Welcome back to my Nepali adventure! If you haven’t read Part 1, then hightail it over there and check that out first, then come back and get into Part 2 below (it will make more sense that way!).
So where did we leave off last week..?? Oh yes, that’s right. I was in Lumbini. And I was feeling pretty disheartened by the selfies and selfishness I’d experienced at the birthplace of Buddha. But there was something that brightened my time there – the food! The food we ate in Lumbini was by far the most delicious of the entire trip.
Lumbini is a really small town, only a few km’s from the Indian border, and there wasn’t much going on there. So when we ordered meals, they were cooked fresh, from scratch, every time. None of this pre-cooked and kept warm for hours nonsense! The richness of the flavours was out of this world (of course it took an hour or so to prepare, but the wait was worth it). The hubby even found his new favourite dish – veg manchurian. Nepali cuisine is heavily influenced by both Indian and Chinese (being that it’s snuggled in between these two giants!) so we ate a lot of curry, a lot of spicy food, dumplings called ‘momos’ and little fritters called ‘pakodas’.
As I had suspected, it was – absolutely – a vegan food lover’s paradise.
But, it was onwards to Pokhara! This town is nestled in at the base of the Annapurna mountain range and the ‘Fishtail’ (as it is so appropriately called). What a place! Think of the most beautiful place you’ve seen, and then multiply it by 10 (I’m such a mountain lover though, I grew up under a mountain in New Zealand so being around big hills and mountains is really comforting to me).
Our first day after arriving we trekked around the most beautiful lake, Lake Begnas. The sun rose over the hills, we could see the Fishtail mountains clearly in the blue sky, and as if from a dream, we found ourselves overlooking the entire scene practising yoga. At that moment I thought to myself, “These are the memories that we live for. These are the moments that we look back on and smile and say, yes, I lived.”
But it was in Pokhara that I had the most moving experience of our journey. We spent a day visiting a Tibetan refugee village. They’ve been living here since 1959 (or so) when the Chinese invaded Tibet and took over the country. Lots of people fled the country, including the Dalai Lama, some to India and some to Nepal. So this refugee village has been here for 55 years!
I remember when I was young in the 80s and there were loads of people wearing ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirts and I never really understood what was going on. I’m not sure I ever fully got it – but I sure do now.
Tibetan people are adorable. They’re Buddhist, they’re peaceful, they have a connection to nature and all living things. They’re friendly and welcoming – we ate breakfast with a lovely woman inside her home, and then lunch with another woman inside her home! They don’t have much, but they offer everything they can. It really is quite the opposite of how we act here in the West. We have this tendency to be possessive and territorial over our things. We scoff at buying second-hand goods. “I earn enough, I can buy my things new!”
But does owning all these material possessions make us better people? I would have to say my answer is no! There is nothing you can buy that makes you a better person. Those things must cultivate, ripen, from deep in your soul.
Tibetan people don’t even have a country! They have no citizenship to anywhere. No passports. They are lifelong visitors in another land. They’re not allowed to travel back to Tibet, and people inside Tibet aren’t allowed to leave.
I still can’t believe that fact. Can you imagine not only that you have no country, but the country you once had, you can’t even go there? I bet you’re struggling to imagine that as much as I am!
And despite this, they’re such beautiful people – they’re not bitter or depressed. In the true Buddhist way they accept their reality and stay optimistic for their future. I wonder if I would be? I hope so but who can really say. Would you?
This whole experience was so enlightening. When we step outside of our own little bubble of Western privilege and entitlement, there is a world of injustice out there. It’s massive and yes, a little overwhelming. But I really believe it comes down to each individual and our perspective.
You can be very rich in your bank account, but extremely poor in your life. You can be extremely poor in your bank account, and very, very rich in your life. If you’re collecting possessions and filling your life with things, then are you neglecting (or avoiding) something really important in your soul? Maybe you’re trying to define who you are by owning stuff to impress others. But wouldn’t you rather people genuinely liked you because you’re a decent human being?
Or are you the kind of person who finds it hard to accept when things don’t go your way, or when people disagree with you, or when you’re not given the service you believe you deserve? Do you complain a lot and make life difficult for yourself (and others)? Then perhaps a shift in perspective is needed.
Richness of life comes from how we treat others. How we serve others. How we help others, people and animals and the planet alike. It’s not about how the world treats us. Because, as Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
It’s not about what’s in your bank account, it’s about what’s in your heart.
I hope neither of us forget about that.
After this experience, I felt so much more gratitude towards the rest of my time in Nepal (and in fact towards my life in general).
So we left Pokhara, and headed back to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur for our last few days. With the hubby needing a day of rest, I practically raced out the door to spend a day at the Himalayan International Yoga Academy and Research Centre. It really was the perfect way to end my time in this incredible country. One-on-one yoga practice, a cleansing Ayurvedic massage and steam bath, followed by yoganidra (yogic sleep meditation) with Swami Yog Subodh himself. I felt so honoured to be there!
So what can I say? Nepal was enlightening. It changed my perceptions, reinforced my values, and every time I look at the photos my heart fills with warmth and happiness. It touched a place in my soul that isn’t often reached. I will definitely be back there, and who knows, maybe even live there in the future! So I encourage you to visit there yourself and open up to the magic that the country, the people, and the scenery can give you.
I encourage you to open up to the magic of life! We have the opportunity to learn and grow and enrich ourselves every single day. Let yourself be enriched.
With love and enrichment,
P.S. Do you have a burning question about Nepal? I’m more than happy to help with any queries you might have! Throw your questions at me below and I’ll do my very best to answer them.