Nepal

Thapathali

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  • Day20

    Yak Kharka (4018m) and Thorung Phedi (4450m) Slowly heading higher so we don't gain too much altitude too quickly. Getting colder (-7 one morning) and tea houses even more basic and busy. Dusty uneven wooden floors with stone walls and very draughty windows/doors. A cattle shed comes to mind! All adds to the experience though. Saw someone helicoptered out of here due to altitude sickness.

  • Day132

    After a three week detour to be with my family in Germany, I made it to Kathmandu. Knowing my loved ones well back home, I'm now beyond excited to explore the Himalayans.

    First stop: one day in Kathmandu. I love exploring places on a scooter, it makes you part of the busy city life rather than just an observer from a taxi. My guide Ganesh had never ridden one, and so I became his personal driver for the day :)

    Kathmandu is big, busy, dusty, surrounded by mountains and full of culture and history. Hindus and Buddhists live side by side here, about which I'm eager to learn more on the following days!
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  • 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!)
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  • Day6

    It's never a boring day here in Nepal! Today has been yet another interesting day!

    We were up at 7 am for tea and biscuits (though we were actually awoken much earlier from the loud banging noises.. Nepalese people get up so early, like 5.30 am!). The girls had no biscuits, so I 'took one for the team' and had a few (really I just wanted them) ... But I later regret it when we had an absolute mountain of rice, dhal and beat for breakfast at 9 am. We had to wash up after, so we didn't leave until 9.45 (we were meant to be at work for 10 am but our family couldn't understand ... So VIN said they would ring them and ask to do breakfast earlier!).

    The bus stop is a fifteen minute walk from the house. The bus was 60 rupees for all of us (so cheap!) and was about 30 minutes. We were first on so got a seat....but WOW it got SO rammed. The people standing had NO room - it was so cramped... There must have been DOUBLE the capacity on it, with people hanging out the doors.

    The office was a fifteen minute walk from the bus stop...through a LOT of mud (a bad day to wear sandals!). We were at the office from 11- 2 planning our lessons. We met Shweta (the local volunteer) and Om (our project leader) went over the PowerPoint with Hope as she was ill on the day we did it. Hope looked like she was about falling asleep hahaha as Om was literally repeating the same stuff over and over, and her English wasn't great!
    We made lesson plans for the life skill: 'self esteem' which we decided to do as our first lesson, 'communication and public speaking' as our second lesson, and 'stress management' as our third. The annoying part is that the project we chose was 'women's trafficking' yet apparently the first area that we are teaching our women's group in (all three lessons on Wednesday, Thursday, friday) does not have an issue with women's trafficking ... so it is quite annoying and makes our project seem pretty pointless. We wished we chose one that teaches english, but hopefully the life skills lessons will still be interesting, and we can still write on our CV that we taught about women's trafficking.

    We finished about 2 pm after both being asked by a Nepalese man if we are models (lol)! Then decided that we didn't want to go straight back to the host family, so got a 350 rupees taxi to Thamel and had some chips and nachos, and 2 sex on the beach cocktails from a terrace bar (which turned out to be so expensive!!! Like 2200 - ridiculous!) We looked at some shops, then got a taxi back to the bypass bus stop to get the bus back to Kravesthali.

    And wow what an experience this was! So a bus turned up, and we definitely thought it was full... but oh no ... we are asked to get on. We were literally HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE! It was so funny ... we were laughing so hard but it was making it so much more difficult to hold on. The journey is uphill and so bumpy, yet we felt like we were almost hanging out the door!! In the end a lady offered to hold my bag. It is mental on there! No wonder it's so cheap. There was one point we felt so uncomfortable from how close people were to us, and it stunk of BO which wasn't ideal! We were glad to get off.

    We met a few of the volunteers at a cafe, then walked back to the house with Sheri and Melanie.

    As we had eaten at the restaurant, and there are no bins anywhere in Nepal (no wonder pollution is so bad here!), we still had our full lunch boxes. So in a panic, just before we get back to the house, we poured the food in to a carrier bag ... then the dad comes zooming past on his motorbike... so in a panic we put a bag full of food (which has a very strong smell of CURRY) IN MY BAG!!! And we had to keep it in our room overnight because we couldn't let Anita see as she would be so offended ... it was not cool! (I am now writing on the 19/07/17 as we got distracted yesterday)

    When we got in, we had tea around the table and waited for dinner at 8 pm. Anita showed us milking her cow in the garden (we felt so sorry for the cow in a small barn) and the kids were non stop shouting 'SISTER TAKE PHOTO TAKE PHOTO' at us haha! Then we went to bed after dinner!
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  • Day12

    We had our usual routine in the morning, but also washed our clothes and hung them on the mine before breakfast. We left the house at 9 to meet Shweta and Om at 9.15 by the blue restaurant at the bus park.

    9.15 ... no sign

    9.30 ... no sign

    10 ... no sign

    We were so annoyed. Seeing as it's temple day for the women, we thought that maybe it had been cancelled but just hadn't been told (which would have annoyed us so much as she was certain that we couldn't have today off!!).

