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Sign Outside Buddha's Birthplace

Lumbini and Temple to Buddha

Lumbini and Temple to Buddha - From a Distance

Lumbini and Temple to Buddha - Zoom in on Tree Supposedly From...

Front of Our Hotel

Back of Our Hotel - No Time to Use It and It...


7-25

Wiki Info Bhairawa

Wiki Info Lubini

Overnight train from Delhi arrived in Gorakhpur at 9:30am, got a bus to the border by 1pm where we crossed in just half hour. Another short bus ride to Bhairawa where we discussed what to do next...deciding to get ATM money even tho until now everyone has taken our Indian rupies. Next we find a place to stay, Hotel Nansc, even tho it was $40 US because Bon had had enuf. Her shoulder was hurting and the humidity was way over the top. Having taken the room, sponged off, and shaken off the heat we headed down to find the bus station and get tickets to Katmandu tomorrow before heading to Buddha's birth place, Lumbini.

Now what really happened...I watched the monsoon rains begin this morning as the train pounded thru the rice paddy countryside. In the bus to the border I watched muddy roadsides with piles of trash and garbage, sometimes racing sometimes just plodding by. Cows, water buffalo, and goats lying or ambling on or along the roadways, red, yellow, and orange cannas blooming profusely in swampy waterholes . Once a cow held up a line of traffic going the opposite direction which stretched perhaps half a km, all moving at the same pedantic speed of the cow which was oblivious and no move was being made to alter her mid road course! I was bombarded constantly with the cacaphonic honking (fantastic variety of sounds, all excessively irritating) of vehicles urging each other onward or off ward. I spent 20+ kilometers counting the seconds between our bus horn honks...most were 10-30 seconds apart, perhaps a half dozen occurred with 40-60 second intervals and one space of time lasted almost a minute and a half but I can't count that since most of this time was spent standing still! I swear our driver honked the horn many times out of simple ability to make noise for no real purpose. I dislike borders! There is an underlying distrust in all transactions taking place there. I think it's because all within a relatively short timeframe I must adjust to another currency, deal with touts trying to convince me of untruths about transport options or currency options, or just where to go (actually, not knowing if they are untruths but from past experience realizing much of the hype is similar to taxi driver speech). Likewise, the police/military presence is intimidating and unsettling, especially having to 'buy' our way into another country with visa fees which once were reasonable if at all and now because of Bush era changes in visa requirements the principal of reciprocity has brought intolerably high visa prices, usually $130 US +!

Bonnie loves borders. Exciting, new territory! Herein lies our conflict, the rub, making days like this difficult for both of us - for me as I described above, and due to this unease in me, Bon cannot enjoy the experience as she would normally. And to top it all off, I'm allergic' to humidity and today, I went without breakfast or lunch so my hunger affected my grouch factor beyond the ordinary. Finally, when we reached the gate to enter Buddha's garden we hadn't purchased a ticket some 2 km away at a booth we missed so we could not enter. Having been told by the bus driver he'd be leaving to go back in 45 minutes (last bus returning to Bhairawa) we were pressed for time and headed back amidst a downpour. All this together led me to realize, again, a great need for an attitude adjustment. I am still suffering from a long past issue with the appointment of Bush to the presidency! The ramifications of this one act were brought home to me once again several days ago when I read the following article which I include here with in it's entirety:

Norway prepares for Breivik anniversary

July 19, 2012 5:19 PM By Richard Galpin BBC News, Oslo

22 July is a date which haunts Norway; a date it would like to forget, but never will - the date of the twin attacks carried out by Anders Behring Breivik.

As the country braces itself for the first anniversary of the attacks, thoughts are once again turning to the horror he visited on the small population.

The car-bomb in Oslo designed to kill the leadership of the country, and the shootings on the island of Utoeya designed to destroy the next generation of Labour party politicians, left 77 people dead, the majority of them teenagers.

It was one of the worst acts of terrorism the world has witnessed in recent decades.

The bloodshed had been methodically planned by Breivik and was carried out with such ruthlessness that he even ignored the pleas for mercy from some of the youngsters on Utoya.

At one stage of his killing spree on the island, he calmly reloaded his gun and shot several through the head as they sat in front of him, paralysed with fear.

The youngest person to die at the summer camp was 14 years old.

