Kathmandu is one crazy city. Got here last night, drove from the airport in a car with no seat belts (apparantly none have them) through insanely narrow streets and honestly, I cannot figure out how both we did not hit anyone and how I didn't witness some accident or another all together. The hotel is decent enough, thankfully no bucket showers yet! But I am sure that'll be coming when we arrive at the next hotel in Chitwan tomorrow. For our first night our Projects Abroad leaders took a few of the girls who also arrived a day early and myself to the Buddha Bar down the street, as there evidently is no age restrictions here. It was different, but fun! My roommate, Ming, arrived later on last night. This morning the two of us walked around Thamel and did some shopping. The haggling done here is hilarious. I completely sucked at bargaining at first, but I've definitely got the hang of it now; I'm actually quite proud of myself :) I bought a huge decorative thing for my wall at what must have been at least 70 or 80% off. It took a while, I had to leave it for a couple hours and come back, only to refuse to buy it at his price, but in the end I got it! Another girl arrived this morning who is also in our medical placement. After lunch the three of us took a rickshuk to Dunbar Square and hired a tour guide there. It was interesting, but we are pretty much dead now from the heat. Well, Chitwan in the morning, buhbye Kathmandu!
Went through security at YVR about an hour ago after having said bye to my dad, only to find my flight has been delayed a little under an hour. So I've got about an hour and half more until I can finally board the airplane that will take me to Hong Kong, a stop on the way to Nepal. I am slightly nervous travelling by myself, as it is the first time and I've never gone quite this far before. But I am excited more than anything.
There is a website called Tiny Buddha that I have been obsessed with lately. There was a quote posted on it today that I like a lot:
"When you live on a round planet, there's no choosing sides." --Wayne Dyer
It hasn't got too much to do with me at this exact moment, but it is a cool quote nonetheless. Anyways, missing my family&friends lots already and wishing I wasn't the kind of person who gets homesick easily haha.
but only 41 hours till I arrive in Kathmandu!! wahoo :)
Once free from my family, everything began to flow smoothly. Pokhara is such an easy place to be, so beautiful with great food, great people, great shopping, and has either plenty to do or plenty of ways to relax, whichever way you want it to be.
Having checked into my "Deluxe room" at the hotel (and as tempting as it was to stay there just to make it seem worth the money) I headed out into the night bot really sure what to expect - this was the first time I was actually alone. I walked into the Busy Bee cafe, a chilled out indoor/outdoor pub with a local cover band playing (and they were super talented). I sat at a table next to 2 bearded guys with dreads, and after hearing half a sentence, I knew they were Aussies and I was set for the night. It wasn't long before we were sharing a Shisha pipe and talking like old mates. Two white guys got up and jammed with the band, and running into one of them later on I found out he was a Welshman called Alyn, living in Nepal for 11 months as a teacher. Soon we had a whole table of different nationalities and over a few drinks we all had a great time. Very different to a Nepali night at home.
The next day (After feeling a little dusty from the night before), I wondered around, got a massage from an older mann that was a little more "full-body" than I expected, and I ate pizza at a great Italian wood-fire resturant where the crows attacked my plate after they realised I wasn't going to finish the last 2 slices, much to a young Japanese family's entertainment. Then I relaxed by the pool and waited for my yankie friends to arrive. Alyn the Welshman came out with us for dinner and I had THE greatest steak (BEEEEEF) along with a pretty impressive lemon meriange pie before heading to the Busy Bee for a repeat of the night before.
Alyn offered to take me around on his motorbike the next day, to see the "real Pokhara". This is definitely the best way to travel, with someone who knows the place well and has two wheels instead of a bus. Bright and early, we set out for a monastry at the top of a mountain, right outside the touristy area where you can see a perfect view of Pokhara on a clear day. Then we went to a Tibetan refugee camp, which was unexpectantly more like a community than the slum I had pictured in my mind. There we saw another monastry and temple, and had the interesting set back of everyone speaking Tibetan rather than Nepali, much to Alyn's inconvenince (he can speak Nepali quite well). We headed back for the "best beer burger" Pokhara had to offer, before heading back to the paragliding office where me, Jon and Bailey had day to go paragliding the day before.
