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A “Love” Story…. Spoiler Alert!

24th July 2012

The Start
For those of you who have been reading my blog you might have noticed that there appeared to be a relationship blooming with this amazing guy I met in Kathmandu. Buddha Lama is a bartender on a cruise ship and was home for his 3mth vacation. We met the first morning there when his friend offered him up to show me monkey temple.

The Blooming of Feelings
We spent the next few weeks hanging out together and were almost inseparable the last 2 weeks. He took me all around Kathmandu and surrounding areas on his bike. He would never let me pay for food or movies or anything we did together, a real gentleman! I started having feelings for him the more I watched him feeding the monkeys and stray dogs at the temples. Watching people with animals is a sure way to tell their true personality. He was kind and caring and would go out of his way to buy some cookies or something for the strays.

Starting the Distance
After I left we stayed in contact and soon realised we had stronger feelings for each other. During December, while I was in Germany, we skyped and discussed it, deciding to be a couple until we could meet again and see what the future might hold. It was a tough month as constant blackouts and bad connections meant we had a hard time communicating. I now wish to apologise to my friends in Germany as I was a bit of a wreck, end of a year long journey and about to go home and now a new boyfriend…

The two weeks before Christmas I heard nothing and on Christmas day I finally decided to screw it, men just make you miserable. I removed the Irish Claddagh ring I had worn for the last 10yrs and only finally reversed to show my heart was taken, and vowed to focus on the future. The very next morning the texts started, “Oh my love I am sorry so hard to communicate now, love your monkey boy”… It was amazing how the connection issues we had before were suddenly fixed, but I didn’t think of that, I was just happy to hear from him.

Mid January he left to embark his cruise ship and we started skyping almost every night. He was spending almost $100 each month for wifi. Around that time, we realised we truly cared for each other and both took the huge step of changing our status on facebook. He had somehow been blocked out of his previous facebook account, Mango Honey, and so while I was still in Kathmandu I helped him set up a new one, Mango Lama.

Love Grows
Buddha was super sweet and considerate and would do his utmost to get skype no matter what time he finished work and I would be there waiting every night at 5.30pm my time. Around this time he started saying how well we were suited and how we should just get married and have kids. I laughed it off at first but he kept talking about it and was very sincere. He even told me how much he loved me and missed me. “I love you more than you love me!” was his favorite line. I didn’t say I loved him back till mid February and it took some effort. However, the more we said it to each other the more natural it became and soon I realised I was in love with this sweet man from the other side of the world. I constantly doubted myself and the idea of being in love with someone from such a different culture, but knew if we could get through the distance it would work out.

Italy Bound
He had been telling me for ages that I had to come on the cruise with him and that he would sort everything out. We started trying to figure out a date and how to book it through him using his crew discount end of February. Talk about complicated as he told me he had to go through the bar manager, who would contact the hotel manager, who would contact the crew purser, who would send the request to the office in Italy. After 4 weeks we still had no progress and the stress was showing on both of us. Finally they told him he could pay any way he liked…as long as it was with a credit card. He didn’t have one. So it was up to me to book the cruise and pay for it and then he would pay me back in cash on the ship. Finally we had a date for our reunion, April 21st in Naples, Italy! I couldn’t wait. I got my shifts with the mobile vet clinic covered, my mom let me use some miles to cover half my ticket to get to Rome and I contacted friends who I could stay with when I first arrived. Everything was set and I started shopping for some fancy clothes for the Formal night on the ship.

It seemed to take ages and we were so excited about seeing each other again. Finally the day came to leave, I flew into Rome and was met by friends. Rome was amazing (but that blog will follow later). The Wednesday before the cruise I took the train to Naples. I wanted to have some time there as I could visit Pompeii, a place I had always dreamed of going (another blog still to come).

Reunion After 5 Months
Finally the day arrived, Saturday the 21st of April at 9am. I was so excited, I got myself looking good and went to go wait at the dock. We gave each other a huge hug when we saw each other. He was with his friend and so wasn’t very touchy feely at the beginning. We walked around a bit and then they had to go back to the ship and I had to wait to board. During that week it was great, he had planned to get more time off but said they were short staffed. we spent every minute together that we could on his breaks and about 4 days in we were talking about marriage again. After so much talk I looked at him and said “Are you actually going to ask me?”… He got a naughty smile on his face, took a breath and said “Wanna marry me?”. Of course I said yes, I was so excited. As lame as it was it was still a proposal and his hug and kiss made it all the more sincere. He didn’t have a ring but explained that in Nepal you don’t need an engagement ring. In his words “I am already designing the wedding rings, I will have them made in Kathmandu, they will have flowers on the outside and our names inside”. So sweet.

One night I asked him why he had fallen in love with me, why he had chosen me, his reply was priceless and yet so sweet. “No Words, I have no words”.

