BHAKTAPUR, Nepal — Away from the popular tourist sites in Bhaktapur — and fully aware that a larger, less commoditized city lays beyond the cultural attractions — I appreciated the stillness of its back alleys and uncrowded sidewalks.
Still, the narrow streets — all free of cars — vibrate with something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Was it the soul of the ancient city itself that I sensed? Was it the (slightly) thin air at an elevation of 1,401 meters?
Maybe it was just my excitement at being (relatively) near the foothills of the Himalayas — or at least closest than I’d ever been — and the legendary mountain known as Sagarmāthā in Nepal, Chomolungma in Tibet and Mount Everest in the Western world. I wasn’t headed up the mountain by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt the awe of a child merely thinking about the highest point on Earth.