Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Orphanage.....................


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

My Home Away From Home: Kocanna

Outer Kocanna is a town (about 2 miles long) located about a 45 minute drive south of central Kathmandu, this is where I have been for the last month or so. It is a very peaceful and calm town, it is built along either side of a straight road that runs from Kathmandu going to Central Kocanna (which is much bigger but still as quiet) and Bugmati (a very old town further south)
There are shops of all kinds along this road from bed makers to building suppliers as well as a good few local shops selling fruit, veg and almost anything else you may want (like a very mini supermarket) None of these shops (other than one or two) can you actually walk into. Most are just extensions of peoples houses with a counter at the front of the shop. You often have to peer over the counter and yell 'Namasta!' to wake the sleepy shop owner that is napping in the back.
Although there is a good variety of shops there is little variety in goods- all the shops sell the same things.
People seem to use the shops as a meeting place and the road is always busy with locals playing games (the local game cannon board is popular- a mix between air hokey and pool), talking, laughing, arguing! (usually over who won the game!), drinking tea and children flying kites whatever the time of day as the shops open at about 7am and close at about 8pm. Dogs, (mostly strays) chickens, ducks, cows and goats fill the streets and all seem to get along with one another. The animals are all very fit and healthy as they do nothing but run around and eat all day! The dogs are another story, there are simply too many. They often fight and have huge cuts on their ears. They have fleas and mange so bad that some almost look like stone. This is the most upsetting thing being here and is not pleasant to witness but when there are starving people it makes you a little heartless towards these unfortunate animals. Having said that it is great to see (and be part of) a local community of a different world. I walk up and down the road quite a bit, for lots of reasons but mainly just out of curiosity! I get stares of curiosity back wherever I go but I think that people are getting used to me being here. If I see another westerner I find myself becoming very protective of this little town and wonder what they are doing here- they look so clumsy and lost, and that is maybe why I don't like them intruding, it reminds me that I am one of those clumsy fools walking aimlessly around! I always thought that I would enjoy seeing a familiar face (even though I had never seen it before) but I find it no comfort.
The traffic is comparatively quiet out here and mostly consists of local buses going two and fro from Kathmandu to central Kocanna, motor bikes (hundreds of them- Honda must make most of their money here as 95% of the motor bikes are Honda Hero's) and the odd car every now and again.
Walking south along the road the atmosphere changes completely. As you walk along towards Bugmati, shops and houses get fewer and the land to the right of the road dips into a great valley and slopes up again on the other side where there is a view of some fantastic mountains. (although Nepali people insist on calling these hills as they are not big enough to be mountains) A huge tree that looks nothing like I have seen in England sits on the edge of the slope down to the valley and you often find locals sleeping or playing here. Two small, but beautiful restaurants to the left and the local school make this a very tranquil area and almost a different world although it is only 10 minutes from the busyness of the shops and houses. By night the valley comes alive with lights and you can see Kalanki, (where ICYE's office is) and hundreds of lights dotted about all over the hill. A small restaurant sits at the top of the hill on the other side and looks virtually impossible to get to, and indeed it is. If you want to have a meal there you have an extremely steep climb up and if you are lucky enough to get there before dark there is the daunting task of getting back down in the pitch black with, no doubt, a few drinks in you! The stars here are also the greatest I have or probably ever will see. You can really see that the earth is round from this point and a dome of stars fills the sky- a million more than ever I have seen, each crystal clear and so bright.

My orphanage is right in the middle of all of this and a little way back from the road....................

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Temple Visits

We visited four of the main Temples in the Kathmandu Valley. Two Buddhist and Two Hindu.

The first was the largest temple in the city. As we arrived we were confronted by a long cue of people waiting to give offerings to the gods. As we walked passed the sea of thousands of women all wearing red (The symbolic colour of worship) the line seemed endless.

When we finally got into the temple grounds (after fighting our way through) the sight was awesome. Hundreds of shrines, amazingly constructed buildings and thousands of people - some worshiping, some there for funerals and some people just seemed to be spectating. A large river cut straight through the middle of the grounds with steep tiers on each side resembling a roman amphitheatre.

The most lasting impression of this Temple- and of all the Temples was seeing all the cremations. I was not disturbed nor upset by what I was seeing but more humbled. I felt very out of place- as if I shouldn't be there.

