Friday, July 31, 2015

Kathmandu

31 July 2015
Kristen says...

So I went to Kathmandu in June. Sorry it took me a while to post about it...I've been very busy. I started a new job...

But that will have to wait for another blog post. :)

So, here's where I'll begin:
Cows in the road. Awesome!
 I went to Kathmandu to help support after the earthquake, so unfortunately a lot of what I saw was devastation...but also everyday people working hard to get back to life as normal...
I watched this guy chop on this tree for at least 10 minutes. There were guys pulling on ropes trying to pull the tree over, and cops diverting traffic on the road which was right next to the tree.

One of our waiters at the hotel was telling us about the day of the earthquake--he said that about five minutes before it hit, the electricity went out. With no Internet and no air conditioning, he said, most of his family and friends went outside to play soccer--meaning they were out of their homes at the time of the quake.

He said it was the gods' way of saving their lives.

A house, after the earthquake
A temple roof
I was in Kathmandu for just two weeks, and was working and/or sick for most of the time, but I did manage a day of sight-seeing...
I visited a couple of the temples in Kathmandu. This is outside the Bouddhanath Stupa
Prayer wheels and flags at the Bouddhanath Stupa
Bouddhanath Stupa
Bouddhanath Stupa -- the top of the temple is being repaired after the earthquake 
Bouddhanath Stupa
Details of the temple across the way from the Bouddhanath Stupa
 We also went to Durbar Square, one of Kathmandu's best known tourist sites--and now one of it's most devastated areas.
This building used to be home to Nepal's monarchy
Piles of rubble, tipping temple roof
A Hindu god
Durbar Square Danger Zone
Tents (and a satellite dish (in Durbar Square)
Collapsing European-built building at Durbar Square
If you've ever been to Durbar Square, this will look very different to you 
Outside the Living Goddess Kumari's house
Inside the Kumari's house. You're not allowed to take pictures of her (if you're lucky enough to see her)...we weren't that lucky, unfortunately.
Another view of Durbar Square 
The site of the Kasthamandap Temple -- legend says the temple was entirely made from the wood of just one tree
There were many people inside the temple on the day of the earthquake--most didn't make it out alive.
Ladies selling grain to feed the birds -- 50 cents for a bowl
The birds and a fallen statue

Large drums in Durbar Square

Blocked Street at Durbar Square

Most of the temples were officially closed, but we were lucky enough to be allowed to visit some of them, including the Swayambhunath Temple, better known to tourists as the Monkey Temple.
Damaged Buddha Eyes at Swayambhunath Temple
Monkey pool!
One of the most cleared areas at the top of the at the Swayambhunath Temple
Damaged home on top of the at Swayambhunath Temple
View of the tent towns from the top of the Temple 
Rubble blocking the stairs to the at Swayambhunath Temple
One of two monkeys we saw at the "Monkey Temple" -- apparently they vacated the temple pretty quickly after the quake 
Piles and piles of debris. This hill was really damaged.

Prayer wheels at the at Swayambhunath Temple
More prayer wheels
More piles of rubbish. On our way up the hill to the Stupa we passed countless people carrying bricks in reed baskets. Amazing.
We were invited to visit a shop at the Stupa, and went to the roof. I have no words.
The pretty turbine to the left was a gift from China. It's a windmill.
Unfortunately the windmill doesn't actually generate any electricity.
The blue block in the middle is now a roof--the house started out with four stories--it now has one.
The obvious power of the quakes was amazing.
 It was a really, really interesting trip. Overall I was saddened by the sheer amount of devastation I saw, but so, so inspired by the spirit I saw from the Nepali people. Nowhere did I see people sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves--everywhere there were people up, moving, selling, cleaning, carrying, doing what they needed to do to get their lives back to normal.

Amazing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Perth and Fremantle

5 July 2015
Kristen says...

I feel like I've been all over the world since the last time I posted, but really I've just been to Perth, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore...all in three week's time.

Let's start with Perth...

Chris and I celebrated our 9th(!) wedding anniversary in June, but he was being sent to Perth for work and was going to be gone for our anniversary...so we decided the best thing was for me to fly out there and join him instead of being apart for an anniversary.

So I did! :)

Perth is a realy, really nice city. I was especially struck by the interesting architecture:



Both old and new:

They even had a light show:

And a beautiful sunset over the river:

They also have wide open spaces, something Chris enjoyed, as usual...


 Chris had to work most of the time we were there together, but we had a lot of lunches together and one lovely Saturday. We spent the first part of the day in Perth City, where we really enjoyed these fountains (they kept moving! it was like water walls!)

We also visited McDonalds, not for food, but for ice cream...I'm not sure if this has hit the states yet, but Macca's (as it's commonly called here) is piloting computer-based ordering and made-to-order burgers. Weird.

The rest of our day was spent in Fremantle, a lovely seaside town just a short train ride away from Perth.

Highlights included:
Baked Potato bar! (Think Subway with potatoes)
Escape Hunt! We cracked the case with just 1 second to spare! (This was a lot like our ClueQuest game in London last summer...so much fun!)
Late lunch and a brewery tour at the Little Creatures Brewery
And a cider named after our dog! ;)
Chris even found a lovely park to nap in!
Fremantle also has some fun park areas with free table tennis
and a giant chess set. We had a fun time playing a friendly match against a couple locals!
 Of course, all good things must come to an end. On Sunday I hoped a plane to Kathmandu and Chris extended his stay in Perth for a few more working days...

 And year 10 of marriage has begun! :)

KF