– ODO- 13002 – 13061km
– Location- A valley north of Butwal, Nepal
– Weather- 20-34 Dusty
A couple of days ago, while I was waiting outside the Nepal Telecom office, I began speaking to a local shop owner who’d come across the road to checkout my bike. As I filled my bottles and prepared my bike he bagan telling me about his country and asked my route. We talked for several minutes before leaving and suggested a couple of sights along my road. Just like that I changed my plans.
I took a 20 kilometre detour to Lumbini. The town that surrounds the temple site is like any other in the region. Slabs of poured concrete with rusty rebar sticking upwards from the roof, I assume it’s there so they can add another floor in future. Stalls selling food and souvenirs. Busy, crowded, dusty.
Inside the temple site is completely different. The birth place is marked by a bean shaped stone surrounded by the ruins of an ancient temple. Money offerings pile up on the bullet proof glass. The ruins are covered by a more modern building and surrounded by gardens with prayer flags. Deep orange robed monks sit around a large central tree. I pick a tree of my own and sit in silence with my thoughts for the first time in months.
At the gates I managed to walk mostly into the temple grounds without a ticket and with my shoes still on. Nepal is so relaxed. The guards, in full military fatigues, didn’t stop me. The followed me with a quiet “excuse me sir” until I noticed and retraced my step, bought my ticket (500 rupees) and took off my shoes.
Surrounding the temple are miles of landscapes gardens filled with monasteries for many different Buddhist denominations, each in their distinctive style. I spent the morning walking between them before the heat built too much and returned to the hotel to collect my bike. Over the next two days I’m climbing straight into the Himalayas. This morning of rest will help a great deal.