Monday 12 December 2011

✁ Snippet: Nepal, June 2010

The stunningly beautiful Nepal! Situated at the foot of the Himlayas, a clear day at Sanga from the orphanage home I could see masses and masses of snow-capped mountains.

- The friendliest people in the world.
- The kids at the orphanage.
- My crazy love for motorbikes.
- Daal Bhaat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Rice farming.
- My trip to Pokhara.

Nepal was unforgettable. Indeed, my blog entry is a year late. I can't blog a daily entry unlike South Africa. Nepal has yielded unforgettable memories for me and having recently felt very nostalgic for it, I thought a blog post would be in order :).

A Brief Introduction 
  • Nepal was my first solo trip abroad, at 19.
  • I flew via Delhi to Kathmandu, Air India @ £320 return, my accommodation and food did not equate to more then £30 a week. Travelling does not break the bank! 
  • How did I find out about it? 'lalala, walking round uni, "Ooooo, a flyer for volunteering in Nepal/India/Pakistan for FREE?! I'M THERE (compliments of Tiija)"
  • Of course there are post departure doubts. Is this a good idea? My parents disapprove. Oh maybe I should get a summer internship instead and run round making cups of tea for people. Can I afford this? Will I be shot for being a stupid tourist? Language barrier!? I'm a utter kluntz and witless with directions??
  • Tip from me: Please please, don't ever let nagging little doubts stop you from travelling. Like the other 80% of people who want to go, love the idea, but never pursue it. You only live once, jump into everything and experience everything you can! :) 

The Highlights split into: 

  • Thank you to the lovely Tiija who advertised around SOAS asking for volunteers, I would not have experienced Nepal without Volunteer East.
  • Sangita, my didi (big sister in Nepali).Wonderful, brilliant girl you are. Just a year older then me, you're a volunteer co-ordinator, you cook beautifully and you shoulder so much responsibility. We had a mud fight when we were rice farming. I sprayed you with the water hose in front of the kids. We never stopped laughing. 
  • Udaya: The teacher at Jagganath School with the kids. We went to the statue Shiva together. You took  me to meet your mum at Panauti and showed me the most stunning landscape in the world. Hills, green rice fields and a beautiful body of water flowing through. A image I won't forget :). We came back soaking wet to your village when we got caught up in the monsoon rain. You took me atop of Banepa. A viewpoint showing the border of China and endless hills and mountains that characterise Nepal.
  • Oihana, fellow Spanish volunteer. There is a strong need in the world for more people like you. You complimented everyone. You worked so hard at the orphanage, and always made me smile. I brought back your positive attitude. People so rarely give compliments nowadays. Thank you for making me so happy.
  • Mummy. You couldn't speak any English yet that did not stop a relationship from blossoming. I trailed along with you to cut grass for the cows, you always brought chai to my room when I was reading. One thing that warms my heart so much: I asked Sangita to translate to you that: I thought you were beautiful because you were always smiling. You replied that you were always smiling because you liked seeing me around. I was really tearful to leave, thank you for being so welcoming. 
  • The Children. Incomparable to western kids and brilliant in each of their individual ways. Smiley/hardworking and so easy to relate to :)
  • Mummy (The orphanage mum too), Rossan, Nirmal, Ivan, Morag, Kshitij, Belen, Puotli, Didi (Black kitchen! :)) Pradip, everyone, thanks so much for making Nepal so great. 

Nickname: I was known as Maya (love in Nepali) to everyone in Nepal, the name that Sangita adopted as for me when she first met. A nickname I still love til this day :)

