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Curious what backpackers do in Nepal? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Today was a good day. I woke up early about 5am when I heard others in the house get up and start their daily routine. I slept soundly through the night in my own little room, the sleeping mat that Mom bought me really does the job! Felt like I was at home on my own mattress. Could be I was also very tired :) I wrote a bit, unpacked a bit, and then joined the family. I spent the morning observing and just taking it all in. I hope that they soon I will be able to help out around the place and earn my keep ;) There are 2 adult + 2 baby goats, 2 adult buffalo + a baby, and a number of random cats and birds.

    Breakfast was served about 9am and we had a their typical meal, very similar to dinner last night: rice with vegetable curry and baht as they call it. You mix all three together well and then eat. I need to learn how to eat with my hands as they do! They make it look so easy but I feel as though I would just make a mess. Can't hurt to try thought. After the curry and baht is finished then we add buffalo milk to the remaining rice as a kind of pudding, mixing in banana if we like! For breakfast we also had a sour yogurt that I assume was also from the Buffalo?

    After breakfast we walked down to the local school which is only about 10 minutes away. The children there were very curious and spent some time looking at me, touching my hair, exclaiming over my height, one kid even commented on my muscles.. Lol. There were maybe..... 30 to 60 students? Ranging from near toddlers to teenagers. It was hard to keep track everyone was moving around. They are preparing for a festival so no formal learning was taking place, all rehearsal of songs and dances. They tried to get me to dance but... Well you know me I don't dance though maybe I'll take this opportunity to learn. The school is a series of rooms, no glass in the windows, no lights, electricity through very skeptical means (wires running from a breaker to a power bar...) There is one computer there that the teachers use and otherwise everything is by hand. But the students were very proud to show me their school and work, it was really nice to see. I made the mistake of bringing out my phone at one point and I was swarmed. At first they wanted to see pictures of my home but then it was "what games do you have" and I thought for a moment I wouldn't ever see my phone again. The students are very curious about Canada, they keep asking about my family (Mother? Sister? Brother? Father? Married? Boyfriend? How old are you? Oh too bad.) I showed them pictures of all you guys hope you don't mind ;) Overall a great day, just wish that I could remember all the names that I heard today. I think I have two down.... Horrible. Especially because some kids keep asking m if I remember their names :( It will come I'm sure!

    After school was done I walked back to my home and nearly got lost. Thankfully someone noticed and showed me the way ;) Just sitting around now wishing I could do something to help but doesn't seem to be much that I can do... We'll work on that ;)
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  • Fair warning: this post is a bit of a rant...

    Alright Kathmandu. I think I'm about done with you. It's a great city filled with amazing buildings, culture, and friendly people. But some of your people are driving me insane! I don't mind the hustle and bustle and packed streets, though I do still prefer the quieter areas. What is driving me nuts is the number of people who try to scam money out of me! The number of times I've heard the last few days "I'm not looking for money" or "I just want to practice my English" or "I'm just a friendly person" and then you turn around and ask for money? It's frustrating! It makes me skeptical talking to the people who are genuinely just nice people looking to chat. And, I did meet a few of those nice people today, and those nice people are the reason I don't totally hate things right now, the reason I'm still happy and had a great morning. But the rest of you are giving your people a bad name in my opinion. And maybe I'm seen as an easy target because I'm a white woman travelling alone, apparently have a friendly face, and am "innocent", but boy do I wish that you'd stop following me down the street continuing to talk when I say "no" or blatantly ignore you. Since when is saying "no" in a firm voice and walking away without making eye contact an invitation to keep talking?! I swear, I feel as thought I've been very rude to people today yet still they continue to pester me. And again, it's not everyone, and I won't judge based on a few select individuals (some of whom I have come to recognize and avoid on the streets actually...) Because I had a genuine conversation with two people today.

    One was a student who was legitimately curious about Canada and just wanted to hear about my country. He didn't ask for money or for me to buy him food or feed me any sad story; he showed me to the old part of town out of the goodness of his heart. He showed me the tooth God, the holy tree, the locals market, some old wooden houses carved from individual trees, explained the temples again (walk clockwise for good luck, ring the bell to wake up/bring mental alterness/notify the gods), and talked about why his faith was so important to him especially following the earthquake that left lots of people living in fear.

    The second was an older gentleman who recognized me as Canadian from the hoodie I was wearing (Whistler woo!) I stopped to talk to him because of that alone. I discovered that he was married to a Canadian woman once and lived in Calgary for a number of years. He's back in Nepal now to continue making jewelery but still visits Canada occasionally. We shared a cup of tea and talked about home and families, it's clear he misses Calgary quite a bit and was happy to hear about the country. He invited me to meet his wife and children but I declined. He also put me in touch with another solo female traveller from Holland, but being that I leave tomorrow I don't think that I'll get the chance to meet up with her. Again, a genuinely nice person that didn't try to sell me anything though I did ask to see his shop and saw something that I really liked. My decision there, no pressure.

