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Flying Wild

NEPAL | Thursday, 19 April 2007 | Views [731] | Comments [1]

I spent three nights in the Tibetan area of Kathmandu, Bodhnath, which was a lovely place- probably one of the only places in the world where Tibetan culture is uninhibited and so, therefore, one can see the real thing, mixed with modernity, of course. Bodhnath is structured around a huge stupa that has Buddha's all-seeing eyes on all four sides of it. Tibetans and other pilgrims make a nightly walk in worship around the stupa, some wearing saffron robes, some wearing traditional Tibetan dress, and others wearing modern clothes. Some people twirl prayer wheels as they walk, other chant. Some chat on their cell phones.

Although there are many shops and restaurants, I found Bodhnath to be a much more relaxing area than Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu, with few touts and not really anyone shouting "Namaste!You look here!" when you walk past their place. I spent most of my time there walking around the stupa with the pilgrims and reading a book called "The Good Heart" by the Dalai Lama, in which he comments on a selection from the Christian gospels! It was really quite interesting and a perfectly suited book to the environment I was in.

If you are heading here, instead of walking through the main entrance to the Stupa and the main Bodhnath area, keep walking 20 metres to the right. There is a small alleyway that leads to the Stupa, and if you go this way, you don't have to pay. If you go in the main way, it costs 100 rupees or so to buy an entrance ticket. I found the second entrance because I had my heavy pack on and I wasn't keen on walking around the Stupa until I was settled into a hotel. I looked for an alternative route and didn't have to go far. Then, once I was in, I saw a sign on the stupa that said it was free for all to enter- therefore, the ticket booth at the main gate is sort of a scam!

While I was in the mellow area of Bodhnath, I reached a decision that it was time that I did something that caused a little more adrenaline to flow through me, so I booked a plane to Pokhara- a city in Nepal that is famous for all the adventure activities based out of it. The plane ride in itself was an adventure- I flew with Buddha Air on a plane that seats less than 20 passengers. It was so small that to get to our seats, we had to crouch as if we were crawling through a cave. The feeling that I was riding in a coffin was not the best for my nerves, as I was already nervous since I was told that all domestic carriers in Nepal should be avoided... but I decided to take my chances on the plane since the guidebook says one is 30 times more likely to die in a bus crash in Nepal than in most other developing countries! At least the plane ride was only 20 minutes long. (How appropriate is it that one of the cafes in Pokhara was screening the movie, Alive, last night? Ummm...)

Pokhara is like Banff, only a bit grungier and at a higher altitude. I went to a restaurant on the lake front last night to have dinner and see a cultural show- and possibly it's just my imagination (likely), but it appears that the stars are much closer to the Earth here. It's almost as if you climbed the hills, you could pluck the stars right out of the sky.

Anyways, I've signed on to do a tandem paragliding ride tomorrow. Check back later to see how that goes.


Tags: Sightseeing



I find your travels and writing very entertaining while working in Northen Alberta (Ft. Mac). You are a very good writer. You dad told me about your travels......stay safe and have fun

  joanne Apr 24, 2007 7:37 AM

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