As all of you already know, it’s very difficult to be away from home for the holidays. There’s just something about surrounding yourself with friends and family that makes the Christmas season all the more special. Living abroad, Jen and I often find ourselves alone and have to make the best of it. This year was particularly hard since we don’t have many comforts of home living at the monastery. So we took it upon ourselves to make our own holiday magic.
For Thanksgiving, we ate on a balcony overlooking the Boudhanath Stupa, which was all lit up like it was Christmas. It was quite a festive feeling to be had on our holiday, as well as a great kick-start to the season. Surprisingly, the monastery helped set the mood too. On the night of December 23rd they held a candle-lit vigil in front of a very “Christmas-y” looking gompa. We processed around the grounds, including a walk through the stupa garden, along with almost four–hundred monks. It was quite a thing to behold.
On the morning of the 24th, we took a two hour taxi ride outside the Kathmandu Valley and up into the Himalayan Mountains. There is a small hilltop village called Nagarkot where we stayed at a really nice hotel called the Country Villa. We got a corner room overlooking the snow–capped peaks. The ‘suite’ came complete with a queen–size bed, heating in the room (a rarity in Nepal), hot water in the shower (that doesn’t go out after five minutes), and room service.
We spent almost three full days simply relaxing in the mountains. We read. We played games. We ordered in. We woke up early to watch the sunrise on our private balcony. We drank hot cocoa and egg nog. And we, of course, opened our gifts. It wasn’t the fanciest Christmas ever, but we managed to enjoy it quite a bit.
So far, we have no plans for New Year’s Eve. The monastery closes its gates at 9:00pm and we cannot be out later than that without special permission – which we probably won’t worry about getting. We’ll see what happens. This will be my final post for 2016. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!
Until Next Time…