So excited to get going, we were a little disappointed when the main said there was an hour delay. When we came back, there was another half hour to wait, before walking to the pick up point, where the man said it would be another hour and a half more. I took it well I think, just had a nap on the side of the street to pass the time, but Jon was a little less forgiving, threatening for a discount because of the delay - but the worst was to come. After waiting more than 3 hours and wasting half a day in one of the greatest towns in Nepal, the van pulled up and the guy pointed at the sky, where a clouds were getting grey, and said "no more flights today". Ha!
Me and Bailey kept out chins up and spent a little too much money shopping around Lakeside, before meeting up with the others to head to Bullet Base Camp - an Aussie run pub just out of Lakeside that Alyn had told us about. It was a really great night to say the least, starting out with a few games of pool with a crooked que, and meeting a bunch of crazy Aussie guys who were set to leave for a roadtrip to India on motorbikes they'd bought the say before. Really cool guys. We played kings of beer (by Aussie rules of course) and me and Bailey managed to get a ride home at the end of the night (he was sober) with an old Aussie guy who had the greatest dad jokes I'd heard in a long time.
The rest of the yankies were all about seeing the sunrise the nest morning, so I dragged myself out of bed at 5am and walked water, only to find I was watching the lake light up on my own (no sunrise for the clouds, but nevermind), which was really quite nice. Then, an eight hour busride to Thamel, back to the smog of Kathmandu where I went straight to a cheap hotel with no fan and questionable power - I was back to the real Nepal.
Me and the yanks had dinner at a really nice vegie resturant, where I met Noah, an American guy who was living in Thamel learning Nepali and teaching English. Really chilled out guys with great insight to the world of Nepal and it's people. The others went to bed, and I went with Noah to Freak Street, where we met up with some of his friends and went fire twirling in Durbar Square. I even had a try. Awwwesome night.
Next day, I headed out alone to the bus park to travel to Bhaktapur - an ancient city that once rivelled Kathmandu. There's meant to be a Durbur Square there, and I spent an hour or more of being lost before stumbling across the giant square of temples. A guide found me there and I nearly hugged him with relief, especially with his 200rupee price. He showed me around, took photos of me in front of things with my camera, and waited patiently when a group of Pakistani tourists all wanted a photo with me (hilarious). We even left the square and took a bus to the tallest statue in Nepal (on top of another mountain with great views). We ate the famous "King Curd" - a well known Bhaktapur dessert that you can't get anywhere else. At the front gate at the end of the tour (I came in a different entrance and realised why I'd gotten lost at the start), the guard asked me to buy a US$15 ticket, thinking I'd just arrived. I said I'd already seen it all, and a local came up to me and said "then you should leave, it's good luck for you today". My guide said it was good karma :)
Thamel provided me with a great massage at a spa, and after getting stood up by my yankie friends on their last night, I met a young Nepali guy who was the most revoluntionary local I'd ever met - really interesting to talk to. Then a German girl Stephie (also a volunteer for another company) and her Nepali friend joined out table and before long we all headed to the Shisha Terrace to watch a band over a few brews. I met a whole group of Irishmen who had come from India and were heading to Oz in the next couple weeks, and we talked about their plans and how shit they thought India was until we got kicked out at closing time (they literally turned the lights out and we had to stumble down the stairs in the dark haha.
8am the next morning I headed back to the spa for a really cool experience where I went to a yoga class with a private instructor. He took it really slow and figured out my level of flexibility (quite more than I thought) and he helped me balance while I did all these crazy stretches I didn't think we possible for me. After that I headed to the hotel to meet Susan, a new volunteer, and asked if she wanted to come along for the ride to Pashupati and Boudha for the day. Of course she came along!
Pashupati is a really interesting, mystical, sad and powerful place. It's a holy place on the river where people are cremated. Me and Susan got our tikka (blessing) and found a guide almost instantly, which we were greatful for, because the place was really confusing to navigate around. We saw the whole process (and were strangely enough allowed to take photos), from the body being purified by the grieving family, to them being carried to a platform of wooden logs and set alight (the bodies are covered in a cloth for most of this time, so it's not as gory as it sounds). Getting to witness the grief of an entire family (around 50 people), especially the two sons of this relatively young woman (maybe in her 40's) - was a powerful moment. We were on the other side of the river and could clearly hear everything, and it brought tears to my eyes. It was such an amazing way to see death, because everyone was interacting with the body without fear or denial like many Western cultures a like - they were hugging, touching and being with their relative's body - very much a part of the whole ceremony.
