Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nepal - Last Glimpses and Parting Thoughts





My last and best view of Everest

Because of the forthcoming elections on April 10, I am advised to leave the city early. There have already been enormous rallies and huge traffic jams. A five day holiday has been declared for the elections and alcohol and the carrying of sticks have been banned in in the Valley. Just time for one last adventure.

World Heritage Expeditions has booked me into a pleasant hotel at Nagarkot for the night, so I head eastwards on a local bus. At Baktipur I change to an even more decrepit bus that snakes slowly upwards. This area is much greener and more prosperous looking than most of the places I have seen. At last I arrive on the top of a razor back ridge which has a whole string of hotels with names like Hotel Space Mountain and Hotel at the End of the Universe. Mine is called Hotel Viewpoint which is certainly apt since its many terraces overlook mountains in every direction including Mount Everest in the east. It also has gas hot water and excellent food.


Looking South



It's lush and green here, but it rains a lot more



Alas, it's hazy at dusk and raining at sunrise so much of the benefit of getting up for the obligatory sunrise viewing is lost. With my pack on my back (day pack only - I am getting a bit smarter these days) I walk for three hours to the next village on the other side of the ridge. This must happen often. I don't walk very long before I am accosted by children and divested of my remaining biscuits. The children are a bit more sophisticated here. They don't just ask for money or sweets but try to sell me postcards and ask for pens for school. A little further on the clouds part and I do get a glimpse of a snow covered Mount Everest.




Leaving Nagarkot with Mt Everest emerging from the mists



In the valley a charming young man invites me in to meet his family. His father is a school principal at a government school. They show me photos of their sponsors - people who have donated money or materials and uniforms.


Bishwo's family at Sankhu

From Sankhu I catch a bus to Jorpati to visit the couple who first suggested that I come to Nepal. They run the Pegasus Orphan School but the children are on holiday at the moment so there's not much to see. Karma makes a great lunch and then I return to Kathmandu still wondering what to do.


Karma and Kinnley the couple who invited me to Nepal, with son Sangee. (Hope I have spelled this correctly).


As it happens members of a Regional Development Corporation based in the UK who have just built the school at Chitwan are staying at the hotel. They invite me to dinner for further discussion shortly before I leave.We eat at a restaurant run by deaf people. This is no doubt an individual initiative and it's a fantastic idea. The food is good too, but we don't come any closer to a solution since they work with local NGOs in one particular area only. The problems are just too big and no one seems to have any overview. In the absence of a solution which will help everyone, the starfish solution will have to do. You can't help them all, but you can at least make a difference to one or two. Though I haven't decided yet where I should teach, we plan to keep in touch.

Should you be interested in becoming a volunteer* for 1-3 months or making a donation check their website http://www.aidcamps.org/independent-about.htm

*fees apply

Last Supper - with the group who built the school at Chitwan. As usual the power is out, but the venue is a great idea

Looking at the map of Nepal, I am disappointed to see how little of the country I have actually seen. What is it like in the West? There are rumours of people living in subterranean tunnel villages in the North. What about the South East? At least I have had some tantalising glimpses and look forward to coming again.

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