Bring Back Our Girls: Nepal Demonstration and Daily Vlog: 33

Finally I get a chilled out day, my days are always full on, adventure and exploring, such a hard life hey? So it was great to have a semi relaxing day. Saying that we did go visit the Pashupatanath Temple and walked through the villages until we found the Boudhanath Stupa.

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Pashipatnath Temple

The Pashupatinath Temple is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and is located on the banks of the Bagmati River 5 kilometres north-east of Kathmandu Valley.The entire precinct is on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list and is a place not to miss when visiting Kathmandu. It is full of colours, cows wonder free around the site and some interesting smells float around. The Bagmati River is considered sacred and many cremations happen here. The cremation happens in plain site, something slightly odd for westerners, however a sign of respect for the people of the temple. There are two spots for cremation inside the site, each side of the bridge, one for the people and the other side is for both rich people and people of importance. It was very strange to watch a cremation happen before our very own eyes. I new I was allowed to watch but I still did feel uneasy, like I should not of been there, like i was intruding in on a grieving families special moment to say goodbye. Could you imagine in Australia, just a bunch of random people hanging around and watching your parents funeral? It was interesting to see the deceased person treated with the upmost respect, they were washed in the sacred water, covered in beautiful colours and surrounded by their family. It was beautiful moment, but I could not shake the feeling that I should not of been there, so we hit the road and went looking for the Boudhanath Stupa.

We had a map and decided it would an adventure to walk there. So we followed the map through the local neighbourhoods, all the local kids were very intrigued at these foreigners walking through their neighbourhood they would all come out and say “Hi”, I got the impression that might of been the only english word that they new, as they would say it over and over again. We didn’t feel uneasy in this area, it did look very rough and extremely poor, so I didn’t pull out my camera, you just never know and I don’t like to attract unwanted attention. However I could not resist when we came across an empty paddock full of mature Marijuana plants just growing wild. They were huge and you could really smell them. So we snapped a few photos for fun and went on our way. I did not want to hang around there for to long, as I believed that the plants even though they looked to be wild, probably “belonged” to someone and they most likely would not want to me to be mucking around them.

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Weed grows everywhere

We soon made it to the Stupa, and it was packed as always, It was my 2nd time here now. I always get this chilled out vibe when i enter a Buddhist site, today was no exception. The prayer flags, peacefully waving in the breeze and the beautiful sound of “Om Mani Padme Hum” playing from almost every shop, just created a beautiful atmosphere. As we walked around the corner there was a small peaceful demonstration happening. This was at the time that the young girls from Nigeria had just been stolen by the brutal Nigerian Terrorist group Boko Haram. It was chilling to hear about the abduction and then seeing this group of young people was amazing. The group attracted an audience and I am certain a large Social Media hit. #bringbackourgirls

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Boudhanath Stupa

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#bringbackourgirls

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

One Hectic Day. Daily Vlog: 32

I jump in a cab and head off to Durbar Square nice and early only to find out that I am completely in the wrong spot and need to walk back to where I had just come from. I had been in contact with a few peeps from our Mt Everest Base Camp trek, CJ and Simone and were going to have some breakfast with them before they head off on there own adventures. After getting completely lost for hours, I finally found them, had a quick breakie and they hit the road and I made the looooong walk to the post office.

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Durbar Square Pigeons

I had planned on sending a bunch of my left over trekking gear that I no longer needed and some souvenirs back to oz, save me from carrying them around Bhutan and Tibet. Be warned if you are going to use the post office in Kathmandu, put an entire day aside for it. The post office is utter chaos, no organisation what so ever, and completely dodgy. They pile up stuff, throw stuff around, there is no instructions on what you have to do. I just had to wing it, push my way through the locals and hope for the best. I was actually surprised when I get word that the packages made their way home. The post officer checks your packages very thoroughly, opening up everything even a Buddha statue I had bought in Bhutan. He then signs some document and you are left in the lurch again. So I wander over to this old lady who wraps your package up in a white cloth, It gets stitched up, very slowly, this lovely lady kept on asking to give her some pot, really. Then you pay her, then walk over to another guy who goes over the stitching and puts melted wax seal stamps along the stitching, you pay him. Then you find out that you have to go next door and pay for the postage and in cash only. You battle with the crazy crowd all pushing in, I learnt very quickly to just push through and get to the front. So after that I was ready to head back into Thamel, I was there for 4hrs all up.

