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Singing Bowls!

25th November 2011

Sneaking in for breakfast

around 9am Buddha and headed for Bouddha Temple for breakfast. Technically, you are meant to pay for parking and go through the front gate where tourists pay to enter. But Buddha knew a back route to a little Tibetan tea shop on the edge of the temple. It was definately a locals hang out. Unfortunately they were all out of salty Tibetan tea, awww schucks…. so had to have normal sweet Nepali tea to go along with our freshly baked Tibetan bread, almost like roti. It was a perfect start to the day.

Breakfast Tibetan Style

My Search for a Singing Bowl

After breakfast it was time to find the shop I had seen on my first day in Kathmandu when Buddha had brought me here the first time, it was time to find the bowl that would sing for me.

When I told people I was going to Nepal, everyone said “great, where are you going to trek?”. My reply was always “Trek? I am going to find my singing bowl.” This was often answered with “Singing what???”. Yes, since the first time I saw one of these bowls I have wanted one, but promised myself I would only get one when I visited Nepal. For those who aren’t sure what the heck I am talking about, here is some explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:

Singing bowls (also known as Tibetan Singing Bowls, rin gongs, Himalayan bowls or suzu gongs) are a type of bell, specifically classified as a standing bell. Rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, singing bowls sit with the bottom surface resting. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound characterized by a fundamental frequency (first harmonic) and usually two audible harmonic overtones (second and third harmonic). According to singing bowl researcher Joseph Feinstein, singing bowls were traditionally used in Asia and the tradition of making sound with bronze bowls could go back 3,000 or more years to the Bronze Age.

I had searched for one in almost every shop I had visited in Kathmandu and Pokara and had found none that would sing for me. The guy at this shop had been very helpful the first time and gave me excellent information. As I walked in he recognized me and was very happy to take his time and help me find the perfect bowl. Many bowls seem more intricate and decorated, but are also made by machine. He recommended one of the hand made older ones and I finally found her, and she sang beautifully. She even had Om Mani Padme Hum, the Buddhist chant, in graved on it in Sanscript. I barely had to touch her side with the wooden stick to make her sing.

I also bought a small one for my mom, I wish I could have bought more if I had had the space.

I was given the meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum and thought I would share it, exactly how it was written:
OM: I invoke the path and experience of universality so that…
MANI: the jeweline luminosity of my immortal mind,
PADME: be unjoled within the depths of the lotus centre of my awakeness consciousness….
HUM: and be wafted by the ecstasy of breaking through all bonds and horizons.

Got to love it when things are translated into English.

People Watching

I could sit and watch people at Boudha Temple all day long. Its fascinating to see them walk by and often makes you wonder what their story is. Here are a few of my favorites:

Old Friends

Sri Lankan monk on a pilgrimage, looking for donations

I would love to hear her story

One of my favorite photos

2 Ladies of Tibet, the striped apron is moved to the front after they are married

Kapan Gumba Monastery

After finding my singing bowl and walking around Boudha a few times we got back on the bike and headed into what could be called the “suburbs”. Beautiful big houses out this way. Buddha used to come camping out here when he was growing up, before the city spread this far. He wanted to take me to Kapan Gumba a Tibetan Monastery, apparently quite beautiful. Unfortunately it was closed for the month due to a workshop on Buddhism for foreigners. As we were walking to the gate I heard a South African accent. Turns out the woman was not only from SA but from Durban, my area. You never know who you are going to meet where. We felt the connection instantly and chatted for a while before the bells called her in to more class.

That afternoon, we went to four different cinemas in search of a movie Buddha wanted to watch, but they were either full or had already started. So in the end we just headed back to relax and to play with my singing bowl.

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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Meeting Bob!

20th November 2011

Namo Buddha

Meeting Buddha and Yogi for breakfast we chatted a bit about the changes Yogi had planned for Hotel Silver Home. He had been thinking of opening up the reception area, breaking down the wall between the dimly lit dining area and making it more of a social place for guests. This would be extra beneficial as the wifi only reaches the 1st 2 floors and would make it more comfortable for folks to chat and or work on the internet. He also hopes to redo the piping, curtains and much more, but it all comes at a cost.

