Monday 19 December: There's a National strike today so, with no buses or taxis and few motorbikes on the roads, it's a pleasant and quiet stroll an hour or so west to the Buddhist hilltop stupa in Swayambhu. Passing colourful chortons and Buddha statues along the way, it's a steep climb up to the summit. Troops of Monkeys entertain pilgrims along the route swinging and hanging from the railings just waiting for the opportunity to snatch food or water bottles from the unwary tourist. Above the glittering gold stupa hundreds of Steppe Eagles soar, circle and swoop adding to the impromptu entertainment. The view over Kathmandu is a polluted haze despite today's lack of traffic.
Back at street level there's a pleasant prayer-wheel lined walk to one of the largest mani wheels I've seen, hidden in it's own little colourfully-decorated temple.
Photos of Swayambhu.