On Sunday, I woke up a bit under the weather. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, but stronger than that feeling was the desire for my favorite greasy, spicy, Boudha-style Chinese restaurant. Rain threatened– it has for much of the past two weeks–as my hunger overcame my laziness and I headed out. To find to the Yak Restaurant, you have to enter the Boudhanatha Stupa area from the main entrance, and walk exactly half-way around it before going down an alley. You’ll find it on your left, after souvenirs, piles of chilly peppers and hunks of butter. It doesn’t look like much, but with its strange hybrid of mostly-Chinese-with-a-little-Tibetan-food, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I always tell myself that with the plethora of good places to eat in Boudha, I should try something new. Then I find myself driving along the muddy, pot-holed roads for the sole purpose of eating exactly here.
In an attempt to avoid those said muddy holes, particularly bad now as we are in monsoon season, I decided to take a detour along some back toads that I know indirectly link my area to the Boudha area. I was unsuccessful and after driving in circles ended up back on the main road not that far at all from where I’d left it. So I went to Boudha the usual way, but with some sort of flooded pipe or drain making the road far worse than usual – and that’s saying a lot, believe me – I determined I’d find the shortcut on my way back. Famous last words.
On reaching Boudha I did what I always do, no matter how often I come: took a photo or two of the stupa. It’s one of my favorites places in Kathmandu and I never tire of photographing it, even when the skies are grey as they were on Sunday. I bought a few lovely cloth bags from a local shop here that I like (not that I don’t have enough bags) and carried on down the alley to the Yak Restaurant. I ordered pretty much the same thing I always do: spicy cooking buff, which is a bowl of spicy delicious broth, thin sliced buff, potatoes, greens, noodles, two kinds of mushroom and more in the bowl besides, eggplant in chilli sauce, a steamed Tibetan bun, and a beer. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but it’s delicious. Too much food, of course, but I take the leftovers home and eat spicy soup for a couple of days after each visit.
While I was waiting for my food, the rain started. From my seat by the entrance I enjoyed the downpour while staying dry and taking pictures through the open door.
When the rain let up, I set off on my scooter once again, determined not to take the main road, which I knew would be even worse after the downpour. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction, but boy did it let me down in this instance. Which is actually a good thing, or I’d never had the experience that I did.
After driving down several fascinating streets I’d never seen before, I began reading the place names on shops and realized that I was going in the complete wrong direction. But I was enjoying myself, and didn’t feel like turning around, so I kept on to see what I would see. Before long, I was in the vicinity of Gokarna, far beyond Boudha, while still somehow having bypassed the main road. I ended up driving up a beautiful green hill, past rice paddies and prayer flags, into an area called Jagadole, which I’d never heard of and could find almost no information about when I researched it after getting home. Passing a small crew engaged in a film shoot, mothers and children, and people out enjoying their weekend, I came to an amazing viewing point, looking out from the hill all across the Kathmandu Valley: I could see the stupa of course, but also as far as the airport in the distance. Fluttering prayer flags made a picturesque scene even more so, as they are wont to do, and I felt grateful for my mixed-up sense of direction that took me, on this Sunday, to a place I’d never been to before.