Communication Tremors
I returned to the states with a fiance and a head full of hopes and plans. Communication began to be spotty again, he apologised profusely saying they had training every break time, and the ship was very busy, and they were short staffed, and he was so tired he would fall asleep in his uniform when he went to get his computer. I felt so bad and didn’t want to be that nagging fiance. During May I really battled with the distance and lack of communication. In my brain he had either Fallen of the ship or Didn’t love me anymore. In my lovesick girl brain there was no inbetween and I wish to thank my friends on the other side of the phone for putting up with me. Finally end of May I took some time to really think why I was so stressed and realised that it was me. That I didn’t think I was good enough to be loved by such a great guy and no man would spend so much money on a girl he didn’t love.

Our last skype chat was June 21st, a week before his birthday. He said how much he loved me and how we only had 2mths left to wait and about getting a visa to come to the States. And then nothing for 3weeks. I was worried sick, I knew he had had pneumonia before and was worried he was in hospital somewhere. I called the ship, emailed, wrote letters. I didn’t know what to do.

And then….
…the bomb dropped. He came onto his skype but it turned out to be a coworker and we chatted. I told him were engaged and he acted very surprised. Finally he told me that Buddha had a girlfriend and that this was she. I was sitting on the bed with my mom and she said that I went white as a sheet. I couldn’t believe it, I wouldn’t believe it. I was beside myself. It took me 4 days before I could eat something. She chatted to me on his skype a few times, once pretending to be him. I just didn’t know what to do or believe.

I tried to email him, but it seemed that she had control of his hotmail.

I tried to fax him through the bar manager. But she said that he was disappointed in me even though he knew he was wrong.

I waited on skype every night.

I contacted all his friends we had in common. All the guys said it wasn’t true and that he loved me.

Finally in desperation I contacted a girl from Australia I had met the same day as him. I hadn’t spent much time with her but knew she had been around after I left and if nothing else could give me a girls point of view.

The True Buddha Emerges
It turns out they had lived together for a month in December in Kathmandu. She told me that the times he said there were blackouts and no connections he was with her and was lying. He even put a call on speaker once when 2 of the guys I had contacted were over for dinner and they all laughed at me as he told me how he missed me. She told me he wanted to marry her and the 2 weeks I had not heard from him was when she convinced him to stop stringing me along.

When I told her the day he started texting me again, her response was “That was the day I left Nepal”. He really is a piece of work.

To date he has not contacted me, he refuses to face me. I have discovered 4 girls he has cheated on me and I am sure there are more. I have discovered 4 facebook accounts and it appears multiple skype and email accounts. I have made contact with 3 of them and have contacted another girl from the past.

What Doesn’t Kill You…
I always liked that song and almost felt bad that I did. Now I know it was my subconscious preparing me. So in the end I am stronger, it will still hurt for a long time, but I will move on. Having quit my job in preparation to be with him means my future is open to something new. I am thinking Thailand for scuba diving….and heck it made a good blog entry 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Last Day….

30th November 2011

The Dilemma of Laundry

Yesterday we didn’t do much as we were both quite exhausted from the trip. But since I was leaving soon I needed to get some laundry done. Also, since Buddha had been crashing at the hotel and not been home to his mother’s for over a week, we did his laundry too. I put in a rush order for his and paid the extra, due to the fact that he was stuck in his room with just the sheet… His would be done by 10am. However, the Nepali power company had other ideas and promptly switched off the power for 4hrs.. We had no idea when he would be able to make an appearance and he did threaten at one point to come down toga style.

In the meant time I ran some errands and had the cook, Robin, taught me how to make the amazing potato hashbrowns I had become addicted to every morning. I would order the expensive, $3, breakfast just to get the potatoes. Turned out it was tumeric that was the secret. I took some up to Buddha so he could at least eat something while secluded in his prison.

Around 2pm the laundry appeared much to our relief. Yogi, the hotel owner, took us across the road to a clothing factory where he knew the owner. I picked up a jacket, skirt and some funky harem pants. That afternoon we went back to visit Buddha’s friend and owner of the Facebook restaurant and had momo’s and tea. Then Buddha met up with Yogi to go to a Tourism Conference and I returned to packing and sorting… I think I will need to buy another bag!

My Last Day…

It feels like I have been here for so long and now it is my last day. For those of you who hadn’t guessed by now, Buddha and I had become very close in these 3weeks and our friendship had grown into something a bit more… It will be very hard to leave!

But until the moment actually comes, there are errands to run, bags to pack and one more trip to monkey temple.

We made a run to the mall to pick up a few more DVD’s for Buddha and he noticed a guy doing henna tattoos. He remembered that I had had one when I arrived from Malaysia and that I had mentioned I wanted to get another done before I left (sometimes it amazes me that he remembers these things). So encouraged me to get one done and haggled with the guy till he gave me a decent price.

Henna

Choices

Errand 1

I had bought a tapestry the day before and had bargained the guy to a decent price, but upon return to the room I realised there was a flaw.

The FLAW…

I didn’t feel like dealing with the guy on my own so had asked Buddha to come with me. While we waited for him I noticed a bag I might need to pack all my stuff, it was a backpack with wheels and cost around $35, not too shabby. We decided to first have me pack and see if I really needed it.

