Monday, October 19, 2015

A little bit of sight seeing…..

(Friday, October 2nd)

We all met downstairs at 7:30 for breakfast al fresco cooked by this gentleman and his very sweet and helpful son …..

IMG_2417 We were presented with a HUGE meal of fruit, toast, omelet, hash browns, bacon, sausages and grilled tomatoes.   There is no way that I can keep eating at this rate!!!

Michael asked the owners about a Cistern that we could see on the property.  They told him that it had been built to be 9 feet deep and that methane gas produced was pumped into their personal kitchen and was used for cooking.  This seemed quite an ingenious way to recycle and save energy.

Michael and I spent some time wandering around the property and enjoying various  aspects of the retreat.  This stack of firewood was interesting…..IMG_2438

…..as was this stone pond/fountain/monumentIMG_2439

There was a sign showing that our trip designation was REI-ANN-01…..

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….because we are the first Annapurna trek of the new season.

One final photo on the property…..

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We continued to watch with amazement as the construction workers started pouring the footings for the new building  Have a look for yourselves…..

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At 9:30 we re-grouped and headed off for our tour.  However, since the road was so narrow, the tour van couldn’t come to us so we had to walk a 1/4 mile down the hill to reach it and to meet our tour guide for the day.

As we drove thru Kathmandu, we were constantly on the lookout for damage from the earthquake.   It was heartening to see that, for most Nepali’s, life was going on as usual.  However, every once in a while, we would see a pile of rubble that used to be a home or business….

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or a structure that was missing an outside wall…..DSC06065

But, everywhere you looked, construction was continuing in earnest!!

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Some buildings were even propped up with boards …..

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The first stop of the day was to the Boudha  Stupa, the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet.  It was built in the 14th century.  Unfortunately it suffered some damage in the earthquake so we couldn’t  go inside. 

This is what it looked like before the earthquake…..gohistoric_18188_z

 

And here it is now, without the spire on top……IMG_2468

However, there is a small subset of Kathmandu life that exists in the circle surrounding the Stupa and it was such fun to walk thru it and enjoy the show.IMG_2471

This gentleman was opening his shop for the morning and burning incense to bring favor on his day.  I can just imagine this scent on all of the clothes that he sells….IMG_2470

Michael saw this man sitting outside of a shop and asked if he could take his photo.  The gentleman gave him a wink and a big smile.  He assumed that it meant yes and got this great shot…..IMG_2474

There were several Monasteries along the road and we enjoyed walking thru them and taking in all of the colors and sights associated with them.

Most had a gong of some sort toward the entrance…..

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….and all had at least one Buddha taking pride of place….

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Then there were these magnificent fabric columns hanging from the ceiling.  Most of the interiors contained at least one of these but I haven’t been able to find out how they are used in worship or what they stand for.

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One of the Monasteries had a huge prayer wheel…..

IMG_2490The Woman in front of me walked slowly around this prayer wheel, continuing to place her hand on the spinning wheel but then also stopping at each side wall and corner and praying.

In reading about Prayer Wheels, I have found that traditionally, the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel and spinning the wheel has basically the same effect as orally reciting the prayers..

The views from upstairs in the Monastery were striking….

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It was interesting to see the worshipers below…..IMG_2509

including this monk and puppy…..

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In one of the Monasteries there were a group of Monks who were reading and chanting.   They would also offer a blessing if you wanted.IMG_2513

 

I even found a patchwork design…..

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…Half square triangles anyone!!!

This gentleman was worshiping by prostrating himself on the ground many times over….

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….and then sitting quietly while studying in a meditative posture…..DSC06095

We  loved seeing this man selling his wares from his shoulders…..

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….so much so that we chased him down the street to get a good photo!!!

There were many small prayer wheels located on the outside of the Stupa compound……

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Many people were walking slowly around the Stupa and sending their prayers up to Buddha.

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Some people were also carrying  prayer beads (called Malas) with them as they walked or sat.   A strand contains 108 beads and is used to keep count of the number of times a mantra or Deity name is repeated. 

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One of the stops along the road was to an artist shop that made Mandala paintings.    A Mandala symbolizes a miniature cosmos and is also the platform on which the Buddha addresses his followers.  The circles or squares of the Mandala also represent levels of meditation with the center being full enlightenment.

We were shown the process of creating one of these intricate designs.   First, fabric is stretched very tightly on a frame and painted with a clay mixture.  It is dried for a day and then rubbed with a stone until smooth.

The intricate design is drawn on in pencil…..

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(Notice how she is using her leg and foot to support her arms and keep them steady as she draws).

Then the piece is painstakingly painted with a paint that is made from ground stones, mixed with glue and water.IMG_2548

This one was not in the normal Mandala format but was amazingly intricate…..IMG_2546

I was interested that they were using this book in the creation of their designs…..

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I noticed one piece that was still in the drying stages and laughed at the practice brush strokes at the top of the canvas……

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Another laugh came at this Woolen shop selling Pashminas…..DSC06104 The sign says “Dear Human…..just feel me!!!”

  I was drawn to this little skirt…..DSC06106   …and Michael was drawn to these gorgeous bags of beans and herbs….

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We left the Stupa area and headed to our next destination….more to come.

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