The Nepali people have life all figured out 

I have had some wonderful discussions with many local people here in Nepal, and each and every one I speak with, has me nodding my head, and saying, “Yes!”

The Nepali people have life all figured out. 

Even after the devastation that they have experienced less than a year ago, with the massive earthquake that has left so many people homeless, and having lost loved ones, they are nothing but happy, kindhearted, and genuinely grateful for everything they have.  

 

The streets and traffic are insane, with not a road rule seeming to be in existence, yet we have not seen one person get angry, impatient, or frustrated. Drivers remain calm, and are so patient with one another, that there doesn’t ever seem to be an issue. We spoke with one of the taxi drivers about this, and he explained that while people may be in a rush to get from here to there, so is everyone else, and there’s no point in getting angry at each other. From what we have seen on the roads, the Nepali people just want to get on with their day, but also make sure they are looking out for one another. 

The earthquakes in April and May have brought the Nepali people together in so many ways, and through so much sadness and loss, they’ve managed to pull together to help one another rebuild homes, and lend each other a helping hand in any way they can; whether it means financially supporting one another, providing food and blankets, or just being there for each other. From what I have seen and heard from the many stories told by locals, the people of Nepal were already a very kind and supportive people, but now, more than ever, the devastation they experienced as a nation, has just amplified their beautiful nature, and they seem to truly understand the meaning of humanity as a whole. 

I truly believe that every person could learn a thing or two from the beautiful people of Nepal. Many of us seem to forget and take for granted some of the small things in life that may seem minor to us, but are extremely important here. Things like acknowledging one another in the street, not judging another based on appearance, culture, beliefs or life choices. Things like having enough food every day, having clean drinking water, or access to petrol to get around. Having somewhere to sleep at night, or clothes to wear. Having someone you can talk to when you need support. Having your loved ones alive and healthy. Children having access to education, or at the very least, someone to care for them. 

Every single person I have met here; whether it be in conversation, or just a hello along the street, has been friendly, has a smile for me and a heartfelt “Namaste”, which is not only spoken, but is a genuine energy exchanged between two people. When I hand someone extra rupees because I feel as though they deserve more than what they’ve asked for selling me something, or for their wonderful service, they are genuinely grateful and it shows in their eyes. When I tell someone there’s no need to be ‘sorry’ or to treat me any differently because they somehow feel that I expect them to cater to my every need because I’m a tourist, they breathe a sigh of relief, and I can feel a knowing between us. A knowing that we understand one another as fellow human beings who are equal. 

Our tour guide Yagya, said something beautiful the first day we met him; “I am not perfect. Life is about learning. Some things I know more than you, some things you know more than me. We are here to learn from each other.” That, we are. If we could only all begin by adopting the simple, yet powerful practice of the Nepali people in sharing a genuine “Namaste” to one another, the world may be a different place. 

Namaste: “I honour the place in you where the universe resides. When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, there is only one of us.”

The word, “Namaste” contains a word “Nama” which means “negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another”. Meaning, when people greet each other with “Namaste” they accept their existence.

When two people greet each other by joining their ten fingers, a vibe is produced, and when a person closes his/her eyes, and bow their head before another person, an energy is developed from heart – to – head. And finally, exerted through his/her head. This energy links one person to another, and every time it is done, an honour is developed; respect is created. 

Namaste can elevate one’s consciousness, reminding us that all beings, all existence, is sacred. It also tends to draw an individual inward for a moment; inspiring reflection on deeper realities, and softens the interface between two people.  

 If we could reach a time and place where we all genuinely practice ‘Namaste’ to our fellow human beings, we could very well be much closer to achieving peace in the world. 

The Nepali people have life all figured out. 

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A day in Pokhara (with a trip to the hospital too!)

26 February 
We woke up this morning to the sound of the Buddhist monks drumming at the Peace Pagoda, and it was such a beautiful way to wake up! Outside our window I could see the still, almost glass like water of Phewa Lake, and the light of the sun slowly rising from behind the mountains. 

