At this white-washed stupa, beneath the watchful Buddha eyes I’m watching what I learn is one of the few places in the world outsiders can observe Tibetan Buddhists culture. A mixture of monks, tourists, an even western Buddhist students in robes slowly circumnavigate this giant stupa, clockwise. Incense burns, offerings are given. There is a palpable energy here, Buddhists believe it is the source of sacred energy and one of the most important pilgrimage sites. It’s easy get absorbed here, accidentally circling the stupa several times.
Breakfast. Because on the road it’s the little things that matter. My breakfast is muesli with yogurt, fruit, and fried eggs smothered in hot sauce. And coffee. I’ve had a dull headache since arriving, evidently, it was the lack of caffeine. I am cured. My dining mates, Celia and Nana are more pushing around their food, the nervous energy is palpable. I begin to feel anxious for them, and consider for a second making the plunge myself, but really I want to wait and see it first hand. After breakfast join the other non-jumping observers. We poise ourselves on the observation deck and watch the line of jumpers shuffle to their fate. I notice I’m not really breathing. Actually, I’m really nervous. I can’t explain this. After the first jump I feel relieved, but strangely, I feel a rush of a strong emotion I can’t quite pinpoint. It’s like watching a friend fulfill a dream, and you’re ecstatic for them. I want to do this. And better believe, next time I get the chance, I absolutely am (sorry mom!). The exuberant reactions from those who jumped, including several very nervous girls I imagine like myself, was more than enough to convince me to put this on my bucket list, and I can’t wait. Perhaps in the future, back here.
Nepal is quickly earning a place in my heart. The people, as rumored are absolutely lovely, the scenery is beyond picturesque. Of all the places I’ve been, I know I’ll be back here for sure. Perhaps a train from China into Tibet, then hike the base camp and on to Nepal and Bhutan.
But back to today. I decided to go on a hike. What they didn’t tell me is that by “hike” they mean “straight up the side of the damn mountain.” And when I say straight up I mean 1,0000 ft/km. Seriously? My amicable guide, basically skipping up the steps that lead through a village turns occasionally to smile widely and ask in Nepalese if I’m OK. I say yes, as I’m wheezing myself up at a snails pace. I’m sure he was greatly amused by this forengi in wicking tech gear huffing up what he probably considers a gentle stroll. But he was kind and let me rest when I needed. By the time I made it to the first summit (yes, first of many) I decided a two hour hike was just fine, no need for the full six, even if it does lead to a pretty sweet temple. I’m literally (ok, maybe not) dying here. But it was beautiful, climbing up the valley and watching the river extend to the horizon. And im quite glad i did it, this mini warm up for whats to come I’m just hoping I fare better on my hike next week.
I’m admittedly sad to leave this place, but there is a festival tomorrow, with 200 or so new arrivals (there are currently 20 of us) with a great amount of debauchery to be had, sounds like I’m leaving my mini-Eden at a great time. Only a day before I meet up with my trekking partners! Getting more and more excited!
I should have brought a headlamp. Or, I shouldn’t have shoved my headlamp so far into my day bag that there’s no possible way of retrieving it now. The Last Resort office is actually only two long blocks from my guesthouse. But it’s 5:30am and pitch black, apparently street lamps aren’t a thing in Nepal. I’m wondering if this is safe, after all, I can’t see anything and I’m in a major city before dawn. But my guesthouse assured me I would be fine and that taking a taxi was unnecessary, it was so close. And it was so close, only, without street signs or general indications of where I was two blocks could mean a variety of things. The map isn’t helpful. After stopping several times to ask anyone who might have any idea as to where I was going, I made it. Or I made it to a locked gate. Luckily there were two Danish girls also heading up to the resort waiting as well. After a few short minutes we were let in and soon on our way for the 3.5 hour drive towards the Tibet border. Continue reading
Picture above: my room/where I spent most of the day.
When touting solo travel a main reason given regarding its superiority is the complete freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. With no one else there to think of, you’re free to do exactly as you like. Today, I did just that. Jet lag set in a bit, and after a lazy morning of reading I met Margo for lunch. I had all these plans of what I would do. There is a lot to see in Kathmandu after all. I even found a yoga studio with evening classes I had intended on attending. But then, I didn’t. I was so tired an afternoon nap combined with more reading resulted in my entire evening. Now near eight pm, I’m ready for bed. Good thing too, since I head out at the awful hour of 5:45 am tomorrow to The Last Resort on the Tibetan border. Continue reading