The road to Lumbini was 'hectic' as my friend, Tracy Mc, from South Africa might well have said. Three accidents on one hill and all pretty nasty. Not hitting other cars, but overturned by the looks of it by not negotiating the road well. Given the way some Nepali's drive I'm surprised in some ways we didn't see more. Our driver wasn't too bad, but we certainly had a couple of moments!
The place we were staying in Lumbini was quite a way away from the actual World Heritage site, so after finding out it would take us over an hour to go by public transport and the fact that we were leaving in the morning made us decide on a taxi there.
Think about this for a second: there you are on the way to The Buddha's birthplace... what music do you think you might be listening to? Loud rock music? No? Well you'd be wrong in our case. Our young driver was a bit of a nut and insisted on driving in time to the music. Not quite as I'd imagined my journey to such a place! The sad bit was, he drove so fast I couldn't get a photo of all the water buffalo wallowing in the afternoon mud, or the oxen pulling a cart.
There was one funny moment when, in the garden of one of the temples, which was home to the story of Buddha (all in statues), MM in his best, though slightly limited Nepali, asked our driver (who'd come into the temple with us) what his name was. The guy looked at MM incredulously and replied, "Buddha"! We left it at that!
Lumbini itself was fascinating. It's made up of 3 square miles of park land and temples, most of which are still being built. We only had the afternoon, so we couldn't see as much as we'd have liked. Our favourites were the Germany temple, which was quite stunningly beautiful, and the Maya Devi temple itself, which houses the actual spot where The Buddha was born. Many of the stones in the latter were from the 3rd C.
|The Chinese Temple|
|The Germany Temple from the front|
|Gardens at the Germany Temple|
|Lovely view of the pond and walkway outside the Germany Temple|
|Me across the pond from the Maya Devi Temple|
|Ashoka's Pillar (249 BC) at the side of the Maya Devi Temple|
|The Eternal Peace Flame at Lumbini|
Because no cars are allowed on the site, it has an incredible sense of peace and quiet and it's certainly a place I'd love to visit again and spend a whole lot more time, but maybe when most of the buildings are completed.
Another hair-raising journey back to where we were staying and a quick out and about in the market place. Strangely, as before on these travels, we were the only Westerners and caused another stir. A little tired of being stared and pointed at we headed for an early meal and bed, but not before I managed to get a pic of a bull wandering down the main street. There's something rather special for me about having what we at home would call a potentially dangerous animal allowed to do it's own thing. It wasn't bothering anyone, wasn't tied up, just having a nosey around.
|A bull just having a bit of a nose around outside a shop in the main street|
We arrived at the Ganden Yiga Chozen centre in Pokhara, where we go to stay, meditate and get teaching whenever we possibly can, in the early afternoon. It's been 3 years since I was last there (Mountain Man was lucky enough to have a quick visit last year - though he was with clients on an Annapurna Trek, so didn't actually get to stay, just have a cup of tea and a catch up) and the changes in that time have been extreme.
Where the centre used to look out with a clear view of Lake Phewa, have no buildings by it's side, it's now got buildings on all 4 sides and the view is pretty much obscured. Nevertheless, once you enter the gates, it's like being in a different world. One where calm and peace descend.
The other big changes were that the chalet room we always get given has been painted inside in brilliant white, there is now bedding provided - so I needed have taken up a quarter of my suitcase space with my sleeping bag... ah well. And bliss of blisses... it also now has a fan!
But the one thing that doesn't change is that this is the home of the dear old Mother Bush, who I'm pleased to report, in spite of what appeared to be a severe short, back and sides, was looking healthy and well.
|A severely trimmed Mother Bush|
The next day, before our time in retreat started, we went on a quick walk through Pokhara and to meet up with Rabi, who was down there for a couple of days. It was a lovely day and Machapuchare (better known as Fishtail) could just be spotted high above Pokhara.
|Machapuchare in the distance|