Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Nepal Getaway! (Day 3)

Today was my last day at Hotel Planet Bhaktapur. I took advantage of the garden at the back of the hotel. I noticed that people also sat there to chat and eat. It was a beautiful setting. It would be nice to have friends with you when you visit places like this, it makes it more interactive.

My stay at Planet Bhaktapur was a reasonable one. I only added USD 120 to cover my 6-hour guided tour on Day 2, two night's dinner (breakfast was already included in the booking), private taxis and tour on Day 3.   

Sadly, I left my "home away from home" hotel at Bhaktapur. Yes, Hotel Planet Bhaktapur deserves that recognition. For the two days I was with them, I was pampered and well-attended to. The staff offered relevant information and was very proactive to the guests needs. I highly recommend them. These three gentlemen, Martin, Bishnu and Rajan and the hotel management were very helpful. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for their assistance.

I have arranged a transport from Bhaktapur (through the hotel) to go to Park Village Resort along Budanilkantha Rd, somewhere north of the capital city. Before leaving, I asked them if there are any sights to see before I make my final stop at my next hotel, they gladly arranged it for me. I just added Rs. 1000 (approx USD 10) to the original fare and the taxi driver would take me to these three places:

1. Pashupati (Pashupatinath) Temple - the place where the dead are cremated and is considered a world heritage site. Paid Rs. 1000 (approx USD 10 at the entrance) Stayed there for about 30mins. I found the place's aura too sad. Why? Read on.

What is my feedback of the place when I got there? First a local tourist guide approached me, asked me questions. I already had a hint of what he wanted, having no need for a guide at this point, I dismissed him politely. I witness a Hindu cremation being prepared when I got there. I take deaths very seriously, I felt very sad when I was there. It was an additional life learning experience for me because it showed me how other faiths dealt with death. I took pictures of the temples in the area. All, if not most, were dedicated to Shiva (destroyer god). There were a lot of monkeys and cows in the area. I know that it has religious significance that my guide (Krishnu) told me about yesterday, but I forgot.

An old people's home outside the temple.

Shops for tourists and devotees.

2. Boudhanath - another World Heritage Site. A sacred site to many Buddhists (known as a Buddhist stupa).  Roamed around the place for a little over an hour. Had an entrance fee of Rs. 150 (about USD 1.50).

In Nepal, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nationals get a discounted rate if they want to enter sacred sites and tourist places. SAARC member countries are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldive, Bhutan and the recently joined Afghanistan. This term was new to me, I was only used to UN, NATO, ASEAN and EU.

What is my feedback about the place? I found the place very pleasant and had a very positive environment. There were many shops, cafes and restaurants. Vendors greeted you "namaste!" every time you entered a shop. ("namaste" rough translation - "I bow to the god within you." or "The spirit within me salutes the spirit in you.") This was a fun experience. I bought small gifts for friends, took pictures, a couple of selfies. According to the brochure that was given to me at the entrance, this "stupa is commonly known as Boudha or Boudhanath meaning lord of wisdom. It is a protective, purificatory and wish-granting stupa." I guess this was the reason why the place had a positive impression on me.

3. Budhanilkantha - the sacred temple of the sleeping Lord Vishnu. There was no entrance fee. Cameras and mobile phones were not allowed. There were people offering prayers to the sleeping god Vishnu. When I saw a pilgrim sneak a shot, I also did. I just felt that this is something important and should have a picture. After all, there are loads of it online. I just stayed there for less than 5 minutes.

I arrived at my next stop, Village Park Resort at around 2:30PM. Checked in, went to the wellness center to inquire about its services. Had lunch, took a shower, headed back to the wellness center for my 4:00PM massage appointment. Village Park is a typical hotel. It had the basic needs. It has courteous staff who smiled and helped when required, but I was missing the pampering that I got from Hotel Planet Bhaktapur. 

After my massage, I wondered a bit in the compound and took some lovely shots of the houses and cottages. This hotel is just at the foot of the Himalayas. Lovely ambiance. As my stay progresses in the night the staff continues to prove that they are also taking care of their guests.

The Wellness Center, got my massage here. It was amazing.

Lunch: Chicken Chowmein
Dinner: Chicken Biryani

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