We met some holy men, who you have to pay to take a photo with. They have painted faces, much like Indigenous Australians, and they have long dreadlocks and wear just a loin cloth. They were interesting to look at, and much to my surprise, he opened a bag of Australian coins asking if I would like to exchange some rupees, since the donations he gets sometimes are in foreign currency and are no use to him.
After that we went to see the nursing home, much like in the way of Devghat, except a completely different seeting, and we said goodbye to our guide to head to Boudha. When I first came to Nepal, I said I met a man in the Visa line who was going to Boudha to study Tibetan language, and he said if I ever come there I should give him a call - well that I did. He took me and Susan around and we saw Boudha - a mainly Tibetan city where there is a massive Buddhist Stupa - the biggest in Nepal I think. You have to walk around it clockwise, and there are really cool shops all around the outside where I bought lots of different jewellery and the like. Ronnie showed us a wonderful place for lunch, where he paid for us as well, which was a lovely gesture. We went to see the monastry where was was living, and even though it was closed, the monks let us go inside to have a look. Much like Alyn, Ronnie was a very good person to have, a local Westerner if you like.
By this time, I was feeling pretty tired and didn't feel like going out last night. I went instead to the spa and got Mahindi painted on my foot for the last time, and then headed to a cafe for some chocolate brownies and tea. I was pretty content with spending the night along, but on the way there I met an older man who had just arrived in Thamel the day before and I asked him if he's like to join me for a quiet hour or two. Stan was really interested to hear about my travels and it was cool to have one person leaving and another arriving - I was passing the baton, as he put it.
I went home early and packed all my things, throwing out some clothes that I gave to Daisy to take to the orphange. I snuck in another session of yoga this morning and realised how much my muscles were hurting from the day before. Today's was more of a challenge, where my instructor could tell I'd be able to go further than yesterday. My experience with him has really made me want to do yoga in Australia, not just at the gym, but at a place that just concentrates on yoga rather than fitness and having fun. But then it was back to the airport, I said goodbye to the staff that were around, and some new volunteers that had only just arrived, and said farewell to Nepal.
This is probably the end of my blog now, as I sit in Bangkok airport and wait for my flight for Sydney. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it - and maybe it's not the end of Nepal for me. Sajani the project manager has offered me a job with Projects Abroad, and I'm seriously considering it.
Until next time!!!!
Seeing as next week's trip (6-7th) will be to Nagarkot I thought you might like a little background on what's there and what there is to do...
Nagarkot in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, a place northeast of Bhaktapur 1950metres up, which is which is why the trip will consist of a day trek to and from this hilltop village. However, what makes this place a must see is its classic panoramic view of the Himalayas.
After trekking up to the top you will be able to watch the sun set from your hotel room, possibly catch a glimpse of the Annapurna range (if the cloud stays away!) and then in the morning watch the sun rise (if you get out of bed in time!!). Also, it has been said that on very lucky occasions you are able to see Everest from the very top.
I was lucky enough to get some time away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu for a a couple of days and decided to do a similar trek. Even though the weather wasn't great, the views more than made up for it and I have included a few below. If you want to see these sights for yourself then why not come along on the trip, more information will be given nearer the time...
Gelukkig was de arm van de jongen alleen stijf en hoefde we niet meer terug naar het ziekenhuis. Hij doet nu oefeningen met een andere volunteer die zuster is in een ziekenhuis. De rest van de week gewoon naar school gegaan, gymlessen gegeven en Dahl Baht gegeten. Donderdag was het weer zover, steakhouse dag. Na school naar Thamel gegaan. Kamer geboekt in het hotel en steak gegeten! Daarna gingen we naar de Buddha bar voor een lekkere cocktail. En de volgende dag vroeg op en in de bus naar Chitwan National Parc.
We kwamen aan in een heel mooi hotel (kamers met airco!!!) en kregen een welkomstdrankje. Hierna kregen we het programma van de dag te horen. Lunch, een sightseeing tour, dinner en cultural dance. Als lunch kregen we spaghetti, erg lekker en daarna gingen we de sightseeing tour doen. Ik dacht, rondje Chitwan. Maar we gingen de jungle in! Daar was ik niet zo op voorbereid want ik liep op slippers. Die bleven halverwege vastzitten in de modder waarbij het bandje brak van de een. Dus ging mijn jungle tour verder op blote voeten. Wat eigenlijk best aangenaam was in de modder! We liepen naar de rivier en in de rivier stond een neushoorn. Echt bizar want we stonden denk op 70 meter afstand van het dier! De terugweg naar het hotel was vooral het ontwijken van bloedzuigers en eenmaal terug hadden we een heerlijk dinner met kip en aardappeltjes. We hadden niet echt veel tijd om te eten want we moesten naar de cultural dance. Heel leuk was dat, het was een soort vechtdans met stokken en vuur en trommels!
