A guided walk took me through the beautiful little town of Kirtipur. Here I got an insight into the daily lifes of some of the women, working at the loom, drying rice grains and rebuilding earthquake-damaged parts of the town. And though it is a cliché, I was nevertheless struck by how many smiles I encountered walking through the narrow streets.
“Is it ok, if I take a picture?” I ask, looking at the women in their beautifully coloured Saris, working at the loom. My questions gets answered with a lot of laughter and friendly smiles. Of course it is ok. It is also ok when I ask, if I could take a picture of the women drying rice grains in the streets. And of the women chatting in front of a little street shop. On my guided walk through Kirtipur I meet nothing but friendly faces. This might of course have to do with people being used to picture-taking tourists, Kirtipur being known as a tourist magnet because of its well preserved medieval Newari town center. It might also have to do with me not being on my own, but being accompanied by a guide from Socialtours, who introduces himself and me to the women as we walk by. Thanks to him I get to see what is happening in those hidden courtyards, he acts as a door-opener and a translator in one.
As we walk we pass a Buddhist temple, where female monks chant their morning puja. We pass houses that are severly damaged, and where men and women alike try to clear away the bricks and carry heavy loads of cement and water through the narrow alleys. We pass ricefields, where a lot of the work is still being done by manpower and without the aid of any machinery.
My guide tells me many interesting details about Nepals history and the daily life of Nepali villagers today. He also explains how the earthquake of 2015 has affected the lifes of many people in and around Kathmandu Valley and about how they deal with rebuilding being a slow process, as we walk through a refugee camp near Kirtipur. “The aid money will be distributed soon”, he says. And adds: “And if not, there is really not much we can do about it. So people just try to get along as it is.”
Socialtours is a Nepalese travel and trekking company. Their tailor made trips aim to promote and preserve Nepal’s rich cultural and ecological diversity. Tours include walks as the “Temples and Lakes” one around Kirtipur, but they also offer insider tours to temples, cooking classes and trekkings on the “Great Himalayan Trail”. The company tries to minimize tourisms impact on the environment and maximize the contribution of tourism to the local economy.