The only way to truly describe Nepal is to visit it. There aren’t enough words to even express the beauty and complexity that embodied my trip to Nepal, which above all things was far too short. Only three days to fit in as much of Kathmandu as was humanly possible. I wish there had been more hours in the day.
Here’s a few facts about Kathmandu:
– It’s approx. 4361 feet above sea level.
– It has population of roughly 1,225,000.
– Nepal first let “outsiders” in the country in the 1950s.
– Namaste (my favourite word) is how you say hello.
– The momo is practically the greatest food on earth.
When we touched down in Nepal you couldn’t really see anything – it was dark – evening time. You could ‘feel’ it though. The rough streets which left us lurching in our car seats, the smell of fires burning on the roads, hearing dogs barking and seeing the lights. Mainly though you could sense the poverty. A poverty which is pretty much beyond our comprehension. To me their poverty seemed difficult and innate. Innate in the way that it has passed down from generation to generation and that they don’t know any different – so it’s all perfectly normal. The acceptance of their poverty is something we British, could truly understand, after all we’re living in the wonderful age of entitlement (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2052749/Our-Shameless-society-How-welfare-state-created-age-entitlement.html). In fact how the people I saw lived their lives was so ridiculously awe-inspiring it made me feel so incredulous about our society.
The first thing that struck a chord was the children going to school, which they do 6 days a week (our helpful cab driver).
Imagine this, mud everywhere but not just mud, it was like a muddy dust. A thick covering of red brown dust that was filled with particles of rubbish, of smoke, of animals and of trucks.
It’s been said that if you stay in Nepal for a constant 5 weeks you will get a throat infection because of the quality of the air.
The rainy season had started which washed away any manner of road the taxi driver assured me they had got usually. They Suzuki cars and Tatu trucks managing in some way to move across pure rubble. Now picture the dogs, the chickens (apparently bird flu is on the rise), the monkeys and then the cows. The dear old sacred cows who would be anywhere and everywhere. The middle of the road. The middle of a crowd. Sitting down just living their lives happily. Or in one case shopping for a Tatu.
Even without the dust and the mud Nepal was beautiful. It was so different from anything I’ve experienced before. The colours, the sounds and the smells. It was incredible. We stayed at the top notch Gorkarna Resort Hotel – there’s a tree in the garden area which Little Buddha (Keanu Reeves film) was filmed. This tree is so huge, it could be out of Avatar or something even more spectacular. My step-dad was convinced it wasn’t THAT big, but I promise it was. I couldn’t fit the whole tree into my camera view finder. So rest assured it was pretty darn big. The Gorkarna Resort is basically a massive golf course and then places to sleep and eat. They do horse riding and trekking and my favourite yoga. I have never experience a yoga lesson before but my mum and I were rolling around giggling as we tried to unsuccessfully move into Downward Dog and other super strange and super painful positions.
We spent the first day rushing around quite a bit. I had the most amazing experience of flying next the Himalayas. I saw Everest. I flew next to Everest. I mean literally next to Everest. Do you want proof?
Well there is your proof. Mount Everest. A stunning 8, 848 metres above sea level, and I have seen it. I mean seriously I still can’t believe it.
Our trip around the mountains was with a company called Buddha Air which was pretty cute. They even gave us certificates when we completed it.
From there we walked around the incredible Kathmandu Durbar Square, which houses some of the old Nepalese royal palaces. The palace itself was so stunning. It was basically made up of these intricate wooden carvings which represented different Gods and Goddesses as well as beautiful carvings of flowers and patterns. The architecture of the palace and the square around it were breathtaking, it shows the skill of Newar craftsmen over centuries. Of course over the years there has been decay to the carvings but you can still see them and be amazed.
We also visited Thamel and the most stunning garden – The Garden of Dreams just a short walk from Thamel. The Garden was so ridiculously fantastic. Just outside there was a busy main road, with hooting and growling of engines but you stepped into the garden and all you could hear were the birds chipping and the water from the fountains in motion. I can’t even describe how strange it was to step into a sort of paradise. There was this lovely cafe up some stairs in the garden where the chef had decided to mix vodka and pasta, which really didn’t sound to good but actually worked pretty well, although I’ll be honest it was a little sickly so I did only have 2 or 3 bites, it was my mums. Later I stumbled and broke my shoe although I am not saying it had anything to do with it, but I am just putting that out there.
