even left for the Terai; Bandipur turned a semi-ghost town.” It is now a very quiet hilltop town which is again growing more popular with the increase in the tourism industry. It was so nice and peaceful and I spent the evening reading on the rooftop of the hotel and enjoying the view. I had dinner with some fellow travellers and the family running the guest house. It was a very tasty dahl baat followed by a huge glass of masala tea which was delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well as I was too hot and I kept being bitten by mosquitos.
After settling up, I got the first bus back down to Dumre and then got on the first bus heading to Manakamana. I went up and down the extremely expensive ($20) cable car and I was the only westerner in sight at the top. As I was heading back down though I saw loads of large tourist groups on their way up. The queues at the top to get to the temple were huge. People can wait up to 7 hours to sacrifice an animal in the hope that a wish of theirs will be granted by the goddess, Manakamana. Luckily, I was allowed to leave my huge backpack in the office but I still had to carry it up the hundreds of stairs back up to the main road to catch a bus heading into Kathmandu. It was the most cramped bus journey yet. I was sat right next to the driver not even on a proper seat and only when I fell asleep on his arm did the conductor bother to find me a real seat! When I eventually got to Kathmandu, I grabbed the nearest taxi to Elbrus Home to meet Bronwyn. The driver tried to rip me off but I didn’t let him – I’ve become quite the savvy traveller. The hostel had overbooked so I was put in a really nice hotel for the night. I had two double beds and an en suite bathroom – what luxury. We went out for dinner at a restaurant called OR2K where I tried babaganoush for the first time. It’s a dip made from aubergine and it’s delicious.