 After breakfast, the first place we visited was Devi’s Fall. Just a short stroll off the Main Street, Devi’s Fall is named after a woman who was swept away by the water and died while bathing in it. We threw some coins into the Wishing Pool, and then walked across the road to Gupteshwor Madahev Cave.  

As we made our way down the stairs to the cave entrance (yes, lots of stairs like everywhere else), we saw a young woman who was making her way down also, but was being held on either side by loved ones. She looked to be quite fearful and upset about something (whether she was scared of going into the dark, or something else, I’m not sure. I dare say it was due to much more than a fear of the dark) but her legs were weak, she was crying and moaning, and was clearly distressed about something. Most of the way down was dark and wet, and I really felt for this woman as she got closer to the temple that stood deep inside the cave. We were prohibited from taking photos, as this temple was so very sacred.  

 Once we made it to the temple, this young woman threw herself to her knees and began chanting and throwing rice upon herself and ringing the bells that surround it. This temple was in a cage-like structure and the guard that stood nearby opened it for her. She went inside and continued to moan and cry as she crawled around around the small temple. We wanted to give her privacy, but before we moved along, I found a piece of rose quartz I’d had in my bag, and asked the guard to please give it to her from me. I placed my hand on my heart and said, “it’s for love”. I don’t know whether he ended up passing it along to her; I hope he did, but I said a little prayer for her anyway as we continued along.

A few more levels of climbing down rocks and we were there inside the main part of Gupteshwor Madahev Cave. I could just feel how very sacred a place this was, and stood for a moment, watching the waterfall crash against the rocks in this dark, yet powerful cave. I tried to take many photos, but the lack of light inside meant that each photo was unclear or blurry (I did seem to capture a couple of orbs though).

After we climbed back up, we visited the Mountain Museum. In here there was an abundance of information, which Yagya helped us to understand. He seemed completely in his element as he gave us information about the mountains, the people and cultures, and many other things. We had originally taken the museum off our list of things to see, but Yagya encouraged us to see it, and I’m glad we did.  

 My hand was now getting a bit sore and swollen from last night’s fall, and we had already decided it would be best to have it checked out, so we made our way to the Namaste Hospital in Pokhara. Immediately upon entering I was seen by triage, and the whole thing was such a surreal experience. It felt like something out of an old movie, because everything was so laid back. The nurses gave me a shot of something in my bottom (a painkiller) and a tetanus injection (even though I’m up to date- better safe than sorry). The doctor who came around with his little girl in tow wanted blood tests and an X-ray done, and so I can waited for the results of those to come through. When the doctor mentioned that if the infection in my hand was too serious, I would need to be admitted, I prayed that this wouldn’t be the case. Visiting the emergency department for a couple of hours, and being admitted to s hospital in a foreign country with regular power outages, are two completely different scenarios. Luckily, the X-ray came back ok, and my blood count; while a little high which meant my hand was infected, I wouldn’t need to be admitted. I was told to be very careful, and was given a script for some strong antibiotics, and we were done. I was considering calling my travel insurance company, but when I saw how much the bill was (for services, medications, injections, X-rays), it was only a total of around 7000NRP (which is around $85AUD). My excess would have cost me more than the total bill, so I let it be. 

 By the time we got out of the hospital, it was after 2pm, and we were all very hungry. The taxi driver dropped us off out try front of a restaurant called Boomerang, and so we thought, what better place to eat than here? This restaurant was right on the edge of the lake, and it was very peaceful to sit and watch the boats and paragliders. After a delicious meal we took a paddleboat over to Bahari Temple, which is on an island on Phewa Lake. The sun was setting while we were there, so it was just gorgeous.  

 We got back to our room around 7pm and after a very quick bite to eat, we just needed to sit, so we spent a little time on our balcony, then headed to bed early, ready for a big drive ahead tomorrow to Nagarkot.

