Saturday brought a change of pace as we took a weekend break from our volunteer project. We began our sightseeing adventures with a trip up to the World Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa) which we’ve been seeing perched high on a hill overlooking Pokhara since the day we arrived. We climbed a few steps in hot sun to get there, but it was a cinch compared to our trek. Once we arrived, we removed our shoes and circled the pagoda in the proper clockwise direction, in silence, enjoying the large golden statues of the Buddha and the beautiful, panoramic views of Pokhara, Fewa Lake, and the Annapurna hills and mountains. On the way down, we treated ourselves to popsicles or ice cream cones.
Our next stop was a walk across the longest suspension bridge in Pokhara that spans the Seti River Gorge. More beautiful views of the surrounding hillsides and of children and water buffalo enjoying the cool waters below.
Our third stop of the day was an auspicious visit to the Monastery in the Tibetan Refugee Camp of Pokhara. Auspicious because it happened to be the Dalai Llama’s birthday. After removing our shoes, we went inside and sat quietly for quite a while, soaking up the ornate paintings, figurines, instruments used ny the monks, and the pungent odor of incense. Outside we heard people celebrating at the neighboring schoolyard. We got a kick out of the fact that they sang Happy Birthday in English and were playing musical chairs.
After a pizza dinner, we followed a very intriguing set of stairs and pathways to a great little hidden gem of an outdoor cinema built into the hillside and surrounded by jungle plants. The feature of the night was Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. A very fun, quirky, star-studded film that was a perfect choice for the group.
It was a full day and a later evening than usual, so we tucked in pretty soon after the film was over and looked forward to another morning of sleeping in.