Carpet of flowers

But even in the first days of shock after the attacks, it was clear the response of the Norwegian people and their government to this act of terrorism would be unique.

Tens of thousands of Norwegians were soon walking through the streets of central Oslo singing and carrying roses.

They created a carpet of flowers on the road outside the cathedral with the message: "If one man can show so much hate, just imagine how much love we can all show together."

And at the political level, the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged to do everything to ensure the country's core values were not undermined.

"The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation," he said.

A year later it seems the prime minister has kept his word.

There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists.

On the streets of Oslo, CCTV cameras are still a comparatively rare sight and the police can only carry weapons after getting special permission.

Even the gate leading to the parliament building in the heart of Oslo remains open and unguarded.

"It is still easy to get access to parliament and we hope it will stay that way, " said Lise Christoffersen, a Labour party MP.

She is convinced people do not want laws passed which would curtail their basic rights and impinge on their privacy despite the relative ease with which Breivik was able to plan and carry out his attacks.

He also claims to have been acting as part of an extremist network, although this has been dismissed by the police.

Public platform

Norway's determination to uphold all normal rights was extended to Breivik himself during the 10-week trial which ended last month.

He was treated as any other suspected criminal and in the opening days was even able to give an extreme nationalist-style salute inside the court until asked to stop it.

The first week of the trial was dominated by Breivik, who was allowed to speak for five days to try to explain his actions.

He used this time to go into graphic detail about how and why he had killed so many people: precisely the public platform he had craved.

Little more than a metre behind him, sat survivors and relatives of those killed.

And although live television coverage stopped when Breivik was giving this testimony, the world's media was allowed to report every word he had uttered.

Some Norwegians were horrified by the opportunity this gave him to spell out his extreme Islamophobic ideology and there were fears he might succeed in his stated aim of winning new converts to his cause.

Norway does have several far-right groups which have spoken out against Muslim immigrants coming to live in the country.

But Cato Shiotz, a senior criminal lawyer, says having an open trial has enabled the Norwegian people to make their own informed judgement about Breivik.

"I think Breivik has done more harm to the radical right than he has benefited them," said Mr Shiotz.

"His ideas now have less support than ever before."

It is this which bolsters the belief held by some senior Norwegians that over the past year their country has provided an alternative model for dealing with terrorism.

"The only way to really combat terror is to show that we are better than them," says Jan Egeland, a former official in the Norwegian foreign ministry and now deputy head of Human Rights Watch.

"Their (the terrorists') whole point is to create shock and fear and get us to leave our liberal values…and lure us over to their shadowy part of the playing field… we should not let them win."

Mr Egeland is highly critical of how other countries, particularly the United States, have dealt with the terrorist threats they face, arguing that methods such as extraordinary rendition, the creation of the special prison for terrorist suspects in Guantanamo and the sanctioning of what is generally viewed as torture, have all been counter-productive.

"The whole (US) struggle against terror lost the moral high ground, You could see how public opinion was lost in Turkey, in Jordan, in moderate countries all over the Middle East," he said.

Different dynamics

But the United States does face a very different threat from that posed by Breivik, who appears to have been acting alone.

The United States is trying to tackle a threat on its own soil and against US targets around the world from a network of militants which is constantly evolving and developing new methods of attack from bases in different countries.

"When a nation is under constant threat and has troops around the world, the terrorism dynamic is different," says the American security analyst Marco Vicenzino.

"In a place like Norway you look at it more from a law enforcement perspective. In the United States you view it more from a war perspective, as a nation under attack."

Jan Egeland admits he is not sure how the Norwegian government would have reacted if the twin attacks a year ago had been carried out by a foreign network like Al Qaeda, as was initially suspected. But he still believes the Norwegian response would have been better than that of the United States.

"I don't think we would have declared that we wanted to go to the dark side and start torturing and invent provocations against international law like Guantanamo," he said.

"But I wonder if we would have stood the test as well."

BBC © 2012

My anger over what damage Bush era policies have wreaked worldwide seems to have no end, yet I tell myself every day, "Get over it, move on!" So, hopefully, tomorrow this will to seek a positive attitude will take hold and a brighter future lies in store. It didn't help that I watched the movie 'The Sundown Express' tonight, however, ha!

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