    I text Shweta and she said that she wasn't coming as she had her dissertation to finish. So I rang Om and she said 'on way on way' (bearing in mind the class was supposed to start at 10!!!) - Nepali timings for you!!

    She finally arrived at 10.10 am and we got the bus to the community. We had to wait for an hour for the women to arrive (Nepali timings!!), and we eventually did the class on 'public speaking' (well we did a class in English which no one understood, and then the local volunteer translated it but knew the lesson anyway so technically didn't really need us!). Luckily one of Shweta's friends came instead.

    After the class we chilled out in the cafe, had some chips and chilli chips, then Melanie came and brought her iPad so we could watch the rest of the Wolf of Wall Street. Melanie and I got some strawberry shisha as it was only 300 rupees and we felt like we ought to try it whilst in Nepal (it is everywhere!!).

    Then we went back to the house, and same routine ... tea at 4/5 then dinner at 7/7.30 (normal dal-bhat).

    It's been a pretty average day!!

    Anita got some bangles, bindis and necklaces for our mums which we found so cute!!!
    We have only 2 more nights after this until we leave the host family, then 2 nights in Thamel, and then we fly to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
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  • Day5

    I think today has hands down been the craziest day of our life! This is going to be a long entry, so be prepared. We have had a mental day full of many ups and many downs.

    So it's 23.03 right now and we are in bed (well....if you can call wood a bed) at the host family's house .... All I can hear right now is Hope saying "OMG this is awful!" I will explain the house in more detail later.

    First, I will start with the morning. So we got up at 8, got showered and ready, and went for breakfast. Hope was so hungry as she didn't eat all day (due to feeling ill) that she couldn't get to sleep until 4.30 am so she was shattered. But after some food, she was fine. We went to the same place as day one.... It's nice but takes ages!! But all the volunteers go there so it's nice to see everyone. Hope had croissant with cheese (again haha) and a big hash brown and Fanta, and I had pancakes (again) and a big hash brown with papaya juice (that I did not like, so I ordered a coke instead ....and yes at 8 am haha!). After breakfast, we got a lift to the office. We started off the day with some more language lessons, culture classes and we found out more information about our host families. We had lunch at 1, which was Dal and a juice, then we pretty much chilled out until we got given our lunch boxes (the cutest) and t-shirts, and had group photos and individual photos (which wasn't great for me and Hope right now) but the group photo was cute. Me being clumsy as ever spilt coke all over Pierre's bag and someone's shoes (which I think was one of the workers ... Oops!).
    We have had some of the most hilarious moments today. So the first thing was during the group photo (sorry this is gross) but after all the food they gave us, I really needed to burp but we were so close to everyone, and everyone had their arms around each other so I panicked and burped in Hope's face by accident. It sounds gross but it was one of those hilarious moments that you had to be there for. They give us that much curry that Hope said it was the worst smelling burp she has ever experienced!!!

    The taxis to take us to our host families came at around 14.30 (inconveniently the flight was delayed so we weren't able to find out at this point whether our bags had arrived). It's only around an 8km journey to get to Kavresthali (Where our host family lives), but due to the bumpy road conditions and the hills, it took around 45 minutes. Second funny thing that happened today, was that on our way up a hill, the car just completely stops and so we have to get out the car and help to push it up the hill. It was crazy!

    We arrived at the host family and introduced ourselves to everyone. Luckily we had a member of staff with us who was able to help with the introductions and translate for the first fifteen minutes (we were told that our host families spoke 'OK' English ... Of course we got the host family who were hosting for their first time and speak practically NO English!). We went up to the kitchen on the third floor. Their house is beautiful. Of course it isn't very modern, but it is massive and full of lots of bright colours. We sat down at the table, then the family gave us some food .... And some more food ... And some more food .... Basically they love to feed us hahah (we were warned of this earlier). Hope and I thought we were going to lose weight here ... Not gain it haha! Luckily most of it was fruit; mango, banana and apple. We had some chapatti. The first fifteen minutes was pretty awkward, but then we moved in to our room after half hour and I sorted out my Nepalese sim that I bought after breakfast. Anita sorted it for me as the sim instructions are in Nepalese.
    Luckily we are staying in our host family with Sherilyn and Melanie, two lovely Dutch girls from VIN (on the health programme as they are both medic students), so it has made the experience ten times easier.

    The third hilarious thing that happened was straight after we sorted my sim. So Anita kindly brought in some bangles for us to wear. She managed to fit them straight on to Hope as Hope has such tiny wrists, and straight on to Sheri. However, with me and Melanie, they ended up cutting us with how forceful they were being. So my hand was bleeding in two places from how hard they were trying to squeeze them on to my wrist, and Hope was dying in the corner but trying her hardest not to laugh too loudly. Eventually, Anita gave me one of hers which were slightly bigger (though still absolutely tiny, as all the women have such tiny wrists here).

    Once my Nepalese SIM card worked, I rang Twinkle to find out update on our bags (at this point we thought it was negative as it was already 17.00 and so two hours since the flight landed. She asked me to give her thirty minutes and she would let us know after speaking to arrival. We were still unsure at this point....but.... Half hour later she messaged me on what's app to tell me that THEY HAD ARRIVED!!!!! We literally couldn't believe it. We were so happy!!!!!

