14 August 2008

Kopan Monastery

I haven't yet told you about last Saturday, my most recent riding adventure. Lindsey (another American, this time from work) asked if I was keen to checkout the Kopan Monastery. She said "we'll ride up", I said, "I'll be there!".

A much shorter ride than the weekend before, but with good portions of it being directly uphill, by the time we reached the monastery we were about ready to drop dead as it was quite possibly the hottest day since my arrival. Along the road we were passed by a monk riding a motorbike at breakneck speeds downhill and at the gate there was another having a chat on a mobile phone. I don't know why these were things I didn't expect Buddhist monks to be getting into, but I was surprised all the same.

There were many sayings, prayers and suggestions up around the walls of the monastery, but this was the funniest one, just near the entrance.

The monks here mainly seem to be influenced by Tibetan Buddhism- as I understand, there are many flavours - although the general concept is the same. The Dalai Lama and his exile were popular topics on all the notice boards, with plenty of advice from the old guy. A few protest posters about the Beijing Games, or perhaps Beijing itself but in general it was a very peaceful and happy place.

Whlie we were there the monks were having some kind of session with very deep singing, unfortuantely there was no one there to tell us exactly what was going on. But I got a photo of an old lady and a young boy watching the ceremony together. Very cute! He's a serious little guy though.

We wandered around the gardens, very tranquil, and observed that you can go on a retreat there for a measly $US200, where you will sit in silence for 2 weeks "without the tiresome bother of everyday chitter chatter". While I value the concept, I think the tourists might be losing out...

We checked out their library, that not just only had Buddhist Dharma but interesting "think about your life" type books and everyday novels. It's definitely the place you want to go for a day away from the city.

Leaving the monastery behind, we headed for a "nearby" Hindu temple. The Gokorna Mahadev temple. When we asked for directions it seemed to be very hit and miss with some people knowing exactly what we were talking about, and others not while still others just pretended that they knew.

Lindsey had a little moment we she couldn't decide whether to be riding or walking. Stuck behind a group of people on a narrow path she was struggling to keeo her balance on the bike. Eventually decided to plant one foot on the ground, the particular part of ground she decided on collapsed beneath her and she found herself tumbling down the side of the mountain. Now, by "down the side of the mountain" I actually mean about 2 metres, but it was both horrifying and hilarious to watch, as she kept trying to push herself back up and slipping further down the side of the hill. After helping her up nd determining the only damage was to her pride, we pushed in front of the slow meanderers in front of us.

The scenery was once again breathtaking, exactly the kind of place where you want to go on a weekend picnic with someone special.

We got to the Mahadev temple only to discover almost the entire place deserted. We weren't even sure we had gone to the right place. Maybe next time it will be a bit more interesting. There was however preparation for a cremation/funeral going on by the river bank, but as it was only preparation I will have to fill you in with more detail when I actually observe one, for now though, pheri beTaau:la!


Amy xxoo said...

Are you able to have a meal at the monastery ? See if you could possibly organise something like that. Th ebest meal ihad on my Asian adventure was a vegetarian feast prepared by Buddhist nuns....

Dash said...

you could buy stuff a tthe restaurant but it was like any other restaurant. There was a dining room, but i had the feeling that it was being reserved for "silent" people. Plus the food was just daal baat, which you can get anywhere for about $1.20....mmm had some tonight SWEET DAAAL BAAT!