It’s been a year now since I went to Nepal on my first ‘voluntourism’ trip. I have promised to write about it since ages ago, and since it’s been procrastinated so much, I think this place very much deserves the attention – hence becoming the header of the month for April.
Not that I’m exactly abiding by my own time in posting this header of the month as well. First week of April has come and gone and here I am, ten days late, in publishing this post.)
Anyway, presenting to you the Header of April.
Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Kathmandu as a city is probably the epitome of how the capital city of a poor country is like. After all, Nepal is the second poorest country in Asia in 2013, just doing slightly better than Afghanistan with GDP per capita of USD 1,300. The city, if you can call it one, is really dirty, and you can find beggars and hungry kids strewn all over the street. The people are so poor that often times you will see the kids smelling glue at the roadside just to suppress their appetite. One even snatched a sandwich from my hand as I was eating while walking past them. Things that we take for granted… Thinking back, it was quite insensitive of me eating my food in front of starving children.
Hence, I really did not expect much in terms of sightseeing. Especially after having been to Delhi and Agra, many of the temples and historic sites that we visited on the first day simply looked less intricate and sophisticated than the ones in India. I was rather unimpressed by one of the UNESCO heritage sites, Dharahara or the Bimsen Tower. It looked like an ordinary watchtower to me although I know it is unfair to judge just by the looks of it.
Hence, I was very pleasantly surprised when I visited Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. It was the first time I came across a Tibetan Buddhist Stupa, so I was understandably in awe. Its size was impressive, one of the largest in the world.
You can walk around the stupa and enjoy the view around. Surrounding the stupa are small and colourful shop houses and restaurants. So people watching is an option too. Just remember to walk in a clockwise direction, which is apparently the correct way to do it.
Now looking back at the pictures, from all the angles I took, I definitely walked around the stupa anti-clockwise. Oh well, typical me of not doing research before travelling.
The place was so beautiful that I had a sudden burst of artistic veins inside me. So enjoy these pictures that I took as I was walking around the stupa and admiring its grandness.
Some tips for Boudhanath and Kathmandu:
- Taking taxi is definitely the easiest way to get around Kathmandu. It was not very expensive to taxi around Kathmandu, so a recommended option. We tried walking to a destination where the locals told us it would only take 15 minutes, but we ended up walking for 1.5 hours and not getting anywhere.
- The entrance to Boudhanath is around Rupee 150 (less than USD 2), so very minimal.
- The sight closest to Boudhanath is Pashupatinath (about 2.6 km away), so you can consider doing them together.
- I sound like a naggy mom here, but be sure to bring plenty of water with you as it can get really hot at the stupa. I visited the place in April and the heat could be very dehydrating. I remember emptying my wallet and even paid the seller in Indian Rupee (which is accepted there) just to get a bottle of water.
- WiFi is available in virtually all cafes in Nepal, so you don’t have to worry about getting connected.
I had an unexpected encounter with Boudhanath again three months later after my visit to Nepal. I was walking around Christiania in Copenhagen and it was the first time I noticed this after my five visits to the place:
I love how travelling makes you connect the different dots around the world. I always marvel at the fact that the world can be very big and small at the same time. Who would have thought that Denmark and Nepal would be so connected? First Tuborg and now this…
Now do you see why I love travelling (and Denmark) so much?