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Nepal

Curious what backpackers do in Nepal? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day25

    We continued with digging the hole. First it seemed like it's gonna take ages, but we finished one hour before works end. Pretty crazy. We had been 3-4 people in the hole digging and some more around to empty the filled buckets and bring them back. Was great teamwork. After work it's always the same procedure: everyone goes back home, tries to get a free "shower" (there are only 4 for about 120 people :D), meeting at 6 and dinner at 7. In between there's time to go "shopping", relax, chat, do laundry, whatever you want.Read more

  • Day9

    Elevation - 1680 m

    Today we walked 19 km and, no word of a lie, it was all steeply downhill and very rocky. Every step down was a precarious balancing act. Because we were decending, it was very warm and dusty and we all felt nasty and dirty when we arrived in Jubhing. This was the worst day for Jon because all the downhill was very hard on his knees. And to add insult to injury, he got a very bad case of chafing in his nether regions!!
    We were so very glad to qfinally make it to the tea house.

    We desperately needed a to clean up but there was no shower. They had a separate building for a toilet and shower which looked fairly new but they hadn't got the shower hooked up yet. We had to make do with buckets of cold water in a little shower room. It was actually quite refreshing and it felt wonderful to be clean.

    This tea house looked fairly new so we figured it had been rebuilt since the earthquake. We had actually planned to go a bit farther and sleep at a higher elevation but there was no way we could have walked anymore. Unfortunately, there were mosquitoes at this level and as we hadn't planned to stay this low, none of us had gotten malaria vaccinations.

    I 8felt as though I was developing a cold so, once again, I stumbled off to bed right after supper.
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  • Day10

    Elevation - 2730 m

    Well we have discovered a new use for duct tape! Jon put some sterile gauze over the chafed area and then covered the whole thing with duct tape. It hurt like the dickens when he took it off, and he is now sporting a bikini wax, but the area is healing up nicely.

    Today we walked 16 km but it was a mixture of up and down. The scenery is absolutely amazing and, of course, pictures don't do it justice.

    We have been running into more and more donkey and cow/yak trains. Cow/yaks are a cross between a cow and a yak. Their horns are different than a yak and their hair is shorter. These animals are harnessed up with wooden devices that sit on their backs over a pad. The gear is then tied to these wooden things. The donkey trains are rigged up in the same way but are quite sad. We saw a few animals with terrible sores and the men driving these trains threw rocks at the animals to get them going. The cow/yak trains were much more civilized and we speculated that because the yak trains are much shorter, they are probably family owned. The donkey trains can be quite long and are probably driven by hired help who don't really care much about the animals.

    It started to cloud over as the day wore on and made for a nice walking tenperature. Just minutes after we reached the tea house a crazy hail storm hit. We figured the blessing we got from the Buddhist monks had saved us from being out on the trail when it hit! The noise was deafening on the roof of the tea house.

    After the storm, we had bucket baths with lovely hot water that was already heated in the kitchen. The rooms were like little cabins and the dining room was lovely and warm with a little woodstove in the middle.
    And surprisingly, this family even had a fridge sitting in the corner of the dining room. Someone would have had to carry that fridge over the rough terrain we had just traversed to get it there!
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  • Day11

    -Elevation 2610 m

    Today we walked 14 km and my slightly sore throat has developed into an upper respiratory infection. We have finally hit the main trail to Everest Base Camp and there are many more tourists on this trail. It is very different than what we've experienced so far. As grueling and difficult as these days have been, it was lovely to see the less touristy side of Nepal.

    The people here are amazingly tough. They have to be because they carry everything they need for many miles. Apparently, all supplies are trucked into Phaplu, where we started, and then carried everywhere else. It's taken all our strength to walk from Phaplu with just a day pack on our backs, never mind some of the loads we've seen people carrying. You just cannot match the toughness of these people.

    We stayed in a very upscale teahouse in a room with its own bathroom sporting a western toilet and a shower. The tea house had a large dining area but the food was the same as we experienced all along.
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  • Day6

    10 hours bus ride to jiri. Finally I leave the overcrowded, loud and dirty Kathmandu and I get to see more and more of the beautiful scenery (and unfortunately also all the rubbish and pollution). Maybe one of the worst trips of my life :D (I hope I'll never complain about bad streets in Germany again^^). But the landscape is amazing, especially seeing the high mountains and glaciers. On the bus I got to know Sadish (from India). That's very helpful, because he speaks Hindu and can communicate with most of the locals.
    We arrived at half past 4 in Jiri and it was already too late to start walking (gets dark by 6). So we took another bus and had again a 1,5 hours adventure ride to Shivalaya. After dinner I went to bed immediately. The mattress was really thin, but nevertheless I had a good sleep.
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  • Day4

    We have arrived and Kathmandu is an assault on the senses!! As we descended to our landing we discovered that the city is enveloped in a smokey haze. As soon as you step off the plane onto the tarmac you are breathing in this smokey haze and the surgical masks that you were advised to bring but didn't, make sense.

