Xin Liu, a journalist from China, is among them. “I once saw a picture of Nepali people many years ago. I loved their smiles. And it has always been my dream to come here,” she says, between trying to take a perfectly timed shot of pigeons at the temple.
Many Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and even Westerners come here, mixing tourism with pilgrimage, but for many foreign tourists Nepal is also an attraction because it is much more affordable. Chinese tourists, especially, say they find a Nepal holiday cheaper than anywhere else in Asia.
“We are students and we didn’t have a lot of money, but we wanted to travel abroad. So, we chose Nepal,” says Zhao Meng from Hunan, strolling around with her friend Sheng Fengju. They confess they are not Buddhist and know very little of the Buddhist significance of Boudha, but are impressed by its beautiful and calm atmosphere.
The circle of buildings around Boudha used to house pilgrims, but now have been taken over by elegant terrace cafes, meditation centres, bed and breakfasts, and gift shops.
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