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Durbar Palace

 

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Prayer Flags at the Monkey Temple

That afternoon I caught back up with Luc and made our way over to explore Durbar Square and the Palace. You get an incredible view over Kathmandu from the 9th floor of this UNESCO Heritage listed building. Back in the square, a large group of people had congregated, so we wanted to check it out. Turns out they were filming a dodgy fight scene for a local Nepalese movie. It was pretty cool to watch, but ridiculous as well. We then jump in one of the dodgiest cabs I have ever been in and drove up the dustiest street in Kathmandu and visited the Monkey Temple. I was pretty happy when we arrived there, well more surprised I guess. The temple is beautiful and as the name suggests, there are monkeys everywhere, they are cheeky little things as well. We watched a few baby monkeys playing around in the trees and watched as a “Gang” of cheeky monkeys steel some of the thousands of prayer flags and drag the bundle to there hide out. It was really interesting to watch them, they were just like little kids.

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Monkey Temple

We then found the best spot for the sunset at the Nirvana Cafe, ordered a couple of coffee’s and watched as the sunset over the temple and on “One Hectic Day”

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Young Monk

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane.

Good-Bye Bhutan, Hello Nepalese Drug Dealer. Daily Vlog: 31

I can’t believe it, my time in Bhutan has come to an end, I know that I have only scratched the surface of this amazing country, this country full of myths and mystery, I can not wait till i return to explore further. I say goodbye to both Bhutan and a new amazing friend Pelma, I look forward to the day that we meet again. You made my time in Bhutan magical, I learnt so much about your country and have a new understanding of Buddhism, thank you for your friendship, I look forward to visiting again in the future.

So I jump on the plane, this time ready for the crazy take off and it did not disappoint, super steep take off and hard banking to escape the huge mountains, a little more agile this time, we were in a much smaller aircraft. As we began to level out, i got a glimpse of the himalaya’s, some thing that I missed on the way over. There was Mt Everest, standing tall, looking over the rest of the himalaya’s, it was incredible to see the massive mountain from the air. Looking down on the epic expanse of massive himalayan range you start to see why this place is such a adventure travel hot spot. It is both huge and incredibly rugged, with massive mountains, huge cliffs and crazy rivers that rush their way down through the valleys.

#100happydays #day50

A post shared by Shane Ness (@tatteredpassport) on

I land in Nepal and ready myself for the onslaught that is the taxi run. I now know how much a taxi fare should cost, but I have no idea were I am staying in Kathmandu, I have nothing booked, I was just going to find some where cheap in Thamel. So I walk out and ask the very first taxi, “400 rupees to Thamel” knowing that I will have to bargain something, he says “No Way, its 1000 rupees fixed price” I laugh to myself, I got a taxi to the airport from Thamel last week for 400 Rupees, I explain this to him, needless to say I don’t get a lift with him, I understand and have no problems with this, he is just trying to earn money for his family and if he can rip an unknowing tourist off, he gets more than twice what I was willing to pay. I go through this a few times and get a driver. But to my amazement he says “Wait here” I soon realise that he has another fare riding with us, to which he explained to him that I was his mate?? So we make it into Thamel, drop the other fare off, I will catch up with him later, really top bloke, I find out that he had charged him 900 Rupees, So double dipping hey??? Anyway he takes me to the “Chill Out Resort” resort is a bit of a stretch, it is pretty much just a backpackers in the centre of Thamel, really nice place actually. I find out that the taxi driver gets a kick back for dropping people off at “Chill Out”, this is how Nepal works, this taxi driver has had a great morning.

I spend the rest of the day wandering around Thamel and getting myself absolutely lost. I am usually really good at finding my way around a city, but I was wandering aimlessly and had not been keeping an eye out. So after hours of trying to find my way back I bump into this bloke named Bubba, the local drug smuggler. The find out more read my early post “My Locked Up Abroad Moment”, I still can not believe that happened. So anyone traveling to Nepal and looking to chill out in Kathmandu, it is an awesome place but beware of the dodgy underbelly, it is everywhere.