Road trip to Pokhara 

25 February 

Today we set off on our road trip to Pokhara. We met with our guide Yagya and driver Manu, and he gave us a brief history on Nepal. Our first stop was a quaint little place on the side of the highway balled Hamlet Restaurant, which was in Dhading; 54km out of Kathmandu. It wasn’t long before we began discussing the earthquakes from last year (April 25th and May 12th 2015). 10,000 people lost their lives, at least 200,000 are now homeless and 500,000 homes were lost, including our guide’s home. He showed us a photo of what used to be his home. The house was built by his grandfather just after the 1934 earthquake, and so it had been in his family for over eighty years. He hasn’t started rebuilding yet as he is waiting on the financial support that the government has promised (even though it’s not nearly enough, in my opinion). So, he now lives in Bhaktapur with his parents and his children. He has three children, with his eldest daughter who is fourteen years old having cerebral palsy. Yagya began to get very emotional, so we told him if it’s too much for him to talk about we won’t be offended if he asks us to stop. 

 Off we went again, and our next stop was Manakamana Temple. Manakamana means ‘wish fulfiller’ and is a Hindu goddess. We took a cable car up to the temple, which was extremely steep and had some incredible views of the Tishula River and surrounds. The first thing I noticed once we hopped off the cable car was the brilliant sight of colours everywhere! Little stalls were scattered everywhere with selections of ‘offerings’ that you could buy to place at the temple to be blessed. We had a selection of coconut, flowers, sweets, rice and red powdered turmeric. Once our offerings were blessed, Yagya showed us how to place the tikka on our forehead (mixture of turmeric and rice) and wrap the coloured band around our necks, and we sat down and shared the offerings (coconut and sweets). While the practices of the Hindu religion are fascinating, there is one aspect that I do not agree with, and upsets me, and that is the sacrificing of animals. We saw lots of goats and bulls tied up, ready to be sacrificed, and it just made me so sad.     We weren’t able to go right up to the temple, because there were just so many people there waiting in line, and we weren’t able to wait there all day. So, we sat down for some lunch and let Yagya order a traditional Nepali meal for us, of rice, spinach, lentil soup, a pappadum type thing, and yoghurt. It was delicious and so filling. And it was so cheap! Only around $9 AUD for all three of us (including drinks)!  

   Our next stop was a lovely old traditional Newari village called Bandipur. Bandipur is set high up in a hilltop (approximately 1000 metres high) and as soon as we got out of the car, we were greeted by a group of young boys who had just finished school. They were so cheeky, and were asking us for chocolate, and as soon as we got our cameras out, they were posing. So precious.   
  As were walking along, an elderly man asked us where we are from. As soon as we responded “Australia”, his eyes lit up and he walked with us. He told us how his son had gone to Australia fifteen years ago, at the age of 17, and that he was missing. He hadn’t heard from his son for eleven years. “I’m much sorrow”, he said, “his mother wants to die, she’s so sad”. I suggested that we take his son’s details, and maybe we could share information on Facebook or do whatever we could to help, and his whole demeanour changed. It was if we had just given him a glimmer of hope for the first time in a very long time. With the help of our guide translating, we explained that we couldn’t promise anything but that we would do what we could to share his information, and maybe, just maybe, someone may know something. After we took down all the details, I asked if I could give him a hug. Both Mum and I each gave him a hug, and he began to cry. It was the most heartbreaking moment, yet he was smiling through his tears, and if all we managed to do today was give an old man an ounce of hope, then that makes me very happy indeed.  

 We left Bandipur with lots to process emotionally, and made our way to our final destination for the next two nights- Pokhara. The accommodation we had booked was way up the top of a hill; but not just any hill; the same hill where the World Peace Pagoda stands (Shanti Stupa). Our hotel – Peace Dragon Hotel- is only a four minute walk from the Peace Pagoda, so you can just imagine the energy that is here. Not only that, but we have a panoramic view of the Himalayan Ranges and Phewa Lake. Once we climbed the million and one steps (a slight exaggeration) to our accommodation, we sat for a cold drink and let the beauty of our surroundings soak in for a moment. Simply magnificent. 

