Travel Notes from Tilaraukot, Nepal
Sometimes, it is really not the destination but the journey that matters. The road to Tilaraukot is off the beaten. With no tourist infrastracture in sight, i was on a pilgrimage to where Buddha spent his 29 years of living. At12MN, he walked away from the comforts of his home to discover the world he did not know. It was at this moment, that he slowly began his path to enlightenment.
After many bus changes, i found myself walking the rest of the four kilometers to Kapilvastu. It was an easy 5 minute rickshaw ride, but as they say, a pilgrimage should be taken slowly, every step reflecting the whats and whys i am doing it in the first place. So,i walked instead.
My experience along the way was an eye-opener for me. There on the road, i saw the the real Nepal--people stricken by poverty, mismanaged waste disposal, unpaved roads with too many potholes, and the allure of drugs to teenagers. I stumbled upon a shop that sells 5 rupee milk teas, and a couple of samosas. On the far end corner of the shop are men overlooking what will be the afternoon delight of most locals. Eager to discover the real Nepal, i made my way towards them. With surprising eyes, it was an easy one minute to introduce myself, as the Gurung Nepali from the Philippines. While everyone's smiling in amazement, i was asked if i could man the huge pot of Samosas. My travel buddy turned good friend, Jihoon, was there to snap a photo of how ridiculously impossible it was for me to stir the fried samosas like a pro.
After a couple of minutes hanging out with these friendly locals, i continued my way to Tilaraukot with a promise that it will only take a couple of kilometers more to reach my destination for the day. I stumbled upon a Buddhist Temple being re-constructed, i stepped inside, and prayed. It's a personal belief of mine that regardless of any religion i am attributed to, i can pray to any God. I prayed to Buddha for a couple of minutes, asking for blessing as i journey towards his childhood hometown.
After a couple of minutes more, i reached Kapilvastu. It was barren, with dead leaves in sight, obviously not regularly managed, and still under construction. But there, through the ravines of deserted wood branches, the excavated part of what used to be the house where Buddha grew up, was simply magical. I sat there, and continued to the rest of the house. At this point, my imagination has been up and down, and trying to find focus was not an easy task. It became clear to me that the tipping point to my pilgrimage was not Kapilvastu but the road going there, instead.
Armed with friendly demeanor, i hitched a ride with a couple of medical students from Lumbini. I was dropped of at a nearby junction, and continued my trip back to Lumbini where i am staying for a couple of nights.
On my way to the bus park, a young girl approached me begging for money. In this day and age, a few pennies won't break my budget, nor will it affect my allowance for the day. But the fact is, the moment i give in to her plea, i will give in to her habit of begging. Although it is kindness that i preach, at this moment, i personally believe that i am not helping this little girl by giving her 5 rupees. If i did, i am helping her believe that money will come to her by doing nothing. She manages to touch my foot every 10 seconds. Walking faster than necessary to lose her, she walked faster as well, touching my foot more frequently. I told the little girl to stop, because i might stumble and she might get hurt. After sometime, she left with no 5 rupees that tourists usually give her. It is at this moment that i knew i did the right thing.
I rode the bus going back to Lumbini, in what must have been, the bus with the worst condition, i have ever ridden. Each break the driver makes, a steel frame from the bus roof slowly collapses. By this moment, my tired body, and broken spirit has gotten the best of me. This was the first moment of this trip, that i realized how much i miss home. But my journey has just begun. I knew this would happen sometime. It's inevitable.
In the greatest of Buddha's teachings, this was the perfect moment to embody what he says, "If you cannot help someone, at least don't hurt that person."
And so i believe, destiny has paved the way for me to walk the extra mile so i can discover the real purpose of this journey of mine.