We traveled back to Kathmandu yesterday and visited Bhaktapur; a medieval city that dates back to the 7th century. Afte the earthquake, much of the city was damaged, but the old squares are still very much filled with local life. We paid a local “student” to give us a tour, then enjoyed some amazing people watching from up above Taumadhi Tol square.
Today was our last day in Kathmandu. After venturing into Thamel for breakfast we took a cab ride across the city to visit Boudha, an enclave of Tibetan culture and religion in Nepal. The famous stupa with the Buddha eyes was badly damaged in the earthquake, but still, the surrounding area was interesting. We circled the stupa clockwise, following the monks and buddhists who performed this kora on a daily basis.
As we began our second time around the stupa, Michelle suggested we pop back into the monastery to see if anyone knew if the monk she had met years earlier still was there. She had brought a picture of him and the orhpanage he runs as a reference. When we walked into the prayer room she saw a monk and said “I think that is him.” I looked at the picture she had and agreed, and when he walked over he began laughing and smiling, remembering her. After my introduction to him, he invited us for tea at a local coffee shop, and welcomed us by placing an orange scarf around our necks. After chatting a bit, he informed us that the orphanage he had worked on 3 years earlier was destroyed by the earthquake but he had managed to open another one and asked if we would like to see it. We happily said yes.
When we arrived at his orphanage, we were greeted by Pinto, an adorable little Buddhist pug.
After a brief tour, we were invited to sit in a room that seemed to serve as both office and recreation room. We were given tea and a gift which he blessed for us. He asked if it was possible for students of his to study in the U.S. for college, and we told him we would look into the possibility of it. Eventually, when it was time to leave, he walked us out and gave us each a blessing. It is pretty amazing that he happened to be in the monastery at the moment that Michelle and I walked in. Michelle kept saying it was magic, and he insisted it was good kharma.
From the oprhanage, we took the scariest cab ride of our lives back to Swayambhu temple to sip tea and watch the pilgrim making their afternoon kora one last time.
As we drove back towards Thamel for our last evening in Nepal, a big beautiful rainbow emerged from the sky, an auspicious sign of the magic that is Nepal.
We head to Tibet tomorrow, and I am not sure what and when I will be able to post. Although Nepal will be a hard act to follow, I look forward to the adventures ahead.