So today we went to several temples. We went to the main temple which has the sacred Bodhi Tree underwhich Buddha gained enlightenment (it is actually a descendant of the original tree from a sapling that was saved after the original was cute down). http://www.Mahabodhi.com/
At the site of othe Bodhi tree, as a I was circling the main temple, I came accross two lovely moments. The first was a monk moving an ant out of the way while he was also circling the temple. The second brought tears to my eyes as it was so emotional and beautiful. A monk was standing near the Bodhi tree holding a royal purple humming bird. When I asked if the bird was injured or a pet he replied neither that the bird merely wanted to sit there. It is hard to explain but it was so lovely.
These moments contrast the heart breaking poverty here. So many children, elderly, disabled people and dogs living in difficult circumstances. We plan to donate to one of the local charities but I wish there was more I could do.
Other observations; the food is very very good. at the airport we had McDonald's and even it was good! (Huge veg section and no beef at all! - but there was fish and chicken). I have been eating a mix of western and Indian cuisine. No mater where we have travelled it seems that westerners inspire banana pancakes.
We bought a Tibetan Singing Bowl (Which i am sure I paid too much for but much cheaper than at home and I figure since I support "fair trade" I should also do it while travelling). I am terrible at bargaining too, at least overseas. Jason says I get cheaper as a trip wears on so we'll see. I also bought a great book by my fave Buddhist author Thich Nhatt Hahn on engaged Buddhism. http://www.plumvillage.org/
I also bought a punjabi suit in a lovely dark red/burgandy that reminds me of the color of monk's robes but more ornate. It will be nice to wear as I find it hot (of course the locals have toques on!) However, I don't think anything I do will combat the staring. I look a little odd here. http://www.utsavsarees.com/pages/punjabisuits.htm
In other news we switched hotels. The one we had promised soft beds and they are like a board with a sheet. If it was at least cheap I could forgive it but it was the 2nd most expensive here. We switched to a hotel called Siddartha Vihar which is cheaper and costs $20.00 a night. It has it's own bathroom and shower and the beds are still as hard a rock.
PS Excuse any typos.... the spell check does not seem to work!