Tuesday, January 22: After our time in Bhaktapur, we drive up winding mountain roads for about an hour until we reach Hotel View Point in Nagarkot (Hotel Viewpoint). As we drive up, I can see undulating hills indented with terraces. Many of the terraces are brown or bare because it’s winter, but some are covered in yellow-flowering mustard. I am enamored by these terraces, which are so all-encompassing that they cover nearly every slope in the valley.
Nagarkot is not really much of a village. The primary reason for its existence is the views it offers of the Himalayas, most notably the panorama of the Langtang Range. The standard activity is this: enjoying the sunset and the sunrise over the mountains.
According to Wikipedia, Langtang Lirung is the highest peak of the Langtang Himal, which is a subrange of the Nepalese Himalayas, southwest of the Eight-thousander Shisha Pangma. Though not high by the standards of major Himalayan peaks, Langtang Lirung is notable for its large vertical relief above local terrain. For example, it rises 5500m above the Trisuli Gandaki to the west in only 16 km. It has a large South Face which long resisted climbing attempts. The list of the world’s highest 100 mountains puts it at number 99 (Wikipedia: Langtang Lirung).
When I arrive at the hotel, since I didn’t eat lunch in Bhaktapur, I have a wonderful lunch of Nepalese Vegetarian food: basmati rice, black lentils, vegetable curry, spinach green curry, pickle, papad (some kind of mushroom curry?), salad and curd. I top this amazing lunch off with a banana lassi.
After lunch, since it’s still a while before sunset, I take a walk down into the village, where I see some interesting little shops and cafes.
I also see, coming out of a wooded area, several women with huge bundles of sticks on their backs. They are being propelled forward at high-speed down the mountain by their heavy burdens. I try to run to catch up and pass them, so I can take a picture of them from the front, but I can’t catch them, they are moving so fast. So all I get is a rear view of their bundles and their rapidly moving feet.
I pass one shop that sells those droop-bottom pantaloons, or whatever you call them, that all the Western hippies wear in Nepal. It always looks to me like they’re carrying a load in their britches.
After my walk, I treat myself to an Everest beer on the terrace and then I get cozy in my room for a while before dinner, where I continue reading What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. The book is so good now, I can hardly put it down; I read it every chance I get.
Finally, when I think it’s about time for the sun to go down, I climb to Hotel View Point’s highest tower, accompanied by about 25 Chinese tourists. I am the only non-Asian person in sight. All the Chinese are wrangling for the best view with their fancy cameras. We all take pictures and I position myself at different spots around the hotel balconies, of which there are many, and take various shots, some of which are posted here. It’s freezing cold!!
After the sun goes down, a buffet dinner is served in the chilly dining room. I eat small pieces of fried chicken, lukewarm spinach, cold steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, noodle soup in brass bowls (the only warm thing!), and some limp oily French fries. Believe me, it’s not even worth taking a picture of this meal.
By the time dinner is over, I’m so tired of listening to the Chinese, and I’m so cold, that I go to my room and burrow under as many blankets as I can pile on the bed from the cupboards in the room. Brrrrr. I plan to pass on sunrise in the morning because I already saw the amazing sunrise in Pokhara and one is just fine by me, thank you very much.