    So, it's people like them that make me love the Nepalese culture and that's how I'm going to remember Kathmandu. It really is a gorgeous place, I love it. I'm just feeling a bit bitter right now towards all the scam artists. I'd still recommend a visit if anyone were to ask ;) Though I am ready to move on to the country side where perhaps there will be more authentic people and less folk trying to get money out of me. Afterall, I'm a poor student as well! Although not by their standards I know.

    Anywho, I'm back at the hotel now because I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I did find a nice cashmere sweater though along the way that will hopefully help with the cold. It's frigid in the mornings but warms up significantly as soon as the sun comes out! I also bought some tea because my hotel has a kettle and I keep thinking I need to go out and get some.. Maybe I'll try that after I finish the beer I bought myself before returning to the hotel ;)

    I'm not sure what this afternoon holds for me. I'm meeting the volunteer coordinator this evening to get more information about the placement I'm leaving for tomorrow. Maybe I'll try to find a place where I can meet some fellow travellers and see what their thoughts on the city are...
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  • Another good day today. Though I thought that being away from the pollution would have helped my cough, it only seems to be getting worse.. But, maybe I has to get worse before it can get better!

    At the school today was more rehearsal of dance and song for the performance. I really should find out when that is. In the afternoon all the students participated in a number of different games to keep active. Running races, soccer, volleyball, anything to get the blood moving. The cutest thing was the little kids games! The parents tied balloons to their legs and had them stomp them out, adorably. Wish I had had my phone on me to video it or take some pictures! But my phone was "dead" today. Too many students wanted to use it to play games. Looking at photos of home, okay but not games and movies and fighting over who gets to use it. So tomorrow maybe I'll forget it at home ;) After school two girls showed me a different way back that was literally a walk through the Jungle. So cool! The only problem with the place is that it's so hard to photograph, nothing looks as good in the photos as they do in real life!

    Oh, I should mention that I also learned to eat with my hand today. Actually much easier that I'd have thought! And clean. And actually somehow tastes better than using a spoon as I had been previously.. Maybe because now I'm feeling the food in addition to tasting it? Who knows! Next task to master will be the squat toilet... Or not. Maybe I'll just keep some of my western ways ;)

    I also had my first experience chasing a baby goat.. They aren't as heavy as you might expect. And it's day 3 of no coffee, no meat, no alcohol, no processed foods, only eating what is grown here. I look forward to seeing how well I feel after a few weeks of this!
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  • This morning I leave Kathmandu and travel to Lamjung with the volunteer organization. I will be travelling with a lady from the town who is returning after having spent some time in Kathmandu. It looks like I am the only volunteer at this time. So, instead of helping with construction I will be assisting with daily tasks and probably teaching in the school. Originally, I had planned on volunteering in two places, but after speaking with the volunteer coordinator, I may stay in the first place for a longer time instead. He will be bringing a group of 10 volunteers from Japan with him to this first location in Lamjung in a few weeks, and a group will be able to do some construction work rather than only teaching. We'll just see how it goes I suppose :)

    The trip to Lamjung is supposed to be about a 5 hour ride by bus and then about a 2 hour walk up a gravel road to the town. If required, we can hire a jeep to drive us instead of walking. We'll see how my knee is holding up and how intense the walk looks. It's also supposed to be warmer there than it is here which will be welcome! It's quite chilly in the mornings before the sun comes out.
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  • We took a bus from Kathmandu to Lamjung today. The trip in itself was an adventure! The traffic getting out of Kathmandu was ridiculous, backlogs and general chaos. Once we got out onto the mountain highway things were a bit better. The roads are incredible windy, narrow, and have very little in the way of barriers along the cliff edges. On our journey there we were on the opposite side of the cliffs, which means that the way home we will be entirely along the cliffs.... We took a "deluxe" bus instead of a normal bus and I am very glad for that. The deluxe bus wasn't bad but it still wouldn't compare to a typical Translink bus.

    The trip was supposed to take 5 hours but ended up being closer to 7. First we waited past departure because not all the seats were full, then we encounter traffic leaving Kathmandu, and then finally we encountered the worst traffic I have ever seen and I swear I will not complain about Vancouver traffic again! We're talking worse than the pre-port Mann traffic during rush hour. Satya (my guide for the day and daughter of the family I'm staying with) tells me it is because there is construction on the Chitwan highway and we were getting close to the junction. Roads I thought barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other were suddenly 3 deep and barely making it past one another without accident. At one point our driver squeezed through a space with barely inches on either side of the bus. Impressive, I would never want to drive here.

