Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crazy Thamel (Street Life), Kathmandu Part 2 of 3

With its traffic-choked narrow street, Thamel is not pedestrian-friendly. What grates on my nerve is the constant honking by the vehicles that vie for space. However, the street life is both unexpected, colourful and interesting.

 I was both surprised and delighted to see bananas being sold everywhere in Nepal. Life saviour if you don't fancy Nepali food. They are locally grown.

I joined the locals for a cup of Nepali tea. A pity I didn't know the language.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Thamel, Kathmandu (Nepal) Part 1 of 3

There is probably no place in the world like Thamel, a backpacker area wall to wall with cafes, restaurants, travel agents and budget hotels.
I heard so much about the famous Kathmandu Guest House that I had to have a look. It looks posh with high room rates. A guest house only in name.
 I will never forget Thamel. Narrow dusty streets choked with trishaws, taxis, motorbikes and humanity. Tiger balm salesmen and fruit sellers  importuned me  to buy countless times a day.

 Travel agents in Thamel will take you to India, Buthan and Tibet. One Japanese lady I met on the bus told me she went to Buthan through one of the travel agencies here. Cheaper she said.

 Bargaining is a must in Thamel. Ladies swoon at the sight of this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal Part 2 of 2

 Surrounding the Boudhanath Stupa are Tibetan gompa and souvenir shops selling stuff like Tibetan prayer wheels and bowls and mandala. I felt as if I was in Tibet itself.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal Part 1 of 2

 The Boudhanath (Boudha) Stupa (a UNESCO Heritage Site) is one of the largest in the world. I was struck by its huge sperical dome. It's a must-see, only 20 mins away on a micro-bus from Kathmandu.
 I saw many Tibetans here. A number of them have their own buinesses in the stupa complex.

 A prayer wheel found in all Tibetan stupas. I noticed  a woman devoteee going round and round spinning the wheel for a long time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Part 3 of 3

Perched on a hilltop, Kopan Monastery commands a panoramic view of the town of Boudha below and the spectacular Himalayan mountain range. In Kathmandu the mountains to me were disappointingly very distant but here they loomed large. The long, long trudge up was worth it just for this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Part 2 of 3

Started by a few Tibetan lamas in the early 70s, the Kopan Monastery today is a world-renowned instituttion for the study of Buddhist philosophy and meditation. It offers residential courses, and students come from all over the world.

I took about an hour to tour the complex. I met some visitors from Singapore, In fact, a monk told me Singapore is one of their most committed financial supporters.

To my surprise, Kopan Monastery is well-landscaped and well-maintained.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Part 1 of 3

With its steady stream of visitors, it's easy to see why the Kopan Monastery in the Kathmandu valley is popular, Perched on a hilltop with the spectacular Himlayan mountain range as a backdrop, its location is ideal for quiet contemplation and study.

Unless you have your own transport arrangement, it's a steady one and the half
uphill trek from the town of Boudhanath. Frankly, I nearly gave up what with the rain and a muddy path to contend with.