|Zhong Hua Chinese Buddhist Monastery at Lumbini, Nepal|
was only a stone's throw away but we were thankful we did this because there isn't really a bus station. There is a street with buses parked on the side and the destination are all written in Hindi. The rickshaw driver told us which bus was headed to Sunauli which we would have never found on our own. Before stepping on the bus, a tout tried to sell us seats on another bus that he said would get their quicker and was cheaper. But if there is one thing India has taught us, it is that anything that sounds too good to be true is.
We made it to Sunauli and followed two young men with loads of goods, figuring the must be headed to the border. There is only one main road to the border so no need to take a rickshaw if you follow the traffic. We got our exit visas stamped on the India side which took about ten minutes and then walked across the border. An India official asked us if we got our passports stamped and when we said yes, he wished us well and waved us through. On the Nepal side, we went straight to the visa office to the right, filled out our forms, paid for our visas and got our stamps. (If you do this, be sure to pack a passport photo and American dollars, although a couple people were able to pay in Indian rupees.)We took the locals bus to Sunauli and besides the piercing horn that the bus driver used every three seconds, the ride was pretty cool as we got to see parts of rural India and more of the country life. Unfortunately, much like the urban parts of India, there is no waste management system and the garbage sometimes eclipses the country's natural beauty.
|Mike turning a giant prayer wheel|
|Mike gives a photography lesson|
The food in Lumbini was not great, but the service is so slow that by the time your food arrives, it is delicious. But we did find amazing egg and cheese sandwiches at the Lotus restaurant across from Lumbini Village Lodge. (Keep in mind if you go to Lumbini, there is malaria in the Terai region.)
The next day we rented bikes and had a blast. We rode around the temple complex and visited the Maya Devi Temple which sits on the birthplace of Buddha. The site has been excavated which reveals a sandstone carving from the 14th century displaying the nativity scene of Buddha's birth as well as stone behind bullet proof glass marking the exact spot. At the temple we met many school children eager to practice their English. We ended up taking lots of pictures of them and with them at the centuries old tree dripping with prayer flags at the Sacred Pond.
We then cruised around visiting all of the Buddhist monasteries and temples in the West Monastic Zone. At one point, we stopped for a snack near the Lumbini museum and one of the kids we had met earlier was in line with Mike. Mike ended up buying him a juice and just before we took off on our bikes he came up to Mike and handed him a small Buddha pendant on a necklace, an offer of friendship.
The next morning we boarded a bus (Golden Travels) to Pokhara and thus began the worst bus ride of our lives. (P.S. If you want to book your own bus ticket in Lumbini, the ticket stand is a little red booth to the left when you come out of the bazaar.) When people say the buses in Nepal are the worst, they mean it. While the tourist buses are nice, the roads are terrible, the bus drivers aggressive, the buses have no heat, and the constant rattling and winding up the mountain is brutal. When we arrived at Pokhara, we were both sick for a couple of days. But, much like Lumbini, getting to Pokhara was totally worth it.
|Outside Maya Devi Temple|