Travel Notes from Kathmandu-Pharping, Nepal
I am now going to places that i haven't visited. To play fair and ensure that i have objectively visited all towns, municipalities and cities of Nepal, i was off to Pharping. Pharping is located in the southern valley of Kathmandu facing endless mountain ranges and rice paddies. It is also well-known as a Buddhist enclave. Thousands of pilgrims set off to explore this tiny Buddha fan town tucked in a ridge.
To get here was a last minute decision. A sudden change of plans from Kathmandu lead me to this place. I just wished the weather cooperated, as skies have been cloudy the past few days. After a 2-day break in the capital city to get some money, eat familiar food, and sort out my memory cards and gadgets, i knew that i was ready to move again. And at 12 noon, i left my backpacks and brought with me a duffel i bought in Thailand a year earlier. I didn't bring much for the 2 day out of town trip. I was just super confident that i can pull this through, whatever it takes. Originally, i was planning to stay at this hotel facing a monastery. It must be a whirlwind experience to be staying a few meters away from praying monks but i simply cannot afford it. I don't want to mention the name of the hotel because i didn't stay there anyway. But i must say, the location is out of this world. The kind gentleman helped me find the bus to Pharping. I was at a junction, a few kilometers away from Dollu. It took me less than 5 minutes and a stick of cigarette before i was hailed a taxi, not a bus. Well, it's not really a taxi but an actual car heading to Dakshinkali. The experience was surreal. I got seated to two men who're obviously heading to Dakshinkali. The live chicken was given. I arrived at the junction, and bargained the man if i could pay him only 100 rupees. We said goodbye, and i was already looking for Pharping Family Guest House.
Again, the string of off the beaten path destinations continue. Pharping doesn't receive a lot of tourists. The only foreigners you will see are Buddhist students. The room next to me have been staying in Pharping for three months now. I bargained for a price, and got the best room. Directly in front of me in my balcony is Guru Rinpoche, handsomely placed in a clear glass, well-lighted at night. Which eventually became my source of light for the night. In a day, power was cut off fore more than 18 hours. As a familiar route, i started clockwise, and visited Auspicious Pinnacle Dharma Centre of Dzongar. It was a quiet afternoon, and no grandfathers sitting on the chair. I turned the 13 huge prayer wheels, while contemplating on what the real essence of all of these is to me. From here, i started walking towards north to visit some beautiful fine-art Buddhist monasteries such as Ralo Gompa and Sakya Tharig Gompa. I stayed for a bit here as the warm rays of the dying sun, and some pilgrims making their circles, were enough caviat for me to relax and just take it all in.
Later on, i found myself heading up the stairs to find Guru Rinpoche Cave, and was surprised to meet a half-drunk, half-wit guide. He asked for donation, so i just gave him about fifty rupees. Along this path, i saw too many tsha-tsha ( stupa-shaped clay offerings with actual hair). There were many kid monks playing, too.
Going down was a breeze, and i found my two-hour familiarization trip worthwhile. I like Pharping because it's quiet, serene and calm. But i also found myself lost most of the time. I feel that to truly experience Pharping, you have to understand the doctrine. I think that those who're studying Buddhism here picked the best place to finish their studies. For others, it is an engaging way to look at a town from a different perspective.
Pharping is one of the places in Nepal that I've been to where establishments close the earliest. At 8PM, i was already in my room braving the winter night breeze. 80% of the shops have already closed, those who are left are just counting the stocks of their wares. Earlier that night, i opened the door to a rather full capacity restaurant. I told myself, the food must be good. Little did i know that the people eating are all monks. I am the only foreigner/non-Buddhist eating at the corner table. In front of me are about thirty monks eating their thukpas and momos. A few minutes later, all of them have become busy with their cellphones and on Facebook. One monk even helped me secure the password for the WiFi. People must realize that monks nowadays have changed. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but just surprising basing on our perceptions. In essence, these monks are still young people. They want to enjoy their youth. They want to know what's hip. They want to connect with their friends outside of the monastery. I will not be surprised if these monks even have flings. In my opinion, to study Buddhism and find enlightenment, one must still enjoy life. Because in order for us, people, to find the light, we must all live a happy life. Don't you agree?
I slept at 9PM. A couple of hours later, i woke up to monks prayers at 3AM. I may not have the most comfortable bed, and i knew i could sleep some more but my senses are already wide awake and in total state of bliss.