 We were greeted by the owner Juliette, who is a lovely English woman, and she told us all about the area and what to expect during our stay. We already knew that our stay here was going to be special. After we put our things in our room (which mind you, has a floor to ceiling window and balcony overlooking the lake), we headed downstairs to have some dinner. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know, Nepal has power outages for hours at a time every day and night, and at this particular time, the power was out, so all we had for light at our outdoor table in the main courtyard was a candle. I sat down for a few minutes, then decided to get up to try and take a photo of the view. Silly me, stepped backwards, forgetting that there was a small set of stairs just behind me, and I fell. Not only did I fall awkwardly (as I always do), but I somehow managed to grab onto a cactus plant on my way down (with quite large needles in it). At the time, I though I’d just broken a normal pot plant. 

I got up and sat at the table and was complaining to Mum about my foot being sore, then I looked down at my hand. I freaked out, because I could see a heap of very sharp, long objects protruding out of the back of my hand, and in the dark, they looked to me like pieces of rusted wire. I started to feel all clammy and faint, and so we rushed inside for help. I had to compose myself because I felt like I was going to pass out (again, typical me), and everyone was trying to help, but I didn’t want them to touch my hand yet because it was making me feel sick. After a few minutes, I was ok, and then our beautiful guide pulled out the needles for me; some of which he needed to dig in to get with a makeshift sterilised needle. It hurt like hell, but I just kept thinking, “I’ve had three babies without drugs, this is nothing”. It helped, anyway.   

  Afterward, we all sat down to finally have a meal, and we had a nice chat amongst each other for hours; about religion, our experiences, and life in general. Aside from the little mishap, it was an incredible day, and a lovely night spent with amazing people. 

For information about the man from Bandipur and his missing son, please find information below: 

Father’s name: Ramchandra Devkota

Son’s name: Rupchandra Devkota

From Chitwan, Nepal

Rupchandra went to Sydney, Australia in approximately 2000-2001, and was 17 years old at the time. He would currently be around 32 years old. He hasn’t made contact with his family for 11 years
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/nepal/kathmandu-to-pokhara/bandipur/introduction

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanti_Stupa,_Pokhara

Visit with the children 

24th February


This morning we began our day by having another lovely (large) breakfast at the Penguin Boutique Hotel. We said goodbye to the very kind staff and made our way to our new hotel, Kantipur Temple House. What a beautifully designed hotel it is! It feels like we are in another world, and as I write this, I am sitting out in the courtyard surrounded by beautiful wooden carvings and a luscious garden. I could stay here for a long time, but tomorrow, we head off to Pokhara, and we will be back here in four days time. 

After we settled into our new room, we went for a wander around Thamel, and of course, did some more shopping. We were stopped by a lovely man who asked if we were from Australia, and usually, I would have said yes briefly then walked on, however for some reason I stopped to have a chat. He introduced himself as “Um” (pronounced Om), and that just made me feel as though it was even more significant a meeting. We ended up going inside to sit down and talk more inside his shop, and had a lengthy discussion about life, spirituality, and what it means to be on this path we call life. He was not at all surprised to find out the work that I do, as he said he felt the energy from my heart as we were walking down the street, and that’s why he felt drawn to talk to me. Once again, I had met someone who held the same values as my own, and we could have talked for hours, and he taught me a Nepali term that sums up my feelings: “Shanti Shanti”, which means ‘peace peace’. We exchanged Facebook details and off we went up the street to the Garden of Dreams.  

The Garden of Dreams is situated on a very busy intersection in Thamel, and you wouldn’t imagine there being such a beautiful, peaceful place just inside the walls that surrounded it. Upon entering, I felt immediately relaxed, and the luscious gardens and sights of people laying on the grass reading books, or spending time with loved ones, was very welcoming.  

