Once again it has been a little while, we’ve been up to a lot in the last few weeks making it a little hard to keep up with writing but we’re back in Kathmandu, back in the Om Tara guesthouse, and I am writing to you from the rooftop above the music, traffic and chatter of millions of people in the streets.
Since our last update we bid farewell to Jesse’s parents and stayed a few rainy and sad days in Kathmandu before we travelled by tourist bus to Sauraha, the town on the border of Chitwan National Park – the jungle of Nepal. We boarded the bus in the early morning and were soon joined by just two other tourists, volunteers working in Kathmandu who were having a weekend jaunt to Chitwan. In Chitwan we had already booked our accomodation so our 2 bus friends, Anna and Calvin followed us there. We were greeted by the effervescent host of Hotel Rhino Land, Raj, in the bus park. Raj smiled constantly and talked excitedly about the updates he was making to his hotel, including the extensive landscaping of the garden that was being undertaken during our stay.
‘This is Spanish Jordie plant,’ he said, indicating a rather large marijuana plant growing directly in front of our neighbour’s balcony, ‘everyday spanish jordie sitting here and he rolled, he throw seed here, now Spanish Jordie plant here’. ‘And this, Jordie friend Jeremy plant, where he throw the seed’, he continued indicating a thriving peach tree.
Raj had the charm and plaintive talkativeness of Prabaker from Shantaram.
‘You eating here at my guesthouse, no problem for you. Couple from England staying here, eating my burger 3 times. Very delicious, and no problem for you, no diarrrhea at all,’
Our stay at Hotel Rhino Land was awesome, and during that time we went on a jungle jeep safari and saw a few rhino, and many sloth bears, but sadly no tigers. Jesse also went on a jungle walk on foot, as he was more daring than me, and saw a lot of rhinos and sloth bears. For our last few days there, we left Hotel Rhino Land and indulged in a fancy $15-a-night hotel on the riverfront with a pool to cool off in on the hot jungle days.
As we had plenty of time before we needed to return to Kathmandu, we decided to take 2 local buses the comparatively short distance to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. A World Heritage Listed site, there is a beautiful garden surrounding the birthplace shrine and a monastery from every Buddhist country in the surrounding grounds.
When we were within 30 mins of arriving in Lumbini, Jesse turned to me and said ‘Cara, do you have the passports?’. A cold flush of dread rushed through me as I realised I didn’t! We had inadvertedly left them in the desk drawer of our hotel room for ‘safe keeping’. After just 2 nights in Lumbini, we left in the early morning and took 3 local buses back to Sauraha to retrieve our passports, which were thankfully found and kept safe by the hotel we stayed in.
By then we needed to head back to Kathmandu to prepare for the next stage in our adventure, a 10 day meditation retreat at Kopan Monastery.
Kopan monastery is a large centre and home to 300 monks, nestled on a hill above Boudhanath, the giant white stupa 30 mins out of Kathmandu. We arrived and were alotted our dormitory beds in separate areas of the grounds. It was a nice break to spend 10 days apart, and although we made sure to catch up and talk everyday, a lot of other participants didnt even know Jesse and I were together. It was a really powerful time of getting to know ourselves better as individuals, and I was reminded of my own quest in traveling the world, to discover what I have to give and what impression I want to make on the world. It helped me remember there’s no time to be angry, disappointed, clingy or petty in life, you have to live with joy, not just to be happy, but to be glad to be alive.
I think for both of us it also reinforced the importance of a spiritual path, something bigger than ourselves to work on and strive towards, and most importantly, be disciplined for!
Of course, we made a lot of friends as well, and the last few days have involved a few dinners and celebrations together and even a few drinks to wind down from the rigors of monastery life.
Of course there’s times I miss home, not that I want to be anywhere else, but that my thoughts wander to life in Sydney and Oakland and I think of all my loved ones there. I’m so grateful to be on this journey and for the love and support I feel from my family and friends.
Can’t wait to let you know what happens next, when I figure it out, I’ll let you know! Lotsa love xx