Stars begin to emerge as motorcycles paint streams of light in Taumadhi Square, Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of the three city-states, along with Lalitpur (or Patan) and Kathmandu, which together form the Kathmandu metropolitan area. Unlike Kathmandu, which has seen a recent building boom, Bhaktapur has kept more closely to its past. Rather than being torn down, ancient buildings are refurbished, sometimes haphazardly, and continue to be lived in. It's not uncommon for three or four generations of a family to be living together under one slanted roof, uniting the elderly with newborns - the past with the future.
Over the past few years, Kathmandu has undergone a period of rapid urbanization, however throughout this process it has remained curiously unique in its loyalty to its cultural history. The result is a city in which astrologers are consulted about future developments by retail investors, and concrete high-rise buildings haphazardly wind their way around tiny ancient shrines.