It might be one of the most overused cliches in the travel universe but the idea of a kingdom deep in the Himalaya’s inspired by James Hilton’s classic Lost Horizon has thousands of backpackers and jet setters alike grabbing their warm coats and hiking boots in search of this mystical kingdom.
Asia as a destination offers a kaleidoscope of religions and belief systems for the traveler to experience. There is certainly no shortage of spiritual places usually alive and buzzing with the faithful who arrive in droves to worship. Often some of our best experiences were simply wondering around these unique and inspiring places getting a glimpse into a belief system completely alien from our own sometimes joined by a knowledgeable local who would explain their faith.
The sheer amount of temples, mosques,pagoda’s and shrines throughout the continent is mind blowing but this post highlights the top 10 that we wont soon forget.
Kathmandu is a weird place. The tourist centre to Kathmandu is Thamel, which being my first introduction to a place purely existing for tourists, freaked me out a little bit. Though after going through China for a month where everything was very different from home, arriving in Kathmandu and being able to buy my favourite British cookies and chocolates that I can’t even find at home made me very happy. There is everything a tourist could ever want here, including wood fired-oven pizzas, steakhouses, and bakeries. I even found myself wandering into one of the many bookstores that stock Himalaya themed books next to worldwide best sellers, and stupidly picking up the book Twilight. Anyone who has read this book (Laurie) knows that I immediately had to go and spend the same amount I would have at home completing the series. Your money can go very quickly in Kathmandu if your not careful even with the price of a good pizza being just over $4, because even if food and books aren’t your thing there are endless shops selling fashion that hasn’t changed since the 70′s – when Kathmandu was put on the map as a tourist spot. Anywhere else you would wonder who the hell buys these clothes, but in Kathmandu you see them walking around in front of you all over the streets. The 70′s lives on here.
There are a few sites that are considered must-sees around the Kathmandu area. So far we have gone to the Monkey Temple, and Durbar Square
After physically ripping Lianna from her warm bed yesterday morning and grabbing a quick breakfast in the Everest cafe of French Toast we ran into Ben, our travel companion on the bus from Xining to Xiahe. Ben’s plans were similar to ours for the first half of the day, so at 9:30am the three of us headed off for a tour of Lobrang Monastery lead by an English speaking monk.
It was up before the sun this morning as we had a bus to catch at 7:15 am for Xiahe, 6 hours from Xining. We knew from our fellow passengers that we were heading to an unusual place right from the start as many were Tibetan nomads dressed in sheep skin clothing and prayer beads.
Our 6 hour journey was full of interesting scenery, starting out as red rock cliffs then to grassy meadows with a backdrop of snow covered mountains in the distance. After plenty of passes climbed and descended, we finally entered the valley of our destination and from the bus stop checked into our accommodations, Tibetan Overseas Hotel. A larger hotel with not the warmest staff but since it had clean beds and Lianna’s favorite, a private toilet, it seemed good enough for a few nights.