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Busy Thamel Streets

 

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Tigers Nest Temple, Bhutan. Daily Vlog 30

Daily Vlog: 30

The day has finally arrived, today we make our way up to the Tigers Nest Temple, (Taktsang Monastery). Visiting the Tigers Nest Temple has been on my bucket list for ages, the mystery around Bhutan and The Tigers Nest Temple has intrigued the world for decades. The day starts early, I wander outside and find myself gazing across the river and up the mountain, I had no idea what the day would bring me, but I was ready.

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Wise Words

We jump in our new van and start the drive, across the river and up the windy road up the side of the mountain. We reach the car park, as far as you can make it in a vehicle, now we are on foot. I was really looking forward to trekking again, so off we went. The temple sits high on the cliff, you can see it almost the entire way up, it almost motivates you to keep going. The climb is steep and it is quite hot and humid, you are protected from the breeze by the large trees, which are almost always covered in Prayer Flags, the walk is breathtaking and we are almost the only people on the trail. Half way up there is a little tea house, a welcome break, a cup of tea and some biscuits and we are off again. Pelma asks me “Short Cut?” so we follow this really cool track off in the forrest, it winds its way straight up the side and soon meets the main track.

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Prayer Flags and Tigers Nest

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I walk under some low lying prayer flags, I can hear the wind blowing through the tree’s, then I see it, I see the Tigers Nest Temple, it is just there, across the other side of a deep valley. I am at eye level with the temple, I get this giddy feeling, this excitement crossed with complete awe. From here you can really see how steep and huge the cliff is, the temple is almost just clinging to edge, I stand there in complete silence. I soon make it to the gate of the temple after walking down the steep valley covered in prayer flags. I hand in my camera to the gate house, and enter the temple’s walls. Once inside I felt instantly calm, a smell of incense burning flows throughout the temple and across the valley. I walk into the very first room and I was met by the Taktsang Lama, I couldn’t believe my luck. The Lama invited us all to the main room and treated us to an impromptu teaching. It was absolutely amazing to listen to someone so wise speak. I couldn’t get over the fact that he would always say “I don’t know everything” he spoke about love, peace, compassion and that knowledge is everything. He said that he see’s many “Tourists” that come to see the famous temple, just to see the site but can not see, they see the paintings but can not see the art, they see the monks but not the life, I believe the few people that he spoke to, he believed were there to really see and attempt to understand. This moment mixed with all my amazing new knowledge through out my time in Bhutan have a huge impact on my life. Bhutan you have left a lasting impression on me, I look forward to when I can return and visit all the amazing people that I was lucky enough to meet.

Thank you for visiting Tattered Passport, If you have enjoyed this post please Like and Share. You can follow my adventures on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simply by clicking on the Follow button at the bottom of your screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Butter Tea with Chanting Monks.

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Fortress to protect from Tibitan Invasion

Paro has one of the most amazing ruins of an ancient well 1600’s Fortress the Drukgyel Dzong. I spend a few hours wandering around in complete awe of this incredible structure and find my myself day dreaming when this fortress was occupied and the stories it could tell. The Dzong, Bhutanese for fortress was built to

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To Protect from Tibet

protect Bhutan from the Tibetan Invasion. Exploring old ruins would be one of my favourite pass times, I seem to loose myself in the history of the place. It is great to see that the Bhutanese government is actively maintaining the ruins. They are re-building the roof in the entrance, but they are keeping the site as “Untouched” as they can, it is a refreshing way of preserving a

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Bhutanese Game

very important site in Bhutanese history. We return to Paro town for a quick Tea Break and a bit of shopping, I also watch our new driver play a local game, sorry I don’t know the name of the game. It was really interesting to watch. They flick a blue “puck” on a table and hit black and white “discs” and hopefully get them in the holes, kind of like pool or snooker.

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The breathtaking ruins of Drukgyel Dzong

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Window into the past

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Kyichu Lhakhang Temple

We drive to a 7th century temple that is still operational by the name of Kyichu Lhakhang. As we walked in the first thing that I sore was this really old lady walking around the temple spinning the prayer wheels and chanting softly. She looked over to me and smiled, a smile of compassion a beautiful wise old smile and I instantly new this was going to be a beautiful place. I walked around the temple slowly spinning the prayer wheels and getting a real feeling of peace. Inside the temple court yard there is this very interesting belief. There is a stupa and they believe that it is sinking, and that this is a sign that the future Buddha is rising.

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The Sinking Stupa and the Rising Buddha.

