After crossing the border between India and Nepal there is still a long journey up to the main cities of Kathmandu and/or Pokhara. So I decided to break up the trip a bit, partly because it is more comfortable but also because there are things to experience in the very south of Nepal.
The birthplace of Buddha
In the small town of Lumbini, the Maya Devi temple marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama around 563 BC. Siddhartha is also known as Buddha and it is on his teachings that Buddhism was founded. I am a Christian by birth (not a very active practitioner) but find many thoughts from other religions or philosophies to be intriguing. And from experience I know that many Buddhist places have a peaceful atmosphere that I like. It was the same thing here at the temple, and as I approached the special stone that marked the exact spot of Buddha’s birthplace I felt calm and privileged to be able to go to places like this. This is after all one of the most important religious places on Earth a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How amazing is that?
Wildlife and a long walk
After a seven hour long bus ride from Lumbini (where the bus at some point was so full that I ended up with a young Nepalese girl in my lap) I arrived in the small town of Sauraha close to Chitwan National Park. The main attraction here is the wild animals in the park and I teamed up with an Australian for a walk. And we got a walk to remember! We started early in the morning and nine hours, 33 kilometers and almost 50.000 steps later me and my hiking buddy arrived back at the hotel. We were both really tired and had emerging blisters on our feet. Some parts of the walk actually felt more like military march training than a tourist forest walk. But in the end it was worth it. Because apart from all deers, birds, wild pigs, and footprints from tigers and sloth bears that we saw, we were also lucky to see wild rhinos from a close range. No fence in between. Just us and the rhino in a respectful meeting. That is a lot better than a zoo.
“Crikey means gee whiz, wow!”