Finally the guy showed up and after some haggling realised that there was nothing much he could do as there wasn’t another of that size and the one that was there had a bigger flaw. I decided I could fix it as it was awfully perrty.

Errand 2

Spice shopping with Robin, the cook at Hotel Silver Home. I particularly wanted the spice he used for his hashbrown like fried potatoes. It took a bit of a search but we eventually found it and also some different kinds of masala for curry.

Spices!

Errand 3

After the spices the plan was to go meet a friend of Buddha’s from the ship whose sister owned a pashmina store. Now, after weeks of him prank calling me (one of his favorite past times), he had been trying to reach me for real as his friend was waiting and I was off exploring the land of spices… cooking that is. When I got back he had got a little exasperated (which is not a lot in most people’s books as he is so laid back). But we weren’t too late and we were soon our way off to meet up with him. The factory was on the same property as a very imperssive house. However, it cracks me up how houses are built, as often you end up blocking light and views of your neighbors.

Their house is the white one on the right

I was fairly certain I could pick up some pashmina cheap cheap having an inside contact, I was thinking maybe $10, $15 max… Ummmm yeah not so much.

They owned a factory who had a deal with Rolex, every time someone bought a watch they got a pashmina, so you can imagine the quality. It was fabulous, felt like cloth water and the cheapest price was $35 for a small one. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on something I would never wear (most likely out of fear of ruining it). Please note they did offer me a fantastic discount, but being at the end of my budget I just couldn’t. The joys of a backpacker budget…

Errand 4

Finally it was time to say farewell to the monkeys and temple who had brought Buddha and I together. It was bitter sweet walking through the temple knowing I may never be back to feed them again. I even recognized a few and I swear there was some recognition back, at least that is what I am going with, it might have had something to do with the cookies. I will really miss the dogs there, I definitely knew a lot of them and was on the verge of naming a few.

Buddha’s friends joined us and so we were able to get some pictures, I think putting them up is the best way to show you all:

Troop 1

Pack 1

My Favorite in Pack 1

This Day Buddha got on Film

Mobbed by his fans, Buddha stays Cool and Collected

This Little Guy Figured Out the Source

He Was Quite Content to Stay as Long as the Cookie Supply Lasted

Moments Before He had a Cookie in Each Hand and THREE in His Mouth

A Moment to Treasure

Soon the Monkey on my Shoulder Discovered the Cookie Source

The Monkey Whisperer???

No Words…

Here is a short video of Buddha feeding his minions and the temple. I will miss these outings more than I can say!

Finally we had to leave and return to the hotel as we had dinner plans. First I popped over and bought a yak wool blanket and some of the cheaper (not pure) pashminas and the extra bag. Then we headed to the tongba place for dinner and one last round. On the way we stopped at one of the street side snack vendors. they have tubs of popcorn, peanuts, corn nut like things etc and dish them into a little paper cone for you to enjoy. I had never had any as you fear for your stomach, but Buddha has a way of showing me new things, and I wish I had got this yummies from the first day and trusted my African constitution to stand by me.

Snack Vendor

Namiko from Japan joined us along with Yogi and Raj. It was a great night, and I am going to miss the boys all terribly.

Buddha, Yogi and Raj

The Crew

And so back to the hotel, up the four flights of stairs for the last night. It is bitter sweet and I can’t believe this section is over, that I will be leaving some amazing people and that my journey is just one country from its end…

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Uh Oh!

22nd November, 2011

Pain

Sleeping in a little is always a great treat when you are traveling and I felt nice and relaxed as I got up to pee. The relaxation was sharply ended when I felt pain… even though I had never had one I knew what it was, a UTI (urinary tract infection). This is not a good thing and its not something that goes away by itself. If left alone it will only get worse. Luckily we would be returning to the doc for Buddha this evening so will chat with her then.

I have avoided going to the doctor in Ecuador, Peru, Tonga, Vietnam, Cambodia and many more developing countries, I guess it had to happen sometime. May as well enjoy the day, in between bathroom runs, until the appointment with the doc.

Brunch and backpack shopping

Buddha and I met at our usual breakfast place for brunch, and I chose the killer chocolate cake I had been eyeing every day. It was divine and super rich, could only eat half of it.

Buddha went to hang out with Yogi at the hotel and I went in search of a backpack. I found one that seemed to fit all the things I was hoping for and it had a nice back support. I wasn’t looking for a big one just a day pack type of thing. I got it for around $42 and they threw in a metal water bottle as well. Of course, as so often happens, later when I was trying to pack it and use it, I realised the neat back support also meant it cut down on space and made it awkward to pack. Oh well am sure it will be useful as some point.

A few more errands of running to the bank, the bookstore and then negotiating for a really nice fleece lined jacket I had been looking at all week. He started at 1900 ($23) and I got him down to 1150 ($12). One of my best buys so far I think, just hope its going to be as practical as I am planning.

Monkey Temple

Then it was off to Monkey Temple for our evening ritual of feeding of the monkeys. Since we were a bit early for our usual feeding time we decided to have a little chow mein at one of the snack shacks.

