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  • Day27

    Today we saw our first glimpses of the Annapurna mountains. The scenery is more alpine like, with orchards, fields of pepper and plenty of log cabins scattered about the hillsides.
    We are now above 3000 meters, which means Phoebe is looking for signs of altitude sickness!

  • Day28

    Today's trek was a tough one. It wasn't so much to do with the landscape but more the weight on my back and blisters on my feet. Meanwhile, Phoebe had no problems. This evening Phoebe enjoyed some "wild barries" for dinner.

    We have a rest day tomorrow before continuing to the high pass.

  • Day26

    A steep climb to 2700m today. It's starting to get cold! Phoebe has four layers on and wants my fleece.

  • Day22

    After the long journey from Varanasi we enjoyed a couple of rest days in Pokhara. It's rainy season here so not many tourists about which means no queues at the bars and restaurants.
    We bought some trekking gear and provisions for our next adventure into the mountains. I'm slightly more excited about this than Phoebe. Her trekking outfit is not her style, pictures to follow soon if we have internet. If no internet we hope to be back online in two weeks.Read more

  • Day20

    We left the hostel at 10:30 last night to catch the night train. After experiencing the 6 berth non-AC sleeper it was decided that we will never do that again. We then took a bus to the border, a cycle rickshaw through no-mans land and finally a dodgy taxi ride in a brand new car (it had 2km on the clock when we started the trip), finally reaching Pokhara at 18:30.

  • Day25

    Today our group grew to 10. If we count the blisters and leeches then that number grows to over 100 (except Phoebe who somehow managed to escape the bloodbath).

    28000 steps later and we reached the next teahouse. A nice cold shower and cup of hot tea and we are ready for some Nepali dahl baat to feed our muscles.

  • Day3

    At 7.30 am, we were about to get a taxi to the airport from our hotel in the hope to receive our luggage from the next flight in to Kathmandu from Muscat, Oman.
    So we set our alarms early, and woke up ready to collect our bags. We grabbed breakfast at the same place we ate the night before (I had mango smoothie and pancakes, and Hope had lemon ice tea and cheese coissant) then we got a taxi to the airport which cost 1200 rupees return (about £10 which included a one hour wait for him at the airport) so it wasn't too bad. We had to check out of this hotel and move to one round the corner as this one was full for the night (just our luck!). So anyway, we get to the airport, but the security only let me through and not Hope (no idea why). The flight had just landed so I was first at the conveyer belt...and sadly....last at the conveyer belt. Of course, I was so angry at this point. I spoke to baggage reclaim and they just apologised and told me that it would come on the next flight in, and that we should speak to Oman Air. So we both went to the office (both fuming) and there's no one to be seen there...raging. There was nothing we could do....I even tried explaining to the baggage reclaim that the bags had emergency items in it...but they were all useless.

    We rang up at 14.30 after the next flight landed ..... No bags ..... And at 20.30 after the final flight landed .....still no bags. One of the Nepalese lady's at VIN asked as well when they picked up Pierre (a new volunteer) from the airport, but baggage reclaim said the same to her as they did to me. We were of course very frustrated, but I will finish off explaining the bag situation in the next entry.

    Excluding the bag malarkey - yesterday was an amazing day! We got the taxi straight to the VIN office (located in Balaju) from the airport as it was the first day of the induction. We did the generic meet and greet games with all the volunteers (there is about 20 of us altogether), learnt about the culture in Nepal, and a bit about the programme.

    I'll teach a bit of Nepalese seeing as we are now fluent (lol):
    Nameste = Hello
    Dhanyabad = Thank you
    Bhaat = rice
    Daal = lentils
    Tarkaari = curry
    Achaar = pickle

    And a few random facts:

    1. They eat their food on the floor with crossed legs and they use their right hand to eat, with no cutlery (left is sanitation) ... Hope is so excited for that when we live with our host family, hahaha!

    2. They do not use toilet roll - just water. Most of their toilets are just holes one ground with just a bucket of water at the side.

    3. The cow is the national animal and therefore it is illegal to slaughter them. This means that there are many cows just wondering the streets (we have already seen a few in the middle of the roads!)

    4. They often shake their head when they mean to say yes (very confusing!!)

    5. Nepal has the highest proportion of Hindus in the world. 81.3% of Nepal's population are hindus

    6. Handshake is not very common in Nepal. People of Nepal put their palms together and bow their forehead and say Namaste or Tashidele (in the Sherpa Communities). Namaste is directly translated as ‘I salute the God in you’.

    7. Of course, the major part of the Himalayas is in Nepal. The Himalayas mountains is shared between five countries in descending order: Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Pakistan. The mountainous north of Nepal has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest.

    8. There are also many Buddhists in Nepal. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha. Siddhartha Gautam (Buddha) was born in Kapilvastu, Lumbini which lies in Nepal. Lumbini is a sacred place for Buddhists

    9. Nepali cuisine consists of Dal-bhat-tarkari (Nepali: दाल भात तरका. Dal is a soup made of lentils and spices. They eat this cuisine throughout the whole of Nepal, and usually for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    10. The most shocking fact to us about Nepal, is that, within their culture, when a woman is on her period she becomes 'untouchable'. In some places, women cannot be in their own homes during their period; in others women can be in the house, but not in the kitchen and worship room. They are also forbidden from touching other people (especially male members of the family or neighbours) or cattle and from growing fruit and vegetables. Women become untouchable. We think it's shocking that this human right is basically viewed as something that these women should be ashamed of!

    After our lessons, We had the nicest lunch of curry, and sat and ate outside with everyone (we had spoons thank goodness). Everyone is so nice! There's only one other English person, then most people are Italian, or French with a few who are Dutch and Danish.

