Bhaktapur is an amazing place. The whole town is a UNESCO listed heritage site.
The drive to Bhaktapur took around forty minutes in a beaten up taxi, much like all other taxis in Kathmandu.
800 Rupiah later we were dropped off on the western side of the remarkable city.
After paying the entry fee we were accosted by a persistent young man who wanted to guide us.
We politely told him ‘no thank you’ on more than a dozen occasions in the short stroll from the ticket booth to the entry gate.
Eventually I had had enough of his pulling on my shirt and persisting. I turned and told him to let go and that ‘no thank you’ means ‘no thank you’.
He retorted sarcastically that he was grateful for the linguistic lesson and that he would share this wisdom with his friends that ‘no thank you’ means ‘no thank you’.
I told him that if he did, and they understood, then our stay would be more enjoyable and we would be more receptive to offers of service made politely than being hounded.
While wandering the streets of Bhaktapur we witnessed an ingenious solution to an age old problem; the challenge of the one man heavy shovel.
The use of the rope and handle I’d never seen before. This team effort made the task look so smooth and easy.
Constant repairs, cleaning and upgrades to infrastructure seemed to be underway.
I was troubled by one instance I witnessed down a side street though.
A man was sweeping the street and clearing away any rubbish he came across. Bhaktapur was very clean in this manner, the image promoted here was one of a trash free area.
Imagine if the rest of Nepal could look this was. It certainly could if behavioral change was effected. I say this based on the cultural norm I had observed for trashto be thrown into the street.
After a while it would be gathered into piles and set on fire. No known organised waste disposal infrastructure existed beyond this.
I spoke with some locals who looked at me with confusion when I told them about the collection and responsible disposal of trash.
The man sweeping the street in Bhaktapur had just come to the end of the street when trash thrown from the window of a building fell down to where he had just cleaned.
He went back over this area and cleaned it again. He finished up at the other end of the small street and what I saw I could not fathom.
More trash was thrown from this and other windows down into the street.
This man would be here a week past his death cleaning this street, and the behavior of the residents would not have changed.
It is on this and many other observations that I say that the movement of the masses is what is needed to address this situation.
As we wandered the historic city I noticed some wells that were used for collecting water by locals were near by.
Buckets coming up were emptied into containers as they rushed back and forth.
One well I liked down into shocked me. It was a receptacle for trash. A thick layer of garbage floated on the water and was rotting away. The stench of garbage wafted up from the well and I shook my head as to the lack of logic in such a behaviour.
Still, life moved on in Bhaktapur. People were busy, and the sound of happiness filled the air. One sound you are unlikely to hear in Bhaktapur is that if vehicular traffic.
You’ll walk from one side of the city to the other and rarely hear a car or a motorbike.
People work hard here in Nepal. The access to mechanical aids is limited as they are often unaffordable. People either come up with an alternative and engineer a strategy, or they just carry a heavy load.
It shocked me that so many women did the heavy lifting while the men watched. Is this what abused equal opportunity will bring? An abandonment of chivalry and regression into veritable exploitation?
This was culturally how things were, but it didn’t sit well with me. I felt awkward seeing elderly women caring loads like this.
The sellers in the stalls of the markets were doing a steady trade. Their antiquated methods were the stuff of a Photographer’s and a Historian’s dreams.
For some, life today was about watching and soaking up the goings-on.
Bhaktapur gave me so many memories that will be with me for life. A maze of beautiful buildings with treasures around every corner.
On a later visit to Nepal I didn’t have enough time to head back there.
I thought of the many things I had seen and experienced there, and wondered what had become of much of the town after the 2015 earthquakes.