Monkey Tamer

Return to the Doc

Then it was back to the doc for Buddha’s x-ray check. The x-rays turned out to be clear, but there were spots from his previous bout with pneumonia 5yrs before and she was a little concerned about those. I told her that I was pretty certain I had a UTI and what she recommended. She decided to put me on antibiotics and send me for a pee test. We all laughed when we realised Buddha had a URI (upper respiratory) and I had a UTI (urinary tract)… we are like to peas on the opposite side of the pod. She was fantastic and never charged me. We had to return in 2 days for my results. Picking up some antibiotics we headed out to the lab behind the pharmacy.

This is where it got rather amusing. They handed me a sample bottle and pointed me to the bathroom. The problem was that the bottle had a very small opening, not a problem for a guy, but when a girl needs to pee into a bottle and make sure only the urine touches it, it can be a little hit and miss, pun intended. Add to that a UTI that often means you feel the urge but can’t go or it only comes in spurts. Aiming took a lot of concentration. It cost me less than $5 for the test.

Movie time

To end the day, we met Raj and Yogi and went to go watch “Immortals”. Buddha could tell I wasn’t feeling well and was very sweet, making sure I had everything I needed. The movie was good, not great but good and its always good to have a break and go to a movie.

So with 1 week left in Kathmandu, I am hoping the antibiotics don’t make me any sicker.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Visiting Facebook…

19th November 2011

Competition Results

We received the competition results with Buddha no where in the top 3. Turns out top 1 and 2 went to students of the bartender school who hosted the event, and also 2 of the competitors who got the most critics from the judges. We all agreed the competition had been fixed from the start, which just made us angry that it had happened. Oh well what ya gonna do… I know go sightseeing and eat!!!

Temples and Shrines

After breakfast we headed out to a small temple on the edge of Kathmandu, Shree Budhanilkatnha Bishnu Bhagwan, a holy Hindu site. The tale goes that many years ago when this area was still farmland, a local farmer dug into his field and discovered a life size statue of Lord Vishnu in repose on a bed of giant serpents. It quickly became a holy site and devotees from all around visit it. Since it is a Hindu site, no photographs are allowed, no leather materials may enter the site and no videos may be taken. Only those of the Hindu faith may enter the gated area surrounding the statue. In comparison to Buddhist sites where everyone is welcome and photos are accepted.

Lord Vishnu, courtesy of Jasmine Strings Blog

The Mall – how else do you spend a saturday

After exploring the shrine we headed for some lounge around time at the mall. It always astounds me to walk in from crowded, noisy, polluted streets into a shopping mall mirroring those found in the Western world. It does make for some great people watching. We had tea with Buddha’s friend who owns a store, watched my first 6D (didn’t even know that existed) film. Or rather 4 shorts in 3D, moving chairs, and air blowing with the occasional brush against your leg. It was hilarious, and Buddha delighted in scaring me during the scary short by grabbing onto me now and then.

Monkey Temple routine

Then it was off to continue what had become an evening tradition, feeding the monkeys. I wished we could bring fruit or rice or something like that vs cookies, but carrying bags of cooked rice or fruit on a motorbike was just not feasible, so cookies it is. We pulled up to our local vendor window where the lady had got to know our routine and started getting the 20 packets ready before we were even off the bike. Finally it was time to reunite with some old friends…

Some of them are almost polite


Checking to see if he has space for one more


Do you think he gets training to look this cute??

A sad truth

As we walked through the temple looking for the different tribes of monkeys that seem to have very well defined territories we came across an old woman lying prone on the ground to the side of the path. Her skin was bloated and her stomach distended. Buddha explained she was most likely a poor person who had come from India seeking a better life and had fallen ill. He encouraged me to give a little something and some of the cookies. He is always careful not to let me just give money away unless he believes the person truly needs it. It is so sad to see things like this and not be able to help in more ways… a sad truth in every country, whether its a westernized world with the best health care or a developing country with barely enough doctors.

Off to Facebook

As the sun began to set we headed off to another of his friends restaurants, named Facebook, offering a range of Nepali foods. The first time I ate here the dal baht (traditional meal with rice and curry sides) was too hot for me. So this time I stuck to something simple and fried… always good. We chatted with a couple of his friends from the cruise ship who were having a late lunch and one of them mentioned he had a sister who owned a pashmina factory and he could take me there some time if I liked. Always handy knowledge to have.

Sauna time

After my long trip and all the motorbike riding Buddha had been doing we looked for a place to have a sauna. The first place seemed very fancy but unfortunately their saunas were segregated. So we headed into the tourist section of Thamel and found another place. Luckily we were the only 2 sitting there wrapped in our towels, it might have felt weird with strangers. We had a choice between a hot steam or dry sauna and took turns in each. Then some hot noodley soup before saying goodnight.

Tomorrow we are off to explore a monastery almost 2hrs outside of Kathmandu… hope my butt can survive a bike ride that long!

