After a few nights at the historic Kathmandu Guest House in the heart of Thamel (Kathmandu), I was ready to escape the live cover bands and honking taxis for some peace and quiet. I put my main pack in storage and grabbed a taxi east toward Boudhnath Stupa, an important site for both Buddhists and Hindus.
Upon catching my first glimpse of those all-seeing Buddha eyes, I knew I was going to spend my last few nights in Nepal nearby. From sunrise to sunset, Nepalis, Tibetans, tourists and all circumambulate the stupa in a clockwise direction. There is a palpable sense of energy created by so many people moving together. 108 prayer wheels are ensconced in the outer wall.
I booked a room at the PRK Guest House which is run by the adjacent monastery. My room overlooked their garden and had a view of the courtyard of a school. For half the price of the Kathmandu Guest House ($6/night), I had a better decorated room with a fantastic view and a sparkling clean bathroom. I was a VERY happy camper.
The stupa is surrounded by monasteries, restaurants, Tibetan souvenir shops and thangka schools which have grown up around it. Despite the occasional motorbike, it is a very tranquil space for pedestrians to stroll around.
I met up with two girls from my rafting trip, Natalie (Canada) and Sara (Australia), around 4pm. One of the first places we went was a monastery immediately opposite the stupa. A few monks took to us and I received a blessing and we all received khatas (a traditional scarf usually given to a lama or teacher who blesses it and returns it to the giver).
One monk in particular showed us a larger monastery nearby, and then a small orphanage he runs. While we got the sense we were being kidnapped by the guy only to be asked for a donation, we all knew it was going toward a worthy cause.