Hard to describe – when I walked out of the airport it felt like I had arrived in a very large ski resort somewhere in Asia – its high up, its cold, there are mountains. But that’s where the similarities end; Kathmandu is vibrant, chaotic, and colourful. Loud, dirty, and poor. It simply overwhelms the senses. It feels like there are a hundred taxi drivers for every tourist, there are more stray dogs per square metre than Battersea Dogs home, not a single traffic light, and roads that go from tarmac to rubble to dirt and back again, in seconds; inhabited by cars, buses, motorbikes, bicycles, people, cows, goats and dogs. Its fantastic. Everywhere there are people selling something, anything! The streets are lined with hole in the wall cafés serving sweet tea, Momo’s and the national dish Dal Bhat. There are endless piles of fruit and veg along the roadside next to tables with all manner of clothing, surrounded in many places by the native monkeys that roam certain areas of the city. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen or felt. And I love it.

After 20 minutes of avoiding the taxi drivers and the gaze of the airport policeman I started to fear the worse; its all a scam, there is no Buddhist Monk, and I’m about to be kidnapped by the local Maoists!

And then I saw him. His red and orange robes flowing, a beanie hat to keep his shaved head warm, and a smile that could only emanate from someone that knows true happiness. He greeted me with a white scarf, a Buddhist tradition, and it took every ounce of determination not to burst into tears – the pent-up emotion just wanted to escape, and trust me, it did many times during the next four weeks.

His monastery was in a suburb called Shwayambu, about twenty minutes from the city centre. It’s basic. Very basic. There is no heating, limited lighting and the water is heated via an individual immersion heater. The Guru’s sister cooks for us, using vegetables grown in the garden, our meals consisting of rice, a daal, and a vegetable, accompanied by hot water to wash it down.