“By prostrating before a stupa, we turn our face away from our egos and toward our enlightened nature. By circumambulating—walking around the stupa in a clockwise fashion and reciting prayers—we keep the image of enlightenment at the center of our attention.”
Boudhanath is a stupa in Kathmandu. Located about 11 km from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.
The Boudha Stupa dominates the skyline; it is one of the largest stupas in the world. The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudha Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Charumati Stupa (often called “Little Boudhanath”). It then turns directly south, heading over the Bagmati River to Lalitpur – thus bypassing the main city of Kathmandu (which was a later foundation). Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha (Wikipedia).
We had about 15 km behind us. We followed the cross-country ski track through forest and miers covered under a deep layer of snow. At one point the track made a long gentle turn to the right. It was the Northern tip of the Pyhäjärvi (Pyhä Lake) and of the ski track we were following around it. At the end of the turn the track started to follow a long series wooden electricity poles in a straight line. The track run between the village of Pyhäjärvi on our left and vast snow-covered frozen lake on our right. We stopped when we saw a young boy selling warm coffee and juice to skiers. While I was sipping from my paper cup I looked around. Up on a gentle slope the wooden houses where deep in the snow. I imagined the dark months of December and January. How many hours of light do they have up here? and when the summer arrives, does the sun set belows the horizon or not? what jobs people have? are they all working in the tourism sectors? what other work exists so up north? do young people stay here or do they move when they finish their studies? how is it to live so up north?
We finished our drinks and skied for about 1 km to the cafe Mummola to have something to eat before the last stretch of 8 km to get back to our cottage. Temperature -14C. Blue sky. Not a cloud.
One thing you do when in Lapland during the winter is to go out in the night and look up to the sky. And so I did. I also found an app (there are many) that given 30 min forecast of the northern lights: how weak or strong they are. It give time to get ready. Put the winter clothes on. Read a some blogs about the camera set up for taking photos of the Northern lights. Switch on the head torch and get out. There are northern lights every night, but they are never the same. I learned that they come in a scale from 0 to 9 (9 being very rare and being visible also in central Europe). So, I got out at nights during our trip to Pyhätunturi and look up at the sky. The first night they were barely visible. The second night they were a faint greenish cloud at the horizon. The third night they were a bit more visible, between 2.5 at the horizon. The last night they were up above our cottage. Like a cloud of fine dust, very high up in the sky, that moves along a wind stream and slowly changes shape as it moves.
At the start I follow the track with my eyes. Two parallel lines in which the cross-country skis find their way forward. It takes me few kilometres to get into a rhythm and be able to see the landscape around me. When I do, I can fully realise where I am. When I stop to catch my breath I see sky which is totally blue. Not a single cloud. No wind. The temperature is -15C, but I do not feel it. I feel warm from the sun and the exercise. I listen to my breath slowing down and realise that around me nature is totally silent as if I were in a landscape painting. I start again moving. First the right ski, then the left one, then again the right one. And so on and on. I try not to push too much with the sticks and let the legs to the work. In half an hour I will be up at the cabin and look forward to the coffee and the wood-fire stove warming up the room.
The classic cross-country skiing style is often used on prepared trails (pistes) that have pairs of parallel grooves (tracks) cut into the snow. It is also the most usual technique where no tracks have been prepared. With this technique, each ski is pushed forward from the other stationary ski in a striding and gliding motion, alternating foot to foot. With the “diagonal stride” variant the poles are planted alternately on the opposite side of the forward-striding foot; with the “kick-double-pole” variant the poles are planted simultaneously with every other stride. At times, especially with gentle descents, double poling is the sole means of propulsion. On uphill terrain, techniques include the “side step” for steep slopes, moving the skis perpendicular to the fall line, the “herringbone” for moderate slopes, where the skier takes alternating steps with the skis splayed outwards, and, for gentle slopes, the skier uses the diagonal technique with shorter strides and greater arm force on the poles (Wikipedia).
Stockholm has many museums. The one I love the most is Fotografiska, the Museum of Photography.
Fotografiska is the largest photography museum in the world. We celebrate photography, but beyond being a simple museum we offer inclusive spaces for conversation and community. We believe in creating a common ground that invites everyone in, where our guests can listen to lectures, stay for dinner, or meet friends. Our mission is to inspire a more conscious world.
The Stockholm Underground (tunnelbana) opened in 1950, and today the system has 100 stations in use, of which 47 are underground and 53 above ground. Traffic in underground moves on left-hand side, because cars still drove on the left in Sweden when the underground system opened.
In 2017, the underground carried 353 million passengers, which corresponds to 1,2 million in a normal weekday. The 105.7-kilometre-long underground system has been called ‘the world’s longest art gallery’, with more than 90 of the network’s 100 stations decorated with sculptures, rock formations, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 different artists. (Wikipedia)
There is a strange foggy weather which is not common in this part of Finland. I ma in Karelia. There is snow on the ground but the temperature is mild. The houses are far from each other here in the countryside. I walk the 6km of the loop around the hill and see only a few cars passing by. The days are short and nature is on pause until the early signs of spring in March.
The takeoff was smooth even though we had to climb through thick rainy clouds. The fields and trees on the ground disappeared very quickly. The clouds were very low. I looked outside the window and saw just fog. All of a sudden it all disappeared and we flew suspended over the clouds as the sun was setting.
Last Sunday I went for an afternoon walk to Santa Lucia. It is a small village about 15 km out of Tegucigalpa. There was a nice bright light. The sun was shining, but it was not too hot. Families were in restaurants having lunch and enjoying the good time together. It was a nice day.
An unassuming railway station where the long distance trains which run north-south-north stop to let passengers catch the trains that run to the east. Now that it is winter, passengers seem unsure whether to wait for their next train on the platform or taking refuge, if only for few minutes, in the station building next to the ticket counters and the café.
Outside on the platform, people are waiting their next train wrapped in their thoughts. Some will soon be home. Others have a long way to go. All in that strange no-man zone which is a transit railway station.