November 23, 2014
It is sometimes funny when you are surprised to find something in an area where you least expect it. This was the case when we were in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is located north of India and possesses the world’s tallest mountain range, the Himalayas. Although Kathmandu is not close to Mt. Everest, its location in a valley makes it an ideal starting point for many mountain climbers who climb Everest. Our guide said we going to visit a Buddhist Stupa or as Americans call it “the monkey temple.” While on our way to the temple, we passed the Everest Hotel and we realized we were not in California. We were in Kathmandu to see the local sights and take in some of the culture of this capital city of Nepal.
At the Swayabhunath Stupa, the driver of the car was not allowed to go to the top of the hill where the temple was located so we climbed to the top in a slow steady fashion passing many monkeys on the way. After reaching the top of the hill, we saw the temple and had the amazing experience of viewing the design and detail of the temple, as well as a view of the valley and city below. We were given a guided tour of the temple and cautioned to beware of the monkeys. They will try to take any food you have and even a pair of glasses you may be wearing. I walked around inside the temple looking at the statue of Buddha, the all-seeing eye and pagoda towers. Once outside of the main building, I continued walking very cautiously. The monkeys kept a sharp eye on the tourists as well.
As I strolled around the temple, I saw two men playing chess. I walked over closer to the game, and to my surprise it was a game of chess using the Staunton design pieces. I wanted to linger and maybe play the winner of the game, but as you can see they were not close to finishing and my tour was still in progress.
Reluctantly, it was time to leave the temple area. I never thought I would see Western chess or monkeys at a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.