25.11.2009 - 26.11.2009
Our last stop in Nepal was to Lumbini - the birthplace of the Buddha. We'd intended to spend more than one night there but found it really hard to book somewhere as there was a massive festival going on - in the end one night was plenty.
We had a slight problem getting there as buses weren't allowed to enter the village during the visit of the Nepali prime minister - we'd just started to walk the 3km to the village in the sun, carrying our bags, feeling hot and miserable when the motorcade passed us followed swiftly by a bus so all was OK. The festival was amazing in honour of:
There were more monks than you could shake several sticks at and the main street was lined with stalls and temporary tented restaurants. Not only were all the hotels full, but there were campsites set up to accommodate everyone.
Lumbini is an odd place - there's a huge site which is being developed into three zones:
The Sacred Garden Zone - including the area related to the birth of Buddha
The East Monastic Zone is reserved for construction of Theravada monasteries (Thai etc)
The West Monastic Zone is dedicated to construction of about 15 Mahayana tradition monasteries (Chinese etc)
Different countries are building massive monasteries and all trying to outdo each other. The two monastic zones are separated by a canal so it's a really long way round to visit both - we hired bikes but some people walked miles.
There's also a huge Tibetan Buddhist foundation where all ceremonies were continuing - we missed the big processions with elephants etc the previous day.
Next stop India where this is being typed. Nepal has been great - awesome scenery, nice friendly people, very easy to travel around and good food (mostly) - just a shame about the spitting!