    The scenery once we left Kathmandu became very green and pretty, In a way the landscape reminds me of Italy with the plots of land for farming dug out of the hill sides. The highway seemed to follow a river and alongside the roads were multiple rest stops and restaurants aimed at travellers. Our bus stopped once for a washroom break and once for lunch. I used my first squat toilet... I'm sure I'll be seeing many more of those! Also along the highway are small homes. It looked like the first level of the home was on the road level and they built down into the cliff. Would love to be able to take a closer look one day. People were lounging at the front of the houses just watching traffic go by.

    When we got off the bus in Lamjung we looked for a Jeep to hire to drive us up to the village where Satya is from. Unfortunately we couldn't find one and had to walk... What the volunteer coordinator described as an easy 1.5 hour walk was really more like the Grouse Grind. With a heavy bag. Lovely. And it got dark half way through so we had to navigate with the light from our cellphones. Partway through Satya's father came to meet us and he helped me with my bag. I'm sure that the walk won't be so bad in daylight and without a heavy bag! In fact I'm looking forward to doing it and seeing the views instead of focussing on the ground in front of me.

    We arrived at Satya's home around 7pm and her family greated me warmly. We had a dinner of dal baht, which I really need to learn to eat properly. They are very lovely people and I'm happy to be here for the next few weeks! They have animals in their yard but I'll have to wait until morning to see everything :) The trip was long and exhausting and I am ready for bed right away. We'll see what tomorrow brings!
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  • Today was what they called Parent Day at the school. Parents were invited to come in the afternoon and see their children participate in a sports day type event.

    I learned that the school once had 200 children in attendance but now only has 50. This is because of young folk leaving to the city for further schooling and employment opportunities. As a result, there are many empty homes in the villages. This is also the oldest school in the area, being about 63 years old. The Nepalese use a different calendar than we do, while we are in the year 2017 they are in the year 2073. The first school system was set up in Nepal only about 75 years ago by Americans. If you're interested in the Nepalese calendar this link explains it:

    So, to celebrate the school's anniversary students from two neighbouring schools came to us for activities. The students walked for 2 hours to get here. The activities started out with a "trivia" game where students from the different schools answered questions related to their studies in a contest... Why can't I remember the name of the show it reminded me of? First team to get the answer presses a bell and then answers? Anyway, the students were very into it and got quite noisy cheering.

    Next a girl from our school, Susana, performed a traditional Nepalese dance. It was beautiful! All the practicing they were doing all week really paid off. Part of the dance was for audience members to come up and put money in her hair while she was dancing. Most of the money ended up on the floor but it was the idea that counts right? Next a boy did a traditional dance and the same idea with the money. Wish I could have taken a video or something. But they sure know how to move! Dance and song is very important to their culture, they could hardly believe it when I said that it isn't really something that we do at home..

    After this there were some strength games involving a Bamboo pole that students and parents (and they tried to get me to do it! I dunno, seems like it would be bad for my knee...) had to climb to the top. Once a number were successful at reaching the top they put oil on the pole to make it more difficult. Not a single person made it to the top after that ;)

    Finally, there was a role call type event and all the students received gifts of money, new books, etc. They were all very excited! I hear that tomorrow will have even more people there to celebrate.. That will be interesting! I kind of just go with the flow here, not really understanding much. I am noticing that while people here pronunciate English very well and have a basic understanding, as soon as you say something slightly different then they have been taught they freeze and walk away. I think that some encouragement is needed to make them more comfortable with the language and not just speaking scripted conversations. Seems like they have only had one or two English teachers in the past that were fluent, most only had a basic knowledge.. So I need a game plan!

    Oh, one of their games was to hold a lit Candle and walk across the playing field without it going out! I've said it before, we're too uptight in Canada/US. These things would never fly, nor would the steep cliffs next to the school and playing field without any kind of walls to stop students falling. It's a learn by experience culture and breeds common sense.

    Satya was also as the celebration and we walked home before it was officially over to tend to some chores around the house. She showed me how to make Nepalese tea! Really quite simple, but delicious. Added to the kettle and boiled: water as required, 1 spoonful of raw sugar per cup of tea, about a tsp of tea leaves for 3 cups of tea. Pour through a strainer and serve! I took a picture of the tea that they use and will try to find some to bring home.

