New year in Kathmandu

Returning to the city from Lukla was a little of a culture shock. Swapping very basic wooden lodges with plastic sheet windows and long drop toilets in quiet valleys, for a plush hotel in Kathmandu with (relatively) endless hot water and busy traffic outside.

Swapping freezing at night in a sleeping bag clutching a hotwater bottle, for sprawling out on a bed under clean sheets with the air conditioning on.

And while I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Thamel with cocktails and dancing in the street in the dark amidst the crowds, the following morning I had to remove myself to find peace and tranquillity like I had in the Hinku valley – as close as I could find.

I couldn’t face the walk through busy streets from Boudha stupa so I negotiated a taxi to Kopan monastery and had a few hours of quiet bliss overlooking the city.

Kopan monastery caters for westerns keen for retreats as well as training local Buddhist monks. In its grounds you can wander round stupas and admire the gardens. It turned out to be a perfect way to relax.

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DSC00761 Just down the road is the Kopan nunnery and while I could sneak in through the gate, the nuns were all out having lunch in the sunshine so the monastery wasn’t open. Three dogs greeted me with barks as I approached the building and on realising I wasn’t the enemy they circled for attention. The nuns were incredibly generous and offered me to join them for lunch, it felt rude to decline but I’d already eaten at the main monastery cafe. It’s a shame the nunnery clearly does not have as much spent on it as the monastery and I suspect it doesn’t get as many visitors, even in Buddhism Nepal isn’t equal across society. DSC00768DSC00769

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