 We were then met by Rabi, who is the beautiful man who runs the Big Umbrella House in Kathmandu. He takes in children who are on the street (for various reasons- domestic violence, alcoholic parents etc) and he took us to the house where they’re living. The children were just arriving home from school, and they were so excited to meet us; one little boy grabbing my hand to take me on a tour of the house. After we had a look around, all of the children sat down to do their homework. It warmed my heart to see just how eager the children were to do their homework; some were drawing, some writing, and some reading. Their English was extremely good and we told them so (which of course, they were very proud of)!  

 These children are just so appreciative of small things; for example, I took out a scrapbook and started to draw, and they were all so excited to receive one sheet of paper each to draw on. “Look, Ma’m”, they were saying over and over again. It was lovely, and no matter how many times we said it was ok to call us by our first names, they still used the term ‘Ma’m’.

In a group of thirteen boys, there is also one girl staying there, and what a fiery, excitable little lady she was! She had found a bunch of rubber bands tied together and was bouncing the rubber bands on a book up and down, so I grabbed a book as well and asked her to throw it to me. We ended up playing makeshift ‘tennis’ with two books and a bunch of rubber bands for ages. One of the older boys wanted a turn and so we took it in turns to see how many times we could bounce the ‘ball’ on the book before dropping it. Such simple games, but at the same time, so very beneficial, and it reminded me of working in childcare again.  

 Just before we were due to go home, we gave the children a notebook each, some new pencils and pens, some drawing paper, and other items that Mum had brought over for them. There was also a book on Australia and Victoria, and they were fascinated by the different things they were seeing in these books. It was especially amusing to hear them try to pronounce ‘Uluru’. I wrote a little message in a couple of the children’s books, and it made me so happy to see them copying out and reading the words that I had written amongst one another. I do hope that these words stay with them for a long time. 

I wrote: “Always be yourself” 

Spiritual Nepal: Part Two

Today would have to have been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. 

We met with our guide and driver in the morning, and they told us the meanings of their names: Dawa, which means
Moon, and Nima, which means Sun. We should have known from that moment, that today was going to be a special day.   We made our way to Kopan Monastery and as we drove up the winding roads towards it, I could already feel the calm and peaceful energy that surrounded us, and as we arrived at the gates, we could hear the most amazing sound of the monks and nuns chanting their mantras. 

 We were visiting the monastery on a very significant day in the Tibetan calendar; ‘Marme Monlam’ and many monks and nuns had travelled from afar to be there. We certainly felt blessed to be allowed to visit on such an important occasion. 

We wandered around the monastery, in awe of the beauty that surrounded us, and took lots of photos of the magnificent views. It wasn’t long after we got there, that the young boys (students) came outside for lunch and it was so refreshing to watch them just being boys! Some were rolling down the grassy hills, some were playing on their iPhones (yes iPhones), and it was very cute to see a few older boys getting all embarrassed around a young female tourist. Two of the boys pushed the other one forward, as if to say “you talk to her!” Another sight that made me laugh was seeing some of the older boys smashing back cans of Red Bull like they were going out of fashion! All of the boys just seemed so happy and relaxed. They were polite and respectful, but also at the same time, typical boys! 

   
While the boys were on their break and everyone was roaming around the monastery, we were blessed to sit down and meet with one of the senior monks, Lop Sang. We chatted with him for quite a while, had lunch together, and discussed many, many things about Buddhism, rebirth, reincarnation, our purpose in life, spirituality, and humanity as a whole. We also shared stories of our own lives, beliefs and values, and I can’t even find the words to describe the feelings that I had as I realised that we shared many of the same beliefs. Here we were, chatting away to such a man of significance, sharing laughs, nodding to each other while we agreed on topics, all the while feeling such a wave of love and understanding washing over me from just being in his presence. Enlightening is not even enough of a word to describe it! I will share another post later on about our discussion, as it is just too much to fit in here, but all I can say right now is WOW.

