Silk Road and trans-Himalayan – the end of an epic journey

We have come the end of our three month long journey starting from Qatar,  completing two major ancient trade routes the Silk Road where we started at Iran (Persia) and ended up in Western China, and the trans-Himalayan trade route continuing in China and heading south to India.

We have learnt a lot about the Persian empire and experienced the great extent of it along the Silk Road, with influences all the way in India. The trans-Himalayan route elevated us to the highest we had been with glimpses of Mount Everest.

Click on the markers below to find links to blog posts with further details of the amazing journey.


Pokhara, Nepal – Lake Phewa Tal

Pokhara, situated a little over two-hundred kilometres west of Kathmandu, is a hub for trekkers heading into the Himalayan mountain range. For us, it was a stop-over on the way to the Nepal-Indian border. Pokhara  was a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. We spent our time wandering the edges of Phewa (Fewa) Tal Lake, lounging around with icy-cold Coca Colas, and at sunset, even taking a boat out for a dip in the lake. It was all very relaxing.


View of Lake Phewa Tal
Sonya photographing some cows, a common occurrence
Canoes moored at Lake Phewa Tal
Canoes moored at Lake Phewa Tal
Water buffalo enjoying the cool waters of Lake Phewa Tal
Water buffalo enjoying the cool waters of Lake Phewa Tal
A lone Nepalese with canoe on Lake Phewa Tal
A crow perched on a water buffalo
Water buffalo in a brawl in a sandbank on Lake Phewa Tal
Travis with water buffalos in the background
A man with a fishing net on Lake Phewa Tal
Lake Phewa Tal at sunset
A religious deity on the banks of Lake Phewa Tal
Travis in canoe on Lake Phewa Tal
Sonya enjoying the relaxing boat ride while Travis does the hard work
A cool swim in Lake Phewa Tal


The day after things were back to normal, with initial plans to travel to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha, but when we arrived in Bhairawa, the transiting town to Lumbini some form of strikes were occurring making no transport available. We stayed the night in the tiny town, making the journey across the border to India and onto Varanasi the next day.


Bodhnath Stupa, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal – the largest stupa in Nepal

On our last full day in Kathmandu we went to the Indian Embassy to pay for and pick up our visas. On the walk back to Thamel we found a street vendor cooking chowmein for sixty rupees (seventy-five cents), it was the nicest noodles we had tasted during our whole trip.

Street-stall chowmein for sixty rupees, delicious

After this we headed to Bodhnath (or Boudha) to see the Bodhnath Stupa, one of the world’s largest. We took a tempo (shared rickshaw) from Thamel. The stupa looks like many we’d already seen, however it is its sheer size that makes it so remarkable.  It is said to have been built in the 7th century, during the time of Tibetan King Songsten Gampo and also contains a bone that belonged to the first Buddha himself (Siddharta). Around the base of the stupa are hundreds of prayer wheels, which we spun as we traversed in a clockwise direction.

Bodhnath Stupa, Nepals largest stupa
The Bodhnath Stupa surrounded by Buddhist prayer flags
The Bodhnath Stupa surrounded by Buddhist prayer flags
Monk sitting next to the stupa
Sonya turning an extremely large prayer wheel
Prayer flags running to the tip of Bodhnath Stupa
Travis and Sonya at the Bodhnath Stupa
Elephant statue figure in front of the Bodhnath Stupa
Sonya tying a white scarf to a smaller stupa in front of the Bodhnath Stupa


Patan, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Patan, or also known as Lalitpur, is the second largest town in Kathmandu Valley and also has a Durbar Square, full of temples and stupas. We did a day trip to Patan from Thamel and spent our time wandering around its Durbar Square and doing a walking tour of the old city. The walking tour gave us insight into the everyday lives of Patan residents, as it entwined us through courtyards, water tanks and wells.

One particular highlight was the Patan Museum which detailed the different Buddhist and Hindu gods and their characteristics. For example, Ganesh, the Hindu God of Prosperity (with the head of an elephant) is often depicted with his vehicle, a rat (or mouse) and because of his love of sweets, holds a ladoo ball (Indian sweet).

Patan Durbar SquareKrishna Mandir stone temple with shikhara-style spire, a Garuda kneels with folded arms on top of a column in frontOne of the pair of elephants at the front of the Vishwanath (Shiva) Temple
Sonya at the Vishwanath (Shiva) Temple with pair of elephants guarding the entranceIntricate stone carving of monkey figure on Vishwanath (Shiva) TempleTravis with the Vishwanath Temple stone carvings in the background
The man-bird Garuda kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the Krishna Mandir TempleThe man-bird Garuda with the similar looking King Yoganarendra Malla statue in the backgroundJagannarayan (Char Narayan) Temple reputed to be the oldest temple in Durbar Square
Sunken Manga Hiti with carved stone makara (mythological crocodiles) head waterspoutsWindows of the Keshav Narayan Chowk (the former residence of the Malla kings)Mul Chowk with two stone lions guard the entrance to the courtyard
Travis inspecting the museum exhibit on the lost-wax (thajya) method of castingSunken Manga Hiti with three carved stone makara (mythological crocodiles) head waterspoutsJagannarayan (Char Narayan) Temple with two large stone lions
Courtyard to Royal Palace entered through a magnificent gilded door topped by a golden torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and KumarStanding river goddesses Ganga on a tortoise statue at Mul ChowkMulti-armed carved wooden deity found on a temple
Degutalle Temple, with octagonal spireUnknown bust possibly related to restoration of Patan, Durbar SquareView of Durbar Square facing north
King Yoganarendra Malla sitting on lotus protected by the hood of a cobraView of Durbar Square facing north taken from a roof-top cafeSonya enjoying a cold drink and the view of Durbar Square
The transport of Ganesh, the rat, offering a ladoo ballStone temple in-between lush vegetationA pair of stone cobras carved on a temple
Small shrines and thunderbolt in an open courtyardTwo lions guarding the entrance to a large courtyard with stupas and shrinesOne of many small temple shrines in a courtyard
Metal snow lion at the entrance to a small Buddhist monasteryGold Buddha statue sitting in the courtyardThe metal ribbon on a temple from the roof to the ground helps the gods descend to earth
A stone statue heavily painted with orange, a main colour of Hindu religionSquare based triple story stone templeColourful string puppets for sale
Garuda of Narayan Mandir TempleStone lions guarding the entranceA small side alley leads to the Swotha Tole with stupa visible
Sonya spinning a prayer wheelStone lions guarding the entrance to the Golden TempleMonkeys holding out a jackfruit as an offering
Entrance to Golden Temple inner entrance is flanked by elephants with riderDeity stone shrineStupa in the courtyard of the Naga Bahal
Sonya with the Purnachandi Pond in the backgroundThe large stupa near Pim Bahal Pokhari pond at sunsetEntrance gate to historic Patan city


Patan Walking Tour


  1. Ganesh Shrine
  2. Sulima Square
  3. Pim Bahal Pokhari
  4. Chandeswari Temple
  5. Lokakirti Mahavihar
  6. Nyakachuka Courtyard
  7. Naga Bahal
  8. Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal)
  9. Manjushri Temple
  10. Megaliths
  11. Kumbeshwar Temple
  12. Uma Maheshwar Temple
  13. Rada Krishna Temple
  14. Krishna Mandir
  15. Narayan Mandir