Back to Civilization

Trip Start May 04, 2011
1
95
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Where I stayed
Varja

Flag of Nepal  ,
Friday, October 21, 2011

A two night stay in the ancient Newari town of Bhaktapur was the perfect buffer back into city life. Although many tour groups come for the day, it was a welcome break from busy Thamel and a great place to relax in comfort while nursing my cold.

Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 for its well preserved architecture, Bhaktapur provides an authentic representation of how life was in the 12th century. And through the years additional Pagoda style temples were built to homage various Hindu goddesses.

Still thoroughly exhausted both mentally and physically, I recognized that India was not in the cards without some major stress-free relaxation. Although disgustingly loud and polluted from all of the bars and traffic, Thamel can be fun for socializing. The streets are lined with shops, guest houses, bookstores, massage facilities, travel agencies and a huge variety of restaurants and cafes.

Here I had the pleasure of meeting Ganesh, a spiritual, funny, local Nepali and friend of Erin Weston. Ganesh did a superb job as guide, taking me to visit the most important sites surrounding Kathmandu including Boudhanath (home to at least 29 Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries & one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, built during the 5th century AD) and Swayanabath, aka Monkey Temple. I could've spent hours observing the hordes of red ass monkeys that reside here, even if all they do all day is sit around picking fleas off of one another. It is fascinating to watch the alpha males guarding their territory and the little ones sticking to their mother’s side.

Once I made the decision to extend my stay in Nepal I felt as if a huge burden had lifted and I was at the Universe’s disposal. Days were spent visiting OCCED/Nepal, the children’s home where Dot volunteers; even accompanying her and the kids for a day of bowling. While the nights consisted of listening to an afro-Cuban band as part of the Jazzmandu Festival and another night reconnecting with Margret and Roman, friends I made in China.

Couchsurf played its part when I was introduced to Japhy, a Nepali raised in the US working with an American education abroad program. Japhy not only offered me a comfortable place to crash for a few nights while I decompressed but he helped shed a local perspective on the Nepalese culture. He shared a fabulous story about his father; one of 15 children but the first to venture out of Nepal and pursue a college education. This led him to the Philippines where he met Japhy’s mom and together obtained a successful future. Unfortunately, this dream brought conflict among the family banning him from returning home. But luck would have it that having twins, Japhy and his sister, is considered good luck in the Brahmin caste. As a result the family welcomed them all back to Nepal. 

My last night in Thamel I befriended Niamh, a lovely Irish woman, also traveling solo. On the heels of studying Ayruvedic massage in India for the past 5 months she joins a couple hundred others for an annual, month long Buddhist retreat at the Kopan Monastery in Boudhanath. Observing her peaceful energy has inspired me to delve deeper into my spiritual journey. 
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