Originally, we planned was to try to make it out to the Monkey Temple the night after my first day teaching at school. However, I was incredibly dehydrated and exhausted and we did not make the trip. I was supposed to teach to three different classrooms over three class periods with a break in the middle. Unfortunately, I lost track of what was happening during the second class period and accidentally struggled through teaching these 7th graders for three straight class periods by mistake. It was exhausting and it was so humid that I was having trouble hearing toward the end. The kids were completely wiped out and I managed to wipe myself out as well waiting for the bus in the sun to get back.
The next day we had plenty of time to make our way out to the Monkey Temple. We caught a cab near the hospital and the route the driver took unexpectedly went around the ring road traffic by going on back roads and we made it to the Temple in half the time. The temple, well, it's a complex of temples and ancient structures, steps through jungle, pools for monkeys, trees and long strings of Nepali flags. There was one incredible loop of walkways and stairways where we passed by many very calm monkeys, up to the monastery. This loop felt like a walking through the world's largest treehouse overlooking the city. We expected there might be more monkeys than there were, and that they would be more aggressive with people but they were really quite docile. There were several baby monkeys with their mothers that were incredibly cute. I was also amazed to see the thousands of Nepali flags waving in the air above us giving us a calming shade.
We walked up to the main temple, a large golden domed temple at the top of a hill. From the top of the hill we could see an amazing view of Kathmandu and listen to the distant honks and beeps of car horns. I was struck by how similarity it sounded to an orchestra of tuning clarinets and saxophones. It was a very serene experience aside from the overly enthusiastic vendors. Most of the vendors were situated at the bottom of the steps but one of the vendors must have seen our western faces and saw money signs. When we reached the top of the steps at the temple this vendor followed us around trying to give us information on the temple and he seemed way too intrusive on our experience. We could tell he was trying charge us for a tour and was being too pushy about it.
When we came back down to the vendors tables, my fiance started looking for earrings. She found a pair she kind of liked and was just interested how much they were going for. This vendor responded 800np (just about $8). Then my fiance asked if she could spend less, more like 100np. The vendor said no and we decided to walk away. The more we walked away, the vendor kept calling out and lowering the price, 700np, 650np, that's the lowest she could go, no, 400np, 300np... The vendor seemed to stop negotiating with us as we walked down another series of steps as we were trying to go for more of a walk. I think if we just stuck around and didn't talk the vendor would have given up and handed the earrings to us for free.
We walked down a series of steps into a jungled area and counted our money when no one else was in sight. There were just one or two little monkeys keeping a watchful eye on us from the trees. We found we had 400np in smaller bills, excluding larger bills we did not want to take out, that we could use for shopping. We started walking back up toward the vendors and I asked "would you like to do some haggling?" and she sheepishly looked up at me "No..." then got excited, "Yay!" I told her that was great and that I would let her do all of the negotiating.
Back at the vendors tables, we ignored the woman trying to negotiate against herself with the earrings and my fiance looked for other kinds of gifts for family members and friends. We looked at various trinkets, jewelry and other interesting things. One man was very excited to try to sell us his intricate wooden elephant/buddha trinket. It looked very interesting but it appeared that it would certainly break while being transported back to the US and we would have a terrible time finding a place to put it in our home. We did end up finding a few things to buy and we ultimately went over our original budget when we found more than expected for gifts. My fiance did great job at lowering the price by a lot, much lower than the lowest price they said they would go to. In the end, we did achieve the goal of not spending the cab money to get back home.