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Today, we were camera-toting tourists.

From Nathan: Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, is a religious place for both Buddhists and Hindus. The temple gets its name from the many red monkeys climbing all of the buildings and stupas. The monkeys sometimes take the food offerings.

From Nathan: Next, we saw Durbar Square, the oldest area of Kathmandu. One of the main buildings was once a palace for the kings of Nepal. It reminded me of the Forbidden City in Beijing, but not as well constructed and not as big.

From Nathan: Finally, we went to the biggest Buddhist stupa in Asia, the Boudhanath. We saw artists making mandalas. The designs were very small and complex. The artists only use brushes with a few hairs. It takes 10 years of training to become a master. They must have a lot of patience to take the time to put in the delicate decorations. One small painting can take a month to complete.

Tonight, we were treated to a Nepalese dinner, complete with traditional music and dancing by Outshine Adventure’s director, Gokul Sapkota.  Despite the unfortunate circumstances of our trip – Aidan’s illness, the abandoned trek, and no mountain sightings – Gokul and his team have been flexible and provided great service.  We highly recommend the company.

Travel TipTravel Tip 34:  When it comes to trekking, timing is everything.

Because of our overall trip itinerary, we had to come to Nepal in July.  You shouldn’t.  The best time to plan a trek is September or October.  Yes, it’s high season, and yes, you’ll pay a little more, but to come all the way to Nepal and not see the Himalayas because of monsoon rains is a shame.  And before committing to a trek, be sure that you’re both physically and mentally prepared.

Nepal is a culturally-rich destination with breathtaking scenery.  Once you get here, it’s very affordable.  Best of all, the people are eager to share their country and its mountains with you.