Lumbini is pretty close to the busiest border with India, Sunauli. Lumbini also happens to be the birthplace of Buddha. So were definitely excited to the UNESCO World Heritage property which supposedly has the exact place where Buddha was born at the Maya Devi Temple. The drive in to Lumbini is anything but nice, you pass through busy Butwal, and marshy areas where the culture almost seems Bihar-like (I guess it’s close to the Indian border anyways). It was close to dark when we got in and we found a small hotel run by Chinese students. This is where I finally had my Chinese food void, fulfilled. We ordered Kung Pao chicken and veggie fried rice…sounds like your run-of-the-mill Chinese dish you back in the US, but damn it was better than what I’ve had in Houston. It took 4 months for my craving to be fulfilled, and here we are having it in Lumbini of all places.
After going into food coma and having a good night’s sleep, we decided to wake up early and see the Maya Devi temple and monasteries etc and then head onto Kathmandu. When we had arrived in Lumbini the night before, the first thing I noticed was the humidity. It was a weird, cold humidity where mosquitos could still survive. Mosquitos love to attack me, especially in my sleep. I always wake up with a swollen forehead or eyelid or lip. When we had gotten up in the morning, our helmets were still damp and there was a thick fog outside. We thought we didn’t want to spend another night in Lumbini as the hotel was a little pricier for our range and there wasn’t much else to do. So we got our junk together had some breakfast and caught a rickshaw to take us around the huge Maya Devi complex. The guy driving the bicycle led rickshaw, was like a toothpick, we wondered how he was going to haul our big asses around the entire park, especially since a lot of it seemed the offroad style road—I hope this guy had an extra helping of daal bhaat this morning—he gonna need that protein! The guy managed to get us around muddy roads and watercrossings successfully to the best monasteries, the German one (Tara Monastery) being the most impressive. The Tara had such an amazing garden with statues of Buddha throughout his life. Towards the end we went to the UNESCO site of the Maya Devi Temple. There were many groups being led in meditation or prayer by monks speaking Nepali, Cambodian etc. Outside is the Ashoka pillar commemorating Ashoka’s visit there. There’s also the original stupas built by Ashoka. To the right of the temple is the pond that Buddha’s mother took a bath in before she gave birth, Buddha was also given his first bath there. Inside the actual temple are the palace ruins dating back before Buddha’s birth and also the footprint of Buddha’s first step. The imprint is the exact place where Buddha was born. The footprint looked really big…soo…I’m just sayin. Overall it was nice, but I think we expected it all to be better kept. I guess one of the issues is that Nepal just may not have the monetary resources to make it nicer or keep it better. It’s unfortunate!
We started for Kathmandu at 12pm and got there at 8pm—the last 2 hours was stuck in traffic to get into the city! Luckily we had one a night’s stay at a hotel in Thamel (the main tourist-y area)…yay! I guess whatever you get that’s free can be kinda crappy…it was a twin bed tiny room. Nothing special, but a free place to stay which is always great! Later we found out that the usual rate for the room is Nepali Rs. 8000!!!