  • Anyone who knows me well = I love food goodies! I love trying new things, you can really experience the world on a plate. Nepal was no exception.
  • Momo's! YUMMY, LOVELY little dumplings served with a spicy sauce! 30 rupees (30p) for a lovely, filling lunch. You can't go wrong. 
  • Pani Puri - Served by the street side, normally with people on bicycles. These lovely crispy hollow biscuits, filled with flavoured sauce and normally a small piece of potato/onion in the middle. 10 to 15 rupees (15p) for a plate of 6.
  • Daal Bhaat. The staple in Nepal. Rice, lentils and a veggie curry accompaniment. Beautifully cooked by Sangita/Nirmal's mum. I had it everyday for a month and I still loved it.
  • Corn on the cob smoked on a fire!! STREET FOOD :). 20p for a healthy, simple yet lovely snack!
  • Chai. A necessity for Nepali people :). I remember mum always saying "maya, chai :) :)" and bringing me a lovely cup of chai tea made fresh from milk from the cows. 
  • chapatti w/beans/samosas/picked chilli/eggs/cherry tomatoes growing wild/and a crazy crave for sugar while I was there, as I wasn't getting my fix from all the junky processed food of the UK. 
  • Chow mein with spicy sauce! Crazy Memory: trekking up to sangarot with no food and coming back down to the town starving hungry. I left my bike with these lovely people at a shop and brought chow mein from their little cafe. We talked for ages while I was eating, she told me all about her family. I showed her my photos. She thought I was crazy for travelling solo and thought I was 16?? We swapped facebooks and she insisted I stayed with her family if I returned to Nepal...:)

Food was fresh, cheap and healthy! I had close to zero processed foods while there and lost about 2kg for the month I was away. Meat was a luxury there that I had once or twice. What Nepali food lacks in variety comes back in flavour :). 

  • Cheapest Country Ever. Heres a rough idea of how much stuff was when I was out and about. No exaggeration! =)
  • The Volunteering: 400 Rupees a day for room and board (£4 a day). £28 a week!
  • A hotel room in Thamel (tourist district): I stayed in Hotel Florid, standard and safe (was alone!), double bed/shower/TV/Air con = 400 rupees per day. (£4.00)
  • 300 rupees for a 7 hour coach ride to Pokhara (£3.00)
  • Meals vary from 30 - 500 rupees, depending on where you are and how much you want to splash. (30p - £5.00)
  • Bike rental: 150 rupees for one day (£1.50) I asked him if he wanted my passport or anything as insurance, he was just like 'huh.....', Nepali people are so trusting! =)
  • A 40 minute bus ride from Sanga to Kathmandu - 25 rupees (25p). A 15 minute bus ride from Sanga to Banepa - 10 rupees (10p)
  • Half day horse uphill trek - 2000 rupees (£20.00) including a guide!
  • Various touristy attractions: Bat cave, waterfall, underground cave, museums, all around 20p to £1.00 for entry.

For a month in Nepal, including the flight cost all in country transport and my touristy ventures, the total came to less then £1,000. Under £250 a week inclusive of absolutely everything. Same cost of just staying in London and paying the rent!

  • Beautiful, beautiful country. I didn't go Chitwan nor venture too far from Kathmandu and Pokhara even! Definitely worth another visit to this amazing country. 
  • A country at the foot of the Himlayas. Mount Everest view? No description needed there :)
  • Greenery, everywhere. Hilly with rice fields dotted everywhere. Almost a cartoony light grass green. 
  • Pokhara lake. There is something so serene about a lake surrounded by hills and moutains in the backdrop.
  • Kathmandu: A literal splurge of history and modernity. Busy road one way, then turn a corner to a historical Durbar Square. Colourful prayer flags, little food stalls and religious buildings and statues. 

Experiences (Just a snippet)
  • Rice Farming - slippery, wet, muddy and a lot of exhaustive yet fun work! It was only me, Oihana, Sangita and some local ladies. They sang while they did the work and seemed delighted with our presence. You are about knee deep in watery mud, with a clump of a grass like plant, you plant every strand individually about a inch apart in water, pushing it deep enough so it doesn't float. Rice being such a staple food, I didn't realise it required so much labour. Another thing which I really appreciate about travelling, its a eye opener to things that come typically wrapped in packaging on everyday shelves.
  • Motorbikes! A form of transport typically embedded in LEDC cities. I love the feeling of being on one so so much. Can't drive one, just love the ride. 
  • Boating on Phewa Lake - hmmm. Rented a boat for an hour to check out the temple in the middle of the lake. Got a lot of skepticism, the boat guys asking if I needed help and a boat full of tourists blatantly pointing. See the annoying thing is, if I was a guy no-one would give a dam ;).
  • The actual volunteering - Just the simplicity of helping kids with their homework and giving a hand with making their dinner. 

Wrap it up: My mini snippet of Nepal. I loved being there so much I felt almost lost when I flew back to the U.K. Suitable for absolutely anyone :)

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