Monks, meditation and mantras at the monastery

Date: 19 May

Location: Breakfast table, Kathmandu Guest House, Thamel. Bit over the 'buff' sausages.

Notable sightings: a Monday I don't hate!

Up at Neydo Monastery, waking up to observe the monks' morning prayers is 'optional'. Turns out, it's 'optional' in the same sense that getting wet when you walk in the rain is optional. Possible to avoid, but takes work. The huge drum beats reverberated me out of bed at 5.30am. If they hadn't, the chanting and horns soon would have.

So a zombie version of me dutifully dressed modestly and went up to temple to watch the circus. It was nice. However, five and a half hours of yoga practice later – three of them before breakfast (inhumane!) – I was bitterly regretting the loss of that extra hour's sleep.

Right, I've had my sook. Actually, the whole yoga retreat experience was truly wonderful: the food was vegetarian perfection, the people were inspiring (read: 'made me feel inadequate'), I felt so privileged to stay at the monastery and meet the monks and I loved a lot of the yoga, which was 'universal style'. The studio that ran the weekend is planning to open Nepal's first yoga retreat which I think is just wonderful and a project I want to keep an eye on. Could probably have done without the hours of yogic philosophy. And I did feel particularly hard done by when we were sent to bed on Saturday night in silence and banned from TV/internet until the end of practice the next morning — and I could hear the teen monks next door watching a movie. (I then decided iPad didn't count.)

Last night, back in Thamel, I rewarded myself for this weekend of pure virtue with a beer and a plate of momos. Momos are Nepali dumplings served with some sort of chutney. We're now in a committed relationship.



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