De volgende dag begon met een ontbijt met ommelet en aardappeltjes. Daarna gingen we met de hoteljeep naar de rivier om te kanoen! We zijn langs 3 krokodillen gevaren, 1 vegetarische (die zeldzaam zijn) en 2 niet-vegetarische (handen binnenboord!!). Hierna hadden we een jungle walk en dat was wel leuk maar niet heel bijzonder. Hierna gingen we terug naar het hotel om onze badkleding aan te doen want we gingen badderen met de olifanten in de rivier...
Wat was dat gaaf zeg. We zaten op de olifant (heel hoog is dat) en het dier liep de rivier in en vulde zijn slurf met water en spoot dat over ons heen. Daarna ging die op zijn knieen en op zijn zij om ons eraf te gooien. En konden we (we zaten er met zijn 2en op) er weer op klimmen om vervolgens er weer af gegooid te worden! Kirsty en ik deden een wedstrijdje wie er het langst op kon blijven zitten dus dat was erg grappig. Ook mochten we de olifant via zijn slurf beklimmen. Je moest dan zijn oren vast houden en met 1 voet op zijn slurf staan en dan deed ie zijn hoofd naar achter en kon je op zijn rug springen!!! Erg acrobatisch!! Na het badderen terug naar het hotel om te douchen en te lunchen. Hierna weer in de jeep naar het begin van de jungle. Hier stonden de olifanten al opgezadeld klaar voor de safari.
Nog geen 5 minuten waren we onderweg en we zagen een neushoorn met een baby. (normaal zijn de neushoorns dan erg aggressief maar omdat ze banger zijn voor olifanten konden we er gewoon naast staan). Het was erg grappig in de jungle want als er een dikke tak in de weg hing, brak de olifant hem met zijn slurf en konden we weer verder. Toch vond ik het badderen met de olifanten leuker omdat we toen echt op de olifanten zaten zonder zadel. Verder zagen we onderweg nog een slang, herten en de aapjes die ook los rondlopen in de apenheul.
Na de safari hadden we dinner en hebben we onze guide verteld dat we toch niet zo in waren om vogels te spotten de volgende ochtend (om 5 uur:P). Dit mochten we skippen, en gelukkig hoorde we later dat dat niet zo ontzettend spannend was. We mochten die ochtend dus iets langer slapen. Maar 9 uur moesten we vertrekken van het hotel naar de bus terug.
De terugreis die normaal 5 uur zou duren, duurde echter 7 uur. Dit kwam omdat er een aardverschuiving was. (precies over de weg) Dus ze moesten eerst de weg uitscheppen. Gek gezicht want toen we langs de plek reden zag ik een tractor en die was tot ongeveer 180cm hoogte gevuld met aarde. We werden door de bus afgezet in Thamel, daarna hebben we even in de lobby van het hotel gezeten en zijn daarna terug gegaan naar ons huis. Op naar de dahl baht!
Working in a developing hospital, you always wonder what would happen if YOU became a patient. On Monday I got to find out – although I imagine my experience was very different to the average Nepali person.
Since I had a fever last week, I started to develop a messy cough over the weekend and it thought it was likely I had an infection. Not wanting to leave the familiarity of Chitwan without sorting it out, I got Binod on the case for me to see a doctor. But forget just any doctor, Binod pushed to the front of the line and proceeded to sit me in front of the head doctor of the medical out patients department! He checked me out and asked a few questions and without hesitation, ordered me a blood test and a chest x-ray (it’s common for the doctors to order things that might not a actually needed for a diagnosis). He also ordered me a trip to the ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, just in case he missed something. The ENT guy said it was fine, after shoving a probe up my nose to take a look inside – much to the entertainment of the 2 American med students who were observing. After that we went through the process of paying, getting the blood test and the x-ray, all the time jumping the extensive queue of people who were most definitely in more need of treatment than myself. But Binod insisted.
The x-ray was particularly funny, where it was all over in about 30 seconds – in and out – without time to remove my bra, so all the wiring showed up on the picture, which got a laugh out of everyone. Great souvenirs to bring home. With all the results back, I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection, and was told to keep taking the doxy because it’s an antibiotic as well as an anti-malarial drug.
