Friday, June 20, 2014

Farewells and the Birth place of Buddha

One of the lovely things about travelling is the lovely people you meet.  

Some are truly inspirational in their way they have severed all their connection (except family) and have dedicated their lives to improving the future of the people they have adopted.  In the most cases, these have been women who have raised a family and now ‘making a difference‘ in a lesser country, I admire them greatly.

Others have run away from problems at home and have moved to another country but find that the problems have come along with them and they are not nice people.

Why am I writing this, well the other thing about travelling is that you have to say ‘good-bye’ and knowing that you may never see them again.

Unfortunately, Mayte and Jessica could only stay here for 3 months as they had to get back to work so they both left Mayte in April and Jessica early May.  It is always a sad time when one of the volunteers leave as the ladies take everyone to their hearts and they always try to get the volunteer to promise to come back.

I have promised that I will catch up with them again, Mayte when I travel to Spain next year and Jessica who lives in Nelson which is near where I would like to live if I settled in New Zealand when the airfares are cheap to NZ.

It was in Lumbini around the year 563 BC that one of history’s greatest and most revered figures, Siddhartha Gautama – better known as Buddha – was born. It’s not great surprise to learn the World Heritage – listed Lumbini as huge religious significance and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world.
Lumbini is about 285 km from Kathmandu but as is usual travelling in 3rd world countries it takes ages and this trip was no different, I left home at 0630 and arrived at the hotel in Lumbini at 1630, hot, tired and hungry.

It is possible to travel in an airconditioned bus but it is expensive $40 one way but a local bus is only $18 return. 

The trip took us through a lot of mountainous country and some very flat land as well, the only thing that was consistent was the heat.

I made a mistake when I was booking my hotel, I was as usual looking for the cheapest one in the $10 range and so booked a room for the 2 days.  

It was only on the night before I left that I looked at it again and found that the hotel was in fact on the Indian/Nepal border and 26 km away from where I wanted to be.  Bugger and no refund.

Lumbini Heritage Centre is a huge complex containing about 20 temples and various other wonderful sights.  I entered the complex by the main gate and walked about 10 minutes until I reached the first temple and then wandered through the complex for about 5 hours although I must admit that I sat and read and sat and just enjoyed the amazing feeling the whole place had.

Maya Devi Temple sits on the site of the birth of Buddha and is a large complex with a brick plinth laid by Emperor  Ashoka in the 3rd Century BC.   

The area is plastic and cigarette free zone and your bags are searched when you go through the gates.  The whole area is sacred and you have to leave your shoes at the gate and walk around in bare feet which is OK as the area is either lawn or paving but of course I was there at mid-day and the ground was burning and I am sure that I got 3rd degree burns on the soles of my feet.  It is funny thinking about it later; everyone was doing the 30 second dash over the paving onto the grass, not quite so serene at the time.

The sacred pond beside the temple is believed to be where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to the Buddha; I washed my hands and arms in the water but did not feel any tingling or anything and the spots on my hands haven’t disappeared.

They have incorporated a sanctuary in the ground for the sarus crane and of course there are other wild life there as well including a bird which looks a lot like a Jacana.  

It was lovely and a cool breeze blew across the water and you could sit and look at the birds and enjoy a bit of relief from the sun. 

I am not sure if you remember that I went on a 10 day Vipassana Meitation retreat when I was in Cambodia and greatly enjoyed it.  There is a centre here, fancy spending time here where Buddha was born.

Another nice thing was the scattering of Buddha’s teaching throughout the area and suddenly seeing one and then thinking about the words.

There are just so many temples, monasteries and statues that it would take ages to write and you would get bored reading. I will show you a few pictures. 

I was at the bus stop 0530 the next day for the trip back home and arrived home at 1600 and had a cold wash and was certainly glad to be home.
Life then settled back into the routine of teaching, catching a micro bus and teaching and then back home about 1730 and if there is power using the computer and if not then reading my Kindle.

We have had two volunteers since Jessica and Mayte left, both from USA, one left after two weeks and the current one who is here for 4 weeks has managed to have more time of in 2 weeks than I have had in 4 months.  Oh well.

I have decided that 5 months is perhaps a bit too long as my feet start itching after about 3 months no matter where I am.

I think the hot weather has been a bit of a shock, I am soaked and my hair is dripping wet when I finish 2 hours of teaching.  

They are going to install a fan in the classroom in Basandara, the students have all put in money to get it, I offered to help out but was told that I am already giving enough by just volunteering.

View from my bedroom window 
Since the first rains have started the whole Kathmandu Valley has been transformed, the ladies have been out in their gardens and now the corn is as high as they are and the pumpkin and bean runners are climbing the walls and escaping into the walkways.

Gaynor is picking all types of beans, cooking pumpkin runners and also picking tomatoes.  The fruit trees are now full of plums, lychees, peaches and mangoes.  

It is certainly nothing like I imagined