    The first challenge is to get out of the airport. It's chaos but we were among the first ones off so we got through in reasonably good time. The hassle is that you have to purchase a visitors permit before you leave the airport. Once the immigration officer gave us our visas we went to collect our bags. We had to show a security officer our luggage tickets and then we were officially in Nepal!

    Outside the airport it's a crowded mess of people wanting to take your bags and drive you somewhere. Jon spotted the sign for our trekking company, our luggage was deposited in the trunk of a beat up old car, we were deposited in the back seat of said car and we were on our way.

    The first thing the driver did was to drive forward over a sidewalk and right into traffic all the while honking his horn. I knew we were in for a wild ride and our driver did not disappoint. My first impression was that it was very similar to Peru or Mexico but much more crowded and intense. The electrical system is insane with big clumps of wires hanging all over the place. No one seems to bother much about the lanes and what appears as utter chaos actually has a weird sort of flow to it. Motorcycles weave in and out everywhere, vehicles pass each other any which way while brave pedestrians bodly step into this fray. Our driver was amazingly talented and deftly wove through this craziness and deposited us safely at our hotel.
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  • Day24

    Breakfast (eggs, bread, porridge, fruits, coffee) with a good with on Himalaya. Then work started. Digging all day long. We're building two houses. There are several teams doing different jobs: mixing concrete, brick laying,... Almost everything is done only by pure muscle power, no machines. It's gonna be a real interesting experience to build a house this way. For lunch we go to one of the restaurants in the village, it seems like there's gonna be Dal Bhat every day again :D
    In the afternoon we started digging a hole for the tanks of the toilet. It's supposed to be 2m deep, so might take some more days ^^. Work finished at 4:30. Till 6 there's free time, to take a shower, relax, .... At 6 is daily meeting, progresses from the day are told, new people introduced, ... Round about 7 is dinner time. And today was Nepali lesson, learning some basic sentences and questions.
    I think it's gönne be a good time here with lots of hard work but also nice people and a good community. Day 1 is already done :D
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  • Day16

    Today started as normal, breakfast, walk to school. Go to classes, sneak away for a phone chat with Kris and Anita, then as I was on the phone one of the teachers walked by me and invited me to go to a festival at the senior school. So I went, and acheived one of my goals of walking up to the top our our mountain peak! The walk was 1km in distance with 250m elevation gain. All stairs really, and hot!

    And, I cannot even begin to describe how amazing the mountains are. It's just not possible to capture them on camera either though I did try.. I thought that because we grew up with the Rockies in the background I'd be hard pressed to be awed by another mountain range, I wasn't really by the Alps when we were in Switzerland. But the Himalayan mountains are something else. In part I think it's because of how dynamic they are, there are peaks and valleys everywhere rather than a more consistent line. Or maybe it only seems that way because I'm right in the middle of them, but I don't think so, it's completely different than our mountains at home. Another thing is how the mountains have been tamed. There are settlements and farms carved into every hillside that you can see. I think that's what amazes me the most: the sheer durability and resilience of the people who have made these mountains their own.

    The senior School is much larger than the basic school I've been at. It has two levels and probably 30 classes? There were a ton of people there. There's also a couple small markets carrying the basics that people might need such as soap, notebooks, snacks, shoes, etc. The festival itself was very similar to the one our school had to celebrate it's anniversary. There were 3 different groups that danced: one traditional with two girls, one more modern with four boys, and a lovers dance with two boys and two girls. The students doing the traditional dancing were older than our students and a bit more fluid and synchronized with their movements. Both were lovely though! I really enjoyed the dance by the boys, they just had so much energy and creativity. I can't think of what to compare the dancing to, but it was like something you'd see in a music video but to Nepali music. The lovers dance was super cute, and it looked like the couples preforming it were slightly nervous which made it even better. It was a slower dance and was more similar to dancing we know at home with partners moving together as one rather than two separate people doing the same dance. The dancing is definitely a highlight of these festivals for me considering that I can't understand anything else. I am starting to differentiate between words now and can pick out words and recognize sentence structure but I don't know what any of the words mean! Which means I still haven't a clue about what they're speaking about.

