Wandering through the jungle grass, with the constellation of red welts on my legs in a maddening itch, we navigated our way past nonchalant water buffaloes toward the golden spire in the trees. Passang's crimson robe gathering barbed grass seed, our foreheads running, the sweat stinging our eyes. We followed the flash of gold, which appeared then disappeared, like a sun behind passing clouds. It seemed so sudden and unexpected, this blinding white dome, its mathematical perfection contrasting with the wild, twisting trees.
The Japanese Peace Stupa.
We hid in the shade of a nearby café, sipping on cool mango juice and soda, Passang meticulously pulling at the grass seed, which studded his robe. A crane flew silently above, and every so often, the sweet, heady fragrance of gardenias wafted by.
Too hot to eat, I left Passang with the ramen noodles he ordered, to circumambulate the stupa. The silence was thick, the heat of the ground burning its way through the soles of my shoes. A young boy in white called me over to a tamed bush, pointing to an unfortunate frog being swallowed by a snake. His excitement melted into great seriousness.