After Tea I had one of the most amazing experiences. We walked up the side of a cliff to the Dzongdrakha temple which translates into “Temple on a Cliff” original I know. The walk up to the temple was incredible. We walked passed a new house getting built, it was interesting to see new and old building techniques working together to build the house. I watched as one man was using a manual plainer and the other a electric one. We then

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Phallis to protect from evil demons

pass through the yard of a house perched right on the edge of the cliff, they were more then happy for us to wander through their yard. It was so cool to see how they live, they had a pile of wood stacked up and you could see all the food growing around the yard.Then Pelma pointed out to me a Phalis “Carved Penis” hanging from the roof. This is believed to protect the house from demons. As you may remember in Punakha the Devine Madman subdued a demon with his penis. As we climbed higher up the cliff we started to hear some chanting, it was beautiful and was flowing over the valley. What happened next was out of this world.

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House on a cliff

As we reached the temple we were invited inside the monastery by the monks. They were still chanting, the sound was unbelievable. My guide and I were the only two in there with a room full of monks all chanting. You could feel their devotion, they were in this almost meditative state, it was beautiful and powerful. They invited me to sit amongst them and to eat with them. They gave me their own rice and a cup of butter tea. I felt so blessed to have shared that moment with those monks, it was so special for me. I still get goose bumps when I think about it. These monks were so peaceful and had so much compassion for some one that they have never met, someone from such a different world to theirs. They invited me into their place and shared with me their food and tea, that little gesture has had a profound effect on me and the way that I see and interact with the world. These peaceful monks have changed my life. As we left the monastery I felt like I could just float to the bottom of the mountain, the sound of the chanting almost guided me, it was just…. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport and sharing this special moment with me. I hope you have enjoyed this post and the YouTube Vlog. If you have please Like and Share and comment below, I would love to hear from you. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simply by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom of the screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Breaking down in Bhutan. Daily Vlog: 28

Living in Western Australia, the largest and most remote state of Australia I have an unique concept of distance. I have no issues driving 6 hrs over 600km from Perth to Kalgoorlie for the weekend to see friends, or driving 200kms return trip just to pick up the newspaper at work. So when the entire length of Bhutan at its longest point is a modest 306km you would think it would be a country you could see in a matter of hours. How wrong you would be, todays drive from Punakha to Paro a short 143km drive will take you over 4hrs, due to the astronomical 10-12 bends per kilometre. The roads are well built how ever they are so windy and are dotted with road works and the road blocks slow you down even more. We could only really manage a brisk walking pace of 20-30km per hour. Just to make this road even crazier it rises to a whopping 3800m at the Dochala Pass.

Once we arrived in Paro we made a quick stop at the mechanics, apparently the brake fluid was leaking, I am pretty happy that I was not aware of that at 3800m. It was interesting seeing inside a workshop in Bhutan. I have spent years hanging around workshops, so for me even this little side trip was an unusual high light. It turns out workshops in Bhutan are pretty similar to what you would see in Australia. They were clean, had similar tools and car parts hanging all over the place, the usual oil sign posted up on the wall even the vehicles were similar. Bhutan’s cars are pretty much what you see in Australia, except for the odd Indian import, Land cruisers and any type of Toyota were very popular. We had some extra time to explore Paro whilst we were getting our new vehicle, so a quick souvenir shopping spree was had. I said goodbye to Telo my driver and hello to our new driver and brand new Toyota Hiace.

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Travel for free if your a Monk.

After lunch we visited the National Museum of Bhutan at the old Paro Watch Tower, well it was in the new building built behind the Watch Tower, but up until the huge earthquake in 2011 the museum was inside the old watch tower. The old building was a beautiful traditional structure standing tall and keeping a watchful eye over the Paro Fortress. You could see the physical signs of the earthquake, the large cracks running the height of the building. I hope they can repair the damage and restore this beautiful building to its former glory.

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Monks at the Paro Fortress

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Standing Proud

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Prayer Wheel

I loved exploring the Paro Fortress, watching the local monks spinning prayer wheels, gazing at all the beautifully intricate artwork plastered all over the old walls, I always get a feeling of peace when I enter these spiritual places. From the bottom of the hill you can see all three of the structures all built in 1646, at the top is the Watch Tower, below that the Paro Fortress and crossing the river the old bridge. Then some bright spark put a power line right across river and ruined what would be a magic photo. You got to watch out for those electricians…

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You got to watch those dodgy electricians

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, If you have liked this post don’t forget to hit the LIKE button and share with your family and friends. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simple by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom of your screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

My Spiritual Awakening at the Peace Stupa in Bhutan.