    After lunch, we had a fab afternoon of sightseeing. We went to Swayambhunath (pronounced Swahi - an - boon - eth "
    ) which is on top of the hill in the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as the 'monkey temple' because of all the rhesus primates there. The main entrance had a huge number of steps (365 stone steps to be precise) which we climbed to view the main Stupa complex. It was beautiful!
    The Anantapur shrine (one of the large white chedis near the stupa) was destroyed during the April 25th earthquake in Nepal. The monastery at the back of the stupa was also badly damaged. However the vast majority of Swayambhunath survived.

    This was our first experience of the hole in the ground toilets ... it was not pleasant! But we had no other choice, and we knew we would have to get used to it at some point.
    We saw the cutest dog litter on our way down!! And many monkeys of course (hence the name).

    After that, we went to PASHUPATINATH temple. It is one of the biggest Hindu Temple of Lord Shiva in the world. The temple served as the seat of the national deity Lord Pashupatinath until Nepal became a secular country. Only Hindus, Nepalese and Indian citizens are allowed to enter the temple premises. So we were only able to look at the temple from the other side of the Bagmati River. People come to cremate their loved ones here, the river is holy. Whilst we were there, we could see a family hysterically crying next to a body. It was heartbreaking to watch, we felt like we shouldn't have been there.

    We walked to the top and saw some lovely views, and many more monkeys!

    We got back to the new hotel, Friendly Rooms (it is actually nicer so we're not complaining!), then we got a taxi to 'Zara' in a mall near y. It POURED it down with rain (just our luck) and we were in short sleeve tops with no jackets, and in sandals and flip flops. It was so funny though. The mall was definitely not what we expected .... The clothes were not like Zara in England, and a lot of shops were selling primark clothes but triple the price (not what we expected in Nepal) but we eventually found a shop that sold pants and a bra so we were able to buy some clean underwear (the worst underwear you've ever seen but made the situation funnier!). We also bought some shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, some snacks ... And of course a bottle of vodka and some lemonade as we felt it was 100% needed haha! We got a taxi home, got showered and ready (it was so nice to feel clean!!), and of course had a vodka, then went for dinner with some of the people we've met. We had the best night! We went to the nicest vegetarian restaurant which was the coolest and edgiest restaurant everrrrr and obvs we fit right in now that we are wearing edgy 'gap year' clothes (lol). I had chilli mushroom and paneer which was SO good, Hope wasn't so keen as it about blew her head off from the spice haha, but she enjoyed her pad Thai.
    After food, we went for drinks at an Irish bar (after having to withdraw more money due to spending a fortune on clothes etc and replacing toiletries) and ended up getting smashed. There were six of us, and we started off with one green island each (vodka gin and rum), which of course ended up being four or five for me , Hope and Cormac (the three English of course), then we got everyone doing shots (we did flaming sambuca...Hope almost set the whole table on fire hahaha!). No surprise we were all smashed, and were up dancing. So we obviously thought it was a good idea to go back to the hotel and drink the rest of our vodka. We all sat on the roof and carried on drinking, until Hope and I went to bed at 2 ish (I think). We woke up covered in crisps hahaha and to a man telling us we had to get up to move back hotel (at 8am!!!) so no doubt we've been knackered today.

    Overall it was a fantastic day (bar no bags :( !!)
    Read more

  • Day4

    It's 22.13, and I've not long got in from dinner with everyone. Unfortunately Hope has been a bit poorly today so she stayed in today, and didn't fancy dinner tonight. We think she will be fine tomorrow. It's probably a combination of cheap alcohol causing a bad hangover, the heat, tiredness, and different food.

    Slight improvement on the baggage situation - a lady called twinkle (lol) has what's app'd me to say that our bags are on tomorrow's flights. We aren't going to be too optimistic about it, as earlier in the day she told me that they couldnt track the bags and that she received an email from Muscat airport Saturday morning to say that the bags are on the 8 am flight (which they were not); so both Muscat and Nepal airport are saying different things (not reassuring!) However, it's an improvement! We will just have to wait and see tomorrow. She said we get $40 compensation each which isn't great - but at least it's something.

    So we moved back hotels at 9 am this morning (we fell back asleep but he came back in rushing us out haha), then Hope conked out as she felt so poorly. I spent the day at the office. Before lunch, we had an in depth presentation with the man who is the founder of VIN. We found out the history of the charity, the purpose, and then specific detail about our individual programmes. I was struggling to stay awake as I was so tired and hungover, but I got through it.

    At lunch we had spaghetti in a curry sauce which was yummy! Then I got the taxi to the airport to speak to Oman air. This time it only cost 1000 which included the wait, then he dropped me back at VIN office. There was so much traffic so it took around 40 minutes each way!
    In the afternoon we spoke to our programme manager/coordinator and found out details of what we will be doing. Hope and I are going to be educating women's groups on women trafficking, and teaching them a number of life skills. I think we have to conduct some research as well, and need to do a report at the end of the fortnight.

    We left the office at 5, and I came back to the room to see Hope at 5.45 ish (it's only a fifteen minute drive but I got us both another top and some more trousers). We chilled for a bit, Hope felt a bit better, but then when we got to dinner with everyone she felt sick again so came back. I had dinner with the others then came back to see her. We are going to have an early night as we are shattered from last night - and hopefully Hope will feel much better in the morning.

    Tomorrow we are meeting our host family! We are excited for it. Today has been good, but tomorrow will be better when Hope is feeling better :) (and hopefully we get our luggage ... Hmmmmmm!)
    Read more

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

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