Life is suffering - so says Buddha
04.11.2013 - 08.11.2013 22 °C
Why do people have 'bucket lists' or 'life lists' as the more positive amongst us prefer to call them! And why do Buddhists believe all life is suffering? I was reflecting on this - or at least i would have been, had I not got a death grip on the safety rope of the raft I found myself in. At this precise moment it was in white water against a rock that managed to throw out two of our fellow crew. At the same time, our skipper was imploring us to paddle, he could have added "paddle for your lives"!! but he didn't have to; a level 3+rapid had been our downfall - that and over ambition, lack of skill and a bucket list.
We survived, but I am about to renew my agreement with fish - I will stay out of the water if they keep off the high street!
The day before we had said "let's ride to the Tibetan border and the friendship bridge", not an apt name however by any stretch of the imagination. You point a camera at China and the Chinese guards point a gun back at you, or so we had been warned, a mistake we had no intention of making! The road, in the loosest sense of the word is crammed with trucks bringing in cheap Chinese goods destined to appear on British tv's 'knock off Britain', fake merchandise in every shape and form. Still, I now have a text message on my phone from a Chinese service provider telling me the rates to call home, very reasonable they are too, now, what's the number for that TV programme!
Earlier in this part of the journey we travelled out of Kathmandu again to Bhaktapur where we stayed at a Hotel next to the tallest statue of Lord Shiva in the world and very impressive it is too, if you're into that sort of thing. Bhaktapur is impressive as well, a bit more like Kathmandu was in times gone by before 'civilisation' took hold. The streets have far less traffic and so it's a great place to wander.
And so, having braved the chaos that is Kathmandu three times we returned for a fourth time to do battle once again, this time we were returning our trusty Royal Enfield motorcycles (built like a bullet) and hanging up our helmets for the last time. We all returned safely with bikes intact but our nerves in tatters to reflect on our journey.
What is riding in Nepal like? - it is a bit like Nepal itself, full of contrasts and contradictions. There are no traffic rules, just as at the moment there is no effective Government, however people just get on with things, trusting to fate. There is no road road rage, no accidents (that we saw) just a reliance that someone will do the right thing. Religions are everywhere but the Maoists are a powerful party. Beauty is everywhere but so to is horrendous pollution. There are massive untapped natural resources for clean energy but frequent power cuts. Tourism is the life blood of their economy but the crumbling infrastructure struggles to support it. The only firm conclusion we have come to is that the countries strength is its people, so to experience more of that we were off to the mountains on foot. As Buddha said 'life is suffering'.