After a hearty breakfast in Mum’s home, we struck out on a mission to find Ratna Park. Our trusty lonely planet assured us that we could pick up a mini van with the locals to Patan (Emphasis on the Mini part of van!). John’s navigational skills directed us to the sea of packed mini vans, after several asks we found one that was Patan bound. We jumped in only to be squashed by about 20 others. What did we expect for 22 rupees each.
After surviving the the mini van we walked through crowded market streets and found our way to the gates of Patan, which once was a fiercely independent city-state, is now almost a suburb of Kathmandu, separated only by the murky Bagmati River. The gates meant only one thing… A hefty charge for foreigners.
After purchasing the foreigner tickets, the guides were on the prowl,and the usual question was asked “Where are you from?” We now take it in turns to answer Scotland or Ireland-2 countries is far too confusing! It was Karen’s turn to answer, the response she got in return was not what she expected…”I studied at Ayr college for 2 years in Ayrshire, do you know it? ” Gob smacked Karen explained that Ayr was her home town.
Soon we had a new friend, Arun and the tight Scot couldn’t refuse his guide services after he talked about Dam park and Dumfries- pronounced Dum- frys. He was from Ayr after all. Arun was proud to show us his out of date and battered RBS bank card- no wonder he was smiling, he got his money out just in time…
In fairness Arun took us on a great tour of the Patan’s spectacular Durbar Square– arguably the finest collection of temples and palaces in the whole of Nepal. He explained lots about the different gods and why people come to feed the statues with sweets and other offerings. Essentially If you give you will receive a blessing. Another interesting fact is that you can tell which temples are the Shiva temples because they have a bull outside, as the bull is the vehicle of Shiva.
There was another statue with a metal bird on a cobra. Legend has it that as long as the bird remains the King’s descendants would remain in power.
After the tour we went exploring in the local shops for a small wedding present to take to Cambodia. We imagined a lovely wooden box with intricate carvings. Unfortunately the old bashed boxed with chipped gold plating a little craftsman was trying to flog as new for $23 was not going to cut it.
After that we ambled around and saw some of the four famous Stupas that are in Patan. At about 1.30pm luncheon was taken.
We decided not to fall for a tourist trap and went off the beaten track, near the UN area and found some really good Malaysian food. Yummy and a nice change from Momos.
Patan done now time to squash ourselves back into a mini van for the crazy city of Kathmandu.