Saturday, April 4, 2009
Kathmandu Part 3
Here is a prayer wheel- as promised. This one is a big one (about 2.5 feet tall) and in the left of the picture, there is an inset in the wall with some cloth covering the top. You can see it, but there are a smaller prayer wheels. The Boudhanath stupa has many of these lining the wall along the outside base of the stupa. You are supposed to walk around it clockwise and you can spin the prayer wheels.
Hello! Yesterday I went to Boudanath, which is where the world's largest stupa is. It is really big and beautiful. It looks a lot like the Swayabunath stupa, only it's not on top of a hill, and the dome part is much larger. It's one of the holiest places in the world for Buddhists and there were many, many monks there. I joined them for a few laps around the stupa. A lot of the monks were elderly and it reminded me of mall walking because some of them were walking pretty fast, almost like they were trying to get exercise at the same time. They carried wooden beads with them and they were praying. It actually felt like a pretty holy place even to me, agnostic that I am. I think because everyone there was giving it so much respect. There were still restaurants and trinket shops around the stupa, but it didn't feel as touristy as some other places I've been to lately.
Today I visited the Royal Palace, which has just opened to the public as a museum about one month ago. The royal family was murdered there in 2001 and it was pretty scandalous. There are a lot of Nepali people who I've met who are really curious about the palace because it's been closed for so long. They don't let you take cameras in there so I don't have any photos, but it was a pretty impressive building. In the back of the palace, they had signs explaining where the royal family was shot or found dead, and this fascinated me the most. (I know, kind of sick but you have to admit that it's really interesting.)
The best part was that I met a group of four cousins in the line waiting to get into the palace, and they sort of adopted me and translated signs for me (even though the signs were also in English). At the end of the palace tour, we sat around in the grass and talked about stuff. They were really sweet and cute, especially because they were a family of teenagers hanging out together on a Saturday. They were just really genuine and kind and they made me realize that I am sort of in love with Nepalis. Some of the people I've met here have been so nice to me and just really gone out of their way to help me out, just because I'm a guest in their country. It seems like this is a characteristic ingrained in people and I hope that when people come to the US they find that we are that kind to strangers too.
Tomorrow I am leaving Nepal for Beijing, the last stop on my world tour. Joon is going to meet me in one week, and I'm so excited to see a familiar face and hear about home. We'll be there for a little over a week, then we head home (on separate flights, sadly). I'm pretty excited to see Beijing and try out their street food. Also, seeing the Great Wall of China has been a dream of mine for a long time.
Well, the next time you hear from me I'll be in another country... talk to you soon