After over an hour of discussion, Lop Sang took us for a walk inside the monastery, and showed us everything, explaining meanings behind it all along the way. It was quite overwhelming being inside, and I think I will let the photos I took explain this, as my words could not do it justice. He pointed out the image of the Dalai Lama, and started to explain who he was, and we just giggled and said, “Yes, we know who he is”. We made a donation and walked outside as the boys were about to begin a ceremony. Before this began however, Lop Sang walked away for a moment, and came back to us with a parting gift. He gave us each a piece of fruit from one of the trees in the monastery which he said were blessed, and he draped a Khata around each of our necks. The Khata symbolises purity and compassion, and the pure heart of the giver. He thanked us and said he was presenting us with these as his way of expressing gratitude to us for helping others, and to encourage us to continue our good work. I will be forever grateful for this moment, and it will remain ingrained in my memory for life. 

    
 It was then time for the boys to perform the ‘Ritual Fire Offering’. They were dressed in headgear in the shape of a bird (although it kind of looked like ancient Roman headgear to me- I was corrected very quickly lol), and carried their offering for hundreds of metres down the road in a procession type manner. The purpose of the ritual was to please the deities who help them to gain accomplishments on their path. It also removes any negative energy, faults or obstacles. Again, this was incredible to watch.  

 On the way home, our guide even thanked us for booking the tour today as he felt very emotional and grateful for having met Lop Sang, and he couldn’t take the smile off his face (much like us). 

A day I will definitely never forget

(We did get a photo with Lop Sang, however it is on my digital camera, and so I will need to wait until I get home to share it)


More information about today:

http://www.kopanmonastery.com/about-kopan/monastic-education

http://www.gomang.org/2010_packetfiles/firepuja.pdf

Spiritual Nepal: Part One

22nd February 

What a day! We are only at the end of day 3 of our trip and already I have found myself unable to accurately describe the feelings I have experienced from the incredible people and places we have seen. I have been on my own personal spiritual journey for some time now, but this place has already helped me understand way more than I ever could have imagined. 
This morning we woke to a delicious homemade breakfast made by the lovely owner of the Peacock Guest House, which was the perfect start to our day. We relaxed in the courtyard as we watched the owners work on their beautiful handmade wood work. We were move and refreshed after a great night’s sleep.

As soon as we stepped out onto the street there were a couple of locals waiting for us to buy some of their goods, because we had said “maybe tomorrow” to them the day before. They remembered to come back.. Oh yes, they remembered! We were more than happy to spend some money however as we know just how much it helps them rebuild their lives. 

We decided to take another walk around Bhaktapur, and as well as doing lots of shopping, we got to see some of the Newari culture firsthand. As we watched some of the locals placing flowers, food and water at one of their many shrines, we noticed what looked like blood, and at first, we thought perhaps it was powdered dye they were using (as they do use this at times-more about this later). However, as we walked further on, we saw two men carrying a dead goat, and on our way back, had another look at the shrine and saw that the goats head was placed there too. We later learned that part of the Hindu religion is animal sacrifice, and so sadly, this is what they had been doing. While it was upsetting to see, we also respected that this has been a part of their culture for a long time, and in particular, the locals in Bhaktapur are part of an ancient Newari settlement, and so their practices are very traditional. Cx  Thankfully, we were soon surprised to find a hidden Buddhist monastery down the road, which lightened our mood. This monastery was well hidden, and if we hadn’t of gone off wandering, we would never have even known it was there. The monk who was cleaning out the front welcomed us to take photos and have a look around, which was lovely. There we saw young Bunga outside in the courtyard eating their lunch, which was served to them by the women. It was fascinating to watch. It felt like we were in another era. 

