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Notes from a Wandering Daydreamer Life as it should be...

oh my buddah! (part 2)

NEPAL | Tuesday, 23 June 2009 | Views [653] | Comments [1]

Well then, now that i have you all wondering how my adventure ended up, I guess I should let you all know.

So there we wre, heading up and up the small stone step path in the faiding light. From the bottom of the valley Bima had pointed out our destination. A group of tall trees on the very farthest, highest peak of the hill. Among those trees was a 250 year old gumpa (buddhist temple/monestrary) that she had turned into a small orphanage for children studying to become monks.

The going was settp, but after a while we rounded a corner and came out of the trees. Everything opened up before us and I could see that we had now come up the steep side of the hill but we now had to go up and along the long ridge to the summit. Of course we had to go to the fathest point. So with the light continuing to fade quicker and a long way to go we set off, working our way along the small dirt track, winding through numerous cornfields and pasing small traditional houses, their occupants often found outside sitting around a fire. Later, just as the light was all but gone we reached a large brilliantly white stupa, with large prayer flags fluttering in the evening breeze. We paused, waiting for Bima to catch up, and I had a chance to truly appreciate the spectacular beauty and serenity of the location. As i stood holding a prayer flag pole I watch the last of the sun's light fade on the surrounding mountain peaks, their shapes now large dark shadows. Around the valey below were smattering of light, houses lit up by candle light and above the sky flashed as lightnight lit up the sky in the far distance. Knowing that there were no more than a handful of other foreigners as far as I could see was a wonderful sensation.
By now it was almost pitch dark and we were relying on the small cheap torches to get us to safety. I knew how sily the situation was, but what else could i do but press on? Thats what made it so great I guess. (sorry mum and dad!)

The path became steeper and the steps trickier. That was a track that would have been difficult in the daylight let alone by fading torchlight. Above me fireflys glittered as they flew about amongst the corn. After passing another stupa, we were getting close. Bima turns to me and tells me the story of the last time she was walking this track at night. She was coming back from her old village with her gura, when they encountered a tiger. She was so scared that she was ill for a week.
Great I think, just what i want to hear. Im finally going to discover that tigers actually do exist in nepal and its going to be on a small mountain track in the dark......

But luckily a few minutes later we arrive at the Gumpa without encountering a tiger. It is 9pm - 4 hours since we set out. I am so tired and exhausted that I have trouble believing where I am. A 250 year old Buddhist Gumpa perched on top of a peak in the foothills of the Himalays.
We are greeted by the Guru and let to a room above the main temply room. Below us the young bou llamas are chatting happily as they prepare for bed. through the crack in the floor i can see they laying abotut. Bima gives me a quick tour of the building. It had been abandoned and forgotten about for almost 30 years until Bima decided to cut the grass and clean it up, turning it into an orphanage for 20 young boys to study buddhism. Inside there were still two origional large staues of buddah, prayer wheels, silk thangkas on the walls and details murals all over the lower walls.

We were served chai and beaten rice (basically flattened rice) and also the famous butter tea that the monks drink. However it was heavily salted and I only had half a bottle of clean water left so I decided that only one sip was enough. Then we sat in the guru's room and by candlelight served rice and an amazing yet simple potato onion and chilli cury by two of the older boys who sat watching me eat with massive smiles on their faces.
When asked if I wanted more rice, i replied in what i hoped was my best nepali "pyugio" (enough) and they burst into laughter like it was the funnyest thing they had heard, and kept reperting pyugio.
Later as i lay down to sleep on my amazingly comfortable strip of carpet on the wodden floor next to the tibetean prayer books, i looked out the window to see bright stars and the shilouetes of prayer flags gently fluttering in the night breeze. I fell asleep to the sounds of monks giggling below me.
I slept like a baby.

I was woken in the morning by the sounds of movcement and chatter below me. It was 5:30. My body demanded more than 5 hours sleep, so i drifted off again, only to be woken by one of the boys fetching rice from my room. He looked at me, suprised i was still in bed - lazy westerner - after i left i checked my watch, it was only 6am. So by 6:30 I was feeling guilty enough to get up. I have a sore throat, bit of  a head cold and ive lost my voice. I head down to where the boys are gethered around a small fire in the garden. I must have scared them with my croaky namaste, they dont seem too sure of me. I sit in front of the gumpa and take in the amazing view of the valley with all it's terraced hillsides visable in the daylight. I soon realise all the boys are now sitting opposite me, watching me with big smiles on their faces. They all seem so much more calm, peaceful and mature for their age.
But soon they are called away to change into their robes for morning prayers and we head upstairs for more chai and beaten rice for breakfast. As I sip my chai to the sounds of chanting monks, I realise my headcold and sore throat are now feeling fine.
After breakfast we inpesct the building. one of the floors is badly damaged. that is why Bima has come, to make plans for rennovations. We walk around, measuring and taking photos while the young llamas go about their morning prayes and prostrations (spelling?)

Outside perople are continuosuly carrying rocks from the small quarry to where they are building a new orphanage next door. Most of the workers are young men, but there are also some younger boys, with large rocks on their back, and i also see an older lady - one rock on ther back, one on her head. Despite being so far away from anything, we are still reminded about the evils of the west -one of the workers wears a britney spears t-shirt.

Sadly after only 12 hours we have to leave if we are to make it back to kathmandu today. I feel that if i had been better prepared and had more time i would have loved to spend a few days here. We begin our treck down the mountain. Within 20 min my knees are shaking whenever we stop. Along the way we stop at a school Bima is building and take some photos. She also tells me of the community centre she is planning on building next.

It takes us only 90 min to reach the bottom of the hill. and we eat more beaten rice and chickpeas while waiting for the bus to come. I sit outside, watching the chickens and ducks forage up and down the dirt street. When the bus arrives, it is very full. I find a small spot to stand right up the front. within the first minute i am almost thrown out the open door. I forgot how rough the roads were. only a few inches from my ear a speake is blaring nepali songs.
Only 5 minutes down the road, we meet another bus. The road is barely wide enough for one, so we are forced to reverse all the way back to town to let it pass.. My arm is already killing me from holding on so tightly, luckily in 10min i manage to score a seat - right next to the windscreen. I hear a voice singing behind me. I turn around to see the bus monkey man (ticket seller/luggage man/passenger tout) hanging out the door. This is about as local as a local bus can get. The only thing missing are animals.
The driver looks about 18 and has obviously not outgrown the boy racer stage. Thankfully we arrive back in the larger village, but the bus driver wants to join the strike - not go to kathmandu. So we quickly change to another bus which will take the longer and thankfully smoother way back to kathmandu. The bus also seems to double as vegtable transport, and we arrive with over 20 crates of tomatoes, and sacks and sacks on beans and chillis on the roof.

Finally after 36 hours we arrive home. Beaten, bruised, sore and covered in dust and sweat. But there is no reprive. 25 kids demand attention straight away. Then when I go to have a shower i find that rooftop tank is empty - no water. There is also a blackout - so we can not pump it up to the tanks. So I have to resort to using the hand pump to fetch a bucket of water and have a splash bath to get rid of the sweat and dust.
I finish the night watching a nepali movie with the kids. a movie that has obviously spent the entire budget on sound effects.

I go to bed in a tried, beaten, but suprisingly happy mood.

Comments

1

Dude. what a day! what an adventure. thanks for the entertaining read - and be sure to keep away from Tigers... I hear not traversing the wilds at night helps.

  Em Crutchett Jun 23, 2009 6:39 PM

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