On the third day of our Nepal sojourn, our new friend San came to fetch us at our hotel, and we went in his car to travel to Bhaktapur. The journey normally takes less than an hour, but San drove at a leisurely pace to give us the opportunity to see the countryside, saying he would stop at a couple of places on the way back.

The town of Bhaktapur itself is an old imperial city full of interesting sights, and Durbar Square is situated just outside the town (Nepal has 3 Durbar Squares, the other two being in Kathmandu and Patan). And so Durbar Square is where we went first. The entrance fee was US$10 for all foreigners, except citizens of certain east Asian countries. I thought this was a little unfair, but this is the norm in most Asian countries I've been to, so didn't make a big deal out of it.

Walking around Durbar Square here, it seemed to me that there were far fewer people than the one in Kathmandu, but the buildings were just as elegant and charming. These architectural wonders are the showpieces of Nepal's culture and history, so it is not surprising that Bhaktapur was named as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

One funny incident took place during our tour of the square. A man approaced me offering his services as a guide, with a fee of course. I politely declined, pointing out to San and told him we had a local man to show us around. His reply was, "He (San) is just a driver, not an experienced guide like me!" Trying to hide my smile, I again said no. I'll say that this fellow was really persistent. When he finally realized that I wasn't going to hire him, he "requested" me to donate $10 for his childrens' school books. His request was rather overbearing in manner, so I just walked away to get rid of him.

After we finished looking around the many temples, palaces and gateways in the square, San suggested we take a stroll through the ancient town. As we sauntered along the narrow streets and alleys I was captivated by the sights and sounds of the place, and the lives of its residents. It was indeed an educational experience for me.

On our return to Kathmandu, we stopped at this large rectangular shaped pond called Siddha Pokhari which is believed to have been built in the 15th century. I think we were the only tourists there, but we did see two young kids, obviously siblings, who were feeding rice balls to the fish in the pond. To keep them company we also bought a bag of rice balls and fed the fish. Needless to say, the fish gobbled them up in no time!

Next, we stopped for lunch at this nice hotel in Dhulikhel called the Mirabel Resort Hotel. It was a buffet style set lunch of Nepalese cuisine which was quite good. The most attractive feature of this hotel is one can have a panoramic view of the Himalayas in the distance. Unfortunately, when we were there it was an overcast day, and we couldn't see the mountains very well.

Our last stop before reaching Kathmandu was at the statue of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. We had seen it from the car on our way to Bhaktapur, and had planned to make a short stop there on our way back. This statue is reputed to be the tallest one in the world standing at 143 feet or about 44 meters. Surprisingly, there weren't that many people in that place, even though it was supposed to be the high tourist season in October.

All in all, it was a very pleasant side trip in the Land of the Himalayas.