 Later in the afternoon we met up with our guide Rina, who took us on our ‘Spiritual Nepal’ tour. She started off by telling us that she wanted us to see and feel what Nepal is really like, so to get to our first destination, we walked for around twenty minutes through Thamel; weaving through the motorbikes, cars and rickshaws; something that is not so easily done for us as tourists, not being used to just walking in front of traffic! We walked to where the buses were (and when I say ‘bus’, it is not your average bus that we are used to). Because of the fuel shortage in Nepal, buses are packed with passengers to the brim, with people hanging out the sides. We squeezed onto this little bus (that honestly, I would never dream of getting on at home for fear of it falling apart), and made our way to Boudhanath Stupa. 

Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world, and after the 2015 earthquake, it is slowly being repaired, however it is still an absolute wonder to see and experience. Rina told us that while 70% of the Nepali population is Hindu, the stupa is visited regularly by both the Hindu and Buddhist people. She also informed is that there is no conflict in regards to religion in Nepal, which was a beautiful thing to find out (if only the rest of the world could follow suit). Rina explained to us what people do when visiting here – it’s just so much to explain myself, so I have posted a link below if you’d like more information. 

 We certainly picked the perfect day to visit here; being a very special occasion for the Buddhist religion. Today was the Chotrul Duchen Festival, the full moon day that marks the end of the 15 Days of Miracles. This is one of the four Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions. Chotrul Duchen closely follows Losar, the Tibetan New Year. It takes place on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Tibetan calendar during the full moon, which is called Bumgyur Dawa. The first fifteen days of the year celebrate the fifteen days during which the historical Buddha Sakyamuni displayed miracle for his disciples so as to increase their devotions.

To commemorate the occasion, Tibetans make lamps, traditionally of yak butter, called butter lamps, in the shapes of flowers, trees, birds, and other auspicious symbols. All the lanterns are lit in celebration on the fifteenth day of the month. So, we each lit some butter lamps (odd numbers only), and then made our way around the stupa, spinning the hundreds of prayer wheels around the outside wall of the structure. Each prayer wheel is inscribed with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. 

We walked clockwise around the stupa (this is the way to do it), and people usually walk three times around it; once for the Gods and Goddesses, twice for the world, three times for yourself. Rina also explained to us, the meaning behind the prayer flags. Each colour represents an element; blue for sky, white for air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for the land. The prayers abs mantras are then carried by the wind to spread good will and compassion to all. 

Once we reached halfway around the stupa, we made our way into the monastery (having a spin of the massive prayer wheel out front first). We wandered around inside, in awe of all the intricate details of the Thanga painting and golden god and goddess shrines. Upstairs were many people singing hymns and there were literally thousands of butter lamps being burned. We were simply speechless as we watched silently.  

 We then were invited up to meet with a local monk, who gave us both an astrology reading, and performed a mantra for us (and my children). The mantra that he recited for us was the sacred mantra of BUDDHA AMITABHA which protects you from dangers and obstacles, and overcomes all hindrances to your success. The mantra enhances your compassionate and loving nature bringing incredible blessings. 

OM AMI DEWA HRIH

After a quick snack, we headed back onto another bus towards Pashupatinath Temple, which is one of the most sacred Hindu sites in Nepal. The temple is located on the Bagmati River. As we were walking towards it, we were lucky enough to meet a Holy Man (also known as Sadhu or Yogi), and we took a photo with him. We stopped and each bought an offering of marigold flowers to the Hindu Gods.  

 What we experienced next I cannot quite explain in words, however I will do my best. On one side of the river there were hundreds of people who had come to celebrate and worship the Gods. Music was being played and everyone was clapping along, singing and dancing. It was a beautiful feeling being there. However, directly opposite, were the cremations being held. This happens every single night. It was such a strange feeling and sight to see such complete opposite rituals occurring in the very same place. It invoked such an array of different emotions in me that I will never forget. 

The Bagmati River (Holy River) runs to the Ganges in India. It used to be only royalty cremated here but now they have no King, so all people are cremated here (all religions too). Just a few hours after death people are cremated. First, they are stripped naked (same as when came into the world) and placed in the river on bamboo to cleanse and remove any sins, then brought back onto the bank to be cremated. The process takes 4-5 hours. 