The last few days in maternity were nice, I felt like I was really starting to get a grasp on the different conditions and terms, and I’ve been explaining things to the other volunteers as they come on the doctor’s round. On my last day we all had photos and it was a nice way to finish my time at the hospital.
At the internet café, I ran into a British girl who was over the moon about finally being able to talk to a Westerner after riding solo for two weeks. It was so crazy, because we’d been using the same net café and it took us 2 weeks to bump into each other. Fay is 27 and is a fully qualified nurse, who has done masters in tropical nursing. She’s working at another hospital near my house for 2 months and she’s got big plans for change. As you can imagine, she was pretty interesting to talk to. So I’ve spent the last couple of days bumping into her, having coffee, dinner and we even shared a few beers. It’s been a blast and it sounds like she might come to Oz to work before long.
The farewell I had in mind was not the same in reality unfortunately. I had planned to give Arjun at the net café a thank you card and everyone was meant to come to see me off at the bus stop. But instead of leaving at 10 on a tourist bus, the plans all changed because now my host family was coming along for the ride to Pokhara. This meant leaving at 7 instead for the public bus. Sigh. But all is well, I was Binod, and gave him a watch set 15minutes late so he might turn up on time once in a while. He absolutely loved it. I messaged Felix and the others and Kusum will give my card to Arjun.
All in all, the bus trip was pretty good, and it was nice to arrive somewhere at 12 rather than 4. We are staying with Saroj’s sister and their 4 storey house was beautiful. I get the feeling they were in a bit of money.
The main disadvantage with still being with my family, is I’m still eating dalbhat and I’m not getting to meet new people to have a few drinks and a laugh with. It’s sometimes exhausting trying to talk to Nepali people, especially when they speak Nepali to each other a lot and it difficult to get involved. BUT, they are good tour guides (even if they walk so slow it’s almost backwards) and they get cheaper prices for taxis and so on.
We went to see the Phewa Tal (lake), which is the main attraction of Pokhara. The weather wasn’t so good, so we didn’t have a boat ride. We went shopping instead and I bought some cool things. Then we went to see Devi’s fall, where there is a gushing waterfall that lands in a deep, dark café. Story goes that Devi (a European woman) went skinny dipping with her lover and drowned, and they named the fall after her. But the other story is that it’s just a myth and a way for cautioning western promiscuity. Either way, it didn’t look very swimmable, clothes, lovers or not.
Yesterday we went to see the World Peace Pagoda, which was amazing to say the least. Right at the top of a mountain, you can see all of Pokhara and the view is fantastic. We walked up one side of the mountain and came down the other side, and caught a boat back across the lake. Beautiful.
We headed back home then and after another dose of Mindi on my right hand this time, I packed all my things and was ready to split from my family. It was really handy to have them here while I got my bearings in Pokhara, but by this time I just wanted to feel normal and so what I wanted to do on my own. I even started to get a little frustrated with their Nepali ways (especially their Nepali time) and I think it was a good time to move on.
The problem was, it was raining when I wanted to leave, which wasn’t really a problem for me, but my family wouldn’t let me go until it stopped. That is, they wouldn’t ring the taxi and insisted that I just stay another night and move on tomorrow. Ahh! But I insisted that it’s just a little water and I’m going straight into a taxi anyway, and after about an hour and a half they finally agreed that it would be fine. They were concerned about me being alone in the hotel, but I think they bit their tongue on that one. You can never doubt my Nepali family’s uncanny ways of being protective. Finally, I said my farewells, and my brother Kusal was upset that I was leaving for good.
So, on my own in Pokhara, I checked into what happened to be the most expensive hotel on the strip, which hurt my bank account a little bit, but that’s the hotel me and my American friends chose at the hospital last week. But what the hell, even when they said they only had deluxe rooms available, I didn’t cringe that much. I’ve hardly spent any money in 5 weeks of being here. After having a hot bath (yes, a hot bath) and taking in all the air conditioning I could get, I stepped out for dinner for 1, and found the Busy Bee Bar and Restaurant, where I settled into a night of listening to the Nepali band play some great tunes, and meeting people from all over the world. It was really great, and I’ve got another few days of the same thing. Just chillin around and being a tourist. Bliss!