    Then she messaged me again to say 'we will send your baggage to pakhara' .... So of course we were then panicking as Pakhara is a 7 hour coach journey away (she must have misinterpreted something I had said!). But luckily, I rang her and she understood that we were going to pick them up today, along its out compensation. And this is where the real difficulty began...

    So, as said previously, our host family do not speak much English.... So we somehow had to tell them that we were going to pick up our bags from the airport....which of course did not go down successfully. So Anita rang the man who translated earlier and the man told me over the phone 'we will send bags to you' ... Which was not what we wanted. We have waited for these bags long enough, and the last thing we wanted was someone to 'deliver' them which probably would have never happened, or came in Nepalese time (which is late!), or the wrong baggage delivered, and we did not want our baggage transferred to Pakhara - we wanted to go there and then. So we rang Dinesh from VIN and asked him to order us a taxi, and also translate what was happen ing to our family. Luckily the taxi was booked, and was due to arrive in one hours time from then, so around 19.00.

    This meant an hour to play with the kids (Hope's favourite!). I forgot to mention that throughout the whole stress of ringing Dinesh and sorting our bags out, the kids were trying to grab my phone and take selfies in between, which was of course not ideal. But once we had sorted the taxi out, we didn't mind playing with the kids. So we played hide and seek, there was about 8 kids and then us 4 girls. Hope was on and was told to count to 100. Three of the kids grabbed my arm and made me follow them through a rice field (through all the mud) and to a pond where the neighbour was feeding fish. They were so excited to show me (bless them) so I had to pretend I was so surprised to see the fish coming to the surface to get the food. The next funny and strange thing that happened was when the little boy picked up one of the dead fishes floating on top, and put it into my hands. When I told Hope later on, she was dying with laughter. It was the strangest 30 seconds. Meanwhile, she was 'on' so wondering around looking for people, whilst linked arms with one of the women. In Hope's words me and the kids looked like we were running through rice fields like a Bollywood film hahahaha!

    After Hide and Seek, we had another stress with getting to the airport as Akkal kept ringing me to say that the taxi driver was confused, so I sent him our location, and e v e n t u a l l y he found us. Akkal rang me to tell me that the taxi was 2500 instead of 1500 (so about £19 pounds which is expensive for Nepal, but we didn't care as we just wanted our bags!). But the next hilarious part was that, because Akkal told us the taxi was lost, Hope started walking down to find him (I wasn't able to as Anita was making me wait until the taxi drove up and she could no understand what I was saying). Then all of a sudden, she's picked up by the dad and thrown on the back of his motorbike and zooming down the bumpy hill at full speed bouncing away full speed hahahahaha. When she described it to me I was dying!

    Finally, we are off on our way to the airport. It was the bumpiest ride ever, and took almost an hour due to traffic. We even collided with a motorbike on the way, but the taxi driver just drove on as though nothing happened, strange!

    When we got our bags (the man only let me through for some reason again), we literally felt like crying with happiness! We sorted our compensation out with Oman Air, which turned out to be 16,000 rupees (a lot more than they originally told us) which is around £123. We are happy with the compensation, but not how they have handled the situation so we will probably still send a complain, though Twinkle and her colleague we will leave compliments about.

    When we got home, we all had dinner. We felt bad as the whole family waited for us, and it was now 21.00 (even the children were up and they usually are in bed by this time). We had dal... We started eating the dal as soup then realised we were supposed to pour it on. Luckily we didn't have to eat with our hands and were given a spoon, but the rest of the family sat on the floor with their legs crossed and ate with their right hand. Hope was really enjoying listening to the slurp as they ate their food! Sheri and Melanie said that they were called up at 19.00 for dinner, but had to just sit and wait until we were home (oops) we felt so bad! One other funny thing (but also very sad thing) that happened during dinner, was that although Anita speaks practically no English, when we said the word 'marriage,' she immediately shouted 'ARRANGED marriage NO LOVE'... We were shocked that she knew no English, yet knew that...and Wass so brutally honest at he dinner table. We felt so awkward. It also made us question whether they actually love each other - it's mad! She got married agreed twelve. It's crazy to imagine that.

    After dinner, we had to wash up (outside whilst squatting). I did it today with Anita as she told us to take turns, but I kept getting told off for not doing it good enough (Hope was laughing).
    Then we had to sit at the table for a bit longer, until 22.30 when we were eventually able to go to bed (but every time we locked the door, ALL of the family kept coming back and banging on the door (first with blankets, then duvets, then lights, then mozzy plug which were supposedly meant to unplug at 4am...????!)
    We had a shower (cold shower) as we were boiling and so sweaty (however there is an open window that we aren't too comfortable with in the bathroom). The toilets are purely a hole in the ground, and they use water to flush them without a chain. We were also delighted to hear that they do not use toilet roll here, so we aren't exactly sure what they do but we are hoping they don't use their hand (though in one of the cultural classes he said that the right hand is for eating and the left sanitation ... Which isn't ideal when they make our food .... Hmmmm hahaha! We then got into our wooden beds.

    It's been one mental day!!
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