Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Birthplace of Buddah

Lumbini is the birth place of Buddah, who was born here on a full moon in 623 B.C. And we were like the Magi traveling over field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder van. The fields were wonderful! Lush expanses of various grains, women in bright saris bent over working and children herding goats and buffalo. The mountains were hell! Narrow, twisting roads with mud and rock slides every few kilometers that we were forced to ride over, through or around while dodging oncoming traffic. To make matters worse, we suck in the diesel fumes and are covered in dust from our van and the trucks and buses. On our final stretch, we rode about 15 km on a very rough, broken road which took almost an hour to ride. Then, Eureka! A paved road! We get on the throttle and dash the last few miles.

Bill often makes jokes about going to see another pile of rocks and that’s just what this turns out to be. This is a World Heritage site and is primarily an archaeological dig in progress. The main attractions are a stone marking the place where he was born, a tree his mother held and a pool in which the baby Buddha was bathed. For us the real attraction is people watching. There are monks in their saffron robes, people from all over the world, beggars and believers. We strolled around the grounds and visited several of the many temples built by various countries. These are beautiful, peaceful places with many images of Buddha. Tucked away beside the Nuns Temple, we found the Pilgrims Rest Cottage Restaurant where we enjoyed some cold drinks and listened to the ancient owner give a history of the Temple. On our way out of the grounds, a little girl about four years old, latched onto Ross and kept singing him a song over and over. He melted and made his first contribution of baksheesh. She then moved on to Steve and it was really cute to see this tiny waif walking along side this big, tall guy and the two of them singing together. Naturally, she got another donation.

Thanks for all your comments on the blog. We love reading them!

To answer Wayne's question: We are not using our GPSs for several reasons: First, we just follow our van which is a lot easier then trying to navigate on our own. Secondly, riding requires such strong concentration that you really can’t take your eyes off the road for a second so the GPS would be too distracting. Third, we’re in Nepal and we don’t have those maps.


Leaving Nainital, we headed down the mountains to Haldwani where we spent two luxurious days at a Comfort Inn. There, we enjoyed a very modern room with flat screen TV and endless toilet paper-a commodity much taken for granted prior to this trip!

From there, we continued on our way to Nepal. Traffic thinned out somewhat and the road surface improved slightly. We actually started to relax a bit for the first time and enjoy the countryside. Homes are mainly thatched roof huts clustered in small communities with lots of goats, sheep, oxen and kids. There are constant reminders of the recent monsoons. Wide swaths of land have been reduced to sandy river beds full of rocks and debris. Parts of the road are washed away and large rocks on the edge are the only warning signs. At one point, the bridge we needed to cross was washed away and we had to turn back and detour around to another crossing. This turned out to be another little adventure as we took a very narrow road through several tiny villages which were interesting to see close up. We rode alongside a river, crossing it twice on small bridges, then the road got progressively worse until at one point, I stopped a the bottom of a sand dune unsure how to proceed. It was at that point I was passed by two saris and a turban on a 125cc so I screwed up my courage and blasted after them.

The road soon ended and we found ourselves at the border to Nepal! First we had to sign out at the Indian Immigration where we met a girl from Siberia and later, a guy from Elliot Lake, Ontario rode up on an old Enfield. Talk about diversity! Then we went about a kilometer and passed through Nepal Immigration after paying about $50 each.

We’ve now been here two days and are really enjoying the riding. The pavement is very good or as our driver, Sanjay says “No more jumping road”. The Himalayas are on our left as we ride through a long, lush valley. There is a huge military/police presence and we are forced to stop about every 10 kilometers to show our papers. The people are very curious about us and at one rest stop, we attracted quite a crowd of men and boys including one old fellow with only two long teeth, slightly off centre, dressed in a sarong who, for some reason, decided to remove it and display his loin cloth. They called him Nepal Superman but it wasn’t readily apparent how he got that nickname. Anyway, everyone had a good laugh and we got some great people pictures.