Before we share about our wonderful stay at the Namo Buddha Resort, we want to let you all know that we are back on Whidbey Island! We returned Dec. 27th and have spent several weeks readjusting. Now we are catching up on our last few weeks in Nepal. Enjoy!
“Oh no, we’re not going through that traffic, again,” I said, as the driver headed toward Dhulikhel on the way to Namo Buddha Resort at the foot of the Himalayas. I didn’t think I could endure another draconian ride over Mahankal Road, still filled with potholes and teaming with cars, motorcycles and intrepid pedestrians.
“Not a problem, Madam, I know short roads.” (I assumed that was a short cut.) And down a nearby alley he shot, making his way, skillfully, through incomparable traffic on the narrow, winding streets. I felt like a passenger in a getaway film. If I’d had a million dollars I’d have given it all to him! I was discovering that there’s nothing like a skilled Nepali cab driver. Bless them all!
We circumvented Dhulikhel and turned onto a curving road through lush countryside. In just over an hour we had made our way up a hill to the entrance of the most luxurious resort of our trip. Now the fun started…climbing from a simple dirt parking lot up a series of steep, hand hewn stone stairs, through a labyrinth of paths leading to picturesque cottages nestled on natural terraces in the woods. Thank heaven there were rustic railings on most of the stairs.
I was intrigued by the beauty of the walkways and the artistry of the buildings, all in the Tamang tradition, that the owner, Ingrid, and her husband, Rudi, had conceived and built fifteen years ago. Read more about their vision for a sustainable resort HERE (pg. 32.)
At first I had thought these were Newari. To my untrained eye, the architecture reminded me of the houses, painted coral on the lower half and cream on the top, with carved wooden roofs and shuttered windows, that I had seen on several treks in the mountains. Now I know that style is from the Tamang, a Tibeto-Burmese ethnic group of Nepal, Southern Bhutan and North India constituting just over five percent of the Nepalese population.
Click on photos to enlarge.
See more photos on the Resort’s website HERE.
With great joy we stepped into our beautiful cottage. This was the beginning of an amazing nine days!
Having left behind the crowds at the Boudha Stupa and the congestion in Kathmandu, it was sheer delight to return to the peacefulness of the woods. We couldn’t wait to explore this elegant setting. After settling into our cozy cottage, where I slept on the first floor and Cary had a large room in the upstairs loft, we made our way to the fire pit. Here guests gathered to get warm and socialize while waiting for dinner.
Ingrid and her staff were the epitome of hospitality, and, after half an hour of warming ourselves by the fire, ushered us into a comfortable dining room where exquisite vegetarian food was served. It couldn’t have been better, from the imaginative soups and entrees to the pie and homemade ice cream desserts. Ah, finally “no spice.” We neglected to take photos of the artistic entrees as we were too busy eating them!
Walking back over a gently-lit walkway, closing the shutters of our cottage, and snuggling into our beds, we knew we had found a home away from home. And we didn’t have to cook! Breakfast was ample enough that we made sandwiches from their home-made sourdough bread, omelets, and yak cheese for lunch, sometimes accompanied by a salad fresh from their garden.
The next day was spent getting to know the territory. Cary had read about the water buffaloes on their website and was eager to see them. We soon learned that you don’t want to get too close to water buffalo unless you want to get sprayed when they snort!
Getting in and out of the cottage took a little doing as the locks were traditional Tamang style – with a rod at the bottom of the door. Good for keeping limber.
Namo Buddha Resort is also an organic farm, with their vegetarian menu based on the seasonal produce. We loved their “pumpkin” soup so much that we wanted to learn how to cook it. Stay tuned for this cooking class in our next blog post. Cary was very impressed by how the farm integrated into the landscape, and how well cared for it was.
Our first long walk was to the famous Namo Buddha pilgrimage site and adjoining Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery. The walk was partly in the woods and partly on dirt roads. A colorful archway marked the entrance to the monastery.
We climbed the hill of steps and wound around, arriving at the historic place where an early incarnation of the Buddha was purported to have been eaten by a tigress to feed her hungry cubs. An example on his part of ultimate generosity and compassion.
We also circumambulated the stupa at the very top of the monastery.
A short walk away was the mother tiger’s den where she lived with her cubs. We sat a long while, breathing in the tranquility of the moment. It was such an entrancing place that we forgot to take a photo of the larger than life-size diorama depicting the Buddha offering his body.
Reluctant to leave, we finally made our way down, eventually finding the original stairs built before the monastery was constructed. They were cut into the hillside, covered with moss and ferns, blending, perfectly, into the deep, dark forest.
After we reached the bottom, we walked through the small town of Namo Buddha, with a stupa, and teaming with restaurants, guest houses and small stores.
As we approached the end of the main street, a thoughtful young man noticed me and offered me a seat at a small table covered with jars of pickles made by his mother. He brought me a cup of tea from his shop. Just what I needed at the end of a long walk! Age is sometimes very helpful.
In our next post, we will share about other hikes we took, the marvelous people we met, and more!