    After tea I helped Satya carry rice meal down to a neighbours place where they processed it on the spot to get rice! It was neat, I didn't know that's how it worked to be honest... This has been a real experience in really learning where food comes from, it's been great! There were streams of people bringing bags of rice meal for processing and I don't know how they measure how much rice you return with or how the man charges his customers but somehow we ended up with 2 bags of rice out of the whole thing. I also learned that the scarves the women wear serve a dual purpose and they use them to protect their heads from the ropes they use to carry the heavy sacs. Or, to makeshift a carry rope for a sac. The ropes sit on the top of your head and loop around the sac that is sitting on your back. So that the sac doesn't slip off you need to walk slightly crouched, but honestly you hardly feel the weight when it's carried like this! There was even a woman with a cane carrying a large bag.. Useful facts. The way of life here is full of things like this, useful, barebones, no fills living. Back to basics and I love it.

    For dinner Babita (mom of the house I'm staying at) made rice pudding, a special treat here. It's different than the rice pudding my dad makes, but equally as good! It is served hot and is literally rice cooked with milk and sugar. She also made a green leafy vegetable with garlic that honestly is my favourite. I think it's leaves from carrots? I'll find out..
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  • Today was the big celebration at the school, celebrating the anniversary. The field was decorated with flowers and banners and looked quite nice. We showed up around 10am and I helped one of the teachers with editing some certificates that would be used later on in the celebrations.

    Around noon people started to arrive. From neighbouring schools and he community, looked like there were close to 400 people at one point? Maybe more, I'm not great at judging numbers. Even Satya and Grandma made their way down! It was quite the event. There were even people who had to travel by bus for an hour then hike 2 hours that made it. I found more people to talk with today as more people from cities made their way up and wanted to practice their English.

    The celebrations started with introductions of all the teachers that had made it from other communities. Then the remaining "guests" were invited up to the stage area to watch the festivities. I was included in that and was given a badge noting my guest status and a garland of flowers.

    The first activity was the pole climbing again! Except this time far more people participated, from the very young to the older gentlemen. I'm not sure who won the contest, I couldn't quite follow but I gather that's what drew a lot of the people from further away.

    Next, was dancing. I thought that yesterday's dancing was great, but today's was the real deal! Two girls danced, 4 girls sang, and one boy played a drum. That was what they had been practicing all week and they nailed it. Afterwards was a trivia game played by the women of the community, apparently relating to history, religion, etc. Clearly I couldn't follow but it seemed challenging. There were lots of uncertain responses and wrong answers it seemed. After the trivia was another dance performance this time with a boy and girl dancing in traditional dress. In both dances the audience members came and placed money in their hair while they continued to dance!

    I left before the festivities completely ended as it was more that I couldn't understand. I really wish I had a better aptitude for learning languages, would come in handy about now. I brought some biscuits back for Satya and grandma and made them tea. We found a "Intro to Nepali" book that I've been trying to study in the evenings.. But not working so well it's sounds are so different to anything I know. Dinner was good as usual and afterwards we sat and watched some tv for a while. Something about the history of the Hindu religion that I couldn't follow of course. Maybe soon!

    Tomorrow is a "holiday" equivalent to our weekend, though I think they may only have one day off. Satya leaves for Chitwan tomorrow which is actually quite sad, I enjoy her company! I had hoped to walk with them to Bhotewodar, the town at the base of the hill where she'll catch a bus, but my knees are giving me problems... Both are now painful while walking instead of just the one. I've been trying to take it easy and I really haven't been doing much but it doesn't seem to help. Wondering if part of it is all the sitting cross legged and squatting/crouching to sit and wash dishes etc I've been doing? In any case this is the worst possible place that it could happen. Not that I'm going to let it ruin my trip :)
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  • We made it!
    It was a gruelling day, buffeted by icy winds so strong they blew you over. 8 hours of walking time so we are all feeling rather pooped.
    Everest is the little brown triangle above my head in the last photo.

  • I've been between 4000 and 5100 meters today and up here, you do things slowly: eating, hiking, laundry, reading, thinking, .....

    We started early and caught a beautiful sunrise. From here, the landscape changed drastically - no more trees and eventually barely any bushes, but glaciers and 8000m peaks wherever you look. And it's cold in the morning, my drinking bottle valve froze every 15-20 minutes :)

    It was a steep incline and we did another 200m incline (to 5100m) after getting to our tea house to acclimatize. The trick is to sleep lower than your highest elevation of the day. I'm feeling completely exhausted and am looking forward to some slow motion sleep soon.
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    250000 steps
    2 sore feet
    We started the day with beautiful weather and ended walking the last 3 hours in the snow.

    I couldn't have done it without the support of lots of people, so here is a shoutout of thanks to my family, my walking buddies, the child minders, house sitters, taxi drivers and all those who offered support.

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