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hangovers, Temples and Diaries…

The day after…

Meeting Buddha for breakfast I realised he was as rough as I was. It seemed like such a good idea last night to have that second tongba. He took me to restaurant he often visited and we decided to sit up on the sun deck, another thing that seemed like a good idea until I was on the 4th flight of stairs and feeling like the room was beginning to spin. But we eventually made it to the top, barely. The sun was incredibly bright to our alcohol induced eye sensitivity. It was strange though it was like any hangover I had every experienced, I didn’t have a throbbing headache or anything like that. I just felt thick and slow, and decidedly… well… not very perky.

Raj and Yogi were meant to meet us too, but it appeared as if they were even rougher than us. So we just spent a couple of hours gingerly fiddling with our food and sipping on the nectar for hangovers, coffee.

When in Nepal, one should trek…maybe

After reaching a point where we could move a little better through the molasses of our hangover we headed to see if Raj was in his office, Mosaic Adventure Tour Company, http://www.trekntour.com/. Raj and Yogi were helping me plan my trip to Chitwan and Pokhara and possibly some trekking near Kathmandu.

The first words out of almost everyones lips are “Have you been trekking yet?”. It seemed to be the thing to do when you were in Nepal. After being on the road for over 10mths I wasn’t sure how keen I was to follow the crowd but figured I could manage a light trek at the very least.

Raj explained that I would be picked up from the hotel, my personal guide would meet me and we would begin a 2 day light trek. Day 1 would consist of at least 7hrs walking uphill and end at a local lodge.
Day 2 would only be 5hrs uphill and 2hrs reasonably flat and end at a different lodge.
Day 3 would have me return to Kathmandu and most likely pass out at a local massage parlor.

Ummmm sure, if that’s a light trek what the hell is a heavy trek???? Apparently its just more days. Raj was great though and I really appreciate him not sugar coating what the trek would consist of, but after a few guilt ridden moments thinking “when in Nepal one should trek”, but once those were over I decided after 10mths on the road, walking uphill for 7-10hrs was not my cup of tea. Just have to come back I guess.

Patan Temple

Buddha took me to Patan Temple in the old city of Kathmandu, an absolutely stunning example of old architecture and many of the work is done in wood that are hundreds of years old.

Patan Temple


Carvings


Carvings

I was in awe as we walked around the temples, about 12 in total in this complex. There is something so intensely peaceful about staring up at some of the carvings even in the midsts of so much going on around you.

carvings

Once again the people watching was excellent, one of my favorite views being a line of Nepali men in traditional hats, just sitting and talking.

retirement!

Lunch…Facebook style

We headed to Buddha’s friend’s restaurant for lunch. Formerly a waitress on the cruise ships with him, she has now opened a place by the name of Facebook, all traditional Nepalese food with some western variations when needed.

Once we finally made our way through the lunch hour traffic, which gives a whole new meaning to that term, we ordered some Thakali (also known as Dal Bat).

Lunch hour traffic

The thakali, rice with different pickles traditionally eaten by hand (the right hand), was delicious. But a little on the spicy side and I had to order a second banana lassi (yoghurt drink) to cover the burn.

Thakali

The diary drama is concluded!

While we ate I tried to call the 4 phone numbers I had for Biman airlines as I hadn’t given up on finding my diaries, even though EVERYONE said there was no hope. I finally got through to someone who gave me the number of someone else… As luck would have it that person actually answered and the conversation went something like this:
me – hi I was on flight 234 from Bangladesh to Kathmandu on sunday and I forgot my book.
Biman – huh, are you Nepali?
me – no no I was on the flight do you have lost and found?
Biman – what, are you nepali?
Thinking he was asking if I spoke Nepali, as surely my accent would give away the whole foreigner aspect, I handed the phone to Buddha
Buddha – spekaing in Nepali
Buddha hands the phone back saying the guy was speaking Hindu
me – hi lost and found, do you have books?
Biman – ahhh you are foreigner from Kuala Lumpur?
me – yes yes I flew from Kuala Lumpur
Biman – come after 4pm
me – do you have the books then
Biman – come after 4pm
and then the phone went dead.

Very strange, but hopefully that meant the books were there. Buddha offered to take me on his bike later. Back at the hotel I ran some errands and then we headed over to the airport.

I went upstairs following the signs to the door with Biman and knocked. There was no answer! Just as I was getting ready to say something completely inappropriate under my breath I tried the door, it was open. Right there on the desk were my diary and my dive logbook, I noticed a guy at the far end of the office, gave him a huge smile and said thanks, then literally skipped back down the stairs. Buddha was beyond surprised that I had proved him wrong, and I decided maybe Biman air might not be that bad after all.

Return to Monkey Temple

Feeling a lot more light hearted and relieved that I had managed to rescue my books from the lost and found of Biman Air, Buddha and I headed on his bike to feed the monkeys. Something that would become a regular past time for us. We stopped to buy the cookies and then realised we didn’t have his backpack. So I shuffled things around my bag and we emptied as many into it as would fit. With around 7packets left the only resort was to stuff them into every pocket we could find. The result was rather amusing:

cookies anyone????

