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’.

Pokhara to… Lumbini.

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.

20120808-183817.jpg

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]

20120808-183503.jpg

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

Kathmandu to Pokhara

Annapurna Self-sustaining Orphan Home.

Wednesday 8th August

I left Annapurna Self-Sustaining Orphan Home today, after volunteering there for four weeks. It is one incredible place. It is home to 25 children, looked after by the ‘house mothers’, a collection of truly admirable women, who treat the children as their own, and three of whom actually live here.

Sarada, the lady who set up the home, is incredible . I have never met anyone quite so kind and full of love before. She believes in each and every child here, and does everything she can to give them the lives that they deserve, which for sure is no easy job. The children all do brilliantly at school, many of them top of their class, and one child even has a scholarship to a prestigious private English-medium school. Sarada rightly believes education to be the most important thing for the children, so school is followed by two hours with the visiting tutor, and then tutoring and help with their homework from us volunteers. They also have music class twice weekly.

The home is currently 25% self-sustained, by means of a small-holding of animals – cows, buffalos, chickens, goats and bees, and the crops that they grow. They strive to be 100% self-sustainable.

It just takes watching the kids get ready for school – the older kids dressing the younger ones – to make you realise that they are remarkable little people.

20120808-184737.jpg

[front of the home]

20120808-184758.jpg

[back of the home]

20120808-184824.jpg

[my room on the roof]

20120808-184814.jpg

[one of the bedrooms]

20120808-184841.jpg

[Bishnu preparing dinner, and poorly Sarmila who couldn’t go to school]

20120808-190026.jpg

[my buffalo purchase, bit of a rubbish photo but she just wouldn’t stay still]

Annapurna Self-sustaining Orphan Home.

Birthday.

My birthday was wonderful. We got the bus to Lakeside, and hired a rowing
boat across to the other side of the lake so that we could climb up to the World Peace Pagoda. Said we didn’t need someone to row for us to save us 100Rs… Turns out rowing was pretty hard work. But LUCKILY we met a strange swimming man who pushed us to the other side. He was called Samundra (or ‘Ocean’… I’m not sure if there is actually any link between these two words…), and was Nepali. He turned out to be quite a character, with a wonderful singing voice and a lot of chat about his ‘inner self’, although I
did actually have to be blunt and ask for ten minutes of silence at one point… He was a great guy anyway, and ended up climbing to the Pagoda with us (barefoot and in swimming shorts no less).

I experienced my first leech today. They’re fascinating little things, in a weird kind of way. Oh, and my nose does indeed have a hole in it again.

To Kathmandu tomorrow, in an attempt to delay my return flight by one month.

[Not a bad view to wake up to on one’s birthday eh.]

[Me, newly pierced.]

20120730-212620.jpg

20120730-212814.jpg

+ Bon Iver’s ‘Holocene’. Because it is my anthem.

Birthday.