    During the festival there was a man dancing in the background to all the student performances who appeared a bit... Off his rocker. He later approached me and starting talking to me about things and then said that he likes me, loves me, wants to marry me. I would have been uncomfortable had Bobita not been sitting right next to me laughing. She later explained that he's just "mad" and not to pay any attention to him. It was entertaining at least I suppose! On the walk home I received a second offer from a different gentleman (who was also joking as he's married and has grandchildren) to marry. I'm beginning to think it's a common theme because of our limited language skills; every woman I meet also asks if I am married. I didn't walk home with Bobita, but with another woman from the village and when we reached her home she offered me tea and water. Her children are students at the school so we tried to talk a bit but my Nepali sucks! From her house I somehow made it home... It was a new route for me and by some miracle, or a better sense of direction than I thought I had, I made it home first try, picking all the correct paths at forks. That was kind of fun though! Maybe I'll start exploring a bit more around here. The only worry I have is accidentally ending up in someone's yard. When I was walking with the locals we wandered through so many random people's properties, and I do see random people pass through our property too, but alone I wouldn't be comfortable doing it.

    I made it back from the festival later than normal, and Beda and Bobita followed shortly afterwards. Bobita from the festival and Beda from town. Bobita had a couple friends over for dinner and she made rice pudding again yum! Beda had gone to town and bought some chicken and some Nepalese wine. After dinner Bobita went down to the village to a friends house and Beda, one of his friends, and myself shared some of the wine. And for anyone considering trying Nepalese wine in the future, it is not wine as we know it! Oh boy that has a kick. He bought it direct from the person who makes it and it came in a big plastic bottle with no label. It was fresh so it was warm when we were first drinking it and I think I actually prefer it that way strangely.. To drink Nepalese wine you must also have some snacks that you eat along with it, "slowly slowly" so that the wine doesn't hit you as hard I presume. We had some carrots, spinach, and chicken as our snacks. And while snacking you talk. The card games came after the eating and drinking was done. Apparently, they usually play for money but because I'm learning we skipped it. Thankfully.

    Anyway, back to the wine. It's not wine as we know it, it's made from millet and the percentage is somewhere between 20 and 30 I think. The taste is different. Reminded me of a cross between Grappa and Sake. Maybe with some hints of Port in there... For those of you who know me, none of those drinks are something I enjoy the taste of, but I preservered and began to enjoy the taste after the first cup was finished ;) Thankful for those afternoons of Scotch tasting right now! Didn't enjoy that either at first and now love it soooo maybe this will be the same. But, because you have to walk over an hour one way to get the wine and then carry it up, I can't imagine that it'll be a common occurrence. But, the evening was quite nice and relaxing! Definitely much needed. Reminded me of home and hanging out at the kitchen table just having a good time..
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  • Day18

    Today started off easily enough, read my book for a bit, "showered", breakfast. I then walked to the next village to one of the teacher's homes because Beda and Bobita had other things to do. I wasn't entirely sure why I was going, and the directions I was given to get there were "follow the road until you see someone to show you his house" lol. Thankfully I did find it no problem! There was someone leaving who showed me where to go. When I arrived, I picked up what I had been sent for, mutton. I guess today was slaughter day.. Must have something to do with some party I heard is going on today. Pretty sure that I don't like mutton but I guess we'll see. Along the walk there I was able to talk breifly with Mom before the signal faded!

    When I returned home I decided I needed to do some laundry. Finding the cistern was a challenge, apparently I just don't understand directions very well.. Or I don't understand the difference between a big tree and a medium sized tree, but hey. But once I did find it I started washing my clothes. And didn't have enough laundry soap of course. So I used a bar of soap meant for the body and it worked well enough! After I figured out how the heck to wash clothes properly without a sink... Pretty sure I didn't do a very good job on some items. I also understand now why a lot of people don't bother with socks here (they all wear sandals 90% of the time) even when it's cold. Because they're impossible to clean! I will be following suit now and dealing with cold feet instead of the struggle of washing socks that just don't get clean. Thankfully, I only brought black socks so you can't really tell that they're still covered in dirt. They smell fine though :p Once the clothes dry we'll see how successful I was with washing them.. While I was doing my laundry a goat tried to eat some socks! It was kind of comical but frustrating at the same time haha.

    When I was back from washing clothing, there was no one at the house and I took the opportunity to just relax. Wishing I had some beers to drink, but not enough to walk down to town for them! So instead I read my book, did some stretching and other exercises. I can feel myself getting more flexible in some ways, like the hips even though they ache, and in some ways I feel tighter, my calves in particular. And my back aches, but pretty sure that's just muscles getting stronger..

