I awoke early (hopefully my last time for a while) at 4:40am to ready myself for my 7:30 flight out of Leh. Jack & Bruce were also taking the same flight back to Delhi, & I was the lucky recipient of Bruce’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars, Neutrogena Liquid Soap, & a bag full of dried fruit & nuts (saving graces some days). We said our goodbyes to Martin & Geraldine, & arrived to the airport only to have to join a long queue for entry. Inside we had to go through 2 security checks before checking in, then another 3 (including a full body rubdown) before getting on the plane – these strict security measures are because it’s in the Jammu/Kashmir (too close to Pakistan) region.
At Delhi Airport, I said my farewell to Jack & Bruce & was transferred over to the Indira Gandhi International Airport to wait 4 hours for my flight. On the flight I sat next to a medical student named Maria who was going to spend 7 weeks in Nepal – 5 weeks volunteering at a hospital, 2 weeks trekking from Everest Base Camp.
After a relatively short 1:40 hr flight, I collected my luggage, booked a pre-paid taxi (900 Rs), & jumped in the scrappiest car I’ve ever been in for a 20-min drive (only 5 kms) to Kopan Monastery in Kapan Village near Boudhanath. The driver made sure to put on his seat belt – you could see the point as there were so many dents & scrapes from crashes, it literally defined the car. But no seat belts in the back – I guess passengers took their lives in their own hands. The roads were bedlam, so much worse than what I’d seen in India. And the dust – unbelievable! There was chaos & people everywhere. My senses were absolutely overwhelmed.
And then we drive uphill to Kopan – his car nearly couldn’t get up & konked out every time he stopped. Kopan Monastery is an idyllic retreat away from all the chaos of Boudhanath.