Wednesday 30 August 2006

Nepal: Patan and the copper pot

Mrs M’s day started badly as the egg chef did not coordinate egg construction with her toast fabrication. Oozing stress appropriate to a hairdryer failure, I sensed this was going to be a good day.

We headed to Patan, south of Kathmandu for our last day. The number of temples in and around the main square is quite staggering, as is the number of tables of tourist junk and ‘tour guides’. The museum was a pleasant sanctuary, modern and clean with a beautifully presented collection of Hindu and Buddhist artefacts. There is a fascinating display on how cast and hammered artworks are created.

Lunch was taken from one of the roof top restaurants overlooking the main square. From here it was possible to observe blue stuff in between the clouds for the first time in a week.

Post fodder, we trawled the back streets in search of a Nepali rice pot (as you do) from an area famed for its copper and brass. Each shopkeeper would weigh the chosen vessel on giant scales and then tap furiously on a calculator, showing us the results. For clarity, the number would often be written in chalk on the shop floor. Despite my scepticism, most places invented a similar price, so perhaps these were genuine local prices. After haggling over a few rupees, we stashed the copper vessel in the back of a taxi which clanked all the way back to the hotel. Or was it the car?

The hotel’s evening offering of mezzo and margaritas around the pool was accepted in lieu of dinner. I thought mezzo meant appetiser, but it must also be the Nepali word for garlic as it was used in abundance, and not for the first time I should add. Still, we consumed a large plate of meat, cheese, vegetable and dolly-sized Cornish pasties, and then ordered seconds. Mrs M rounded off the evening and the holiday with a steaming hot chocolate. Home tomorrow.

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