Every morning I pinch myself, I just can not believe that I am actually in Bhutan, it is just as incredible as I thought it would be, possibly even more, if that is possible? The day starts off with a drive down a crazy road down the side of a cliff, then a suspension bridge across a raging river and a hike up a mountain through fields getting ploughed by cows up to a Choeten built by a Kings Mother. Some start to the day hey???

After we crossed the prayer flag covered suspension bridge I watched a local farmer ploughing his field with the help of his two cows. My guide was a little surprised that this caught my interest. I find this style of farming, almost micro farming absolutely fascinating. Us westerners are so used to big super expensive machinery farming broad acre farms and mass producing food. So watching one man with his wife ploughing his small patch of land with his two cows and a wooden, most likely home built plough was not just a step back in time but a peek into a simpler life, a life that intrigues my imagination. As we walked through this valley I soon realised that this was a beautiful way to farm. I walked through fields of large, well cared for tomatoes, fruit trees covered in fruit and fields and fields of lush green crops. The small farms were producing such a high grade of food, with no machinery or complex irrigation systems. Zig Zaging their way through the terraced fields were tiny little streams, these were the only way that the farmers would irrigate their crops. Along the streams I noticed systematically placed rocks, these were used as gates and were moved to redirect water into the terraces and flood the field and moved back when it was complete, how simple yet so effective this was.

As we turned a corner I watched as the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Choeten grew out of the thick trees. This Choeten was built by the current Kings Mother for peace to the Bhutanese people and the world. This Choeten is very unique, not only in Bhutan but else where in the world. It is the only Choeten/ Stupa tourist are aloud to enter in Bhutan and the only one that I have ever seen inside myself any where. It was a real treat to see inside such a breathtaking building, even if it was not a ancient Stupa. It was built for peace so the immense feeling of peace as I entered came as no surprise to me. Once I made it to the top of the four stories always walking up in a clock wise direction, I could look over the vast mountain range and I felt this feeling of insignificance. How can the human race have such a massive detrimental effect on this world. Emotions came flooding in, all the horror through out the world, all the wars all the animal cruelty all the environmental destruction that we cause and we are just this little insignificant dot on the planet. I just do not understand.

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Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Choeten

As we walked back down the mountain I was very quite, my head full of emotion, I feel that my guide and now very close friend Pelma felt this and shared a traditional Bhutanese love song with me (you will hear part of the song in the vlog). I love music so this was great, I always love to hear music from the country that I am visiting. Thanks Pelma, I hope you do not mind me sharing your singing with the internet???

That afternoon I was treated to something really special, we made our way up a huge mountain, slowly navigating our way around the tight windy road to visit a magical monastery, perched high on a mountain over looking the valley and the incredibly windy road that we came through the other day. As we walked through the gate of the monastery I was surprised to see some Australian Bottle Brush growing.. The distinctive smell of incense and the sound of monks chanting flowed over the valley. The very unique

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Young Monks Chanting

sound of young monks playing and chanting caught my ear and I went to investigate. The young boys were reading their scripts in the garden next to their class room, all dressed in their red robes, their smiles were contagious. I watched for a while and when I caught a few of the kids intrigued at this tall, strange, long haired traveller I nodded and snapped a few photos. You should of seen the kids faces when I showed them their photo in the view finder, it was just one of those moments that I will never forget.

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My Monk guide

We walked up to the main temple and I was invited in on a tour by one of the monks. I was introduced to two young monks one 13 and the other 18. These two boys were the “True Re-incarnation” of the 69th Chief Abbot and the 9th Chief Abbot. This was such an honour to meet these two young boys who will grow up to be very wise old men. On the way home we visited a nunnery, perched on the tip of a mountain and in one of most windy places I have ever been, I could hardly speak.

Have you had a sense of clarity or a moment of “what does it all mean” I would love to hear about your spiritual moments whilst travelling, please comment below.

Thank you for visiting Tattered Passport, and thank you for reading my little blog. If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share with your family and friends. You can follow Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or simple by clicking on the “Follow” button at the bottom of the screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.