The Monkeys on Swayambhu Hill
Kathmandu Travel Blog› entry 20 of 41 › view all entries
Chris and I hiked west from town, following irrigation ditches through green fertile fields toward Swayambhu Hill. We lingered to watch a family work their land. An old man, his wife, and daughter weeded, seeded, and tamped a field with old, crude tools while two sons harvested leaf lettuce. One boy channeled narrow trenches of water with a hoe, irrigating one small plot then closing another. We could only marvel at how many generations labored there; they spoke no English. Another family reaped massive, carrot-shaped radishes, loading the white vegetables into two baskets. An elderly man hauled them, suspended from a length of wood balanced across his thin shoulders, toward the river for washing.
Monkeys gathered on the park-like grounds at the woodland base of Swayambhu Hill. Parents groomed the youngest while older siblings played, fought, and chased each other up and down the trees. Others rolled downhill, doing somersaults and cartwheels. One tyke, eight-inches-tall, repeatedly climbed three feet into a tree then leapt, wide-eyed, as far as he could, to land spread-eagle on green grass; rehearsing to eventually join others higher up, leaping tree to tree. As we began ascending the tall hill on rock steps, the monkeys ran to us; their darting, beady, greedy eyes looking for a hand-out. When we offered none, they squealed in protest and swiped at our heels as we continued the climb.