I arrived in Kathmandu on a cold foggy afternoon and as a result the views of the mountains from the plane window were disappointing – you could only catch a glimpse through the clouds. Last time I flew in the views were spectacular, but it wasn’t to be this time – but at least I knew they were there..
On this trip, my first adventure of 2015, I am travelling on my own. My faithful travelling buddy Alfie, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and my campervan, Beryl, are at home. There is no way i am going to drive in Nepal or India and I definitely wouldn’t bring Alf here!
It also going to be different from anything I’ve done before. I loved the freedom of wandering around Europe and Scandinavia in my van for 5 months last year. And the brief trip Morocco and Spain afterwards was great – mainly because I got to spend time with one of my very best friends from Australia and I got to catch up with a few very good friends in Spain as well. But on this trip is different, not only am I am on my own but the primary focus is volunteering. I’ve done the odd day before but I’m volunteering for a month at a community centre in Nepal .
Some of the first day in Nepal was spent hanging around – which actually helps you to get into the flow of a more chilled pace of life. After a cold sleep I had coffee sitting on the balcony watching the two boys from the family (Zak & Tim) play cricket out the front of the house. I’m staying with a local family which in itself is an experience, though they are I believe quite a wealthy family. .
Later in the morning I had a nepalese language lesson – I’m going to try and focus on learning a new word ever day – hopefully that way I will remember them. Then it was a bit of shopping – in a bid to cut down on the amount of stuff in my back pack I didn’t bring many warm clothes – one fleece and a couple of long sleeve tops and if the first few days are anything to go by the evenings and mornings are cold. It was also , of course, a good excuse to shop and I got a new funky fleece lined jacket – and a sleeping bag which I will donate onto someone before I go home. The agency’s paper work had been misleading on whether to or not to bring one – when I phoned they said no you don’t need it. But you do – it’s a cold at night and apparently there is no bedding in Chitwan.
The final stop of the day was to see a cremation site, basically people burning their loved ones bodies by the river. They are all wrapped up in cloth – no clothes – they enter this life naked and leave the same way and it is all done on the day that the person dies. A smaller version of what happens on the edge of the Ganges Varanassi, India. It is a strange experience to watch.
Just round the corner from the burning ghats and near a temple, an Indian lady who was pointing at my colourful hair and then her own white hair – I went over and had a giggle with her and my photo taken with her and in the end a few of her friends as well.
I met up with Adele, a volunteer who had just come back from Chitwan last night which was great – and helpful to get understand what I was heading into.
I had a choice of whether to got to Puhkora or Chitwan and the guides here have been suggesting Chitwan. Chitwan, is out the country and you live in at the orphanage. Phukara is more touristy, which actually sounds like fun, but this part of the trip is about volunteering. So I am going to go to the orphanage and then visit Puhkara afterwards. The orphanage also sound so far from my normal life it will be a real czulture shock – I don’t know if that will be a good or a bad thing!
Today was spent exploring Kathmandu with Adele and another new volunteer, JoJo who is from China. We started at the monkey temple, which was particularly good because I didn’t get to see last time I was here. There were lots of monkeys and pigeons – I can’t say I like either of them that much. The view from the temple across the top of Kathmandu out to the himalayas was great. You can see how vast the city is.
On Adele’s advice I did a bit more shopping. Mainly a scarf to cover up my hair – unsurprisingly the children at the orphanage have nits so I plan on keeping my hair covered a lot of the time. Getting nits is something I’ve always dreaded but I’m going to try not to think about it. I might have also got a new skirt and necklace – I couldn’t resist!
Next stop Chitwan for a month. I”m excited and apprehensive – I’m not sure if the idea of mucking out a cow and a buffalo each morning sounds like fun or not!
My success rate on keeping up to date on my blog so far has been pretty poor – lets see how I do this time! To keep it simple I’m only going to add photos when I can.