 We discussed this at length with Rani, and something I found interesting about this was that there are three types of people who are buried instead of being cremated: a holy man, a pregnant woman, and a stillborn baby, as they are closer to spirit. 

We spent quite some time here, and all the while, I felt I had to send out as much love, compassion, and positive energy as I possibly could to all who were there; in particular, those who were farewelling their loved ones. 

As you can imagine, I could go on forever about today’s experiences, and you can understand why today, I have very much grown on a spiritual level. 

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/nepal/kathmandu-boudhanath-stupa

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_flag

http://www.pashupatinathtemple.org/

Our first day in Nepal

As we flew towards Kathmandu, the amazing sight of the Himalayas welcomed us. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes as they reached as far as the eye could see from my seat on the plane. I knew right then and there that Nepal was absolutely going to be a once in a lifetime experience.  

 Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming rush of such a mixture of emotions after stepping out of the airport, however. Already I can see that Nepal is such a very beautiful country, but the devastation from last year’s earthquake is very apparent. The swarms of locals who have now been left homeless are everywhere you look, and it is especially heartbreaking to see children roaming around on their own; desperate for food and shelter. 

Our first nights accomodation was booked in the ancient Newar kingdom of Bhaktapur.Bhaktapur was actually the capital of Nepal during the great’Malla Kingdom’ in the 15th century, so you can just imagine the history and amazing sights to be seen here. You need to show your passport and pay an entry fee because the village is a heritage site. 

Our taxi driver (for some reason) dropped us off a good thirty minute walk away from our hotel (he told us it was two minutes). So here Mum and I are, walking through Bhaktapur with our suitcases and all our gear, in the heat, with locals following us, already wanting to offer their services as a tour guide or to sell us their wares. It was a little embarrassing, to say the least. 

After we checked in to our hotel- The Peacock Guest House (who, mind you is run by a beautiful couple who are very welcoming and hospitable), we decided to go for a wander. We didn’t quite realise how big Bhaktapur is, and we seriously could have walked for days on end around the village. Immediately upon stepping out into the street, we had locals wanting to sell us their handcrafted wares (woven pouches, crystals and jewellery, Nepalese tea). As we walked around it was so very tempting to just buy from every stall we came across, but we very quickly realised that we would then have everyone wanting to sell us their stuff if we went crazy on the first day shopping. Each and every stall (hundreds!) has amazingly beautiful wares!  

 It was amusing seeing the goats and chickens wandering around everywhere, and watching the children playing such simple games. On the opposite end if the scale though, seeing the children begging for money and food just broke my heart. Two little boys, no more than seven or eight years old started talking with us, and ended up walking around with us for about an hour, and I just wanted to cry and hug them. He was telling me how he comes by bus into Bhaktapur sometimes to sell books for food, and how he wanted us to buy a book from him today, because tomorrow was his day to go to school. As we walked on further, he was asking us to please buy him an ice cream, and even though I so desperately wanted to, we had already been told that this wasn’t the right thing to do.  

 As the sun went down in Bhaktapur, we were told that the power was due to go out very soon for around 6 hours, and so we decided we should go and get something to eat. We went to a restaurant on the corner near where we are staying and it was just a little bit of a culture shock. The power went out about thirty minutes after we arrived and so we had dinner by candlelight. We noticed that the napkins they had on the table were cut in half (obviously so they could save on money), which was something that made me feel sad again. We ordered some traditional Newari food, and while it actually tasted pretty good, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of how food was scattered out in the sun throughout the village and how little the locals had in regards to keeping things hygienic, and so it did put me off a little. 

Our first day here most definitely had me feeling some emotions that really tugged at my heart strings, and it has really opened my eyes to just how very lucky we have it- in so many ways. Not only am I blessed in how I am able to live my life, but I am so grateful that my children do not have to suffer in this way. I already felt so very blessed and grateful for the life I have been given, but now, even more so. It really puts everything in perspective.