Anyways after a beautiful lunch it was to Thamel to buy some presents which were so cheap it was unreal. I got this beautiful pashmina, in a bluish grey which is so stunning for only £5. Crazy cheap. As well as that I managed to pick up a singing bowl and two Nepalese hats for practically nothing.
After a wonderful day running around every inch of Kathmandu, we spent a lovely night having the most gorgeous Thai/Indian food I’ve ever had at the hotel. It was truly fantastic, although they weren’t selling chicken which is my favourite because of the bird flu. Thank goodness for prawns. 🙂
Anyways the next day was just as exciting if not more. We started of the day by heading for Swayambhunath better known as the Monkey Temple, which was pretty much as expected filled to the brim with a) people, b) dogs and c) MONKEYS! Now I seriously love monkeys and there were not enough awws and oohhs that escaped from my mouth during those few hours we spent at the temple. The temple itself was so beautiful. You had to walk up quite a few steps to reach the main bit but when you got there it seriously took your breath away. Not only that but the views from the top were incredible. You saw, what felt like the whole of Kathmandu. It was just a sea of all the incredible built houses. Like houses that were tall instead of wide, as if when you needed more room you just build upwards and they seemed to be a bit like Jenga, swaying occasionally with the wind. I bought this candle which you lit and said a prayer from this young girl under an umbrella at the temple. She told me it was only 5 rupee but we gave her 50 rupee and I swear she was going to pass out. It’s crazy though, she was so happy to receive 50 rupee which is about 50p give or take a pence. I lit my candle, and weirdly enough I wished to take a picture of a monkey and sure enough when I looked up this monkey’s butt was staring me in the face. It was pretty magical.
Whilst we were there we bought some amazing bits and bobs, although they were mainly Buddhas as presents to take home to people. It was amazing. We couldn’t get enough of it we went back the next day.
Even though we went to some amazing places in Nepal nothing came close to what my mum had organised for me to see while I was out there. I am a bit of a softie, which occasionally is not a good thing but it does, I hope mean I have a nice heart. A few years ago for a drama piece I did with some friends we did a piece about trafficking. Four girls who were trafficked into the terrifying and disgusting world of sex slaves. It was a pretty emotional piece but I never realised the significance that would have on my life until I was given the opportunity to help some people who had been at the wrong end of trafficking.
It was one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring moments of my life. We walked into a centre at come face to face with a whole lots of young adults 16-25 years old wearing sparkly costumes. They were those being helped by this fantastic charity called Circus Kathmandu. These kids had been trafficked as children, whether they were taken or whether they had been disgustingly sold by relatives. These were the people our drama had been about. I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life and I never thought I would meet people who had been through so much in their lives, but these had. They were trafficked into mainly circus and made to perform. They had lived to make money for other people. Something no child should have to do. Meeting them was so amazing. It was truly beautiful, there are obviously no words. No adjectives that even cover it. But it was when they performed that you truly got the gist of how terribly incredible these people were.
They were given a second chance when they were rescued to learn a vocation, and seeing as it was all they every knew they chose circus skills. And let me tell you these people were amazing. They flipped and jumped and performed with such a passion that you couldn’t help but not to smile and laugh and once cry. There was one guy, who performed with a rope. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t anything like what you would expect at a circus. No this was different because it was the emotional dance about how he was trafficked and how he was escaped. With each movement the ropes that had been tied round his hands became looser until he wasn’t tied, instead he was free.
The charity tried to come to England at one point to perform at the legendary Glastonbury festival but because of ignorance and a whole lot of arrogance of those in charge of Visa within the British Gov. they were refused entry. But they will try again. I have to say, I love Britain – it’s my home but I think that was the first time in my life I ever felt ashamed of where I was from. These kids want to better themselves and they have been through so much to be told that they can’t enter Britain because they were the victims of trafficking. Does it make sense to you? Nope me neither. Instead they were refused entry and therefore the dreams they had of performing the skills they had learnt and they had developed was chucked back in their faces. But they haven’t stopped, and I know they won’t. I just hope one day the British Gov. can see how stupid they’ve been.
Anyways thank you for reading if you did, my really really long blog about my very very short stay in the beautiful Kathmandu.