Memoirs of an Awkward Tourist

Living in Nepal, volunteering and eating heaps, learning more about myself and this crazy world we're living in!
Today during tea with one of the head nuns, this string was tied around my neck for protection and long life. I am to wear it until it breaks, and then I need to tie it around a tree in order to pass the blessing on. 

It was personally blessed by the Dalai Lama. 

Speechless.

Today during tea with one of the head nuns, this string was tied around my neck for protection and long life. I am to wear it until it breaks, and then I need to tie it around a tree in order to pass the blessing on.

It was personally blessed by the Dalai Lama.

Speechless.

When this is the view on your walk to work, you start to realise how blessed you are!

When this is the view on your walk to work, you start to realise how blessed you are!

Photos taken on the way back from Pokhara - beautiful and unpolluted Nepal.

This time, 14 days ago…

I hopped out of a plane and into a dingy airport. After “clearing” customs (walking through the unoccupied metal detectors) I walked out into the freezing cold, and was instantly bombarded by taxi drivers.

I have had the most intense and crazy two weeks of my life. Living in a city like Kathmandu is an experience in itself, and nothing prepared me for the poverty, the bumpy unpaved roads, the culture and the food. And I’ve barely been outside the city!

Teaching is an experience all in itself. The 6 nuns that I teach range from 6 to 11 years old, all of whom start school for the first time in April (they have all only in the last year become nuns, and so have not yet been able to go to school). They are so much fun, and so eager to learn. What makes it so hard is that they all have differing abilities, and they’re knowledge of English is basic- all we’ve focused on since I’ve been here are lowercase letters, introductions, basic body parts, and colours. It’s slow going, but I’m hoping that if I can cover these basic things before they start school they’ll have the tools to be able to pick up more complex English easier.

Tomorrow I’m starting classes at another school, which has around 500 students- a bit different from the nunnery! At first glance I didn’t think the school needed my help, however after I walked around, speaking with the kids and checking out the classrooms, I noticed a few things. The kids aren’t clean, they have basic books and stationary, they are crammed into basic classrooms with benches and a whiteboard. While they all have teachers already, the school asked for volunteers so that the kids could learn from native English speakers. After chatting with some of the older kids, who expressed their desires to be trekking guides, social workers, and teachers, I can’t wait to start tomorrow and contribute in any way to their futures (does that sound douchy? Probably!)

The past week has also been filled with some great times with the other volunteers- Cyan from South Africa and Mundev from England have been awesome guys to hang with and I’m stoked to have met them (they demanded they be mentioned). Some highlights this week include Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, Patan and its own Durbar Square, the ‘Monkey Temple’, learning how to play pool at a bar in Thamel, generally just drinking in Thamel, many dinners out, and a day trip to Pokhara where we spent an hour on a boat paddling around the lake. Two big things I’m excited to experience are the medieval and perfectly preserved city of Bhaktapur, and the national parks of Chitwan. Today I booked my weekend away (alone and loving it) to Chitwan, where I’ll visit the villages and learn more about Tharu culture, and experience an Elephant Safari through the jungle.

Also thought I’d mention- in typical Zan fashion I’ve gone DVD crazy and have already bought 16 films from two different stores. And this STILL doesn’t stop me from entering every DVD store we pass in Thamel. Am loving the cheap shopping (but the bartering that accompanies it is quickly becoming tiresome).

So excited to see what the next two and a half weeks bring!

Thamel via rickshaw ride.

More shots of Thamel - such a loud and oppressive part of the city!

A Different Kind of Day

Spent the morning working on a project for a group called ‘Believers’, making buildings and schools out of recycled materials like bottles (images below). Such a rewarding experience.

Tonight we went to the cinema for a little reminder of the first world-quite a different experience to cinemas in Australia. Every scene that featured smoking featured a warning that stated “Smoking is hazardous to health; smoking causes cancer”, and the movie stopped abruptly halfway through for an interval.

13 days down; 18 to go! Having an absolute ball.

Pokhara, Nepal.

Pokhara, Nepal.

Titanic- Pokhara Style.

Titanic- Pokhara Style.

Pokhara, Nepal.

Pokhara, Nepal.

More monkeys! 

Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”, Kathmandu, Nepal.

More monkeys!

Swayambhunath “Monkey Temple”, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Children playing on a street in Patan, Nepal.

Children playing on a street in Patan, Nepal.

Durbar Square, Patan.

Durbar Square, Patan.

Some of the beautiful architecture in Patan, Kathmandu.

Some of the beautiful architecture in Patan, Kathmandu.

Some of the beautiful architecture in Patan, Kathmandu.

Some of the beautiful architecture in Patan, Kathmandu.