De Charity day was een groot succes. De kinderen verkochten zelfgemaakte boekenleggers, armbandjes, tekeningen en je kon bieden op gedichten. De kinderen waren super blij omdat er veel vrijwilligers (ook vrijwilligers die niet op deze school werken) rondliepen. Uiteindelijk hebben we over de 20.000 roepies opgehaald dus dat is ongeveer 200 euro! Een mooi bedrag voor de school.
Maandags ben ik op school begonnen met het geven van gymlessen. De school heeft nog geen gymleraar, dus gaan ze nu onder mijn leiding trefbal spelen, doen ze estafettes en voetbal. Ook ga ik samen met een andere volunteer van school een tafeltennistafel bouwen. Dat kost allemaal nogal wat moeite want we moesten eerst permissie vragen en wat dat betreft is het net Suriname hier, alles op zijn tijd.
Donderdag avond zijn we niet teruggegaan naar ons huis maar naar Thamel (het toeristische deel van Kathmandu) daar is ons stamhotel. We zijn naar een steakhouse geweest, echt heerlijk weer eens vlees te eten in plaats van daahl baht. Daarna uit naar de Budhabar. Een sfeervolle loungebar! De volgende dag moesten we vroeg op (6uur). Want de trip naar Pokhara, de 2 na grootste stad van Nepal, stond op ons te wachten. Het was een bus trip van 7 uur. In het begin een beetje eng want ik zat meest links aan het raam en als je naar buiten keek zag je een afgrond, maar je zag niet waar de afgrond eindigde! Ook een paar bussen in het ravijn gezien, maar dat schijnt 'normaal' te zijn..
Gelukkig haalde wij Pokhara wel, en direct na aankomst hebben we onze zwemkleren aangedaan en zijn we in het meer gaan zwemmen. Daarna een kano gehuurd en op het meer gedreven en gezont. S'avonds uitgeweest en toen we terugkwamen op onze kamer, zagen we de kakkerlakken.... Aangezien als je ze doodmaakt er meer komen, vingen we ze met glazen. Maar we hadden helaas maar 3 glazen en 7 kakkerlakken. Niet echt lekker geslapen die nacht, maar gelukkig hoefde we maar 4 uur te slapen. Want om 4 uur smorgens gingen we naar Sarankott om de sunrise te zien boven de hymala range. Helaas regende het zoveel, en was het te bewolkt om de zon te zien. Wel de Annapurna II gezien, dat was wel mooi.
Dit was het begin van een van mijn beste dagen uit mijn leven. Toen we terugkwamen uit Sarankott rond 7 uur heb ik nog 2 uur geslapen en daarna gingen we met een groepje naar de Bat Cave. Een grot waar we een tour door deden. Deze tour zou in Europa nooit kunnen, want het was glad en modderig en we moesten een muur van 3 meter beklimmen zonder vast te zitten aan een touw.. Vallen was geen optie, dan zou je het niet overleven!!! Ik heb het gelukkig, net als de hele groep, overleefd en alleen een schaafwondje op me knie eraan overgehouden. Hierna hebben we met de groep 3 scooters gehuurd en naar de Peace Pagoda gereden. Ik zat achterop bij Andrea een italiaanse jongen, en hij reed als een echte italiaan. Links inhalen rechts inhalen, en we hadden als snel een voorsprong van 3 km op de rest want de andere reden normaal. (Later vertelde die dat hij thuis 4 motors had en elke week op het circuit rondjes reed...) Toen ik hem vertelde dat ik het toch een beetje eng vond in het begin zei die dat ik net als alle andere meisjes was, terwijl ik mezelf best stoer vond dat ik nog bij hem achterop zat! Na de Peace Pagoda zijn we om het meer gaan rijden en dat was echt zo mooi, ik heb ook nog een stukje gereden, wat goed ging. Maar toen ik een truck in wilde halen en ik in een hoop stenen belandde ben ik maar gestopt. Het leuke was, toen was Andrea bang!!! ( "You crazy girl!!!") Gelukkig zijn we nog heel! Zondag zijn we teruggekomen in Thamel en gingen we terug naar huis. Home Sweet Home!