Sim card

Before we headed to Chinese for dinner, we went to find me a sim card for my phone. As it turned out it was quite a mission, needing a copy of your passport and 2 ID photos. Luckily I still had ID photos left over from the visa and it wasn’t too hard to find a place to make a photocopy. I am not exactly sure why all the paperwork was needed, but oh well at least it was possible to get one.

Tomorrow morning I leave at 6am to go to Chitwan National Park. And so the adventures continue…

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Monkey Temple!

The Diary Drama

As you may remember from my first post about arriving in Nepal I mentioned how I had put my diary and dive logbook in the front pocket of the bulk head seat… Well my 2nd morning I woke up and as I had no plans till the afternoon figured a cup of coffee in a nice spot and writing in my diary would a perfect way to start my day.

I went to my bag and it wasn’t there, thinking I had placed it somewhere else I looked in the other one, noticing that my dive logbook was also missing I frantically pulled everything apart racking my brain as to the last time I had seen either… it slowly dawned on my that it had been in the airplane… Oh Crap!!!!

I ran downstairs and told Yogi, the hotel owner and he recommended grabbing a taxi to the airport and asking at the office. But he shook his head when I said I had flown in on Biman Airlines, “Mmmmm terrible airline I think they will throw it out as it has no value”. Well they have value to me so I jumped in the taxi and headed out. When I got to the office at 8.30am I discovered that the Biman office is only open in the afternoon and only on certain days, of course no one could tell me when in the afternoon or on what days. But a guy from Nepal air looked into his book and gave me a number wishing me good luck while shaking his head.

I was pretty close to distraught when I got back and didn’t even feel like eating breakfast, only a cup of coffee in the hotel reception. Finally I said “screw it” and did some retail therapy, picking up a skirt and shirt for about $15 total. I also picked up a new diary with handmade paper so I could at least keep up with my diary until I found the other one, hopefully! Mmmm retail therapy in Kathmandu could be dangerous.

I tried to call the number I had been given, along with 2 other numbers I had found on the Biman website, I also sent an email through the site. There was no answer to all of them.

I hung around the hotel feeling sorry and frustrated with myself. Buddha arrived around 1pm and said we would go to Monkey Temple to feed the monkeys around 4pm. He also agreed with Yogi that my books would be in the trash by now. Such pessimists.

Monkey Temple

Climbing onto the back of his bike, much to the amusement of others as I had to use the steps of the hotel to get up onto it, we headed to Monkey Temple again to do an evening feed. On the way we stopped at a little side store and picked up 20 packets of cookies, which we opened and emptied into a plastic bag which was then placed into Buddha’s backpack and then headed to the temple.

cookies for monkeys

When we got to the temple Buddha looked for a long, stout stick which he said he used if they got out of hand by simply showing them. He apparently came almost every night to feed them and you could tell some recognized him. As we walked they all came running and would huddle in front waiting for a cookie and holding out their hands to take one. The occasional one would get a little too persistent but for the most part they were really gentle and would occasionally tug gently at your clothing like a shy child. Buddha said to focus on giving the cookies to the mothers, babies and injured. But when the big daddy arrived we happily handed over 3 at a time just in case, even though he was a perfect gentleman.

The monkey whisperer


a barrell/tribe/troop of Monkeys

As we walked we could tell the territories of each troop as certain ones would follow us up to a point and then would hang back if we proceeded into the temple grounds. There were also groups of stray dogs who would be reluctant at first to take a cookie but soon got confident and followed us up to their border lines.

The view from the temple was spectacular and the hundreds of prayer flags hung along vast distances at great heights astounding.

View of Kathmandu


Prayer Flags and Monkey

As we walked we saw ones of all ages and the babies were precious.

mum and babe

Often they would come and sit on mostly Buddha’s shoulders, aka the monkey whisperer, but there was one that was brave enough to sit on me and use my…ummmm…. you know… to prop himself up.

getting felt up


no fear of Buddha

The other tourists loved it and I am fairly certain we are in numerous photo albums as this crazy pair feeding potentially dangerous creatures. All good though! The temple was more beautiful than I had thought now that we walked around in daylight.

Tongbas and Friends

That evening we all went out to the same place as the night before, this time with 2 Chinese ladies in tow. It was great fun and I had got used to the Tongba and so was able to slurp it down no problem. We ate tons of delicious side dishes and this time avoided ordering a main as the sides were filling enough. At one point another friend, Anna from Australia, called hoping to join us. I tried to give her directions but she got frustrated and asked me to meet her at the hotel. I said I would be right back and merrily hopped up and out. As I walked I realised just how inebriated you can get from Tongba and how much I had to focus. Back at Silver Home Anna wasn’t there and after some confusion we realised she had meant me to meet her at a hotel nearby the restaurant. Got to love miscommunication!!! I headed back and I must admit walking down dark streets on my 3rd night in Kathmandu was not on my most favorite things to do, and being a wee bit tipsy didn’t help the stress level. By the time I got back everyone knew what had happened and could tell I was not overly comfortable, but they soon calmed me down and we were all onto our 2nd tongba when Anna finally showed up.

