We are still in Kathmandu – the latest news is that part of the road has been cleared and so we are hoping that tomorrow we will have a very slow journey, but actually arrive in Pokhara this time! It’s been a little frustrating moving backwards, but after catching up on some rest we decided to see one of the sights that we had been saving for after our trek, and we headed to the Buddhist site of Boudha.
We both preferred Boudhanath to the other main Stupa in Kathmandu, Swayambunath which was far too full of tourists. Here though there was a different atmostphere, and the Stupa was surrounded by monasteries, meaning that there was a constant clockwise flow of monks and nuns around the prayer wheels.
It was a beautiful day to go, the sun was strong but that meant that the white of the monument was even brighter, and we had a great time walking around and taking photos of the prayer flags in the wind. Sorry Amanda, I totally forgot to answer your question about them last week so I’ll try now. The prayer flags are coloured to symbolise the sky, wind, fire, earth and water, and have sutras (teachings or prayers) written on them. The idea is that as they blow in the wind, the compassion and good will that went into their making will spread around the world.
We wandered into one of the monasteries where there was an absolutely massive prayer wheel (the idea of which is similar to the prayer flag, but you turn them). Upstairs was a gompa where several monks were seated, chanting and playing trumpet-like instruments. It sounded amazing and we just stayed to watch and listen for a while. A little boy saw me taking photos from the upstairs balcony and signalled for me to take his photo, which I did and he seemed genuinely thrilled to have a look at the image on my camera afterwards, giving me a big thumbs up – so cute.
We decided to seek refuge from the sun for a little bit and went to have snacks and cold drinks in one of the cafés overlooking the Stupa. It was great to cool down, and we spent ages people watching and taking sneaky photos. There was a guy playing a piece of bamboo like a didgeridoo and a sign saying that he was walking around the world. Rob went over to donate and wish him luck – a pretty big task!
And now we are sat back at the hotel, drinking tea and waiting for photos to upload. We have almost finished packing for our trip tomorrow (planning on leaving a lot behind this time, just in case!). Of course the photos are struggling to upload so I don’t have many to put in the post now, but will try and add them later.
We’ll use an internet café to let you all know that we have arrived safely, either on Monday or Tuesday, but hopefully this will be the last proper post for a while, and we’ll be off in the Himalayas! I’ll try this again – see you in October!
Nic & Rob