Helaas werd dit fantastische weekend gevolgd door een wat mindere dag op school. Ik moest met een jongen die zijn arm had gebroken naar het ziekenhuis omdat het gips eraf moest. In het ziekenhuis werd ik er nog maar eens goed op gewezen dat ik in een ontwikkelingsland zit. Het was een chaos, toen ik in het kamertje waar het gips eraf werd gezaagd stond, zag ik ineens dat het ligbed vol met bloed zat, op de grond zaten bloedvlekken en uninevlekken. Dat was het moment dat mijn oren gingen suizen, en ik nog maar half zicht had. Ik ben snel de ruimte uitgelopen en ergens gaan zitten want ik ging bijna van me stokje. Hierna kreeg ik van de dokter te horen dat het gips 3 weken te lang om zijn arm had gezeten en dat het mogelijk was dat de botten verkeerd aan elkaar waren gegroeid. Hij kan zijn arm namelijk nu alleen in een hoek van 65 graden zetten. We hopen dat het gewoon stijfheid is en dat hij moet oefenen, anders moet ik terug met hem naar het ziekenhuis om zijn elleboog te laten breken... Wat een vooruitzicht! hahaha.
Verder heb ik me gister gewogen en ik ben nog niet afgevallen, ook heb ik nog niet onwijze diaree gehad. Dus wat dat betreft gaat het goed met me! Nog 2 weken heb ik hier, en ik hoop nog veel te kunnen doen voor de school.
Ik laat van me horen!! Liefs en Groetjes Bernadette
The last few days of my maternity week I ended up having to stay home with a fever, missing out on all the action. I just spent a few days just sleeping it away and taking panadol every 6hours on the dot. It was so hot, and so difficult to get comfortable with the power cuts and the fans going off all the time. I went through so many tissues with my runny nose and my headaches were really intense. But I rested well and I was determined to get better for my weekend in Lumbini! And that I did.
Waking up on Saturday morning I looked out the window and was happy to see the sun was out. A bus trip, although unbearable in the heat, is much safer when it's dry. I ignored the little headache I had still lingering and got up, ready to start the weekend. Binod said it would be there 9.30 and it arrives nice and late at 10.15, but the wait wasn't so bad, we managed to find a spot in the shade and just had to avoid the giant bird poo coming out from under the trees. Once on the bus, we were stationary for a while (also something I'm getting used to) and as we waited a young boy smoking a cigarette yelled up at us to purchase some of our own. A poor beggar woman walked onto the bus and sat right up the back, looking suspicious, but before long the bus man came on and pulled her off by force because she hadn't paid. That was sad. Constantly, locals with bags of apples and even a man with an esky of (unpackaged) ice cream come around the windows and try to get a sale. A man with a stump where his hand used to be came on the bus, standing in front of each passenger in turn with his other hand out asking for money. As he walked off the bus with nothing, again I am tested, wondering if I should've given him money instead of turning him away. Two ladies across from me take note of my hand, which was painted with Henna by my host mother the day before. They are delighted to see a bidesee (foreigner) with the design. The people on and around buses as so interesting and it's definitely a part of Nepal that's been the both the best and the worst to see. Miraculously I managed to get two seats to myself. As we started to drive off I wondered how long it would last (it didn't last long).
Arriving in Lumbini at 4pm, the temperature was much the same as Bharatpur. We were starving so we ordered some food and didn't end up going to see any of the sights until 5 or later. Our American friends from the hospital left us a note at the hotel desk letting us know where they'd be having their dinner, which was a nice touch. We set out for the main attraction – the birthplace of Buddha – of the Maya Devi temple. Although it took us a while to find it. We sort of went the wrong way around, and we saw the eternal flame of peace first, and then went to find the temple only to find we'd gone to the back entrance. Much to our surprise, there were wild monkeys everywhere in this area. We were watching them all, playing and jumping in the trees, and we saw a mother and baby too. We were so mesmerized, getting closer and closer, taking photos, when before long we realized we were pissing the leader monkey off and he started to attack! He hissed at us a little and then one of the others jumped toward us… we were so shocked we weren't sure what to do, but we just backed away and spoke to the monkeys like they were people haha. One of the military guys started walking in our direction, I think he was keeping an eye on us for our protection. Those monkeys are crazy… I think they were threatened because we were so close to the baby.
Eventually we got to the temple, and it it's a shrine where they've built a wall around the ruins of the building where Maya Devi was believed to give birth to Buddha. Walking around it you really got a sense of how old it was. There were some young monks chanting in the sunset and we sat near them and listened. It was very peaceful. We wondered around the place (while I was separated from Jess and Felix they got attacked my monkeys again and one actually chased Felix) but it was starting to get dark so we thought we'd finish the rest the next day.
