Patana, Pokhara, Swayambhu
13.11.2009 - 25.11.2009 14 °C
Wow! It's been a month since I updated my blog - have you missed my stories?! Well the latest story is that KFC has just opened up their first outlet in Nepal as of yesterday and apparently the queue was absolutely huge. Just so you know, there are NO WESTERN FAST FOOD CHAINS IN NEPAL. For me it's just Dhaal Bhaat, Dhaal Bhaat and more Dhaal Bhaat. Basically Dhaal Bhaat is white rice, a potato curry and lentils which luckily I really like! Didi is a wonderful cook and I try to help her with the food preparations sometimes but she tells me to 'basnus' (SIT DOWN) because 'I am her guest' so that means I can't help...sometimes she lets me though.
A few weeks ago I went with Didi on a 7 hour bus journey (3 separate buses) to her previous home/village called Patana (near Pokhara). I had tummy trouble on the way there so you can imagine how difficult that would have been for me with no TOILETS on the bus! Luckily, Dai (he came with us for the first part of the bus ride) asked the driver to stop for me, so I ran to the toilet and I was over 15 minutes one time! The buswaited for me and I got no dirty looks when I got back, just smirks...
When we eventually got to Didi's home (with some amazing beautiful scenery along the way) I was relieved I was still alive.. there are about 3 buses that go to her village per day, and this one bus we got was near to falling apart but the worst thing is that these buses have to drive up these massively steep rocky hills (sometimes with water on the other side!) and there were so many times I thought the bus was going to just keel over. But thankfully we got to her village in one piece and were greeted by her three younger sisters (Anjanna, Anjoo, Indoo) who all called me 'Didi' (older sister). Straight away I noticed how much warmer it was there. We were surrounded by green hills and fields, and there were chickens, a few dogs, buffalo, goats all around the place.
My first meal consisted of Dhaal Bhaat and sweet corn for starters (fresh from their own field) which tasted lovely because it was cooked on a fire. Then they had 'kukura' (chicken) with Dhaal Bhaat but I politely declined because I still had tummy trouble and wanted to stay clear from meat (this was why I was ill in the first place!) I witnessed my first chicken slaying, which was done by Didi's uncle. I saw him grab the chicken with the knife in hand and turn it upside down but I couldn't look away. I saw everything and didn't feel sick or anything (I won't go into detail about it, don't worry). They don't waste a single part of the chicken which I thought was very good. Anything they don't eat goes to the Kukur (dogs).
Talking about dogs...on my second night in Didi's village, while trying to sleep in the bedroom, I was greeted by a sound in the room, which I thought were moth wings beating together. Then came a crash by the foot of my bed which was a broom falling over onto the floor. I sat up straight in bed, eyes wide with my heart pounding. Then came the sound of what sounded like an animal munching on something. I started howling and woke up Didi's sister who was in the room next door. Didi and Anjoo came to my aid as I lept out of bed, turned the light on and opened the door to let them in. I said "there's something in my room! HELP!" Anjoo then bravely stepped into the room, calmly walked towards the bed and a BIG FAT RAT came running out from underneath it, heading towards the door and out into the bushes outside. Then I looked at the dog that was sitting quitely outside my room and thought 'Oh good, the dog will go after it and get it!" But no, the dog just sat there and couldn't care less that a big fat juicy rat had just ran past it. What...a...joke. So then I went back to bed, Didi and her sister returned to their room, and about 10 minutes later CAME THE SAME SOUND OF MUNCHING again. I thought, 'what am I gonna do now? I can't wake them up again because of this rat!' So I just laid there knowing that I would just have to share my room with the rat for the night. I put my ear plugs in and tried to think of something else...
Didi took me to Pokhara the next day and that was another 3 hour journey by bus. I really do feel for the people of Nepal who have to travel regularly by bus. They are so uncomfortable - mainly because the roads are in such bad condition that you can feel every bump/rock through the comfort of your seat, plus they pack them so that we are like sardines and you have people's bags in your faces as you sit down (if you are lucky enough to get a seat!). I met Didi's other sister, 'Bindoo' who lives in Pokhara. I let them catch up while I just behaved like a tourist taking photos of everything...Pokhara is beautiful because it has the backdrop of snow-filled mountains and there is a lovely lake there called 'Lakeside'. I saw people paragliding off the mountains there and may go back there myself to have a go (so I can be like you Camilla!)
I stayed in Patana for 3 nights in total and came back to Kathmandu with over 20 mosquito bites. They've gone now though. It's too cold in Kathmandu for mosquitos and there are no rats that I have seen here so far. When I returned to Swayambhu with Didi, Dai told me that another volunteer had arrived and would be working with me at the monastery and would also be staying with us. I thought "Yes, now I can share the monks with someone else!" The volunteer's name is Alvin and he is from Canada - first time travelling at the age of 48 and his son and wife are back at home in Toronto. He hasn't been well recently and has been coughing really badly but now he is better.
It's weird that we are both teaching the monks at the same time. We spoke to the head lama about how we should manage the class now that there was two of us and he said that we could teach together for one hour with the small monks (8-14 years) and one hour teaching with the older monks (15-21 years). It's good now because one of us can help the very small monks who have no idea what is going on during the class (who sit at the back).
I have only one week left teaching now! Alvin is here for another month so he will be on his own when I go. After next week, I go to the orphanage for 5 weeks to start helping out with the children there...but I still have no idea where in Kathmandu I will be placed. This is because 'HOM' (the coordinator for RCDP) has gone on a 2 week 'meeting' to New Zealand! I wonder who paid for his flight?
Yesterday, when Alvin and I were walking back home from the monastery, we saw a dead man that had a white sheet placed over him lying by the side of the road. There were lots of people crowding round the body and at first I thought the people were gambling because there was someone shouting and holding lots of money (I found out later that this was a collection for the family of the dead person). Not sure what happened to him but there are a lot of homeless people who sleep by the roadside round here and I wonder whether he too was homeless.
My last story of the day is that I asked Dai where the prisons in Nepal are, as we see lots of army/police people round here. He told me that if I wanted to go and see one, I could. So when I came back from Patana, I had the opportunity of going to see a female prison in Kathmandu! There were young girls in there as young as 16, some as old as 60. Apparently, most of the offences relate to drug trafficking. Dai tells me I am the first tourist to EVER set foot inside a prison in Kathmandu! We went through about 5 different ranks of police/prison staff before it was agreed. No photos allowed though...
It was Dai's birthday yesterday so we had a little party and ate lots of food, drank 'Everest' beer and had cake. Alvin and I bought a cake and a card for him and he was very pleased.
I think that's the last of the stories I have for you at this time. Will update you all again when I can. Thank you for your emails too - I really enjoy reading what you are all getting up to back home. I heard it is really bad weather in England? IT'S SUNNY HERE!!!!
Lots of love,