Buddha had decided to take me out of Kathmandu to a Buddhist Monastery called Namo Buddha. It would involve a minimum 2hr drive on the motorbike, a breeze for him who is used to it, but I feared my rear end would never forgive me. Once we were escaped the cacophony of sound and traffic that enveloped the city we were out on the open road, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. After about an hour, when I could no longer feel anything below my waist, we took a tea break and stopped along side the road, buying some water from a street vendor. We seemed to be in the middle of no where. Then it was back on the bus and off we went.

The last 30 min were probably the most traumatic to my posterior, involving off roading in a way (luckily his bike is an off road variety so that helped), the road had been cobbled at one point or rather attempted, but it was in severe disrepair. I momentarily forgot my pain when 2 Buddhist monks, completely robed in orange, whizzed past us on their bike wearing designer sunglasses and listening to a radio… it obviously pays to be a monk. Such a surreal sight.

Finally rounding the last corner on a steep uphill climb we pulled into a very well maintained cobbled parking lot and I eased myself off the bike flinching as the sudden rush of blood reached my toes… Since I was barely able to stand upright we decided to get some tea first. We had the option of what looked like a well maintained restaurant or a little run down, dark, family run place. Buddha headed straight for the latter. Something I really appreciate about having him as my tour guide and friend, is that he takes me to the local places and not those well maintained gleaming ones for tourists. The tea was delicious. As we sat on the edge of the wall and drank we attracted the attention of a rather handsome fellow, a little down on his luck, but beautiful none the less. I named him BOB! Bob came and sat and looked at us with gorgeous deep brown sad eyes. Buddha jumped up and bought some cookies to give him. But Bob wasn’t interested in taking them from us, although you could tell he wanted to. Then Buddha had an idea, he took a bite of his and offered it again, Bob wolfed it down in a heartbeat. Apparently, these strays have learnt that food is occasionally poisoned and prefer to wait you taste it before taking anything. He continued with this even after eating 10 cookies, we always had to take a bite before offering it.


As we got to the end of the packet, Bob got spooked by a rather deranged and most likely homeless, Nepali lady, and seemed to inhale some of the crumbs causing him to sneeze and snort. the lady cackled away at him and Bob shrunk away to a corner. A local tour guide attempted to give him water by throwing it at him. But I took the packet, removed the last cookie and walked over to where he was hiding under a bench. I then offered the water in the packet and he lapped up almost a full bottle before he was satisfied, then ate the last cookie. He looked at me like an old faithful friend. My heart ached at wishing I could take him home.

Bob confused by deranged laughing lady

Traditional Instruments

Heading into the Monastery, it struck me how quiet and peaceful it was. No cars, no honking horns, no shouting, just peace and quiet, I even heard birds. This is what I imagined when I thought of Nepal. The Monastery is set on the side of a mountain, and has housing and school facilities for the monks and some other people who live there.

The monks had just started their prayer session and we were allowed to go up and enter the temple. I was in awe, the chanting and music was incredible, and the vibrations from the loud 4ft long trumpet like instruments went through you from head to tow. There was a group of school kids there as well, and they all stood in the doorway with me giggling and watching the monks as they chanted in unison. Buddha kept encouraging me to go in and walk through but I felt shy, eventually he walked with me and explained some of the paintings and tapestries that lined the wall. We made a full circle and I would have loved to sit and listen for a while, but I felt like I was intruding, and preferred to watch from the outside.

Unfortunately no photography was allowed. As we marveled at the artwork I noticed an older monk handing out crisp new bills to all the monks, donations from the people. You can understand why becoming a monk, with the promise of education, lodging and a stipend would seem so welcoming for young boys and girls. As we turned to leave, I noticed a young monkling taking a swig from a coca cola bottle… another oxymoron… Just seemed out of place and yet perfectly normal at the same time.