The second Temple was a large, white Buddhist Temple shaped like a pyramid on top of a large dome. The two huge eyes of Buddha stared down at us from the base of the pyramid. Prayer flags of all colours were strung from the top going down in a long line to the ground. We went into a small room where there were two giant 15 foot prayer wheels, red with gold scripts spinning round. Four monks sat in each corner ringing bells- it was very bizarre!

The third was another Hindu Temple, it was much smaller yet equally impressive. A large, stone sculpture of the god Vishnu lay in the middle of a pond. A brightly coloured shrine rather than temple pictured Vishnu laying on his back with snakes all around him. The figure appeared to float above the water. Hom (our guide for the trip) told us the story of how t was founded: Around 500 years ago the statue was found buried by a local farmer in his field. The king at the time heard of this and went to visit the Temple. He was then chased and bitten by snakes and later died. To this day no member of the royal family has visited fearing the wrath of Vishnu.

The fourth Temple was another Buddhist Temple called the Monkey Temple, and as the name suggests there were monkeys everywhere- climbing on everything!
365 steep steps to the top were well worth the ripped calf muscles as the view from the top was fantastic- The whole of the Kathmandu valley beneath us gave us a real idea of how large the city was. The Temple itself (The only one we actually went in) was equally good. Golds, reds, blues and yellows filled the temple and intricate wooden carvings everywhere made this the most beautiful Temple. We watched the Buddhist monks meditate and chant, they were all sat in a line mumbling the same words over and over. It was very mystical and peaceful here and a very relaxing way to end our day.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Day 4


I went to Thamel (Main area of Kathmandu) on Friday. It was amazing there, its a hive of shops, people and traffic!
We started off by catching the bus there- a minibus crammed full of people (so much so that people were hanging out of the doors!) It takes about 45 minutes to walk there and the same by bus as the traffic is so bad.
The streets are really narrow, and tall, ancient buildings that are still used as shops are all around. The smells of fresh popcorn, fumes, street food, rain and heat all mingle and it is a real assault on you senses. There does not seem to be any real order here, cars, bikes, push bikes and pedestrians seem to use the same roads and streets and you have to put your hand on the cars to stop them running you over if you want to cross the street- You never feel in danger though as nothing is moving faster than about 2 miles an hour!
We (Steph and Damian- two guys from England and James- from New Zealand) wandered for hours just taking in the sites and smells of this amazing city.
When we decided to leave we stupidly decided to get a taxi from the centre- big mistake! It only cost us 200 rupees (About 2 pounds) but it took us an hour to get about 200 meters!

Yesterday I just stayed at the hostel and studied all day on the Nepali language, it is really difficult! Hom, our teacher and co-coordinator is really good but he is trying to fit the whole language in in 5 days and it is a real strain. It is really fun learning a new language though, I hope to pick it up quite quickly.
The rain has started up again, last night was the most amazing thunder storm I have ever seen! Lightning from the distance that filled the night sky and lit up the mountains- I wish you could see the photo's I took.

Be back soon

all the best,


Thursday, 9 August 2007

I am here

Hello everyone.

After 2 flights and a extremely crazy minibus journey I am in Kathmandu. I am staying in a hostel that is owned by ICYE Nepal in a fairly remote part of Kathmandu where you get looked at in a strange way by all the locals!

The weather is really hot and humid- not a drop of rain so the jumper and rain coat I brought in my hand luggage is completely useless! Still at least I have clothes (even though they are all covered in lynx shower gel that leaked in my bag)- a guy who is here with me has been here for three days and still has no luggage!

Cows really allowed to walk anywhere! I looked out my window this morning to see one walking through someones garden. The views from my window are amazing, picture perfect mountains in the background and a mess of houses, all half built and crazy shapes in the foreground. Each house has its own garden filled with crops and plants (It puts our allotments to shame!)

I will be her for four days in which time I will be trained in the language. I will then be going to a village to stay for three days where I will see what it is like to live like the Nepali people do. Then its off to Chitwan National Park for three days where I will be walking and elephant riding.
Then to the project after that.

Take care everyone, I miss you all

All the best


Tuesday, 17 July 2007

3 weeks to go!!

Hello everyone. I am going to Nepal in 3 weeks time to work in an orphanage. I will be based in Kathmandu in a orphanage called JOSSA Nepal (Jyoti Samari Service Association) I will be there for 10 months helping the children to read, write and to be a general helper.
I will then be going to India for up to 2 months at the end of the trip. So watch this space as I will be writing soon.
(Please visit their website:

Take care guys