Alright, so I am now in Nepal, co-home of the Mount Everest, country of backpackers and mountaineers – and, as I notice, for the first time a country that has not been conquered by the British, hallelujah. Still, there is tea here. Not sure if they have left- or right hand traffic, I don’t think there are any rules.
My plan for the next weeks: Nearly three weeks Kathmandu, to do some sightseeing and have time for me, myself and my blog. Then off to Tibet, ten days roundtrip including Mount Everest base camp (I hope – there are no more visa for March, let’s hope they’ll issue some for April). Tibet also because one can drive to that basecamp, as opposed to the one on the Nepalese side, which is great because I am not such a big fan of walking. I was still congratulating myself on my cleverness, when I was told that I have to walk 3-4 days to my next volunteer assignment, a village in the Nepalese Himalayas, because the nearest airport is shut. WALK FOR 3 TO 4 DAYS?? You must be joking! Unfortunately not. My good side fought a brief but fierce battle with my lazy side, alas!, my good side won – I’ll be walking. But I will have a porter, I’ll not carry 40 kilos of baggage up the mountains!
In this village – Junbesi – I will teach for ca. 4 weeks – I don’t quite know what yet, the kids at the school are aged between 4 and 20, and I expect it will be English and perhaps a bit of IT. I also don’t know yet what I’ll do thereafter, I’ve stopped making long term plans, I’ve finally become aware of my freedom.
Now, Kathmandu. First impressions:
After Myanmar, ca. 20 degrees drop in temperature. My hotel this week is very nice, but also very old with thick walls and dark rooms, and it feels even colder in here. After months of moaning about tropical temperatures I can now complain about the cold. There is even a little electric heater in the room, which would be great, if it weren’t for this Nepalese „load shedding“ – meaning: There is hardly any electricity during the day. This is the schedule of NO power:
A real challenge if like me you carry tons of electronic equipment that all wants to be charged. Thankfully there is one plug and one bulb powered through solar energy, as is the internet. I really thank my family for the present of solar and external batteries, very useful. I build my life around the power cuts, like probably everyone else here.
Kathmandu: Loud; dirty; big; full of historical buildings; constant honking of horns; temples with eyes; chaotic traffic; tinkling of temple bells, stirred into motion by passers-by; narrow lanes, in which pedestrians squeeze along the walls so as not to come under the wheels of cars, rikshaws, motorbikes and bicycles. To quote Rough Guide: „How to describe Kathmandu? A medieval time capsule? An environmental disaster? A holy city? A tourist trap? The answer is: All of the above“.
I like it here, the city is chaos, but has flair, atmosphere, charm. Yes, of course it’s a tourist trap, but they are much more polite and less aggressive than the Sri Lankens, to give an example. A nice person for example sold me a beautiful large shawl made from real Yak wool (against the cold) for 10 Dollars instead of 45, because I’d waited as requested when he dealt with other customers; he believed me when I said that 10 Dollars was my limit (which is sufficient to buy a not-made-from-Yak-wool-but-Acryl-shawl – my expense patterns have changed), and because „money isn’t everything“, which is a nice attitude for a salesperson.
There’ll be the usual history lessons, but first I have to fully arrive. On Tuesday, I helped at a charity (report to follow), on Wednesday I did a cooking class (report to follow), yesterday a city tour (for the history lesson), today I am writing – as you can see, I really am very busy :D.