Day 2 – Kathmandu, a very green place; Boudha- meeting Rinpoches

Thought I have to admit that I did almost zero research before coming. Katmandu is still very different from my imagination.

Isn’t Nepal the highest nation in the world with all those famous snow capped mountain peaks? Katmandu is actually below 2000m (yes, I am well trained by Tibet now, so only places above 4000m can be considered to be at high attitude…). More over, the whole valley is covered by beautiful terraced rice paddies.

My first half day at Kathmandu turned out to be very efficient, thanks to a friend’s friend’s friend whom I have never met. We delivered all the sttuff I brought over for someone and I also visited two key sights – the Monkey Temple and the Boudha Stupa.

We first went to a retreat center to pass some stuff, dropped off my bag, had some tea (of course), then walked to another place to pass the rest of stuff, and continued the walk to Swoyambhu in the neighborhood (I am not sure whether this is the famous Swayyambuhnath, but anywy I see a stupa with some monkeys so this is at least a mild version of the fmous MonKey Temple). The monkeys are not frighteningly numerous so it’s sort of pleasant to see them around. What I really enjoyed was the walk around the site as many Tibetans were doing their kora walk in the late afternoon time. The site has a lot of old trees, among those, my favorite are the pines. There were also people lighting up thousands of oil lamps altogether in the dusk.

Then we grabbed a cab to go across the city to Boudha (aka. Bodhnath) to pass something to Khenchen Appey Rinpoche. His place is huge, American style- like many Tibetan people’s places in the retreat center area, with a tree full of jasmine flowers in the garden. Kenpo is likely 70 or even over 80 years old, originally from the Kham area in Tibet, and to my surprise, he started speaking English to me after exchanging a few words via translation. Not only that, his first question was very difficult to answer: ”Do you think you are studying Buddha dharma?” he asked.

For a beginner like myself, it’s probably too arrogant to even think that I am “studying” dharma, especially in front of someone who devoted all his life to study and practice Buddha dharma. And as dharma is beyond word and conception, what is the thing to be studied if I am studying anything? And isn’t that whatever I am doing or trying to do only exists in my own “thinking” or conscious? Or maybe I was thinking too much and the he was just asking a friendly question to understand whether I am just a tourist or a Buddhist tourist?

Anyway, pondering for 1 second with my entangled mind, I can only answer that “I am trying to learn the dhrama”.

One thing Kenpo Abbey said which is completely consistent to Phende Rinpoche is that Taiwan is a very good place to learn Buddhism so people live in Taipei have some true blessings.

Then we went to Tarik Gompa, a monastry nearby the famous stupa where Luding Khen Rinpoche happened to be there. Therefore I got the fortune to meet the head of Ngor-lineage (Within Sakya school in Tibetan Buddhism, Ngor and Tsar are two key sub-schools). It’s indeed quite an experience to meet someone whose pictures are all over the Sakyapa monastries in Tibet. One common thing about all those respectful Rinpoches is that you can feel their compassion and kindness just by being around them.

It’s approaching dinner time so few lamas here and there are sitting outside chatting. 

Then we went to Buddhist College of Tsamchen Gompa, the late Chogye Rinpoche’s monastry (more known as Jamchen Monastry. I haven’t figured out why places in Nepal always have more than one spelling and Lonely Planet generally picked the lesser known one) to see the plaza where they held the cremation ceremony for Chogye Trichen Rinpoche not long ago. It’s very quiet and only an old man was doing the kora walk around the stupa in the plaza. The lama with me went over to send his regards and later told me that the old man was the King of Mustang, the area he and Kunga come from.

(Chogye Rinpoche was the head of Tsar sub-school. About him: For more info on the Sakyapa:

While it’s not completely dark, we got back to the Boudha (Bodhnath) Stupa to join the pilgrims’ kora walks. We bypassed the main entrance of Chogye Rinpoche’s monastry as it’s the only monastry that opens directly to the stupa. The place is a bit like the bahkor in Lhasa, full of people, lively yet calm and with a flavor of joy in the air.

On our way back to the retreat center, we gave a ride to a young khenpo, who speaks very good English and Chinese on top of Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian. Only then I realize that the lama who has been showing me around also speaks very good English. It seems that they are all very talented in languages.

We had a ride passing by the palace, a huge restaurant said to be owned by American to offer dinner/dance show for tourists, and the famous Thamel district full of tourists and related shops. With the traffic jam and candle lights due to electricity restriction in certain districts, I had a cozy taxi ride to window shop around Thamel and to watch local people in this energetic and even chaotic area.

Back to the retreat center, dinner is served just for me. I had vegetarian momo (just like steamed Chinese dumplings with vege and mushrooms) accompanied by local Azi pepper sauce, very light stir fried greens, and Korean deonjang soup. The modern Tibetan family is so global: they moved out of Himalaya Mustang to Kathmandu, built a 4 story modern house with nice lawn and a grand stupa; kids were playing video games from probably Japan and TV is showing Indian soap opera; a Taiwanese is dining at a table with table matts from Japane with prints of Chinese panda bears and eating Chinese dumplings and Korean soup!


關於 bella.chao
a simple wandering being on less beaten tracks in samsara

One Response to Day 2 – Kathmandu, a very green place; Boudha- meeting Rinpoches

  1. marajit says:

    Lesotho has the highest lowest point 🙂


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