Pokhara to… Lumbini.

Saturday 25 August

When I’m rock climbing, we talk about two different types of fun – ‘type one’ fun and ‘type two’ fun. ‘Type one’ is where you’re fully loving every minute of what you’re doing. ‘Type two’ is when you’re mainly disliking what you’re doing, wishing for it to be over, but then when it’s over, you think ‘YEAHHHH THAT WAS AWESOME’, and usually you want to do it again. Climbing involves a lot of type two fun, normally because a) you’re totally shit-scared, b) you’re freezing cold, or c) you’re exhausted.

Today was definitely of the type two variety. We caught the 8am bus from Pokhara, supposedly to Butwal, but since I was probably asleep and Jos was too busy vomming out the window, we completely missed Butwal, and ended up hurtling down the highway to India.

We finally managed to disembark at Bhairawa, just short of the border, and after a rickshaw and a local bus, we ended up in Lumbini, which incidentally happens to be the birthplace of Buddha.

It’s incredible how different this place is to the Nepal that I have seen so far. It’s kind of how I imagine parts of rural India.

*It’s totally flat for starters, which feels weird after spending the last six weeks amongst the tallest mountains in the world.

*It’s so bloody hot.

*It’s even less-developed. Water comes through pumps in the street and the majority of houses are mud huts.

*There’s a Muslim population here. In fact, there’s a call to prayer going on right now.

*Women here seem a lot less liberated. They keep their heads covered, which I haven’t seen much here so far, and I sat next to a lady wearing a burka on the bus. She was either super unimpressed by me, or just intrigued – I couldn’t tell which. She kept poking all of my freckles.

So, our nine-hour journey was pretty bloody awful at the time, but actually, I saw so many beautiful places and crossed paths with several interesting people that I probably would do it all again.

+ Ben Howard’s ‘The Fear’.

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Pokhara to… Lumbini.

Photographs.

Friday 24 August

We spent yesterday searching Mahendrapul for a camera for Jos, since I seem to have inspired her to enter the realm of 35mm photography. We finally bought her a rather dashing Vivitar with a 50mm lens, after a very keen shopkeeper ended up riding his bike round most of Pokhara trying to find one for us…

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[Nikon FM2, being expertly used by Srishti, aged 5.]

A prized possession, this is. Well, it’s actually on ‘long loan’ from my Dad, who bought it when he lived in Saudi Arabia, I think.

I’m lucky to still have it, to be honest, since a few years ago we were burgled and everything got stolen, including the rest of my dad’s camera stuff, but luckily I kept this guy safe in a woolly hat, so he was unintentionally camouflaged from Mr Burglar.

Anyway, this camera is doing me proud, and I’ll soon be posting some photos from it… Once I have a job and can afford the cost of processing.

We visited the orphan home today. It was wonderful to see the kids and the house mothers again. It is such a positive and inspiring place, and going back there put a big smile on my face.

Photographs.

Simple days.

Only three weeks left in Nepal. I think I’ll be excited to go home, but I’ll for sure miss simple days like today.
* getting up at 5am to watch the sun rise over the Himalayas.
* standing up journeys on tiny cramped buses in the dark, driver chatting away on his phone whilst ploughing over massive potholes and narrowly avoiding stray buffaloes.
* buying dinner wrapped up in newspaper for 30Rs.

Simple days.

Pragati English Boarding School.

Tuesday 7th August

This week, we have been helping out and volunteering at Pragati English Boarding School. It’s the private English-medium school that most of the children from the home go to, and is the sixth best private school in this district, out of 200.

It was interesting to talk to the headteacher. He seemed really grateful to have us at the school, explaining the positive impact that meeting people from other countries has on the kids. This was reassuring, since it’s easy to feel useless here. He actually said that if we were around for more than three months, we could be official volunteers, teaching English, and would have our own class. That’s my next trip to Nepal sorted then.

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Pragati English Boarding School.

Kathmandu to Pokhara

Wednesday 1st August

I did the bus journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara for the second time today, this time taking the local bus rather than the tourist bus, all for the sake of 100Rs…

I was squeezed next to a nice Nepali man named Bishnu, who cuddled up to me and slept on my shoulder. He later proposed to Jos.

And then we broke down for a while, in the middle of nowhere.

[Jos with the broken bus]

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+ Florence and the Machine’s ‘Never Let Me Go’, because I listened to it a lot on this journey.

Kathmandu to Pokhara