We headed back to freshen up before going to the 3 Fox Restaurant, where all the other Americans were, and 2 Canadians that they had met through the day. We made up 5 nationalities when a lone Swiss man accepted our invitation to join the table and our night was complete. I taught them all the skulling song that we use in Australia for special occasions (and not so special occasions, as it turns out) and they absolutely loved it. We all had so much fun just talking and making jokes (mainly about Germans) and it was nice to chill out (even though it was still very hot). We all hit the sack early, everything closes early in Nepal. Our sleep was constantly disturbed with our hotel's power cuts, the heat was so much more intense here without the fan compared to Bharatpur. I woke up in a sweat more than once and just watched the fan until it came on again, unable to drift into sleep beforehand.
Before long the alarm went off for our early morning bike ride, so we would have enough time to see all the temples and still get back for the bus (which was coming at an undisclosed time). As we collected our bikes from a disabled man (who was doing really good business for himself despite his crippled condition), it began to sprinkle, and that began our bike tour in the rain that got steadily heavier over time. It was only a little unpleasant, and if I was honest, it was actually quite nice to be drenched from water rather than sweat, and the cool breeze from the bike was perfect. The Lumbini Centre is about 5km squared and has Buddhist temples from all different countries spread all around the place. When we were riding around at 7am, they were all still closed and the magic trickled away pretty fast with the rain that was starting to reach my underwear. We took photos from the gate (we avoided the Thai temple when a dog growled at us when we approached) and went in search for the World Peace Pagoda (of Japanese origin) which was meant to be a large and brilliantly white building surrounded by rows and rows of colourful prayer flags. We seemed to be going in its general direction, but the path ended for bikes and we weren't sure where to go from there. So we missed out on that one, which was a bit of a shame, I was really excited to see it.
By 8am the temples started to open, and we went in to see one (French or German we think). It was beautiful, and after some hesitation, we copied the other Nepali tourists and took photos inside. It was a rare treat because the artworks on the walls are so nice and intricate. Back on the bikes, we stopped once for the toilet for me (where a bug bit me on the arse mid-squat) before heading back to the 3 Foxes for breakfast. Knowing the bus trip we had ahead, I ordered 3 things off the menu just to be sure I wouldn't be hungry. Our hotel manager informed us that our bus actually left at 7am, and now he was going to arrange his driver to take us to the bus park and put us on the right bus. It was quite an expensive stint in Nepali terms, but I think we were out of options. Wishing the driver would just take us all the way home, he left us to wait while he bought tickets and a young boy hardly clothed approached our window, reaching in and grabbing at our bags, asking for money. Once we were out of the car, he walked right underneath me, hand out, occasionally bending down to touch my feet and put his hand to his forehead. It was a weird and unsettling experience. Eventually I just raised my voice and said "chai-na" (I don't have) and he disappeared.
Our "tourist bus" seemed more like a public bus, the amount of times it stopped and the amount of people that managed to fit on board. It was a long trip, but I think we're getting used to it and it wasn't so bad, apart from when I needed to pee only halfway in. Most of the time, the bus trips are just funny.
Felix is currently losing the "Doctors without Beds" competition, something the Sydney Med guys started. I caught him sleeping on camera 3 times, and I was being nice… I stopped myself from filming his head nodding up and down with the bumps of the road.
Finally arriving, me and Jess headed to the "bakery" I found last week, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. I think maybe the overpowering, sugar filled yet somehow tasteless sweet wasn't enough to fill my starving belly after 7hrs of transit. Jess enjoyed it though! I wondered home to find the house locked and no one home, and just as I rang Kusum to ask what to do, the neighbor approached me with a spare key. There are eyes watching all the time haha. Uncanny.
I went to see Arjun at the internet café and sat somehow for 4 hours – on the phone to mum and dad, on skype to Dane, loading photos and writing this blog. Before long I got a phone call from Kusum to ask where I was, and looking outside I noticed it was dark! So I am just finishing the rest of my blog today.
We had dinner last night with Kusum's brother and amongst all the loud Nepali chatter, he said to me – what is it like not to understand what is being said? I was thrown back by the question, when I realized no one has asked me that here before.
Just a quick note so say a warm welcome to our latest member of the Projects Abroad team Nepal. Katarina Hovden!! She is originally from Norway but studies in the UK...
You will find more info on her in the July Newsletter but if you bump in to her around Thamel, go and say hello!
Bye for now
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