A Blessed Pilgrimage

by Dr. Yutang Lin | 1990 | 18,562 words

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Part 5 - Departure

On the second of January, I took a direct flight on China Airlines from San Francisco to Taipei. I arrived in Taipei at 7 p.m. local time the next day. My itinerary included a flight for Bangkok the next day, however, there was one available at 9 p.m. that evening. Regulations required me to take that flight. My parents and brother met me at the airport. They gave me the phone number of a friend, Mr. Tenzing, in Kathmandu, Nepal. I arrived in Bangkok at 11:30 p.m. According to my itinerary, I was to arrive on the 4th and leave for Kathmandu on the 5th. I was hoping to obtain a transit visa upon arrival, which would enable me to stay an extra day. As it turned out I arrived on the 3rd and was scheduled to leave on the 5th, however the immigration official did not allow me to enter Thailand and ordered me to leave in the morning. My ticket for Kathmandu was purchased from the Royal Nepal Airlines, and there was no scheduled flight for Kathmandu on the 4th. The airport representative of China Airlines looked for a connecting flight for me.

I had a hotel reservation voucher with me for the Airport Hotel at Bangkok, which was entrusted to me by Professor Pryor for four members (including myself) of our pilgrimage group. After several phone calls the hotel management agreed to come get it.

Accompanied by a plain clothes security officer, I walked up to the waiting lounge on the second floor. When he learned that I was on a pilgrimage, he was very friendly to me. He pulled down the cushion from a chair and set it on the floor for me to sleep on. He looked after my luggage and allowed me to move around freely in the huge waiting lounge. I was hungry but all the stores were closed. Fortunately, in my pocket there was an orange and a small bag of peanuts that I had saved from the China Airlines flight.

It was rather chilly that night in the waiting lounge, but I was comfortably warm lying under my lightweight damp proof aluminized blanket. Nevertheless, finding myself alone in a foreign land with uncertainty casting over my mission made it difficult for me to sleep well. After a short nap, I sat up and started to recite the pilgrimage poems composed by my Guru as well as my work A Short Hymn on Guru Chens Life. I also prayed for my Gurus blessing to smooth my way for the pilgrimage.

At 9 a.m. on the 4th of January, there was suddenly good news: Royal Nepal Airlines scheduled flight for the 3rd had been delayed because of fog, and was rescheduled to leave that morning. There was space available for me on this flight! Thus, I was spared the penalty of having to buy an extra airline ticket. Upon boarding the plane I saw a photo of a magnificent statue of Buddha right in front of my seat. It was as though Buddha had come to greet me. I was deeply moved. After lunch, the tension and tiredness, which I had accumulated over the last few days faded. With deep gratitude, I prayed that all beings would make smooth progress on the path toward Buddhahood.

I arrived in Kathmandu in the afternoon. In order to obtain a 15-day tourist visa, one needed only to fill out a short form at the airport and submit 10 U.S. dollars. Porters and solicitors for taxis or hotels swarmed around me as I stepped out. I carried my light luggage and walked away from the crowd, then called Mr. Tenzing on the phone. He answered the call himself and drove immediately to the airport to pick me up and take me to his residence. I then made a phone call back home to my father in Taipei to let them know that I had arrived safely one day early, and asked him to call my wife to pass on the news. Upon Mr. Tenzings kind invitation I stayed in their guest suite that night.

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