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Published: February 1st 2015
Nepal's most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the greatest Shiva sites, is located on the banks of the Bagmati River, a tributary of and as sacred as the Ganges.
Nepal was never on my non-existent travel list. I'm not sure which places/countries are actually on my list, but I don't remember ever thinking, "I would like to go to Nepal one day." But isn't that how some of your best trips begin, off your radar. My wonderful co-teacher is married to a Nepalese man and she always made the offer to anyone if they ever wanted to take a trip to Nepal, one could go with her. I'm not sure she expected anyone to take her up on the offer and I'm somewhat surprised that I did because though I had no idea what to expect, but Nepal knew what to give.
I was always more entranced with India, but also had heard from many friends and fellow travelers that they struggled in India. Nepal was the perfect fit. I must confess, I knew little about the country and what to expect, but I did know that when you visit family (or friend's family) in a foreign land, you are always in good hands.
I consider myself pretty well traveled, but maybe it was coming straight from Seoul, which looks like NYC's newer, shinier brother, landing in Nepal
was a like, yes... you are now in a developing country. I don't remember ever seeing that sight from an airplane, and like I said maybe it was just the contrast, but I sat up a little straighter and reminded myself that this is why I travel. To be surprised. To be proven wrong. To step outside my comfort zone.
I was flying alone and if I had any fears about landing in Nepal and getting to the Yak and Yeti alone, they were unfounded. What I love about Nepali people, and what I was reminded of time and time on this trip, is that they are cool that you are there, but you're not really a big deal. Yeah, I want to sell you some trinket, but I'm not going to cave to your crazy low counter offer. And what I loved most of all was the power of Namaste. If you are not familiar with the traditional closing of a yoga class, it goes a little something like this. The teacher, all prophetically, says "the blah blah in me sees the blah blah in you" and then we all say Namaste, maybe once or twice or 13
Mornings in Nepal
I must of taken over 100+ photos from Dip's roof. The clouds were always changing and the mountains playing hide and seek.
times. But the reality is that the word Namaste in Nepal is used a just a "hello". But it is the most revered Hello ever and I never got tired of saying it. I would be walking down the street or stop into a store and put my hands together and mumble a little namaste and EVERYTIME, the person would stop what they are doing and do the same. It was like I was making this little connections throughout the country. Thoughtful, sincere connections. I see you. Hello. And there was something about a culture or a group of people who stop and say hello, stop and say, "I see you." that seems so profound. I spend a lot of time trying to teach my students how to be humane, and I think, it probably just starts with saying "hello. In America, we pride ourselves at being "developed". But our fast-paced, iphone lives have made a sincere hello a rarity. In terms of sincerity we could learn a thing or two from our "developing" friends in Nepal.
Some of the hightlights from our first day out an about in Kathmandu.
• Visiting Swayambhunath, or "monkey temple". Looking over the Kathmandu valley and seeing a mixture of hindu and Buddhist worshipers was a great way to get introduced to the culture of Nepal.
• Boudhanath -one of the largest Buddhist stupas was a great escape from the busy streets of Kathmandu. Those eyes always had your back.
• Finally, Pashupatinath Temple, I could and probably should do a whole post on Nepal's most sacred and famous Hindu temple, but I will just sum it up with it was an assault on the senses, not in a negative way, but in the way that the heat, smells, crowds of people, sights were all so much. I remember on our first day as we get into our air-conditioned "Touristmobile" being disappointed that we weren't getting a chance to walk amongst the locals. But the end of our day, I was speed walking back to our quiet, calm and safe retreat. Not because I now longer wanted to experience Nepal, but that is was one of the strongest travel experiences I have had.
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