At one point we were discussing how to write Nepali and someone wrote my name on my arm. No one, aka Raj, Buddha and Yogi, will admit to doing it. But in the morning when I asked Buddha how to say it he nearly fell over as it was something rather obscene and the type of pen used was almost impossible to remove. Thank heavens it was cool enough to wear a long shirt.

What a day and I still hadn’t got through to anyone at Biman about my books…

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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KATHMANDU!

Breakfast and New Friends

Since I had skipped dinner last night being so tired I went for the expensive breakfast, with 2 pancakes (crepes), honey, coffee, juice, 2 eggs any style and hashbrowns. A whopping $3 US give or take a few cents.

mmmmmm yummy!

While I was sitting sipping my coffee I struck up a conversation with the girl at the next table and within a heartbeat she popped over to my table and we were soon deep in conversation about travel and shopping in Kathmandu. At least until I tasted the hashbrowns, which were more a fry up of potatoes, onions and tomoatoes. It was amazing and actually stopped me mid sentence (not that I would have been talking with my mouth full mum). She was leaving that afternoon and needed to do some last minute shopping and so I asked if I could join her. Jessa lives in the UAE but is from the Philippines.

Shopping Nepal style

To say that walking through the streets of Thamel, Kathmandu is an assault on the senses would be an understatement, and from what I hear it is quite tame when compared to India. I was overwhelming and brilliant at the same time, with noise and colors and smells and music everywhere in every crevice and coming from every corner.

Beautiful colors

I hate shopping but I love markets like this, where you can bargain and meet people and dig through treasures piled higher than your head in stores the size of a porter potty.

stalls by the dozen

I was enjoying this preview of the market with Jessa and found it very amusing to watch her bargain. Here I thought I bargain hard, but Jessa throws in the sympathy card as well and wraps the store owners around her little finger. I should have taken notes. Our first stop was an art shop, to get something for her boss. We waded through piles of canvases until she found 2 she liked and then proceeded to bargain the guy down to well below his original price. The paintings were spectacular and all done by local Nepalese artists, apparently. I hoped to pick one up before I left.

Beautiful art

Then onto a little road side store that was barely the size of your average lemonade stand, to find a few keyrings. I was looking for a new bag, as the one I had bought in Ecuador and carried for almost 7mths really cut into my shoulder and I loved the styles here in Nepal. We finally found a store with some good looking ones and the owner ushered us into the back to see the rest of his stock. Turns out, apparently, he runs the factory that makes them, or one of the factories might be more accurate. We browsed and searched and pulled what felt like hundreds off the shelves to open and try and look at and finally I decided on a multi colored one and Jessa chose 2, plus a skirt. The owner then offered us tea, a habit that I would find most delightful in Nepal. We chatted and looked at photos of his children.

Jessa, Bag Guy and me

Another useful thing is that everyone seems to have a brother, cousin, uncle, sister… who runs a store with exactly the item you were thinking of purchasing. In this case the bag guy’s brother ran a pashmina store. We went in to have a look but Jessa didn’t have enough cash on her to buy one so we moved on back towards the hotel. That is until we saw a bag that Jessa had to have, she went and exchanged some more money and bargained for the bag, then with a few extra rupees we went back to the pashmina guy and, much to his bemusement, got a scarf (of the cheaper quality) at a 3rd of the price.

Meeting Buddha

When we got to the hotel she proceeded to run around like a busy worker bee exhibiting ADHD. It was quite amusing to the rest of us who just stood outside and watched. Finally she was in the taxi and heading to the airport. We exchanged info and promised to stay in touch both wishing we had met each other earlier.

After the whirlwind died down I asked Yoge (hotel owner) about a place called Monkey Temple. The conversation went something like this:
Y – you can walk
K – How long would that take
Y – oh about 30min or more uphill
K – what about a taxi
Y – you could do that or my friend here will take you on his motorbike.
K – how much would that cost
Y – oh you can pay or not pay its up to you (another trend in Nepal is this wishy washy statement)
K – oh ok well that would be great, if you don’t mind (looking at the guy next to the rather large bike)
Y – oh he doesn’t mind, he is on vacation from the cruise ship

Turns out the mysterious friend, who just sat and smiled through out this entire exchange went by the name Buddha, and is a bartender on international cruise ships. He said he was happy to take me as he had nothing else to do, how about we meet in an hour.

And so started a great new friendship with Buddha. Who else can say they have Buddha’s phone number 🙂

Not 1 but rather 3

We met about an hour later and after a few minutes of figuring out just how I was meant to climb onto the back of his offroad bike that was higher than my waist, we were on the road.

I thought we were just heading straight to Monkey Temple but instead we went to 3 separate temples. The first one was a Hindu temple called “Pashupatinath”. Also known as Pashupati, it is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu and considered the most sacred amongst the temples of Lord Shiva.

Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple areas, but others may walk around the area and try catch a glimpse of the inside.

The temple


Inside the temple

In addition to having to be of the Hindu faith to go inside, no leather (including clothing and shoes), photos or videos were allowed to be taken inside.

Need I say more...

