This week we wish to those who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas! This will be Loren’s and my second Christmas spent away from home on our Journey…
We were finishing our second trek in Nepal at the beginning of this week. At breakfast in our hotel in Dhulikhel, a bird came to the nearby balcony and serenaded us for quite a while.
After breakfast we hiked to Namo Buddha for our last overnight of the trek, and stayed at the monastery called Thrangu Tashi Yangtse. This is much bigger than the other monastery where we had stayed in Lumbini. Where that one had just 3 adult and 3 youth monks, this one had 200 adult and 150 youth. It was built as a tribute to the “place of Great Compassion,” the site where Buddha, in a former life, had selflessly given his body to a starving tigress to feed her cubs.
The meditations at Namo Buddha were more elaborate in that they included a larger number of percussion instruments, and some parading of sacred objects during the prayers. The meals too by contrast were very simple, methodically dished out by the youth from huge containers – as we sat seat by seat, row by row, compared to the generous, more family style meals in Lumbini.
From Namo Buddha, our return drive included a stop in Sanga to see an enormous status to Lord Shiva, The Destroyer, one of the three most prominent Gods of Hinduism. We had originally intended to hike here and spend the night, but we opted to continue on back to Kathmandu by car from Namo Buddha instead, as we had taken an extra night earlier in the week, and, it would have been “hiking” strictly on paved city streets. We also stopped at Boudhanath Stupa in the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered the holiest Buddhist temple outside Tibet. With Dil, we enjoyed our lunch at a rooftop restaurant with great views of the stupa. I asked him if he would please write our names in Nepali script, which he seemed happy to do, writing first the characters, then adding the line at the end over each word.
Back in Kathmandu, we said goodbye to Dil, and settled back into our cheerful hotel room, which Loren has decorated with two strings of prayer flags. We have enjoyed two fun dinners out as well. One with the young woman who we had met in Nargakot, and who was preparing to leave for her trek to Everest Base Camp. The other with our friend who is staying at our same hotel. At her suggestion, today we are on our way overnight to Bhaktapur – about an hour from Kathmandu to see Durbar Square there.