We sighed upon leaving Lumbini. Despite it’s deep significance in Buddhist terms, it was a dusty, grey and dirty place and the hotel we stayed in was a soulless establishment. The whole place was submerged in fog every morning, until way after lunch – so all inall, it was a confusing and eerie place.
On our way to Chitwan National Park we took a few wrong turns and only realised our errors as we drove through a “Welcome to India” arch! Oops, we took a u- turn quicksmart and continued on our way to Chitwan.
One of the most significant experiences for us in Chitwan, with our hotel right on the river, surrounded by greenery – was the realisation of how much we take GREEN and CLEAN for granted, how much we just feel entitled to have all this clean nature around us!
But right after that comes the experience of WILD animals, which was pretty awesome! So, elephants in the street.
Rhinos bathing in the river at dusk.
We did an elephant ride into the park and saw rhinos from very close, that was pretty amazing! (No photos).
Crocs everywhere along the riverbank.
Cheeky monkeys in trees (no photos).
We did a wonderful guided walk through a village adjacent to the park and were privileged to see how people live. These communities were supported by various international Aid projects that provided toilets and biogas in the individual homes.
After 3 nights at Chitwan, we took forever to get back to Kathmandu… 8 hrs for a 100km journey. Here is why it took so long (hint: potholes, road repair, slow trucks, mountains, goats on roads…):
To be exact, we went through Kathmandu to Pharping, where we stayed for 2 nights in a Buddhist monastery.
We joined the monks in prayer / meditation.
We also had a private meditation lesson with a Tibetan senior monk. He taught in Tibetan and had an interpreter to translate into English. Again, I loved hovering in the kitchen to observe how our meals were prepared.
One afternoon we took a guided walk with a young monk into the local village and saw more holy sights. And more monks… on bikes, on mobile phones, playing soccer… monks everywhere!
On our last morning, the monks sat their 3 hour ethics exams in front of the temple. At sunrise. Right after morning prayer.
It was a short drive to Kathmandu, but as we walked the streets in Kathmandu, we felt that we had traversed the universe – the contrast between the two locations could not have been more dramatic!