For most temples in Nepal there is a small entry fee for foreigners and so after finding the small booth and paying we set about exploring the non-Hindu areas. The architecture and carvings were amazing.

carvings

As we rounded one corner there was a strange smell of cooking in the air. Buddha turned to look at me with an impish grin and asked:
“BBQ anyone?”
I barely restrained a positive answer as his smile told me there was more behind the smell that meets the … ahh… nose. I was right. The one bank that lined the river was the local crematorium for Hindus. Booking was required and then you could incinerate your family member and push the remains into the river. Remind me not to swim. It was strangely hypnotic to watch, you don’t want to, but its such a fascinating part of the culture you can’t help it.

crematorium

As we wandered through this vast temple we chatted about all the countries we had been to and how we got where we were. There were macaque monkeys everywhere and you had to be careful if you were carrying anything edible.

Macaque monkeys

The path wandered up the hill and gave you a spectacular view of the temple and surrounding city, it was quite impressive how it seemed engulfed by the surrounding houses.

Pashupati temple


Pashupati Temple

We stopped for a soda at one spot and watched someone give one of the monkeys some cookies, am not sure why she gave him the wrapper as well because that just gets added to the litter.

cookies!!


cookies 2!!!

There were also a lot of spotted deer in the “Deer Park”, or rather an exceptionally overgrazed fenced off area.

Spotted Deer

As we continued to walk we passed through another part of the temple that had troops of monkeys everywhere, but you could tell there were definite group structures… and that had nothing to do with the very loud, potentially dangerous to all around territorial spats that were going on. The local snack sellers (who just spread out their wares on blankets) carried slingshots just in case they got a little carried away or tried to shoplift (or maybe blanket lift) a quick treat.

Pashpupati temple


very new babe



keeping a lookout

After a good couple of hours we headed out of the temple. On the passing an enormous bull. There are cows everywhere often sleeping in the middle of the road, but as it is against the culture to kill them they are allowed to roam free, often not even having true owners. As we left I bargained for a necklace and got her down from 1000rs ($12US) to about 600rs ($8), but knew she still got one over me when she agreed to readily.

Bull anyone?

Buddhist Temple

Our next stop was a Buddhist temple, much more to my liking as they always seem to have a very welcoming and calming feeling. Boudhanath Temple (Boudha for short), has a massive stupa Sanskrit for meaning “heap”, a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics), that dominates the skyline and is surrounded by stores and restaurants. The stupa’s massive Mandala (sansKrit for circle) makes it one of the largest spherical stupa’s in Nepal. I think it became one of my favorite places to visit and walk around. On this occasion it took me about 3 circles before I realized we were walking in a circle, I had started thinking some of the stores were chains.

Boudha Stupa


The massive stupa

It wasn’t only the amazing artwork and numerous small temples you could pop into or turning the prayer wheels, it was watching the people, such beautiful people.

Monk


Buddhist couple


"Miss Nepal" according to a bystander


the song "Old friends" comes to mind

truly a remarkable place and one I would return to day after day if I could. I even found a singing bowl store that I hoped to return to if I couldn’t find a bowl in Pokhara in a few days. One of the amusing things was when I came out of a temple and found Buddha with a big grin on his face and a new necklace. While he waited for me he decided to try and bargain a Nepali price from a local seller and got his for 250rs ($2), it was also bigger and better quality. We had a good chat with the seller and I ended up buying 2 more for 360rs each (foreign Nepali price…), but he did give me a free keychain!

Lunch – Tibetan Style

Buddha took me to a back alley (a place that normally I would most likely never go) and sat down with some locals for lunch. We ordered momos (similar to potstickers), tea and soup. After he had ordered, he told me we were having Tibetan tea which was salty. I thought I must have misheard him so disregarded the comment until I took a big swig of the tea and nearly spat it out exclaiming “It’s salty!!!!”, “told you so” was the reply. I found pretending it was soup made it easier to drink the tea.

Mmmmm momos!

Monkey Temple

It was getting late as we headed to the final temple, Swayambhunath also known as Monkey Temple for the hundreds of holy monkeys that live on the premises. The main entrance apparently has 365 steps leading up a very steep incline to the stupa with Buddha’s eye. But we took the motorbike entrance (and also missed the pay station) which consisted of about 10 steps.

Stupa with Buddha's eyes

We were too late to feed the monkeys but it was beautiful to walk around and admire the city as the sun set.

Tongba anyone?

Back at the hotel I was swept along with Buddha, Yogi (Hotel Silver Home owner) and Raj to go have Tongba (Traditional alcoholic drink) and dinner. It was almost surreal how they just included me like an old friend and pretty soon we found ourselves in a local restaurant which felt more like a house with a large dinning room. We ordered our Tongbas that came in large tin mugs with lids and a metal straw. Tongba is essentially millet seed filled with hot water. The combination creates a mild alcohol and you simply drink the liquid and refill with hot water until the water no longer has a milky appearance, then you get a new one.

Tongba


Buddha and me

It was a great night with great new friends and a perfect ending to a fantastic first day in Kathmandu. It is so strange to think coming here was due to Sri Lanka not working out.

I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere I needed to be – Douglas Adams

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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