    At some point in the afternoon Bobita came back to the house to make some tea and I went with her down to the celebration. I'm not entirely sure what this one was all about... Some girls tried to explain it and I think it's something to do with honouring women. Grandma was there and received a blessing of some sort in front of the... Blessing area? One pro of letting the girls use my phone for photos meant they took one of the area I'm talking about so I didn't have to be the offensive stranger taking pictures of everything ;) This one was more elaborate than the one at the wedding party, but the same idea. Offerings of food, money, flowers, in bowls made of banana leaves all placed under a knit cloth draped from 4 poles decorated with leaves and flowers. I'm starting to notice a clear separation between men and women in al public events. There is very little mixing of the sexes, the women all sit together and the men sit together. The children drift between the two groups but tend to stay with the women. Or, like today, with me. They're fascinated by me and honestly I'm okay with their company because it's so easy to talk to children. All they want to do is learn and have fun, if the conversation isn't all that intelligent well that's okay. There is one brother and sister in particular that just melt my heart, children of one of the teachers. The little boy always comes and sits with me and the girl is always explaining what's happening and showing me around. Makes me think of having my own one day ;) oh! And the children gave me these little fruits that were super sour and delicious and I wish that we had them at home! Called lapsi I believe.

    For dinner we had the mutton.. Definitely not a fan. But I tried!
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  • Day21

    This morning started out somewhat differently, there were two engineers (presumably from the government) who came by the house this morning to inspect the damage from the 2015 earthquake. Apparently this is the first time that they've been up to the village, almost 2 years later! They took a number of photos and for the first time I looked closely at the house I'm staying at while walking through with them. Because, why not. There's a fair amount of shear damage at the corners of the buildings and one portion of the building separated a bit, but to my eye it doesn't look too too bad. But, of course, I'm not an expert and have zero experience with this type of construction. Have I mentioned before that the construction is a clay-concrete type for the main walls? There are some wood posts as well and the floors and food are timber as well. Corrugated metal roofs and of course no insulation, but the mass walls do a good job of regulating the temperature. It's dark now but I'll see if I've taken any photos I can post!

    At school today I felt very productive but also experienced some of the frustration I imagine the locals must feel somewhat regularly. I spent the entire day in the computer lab, getting things working smoothly. Originally there were 3 working computers and now there are 5 maybe 6! We'll test the 6th one tomorrow if the power has come back on... That's the frustrating part. The power went off before lunch and didn't come back on all day, still isn't on in fact and it's almost dinner time. Apparently sometimes the power will be out for weeks without warning.. I expected the outage when the storm came a few days ago but today has been perfectly calm and clear! No indication of what caused it. So anyway, with the help of Kevin and Jason I was able to figure out how to install programs on various computers by copying files from one computer without internet or install disks. I was also able to adjust a few settings that until previously they had just dealt with, things like resolution, incorrect drivers, etc. The two computers that we for sure fixed had corrupted memory so we swapped things around until they worked. One of them still requires a registry edit before it works perfectly and the other insists it needs a windows service pack installed, which we don't have, but otherwise success. The 6th computer which we think will work was just a matter of switching out the power supply boxes. I have to say I've learned a lot about hardware today that I didn't know before. Surprised at how well things went... I also went through and tested a number of different mice, keyboards, speakers, power cords etc, to see if they're still working. Though that became tough to do as the power was out. Still lots left to do to get things running smoothly including more software installations and finding mice and keyboards for two of the computers that are working. There are so many broken accessories here it makes me a bit sad. They definitely need all the help they can get when it comes to getting hardware. It's good that they have such a great computer teacher! He doesn't give himself enough credit, but he's quite skilled with computers and ingenious in getting things to work. I was just lucky to be raised on computers...

    As I write this the power is still out and it's getting dark. For the first time I can't see lights across the valley, and there's no radio playing from down in the village below. I have a power bank to keep my phone charged, but I haven't a clue how full it is lol. I'm perfectly content if the phone does die though! The only thing I really need it for is writing these posts, taking pictures, reading my book, calling home.... You know ;) But, there are worse things than being disconnected I'm finding. Partly thinking it might be a good thing to completely disconnect for the evening.. Might just go put it away right now :)
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Nepal, Nɛpɔl, ኔፓል, نيبال, Непал, नेपाल, Nepali, নেপাল, བར་ཡུལ་, Nepál, ނޭޕާލް, བལ་ཡུལ, Nepal nutome, Νεπάλ, Nepalo, Nepaal, نپال, Népal, Nèpal, Neipeal, નેપાળ, Nefal, נפאל, Նեպալ, ネパール王国, nepal, ნეპალი, នេប៉ាល់, ನೇಪಾಳ, 네팔, نیپال, Nepalia, Nepálɛ, ເນປານ, Nepalas, Nepāla, Nepala, നേപ്പാൾ, नेपाळ, နီပေါ, Nephali, Sańghīya Loktāntrik Gaṇatantra Nepāl, ନେପାଳ, Nipal, नेपालदेशः, Nëpâli, නේපාලය, Nebaal, நேபாளம், నేపాల్, ประเทศเนปาล, نېپال, Nê-pan (Nepal), Nepalän, Orílẹ́ède Nepa, 尼泊尔, i-Nepal