We spent the next hour or so exploring the grounds. Discovering prayer flags and beautiful carvings and even a Hindu shrine on top of the hill.

As we headed out of the monastery towards the little snack shack, Buddha called my name and pointed out my shadow on my right. Bob had been sitting waiting at the edge of the monastery for me to return and had fallen in step with me so stealthily, that I hadn’t even noticed. If only it was possible….

Suddenly we were accosted by 3 young Nepali girls all chattering away in Nepali, handing Buddha a camera and gathering round me with linked arms and heads on my shoulder. I was completely clueless as to what was going on, and still don’t really know what it was all about. It appeared as if the girls wanted a pic with me to show their teacher that they knew a foreigner, and I fit the bill.

Once the photo shoot was over they waved us goodbye and skipped off into the sunset…
After taking a few minutes to comprehend the events that just zoomed by we went to get some grub. Our choices were dal bat, dal bat or …. dal bat. It took a moment to decide but we opted for the dal bat. Sitting in the dingy little 2 table cafe we chatted with the family who were super sweet. Bob seemed to sit at attention outside, until I went to check on him and then he seemed to relax and lay outside in the sun waiting for us, until some other dogs decided he was on their turf and chased back across the lot and under his bench. I wasn’t super hungry, or maybe there was too much, so took our left overs , tore off a piece of cardboard from outside and walked over to Bob. Ignoring the pleading looks from the other dogs, tough to do but they had been mean to my boy Bob, I laid the “plate” in front of him and encouraged him to eat. He looked at me but then seemed to decide that since I didn’t poison him with the cookies or water then it was unlikely I would poison him now. He wolfed it down happily. I will miss this stoic old boy and wish I could take him with me.

Good Old Bob, Watching us Leave

Back to Kathmandu, Vegetables and All

As we started getting our gear together for the long drive back to Kathmandu, Buddha noticed a farmer with bundles of some type of leaf vegetable. Almost looked like spinach. He was excited to see it and at the price, and decided to buy some for Yogi, the hotel owner. Of course tying this ungainly bundle on to the back of the bike and then attempting to fit in between Buddha and it, proved an interesting challenge.

Once I was finally able to swing my leg over everything and get settled we headed off. The ruggedness of the road made hanging on a mission in survival, add to that the now slipping bundle of leaf vegetables on the back. Eventually we had to stop after barely 15min as the bundle had come completely loose and I had spent the last 3min hanging onto the bundle with my hands and Buddha with my knees, don’t think he minded the latter too much. Using my superior knot tying skills I learnt in Girl Guides, I executed several superb granny knots in various directions and secured the bundle with no chance of it ever falling off… unless scissors were enforced. Struggling back on we set off down the road, about 20 ft when Buddha decided he had to pee. So piling off and turning my back as he watered the bushes and then piling back on, we set off for the remainder of the journey back to the city.

After barely an hour I was in agony. How on earth do people do this for hours on end… We stopped and took a 20min break as I walked around and waited for feeling to return to my numb butt and lower half. Then off again, I was so tired and numb that I kept shifting until Buddha, very sternly told me to stop and sit still, especially if I valued my life and his, as I was apparently becoming a safety hazard and unbalancing the bike… oops! Eventually we made it back and I could put my sore ass in a soft chair, thank the heavens above.

Cultural Night

Buddha and Yogi decided to take me out to dinner and a cultural night. A local restaurant in the Thamel district with excellent food and a great show with traditional dances from all most of the Nepali tribes, along with some not so traditional “dances” to modern music. The best by far was a guy doing a comedy dance routine about going to the temple to check out girls. I guess people have told me to join church to find a husband, it seems Hindu countries have a similar past time.

Our hostess was very good, so good in fact that I would barely have the food in my mouth before she would come by and try to dish up more. Each table got their own hostess and they were very insistent, to the point of being annoying, it was like I was being force fed at times. Or maybe I am just not used to be catered to like that.

A great day with amazing memories and good friends. I will always miss Bob!

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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


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