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Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton


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Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Kathmandu (May 21- 25, 2007)
Our home base for the first five days of our journey was the Sechen Guest House, a two-story, 25-room structure located on the grounds of the Sechen Monastery in an old section of Kathmandu.  We settled into our $6/night accommodations pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the rooms and the private bathrooms with hot (most of the time) showers.  Each room, though lacking a fan to ameliorate the effects of heat and humidity, had passably functional screens on the windows and electricity, as well as candles for the numerous occasions when electric service was interrupted. The typical Asian mattress, we were to find out that evening, was more akin to a hard board than the pillow-top varieties in the States. But in the honeymoon rush of actually being in Kathmandu, we overlooked the lack of amenities as “quaint” or even romantic.  This would change as the trip progressed but for the time being I, at least, was ecstatic.



Bodnath Stupa

The famous Bodnath Stupa, with its all-watchful Buddha eyes painted to face in the four directions, was a mere 3-minute walk from the Sechen Guest House on bustling dirt alleys lined with small fruit markets and stores selling Tibetan and Nepali handicrafts. A “stupa” in Buddhist Asia is a traditional structure--round with a spire on top--, which represents the connection between earth and sky and is a symbol of enlightenment. The Bodnath Stupa is ancient (1000 years old by many accounts) and massive (the diameter of a football field at its base).  It soon became the heart and soul of our stay in Kathmandu.  Whenever the opportunity arose we made quick trips to join the constant mass of humanity -- including Tibetan Buddhists, Nepali Hindus, school children, people begging, tourists and Western pilgrims – circumambulating the base of the stupa in a clockwise motion. The hundreds of brass prayer wheels embedded in the outside wall of the stupa were carved with the mantra (prayer) of compassion “Om mane padme hum” and had been worn to a bright patina by the touch of countless hands. To show respect, many of us adopted the Tibetan custom of carrying our prayer beads in our left hand, counting off prayers as we walked around the stupa, while turning the prayer wheels with our right hand.





Stupa View