Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Happy Teacher's day!

We walked into school Monday with one student greeting us with "Happy Teacher's day". Wait, what did she say? Another boy ran towards us and offered us lollipops while another kid handed us a red pen each. This looks exciting, we thought! Little did we know this was only the start of the celebrations.
During our first period (class 3), we were greeted by a lovely message on the board. We struggled for a few minutes deciding if we should wipe the board or not but it had to be done. During break, members of class five came rushing in with chocolate cake and coke for the teachers and members of class 3 had Khada scarves for the principals and a letter of apology for when they have been bad. Before lunch, we had class two where the children overloaded us with handmade cards and origami flowers. There were a few cheeky students who had written cards for another teacher but crossed their names out and written ours! Some of the classes decorated their door with a message for the teachers and with balloons.

Class five wouldn't let us enter, they were still preparing after lunch. When they let us pass, the class shouted 'Happy Teacher's day' and showed us their board with a lovely message and a drawing of me and Harriet. Yes, we spent the first five minutes taking photos and again, we had difficulty deciding if we had to rub the board off. Some children gave us sweets (and mints) along with cards and red pens again (these kids love having their mark worked with red pen).
We ended the school day by teaching class four. They didn't have as much time as class 3 and 5 to prepare a board for us (but they did try) and we were greeted with more lovely messages along with a photo of Katrina Kaif and a recipe on roast chicken (???). The children also put their money together to buy boxes of laddu and jalelbi to give all the teachers. I was overwhelmed with all the food that I didn't know what to do with them. Harriet, being the more professional one, put hers on a card whereas I enjoyed eating the jalebi as I taught so my lesson went something along the lines of:

"Put your hands up if you know who *bites jalebi* William Shakespeare is *bites jalebi*?"

"He wrote mainly two kinds of *bites jalebi* plays: comedies *bites jalebi* and tragedies *bites jalebi*."

"Shakespeare wrote *bites jalebi* Romeo and Juliet, *bites jalebi* Hamlet and *bites jalebi* Macbeth."

So now at home, we have bags full of red pens and a bed with a mountain full of messages, letters and cards from the children. I think Teacher's Day is one of my favourite moments in Nepal (:

Monday, 22 July 2013

The men of Thamel: Getting to know the locals

On Saturday, I got to explore Thamel on my own. Thamel is the shopping district of Kathmandu, the streets are lined with shops selling scarves, handicrafts, books and trekking equipment. I was happier shopping on my own, I knew Harriet wouldn't enjoy being dragged to all the scarf shops and I didn't want her to watch me haggling (it's a little embarrassing). The first time I properly explored Thamel was with Victoria and Harriet the week before. I remember being in awe of the beautiful handicraft but also the buzzing atmosphere. I was excited to be down there again.

However, as I stepped out of the taxi at 12:30 pm in the burning sun, I was saddened to see that half the shops were closed! Streets were bare. It was a Saturday, where were all the people? Going down the same road again, nothing was pulling me into a store. The scarves didn't seem as colourful, the woodwork didn't seem as beautiful and there was no buzz. I was supposed to meet Harriet later, so what was I to do until then? Luckily, the (Indian) merchants of Thamel add another layer of adventure in exploring Katmandu.

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The photo doesn't capture how vibrant the shop looks
In a small side street of Thamel, lots of beautifully decorated shops can be found. Turns out they are wholesalers but I didn't know that! I saw one with an entrance so covered with merchandise that you couldn't see the door. I walked in and a guy immediately started talking to me. I could understand enough to think it was Hindi, but I couldn't get the jist of what he said so I thought maybe he spoke in Nepali. After a while, he saw my confused face and spoke to me in English, asking me to try on different scarves. He started to ask where I'm from and what my name is. That's when I start to get a little wary. When they start a conversation with you, they get too friendly that it makes it awkward to leave the store without buying something. I went to a store earlier where they wouldn't let me leave because they hadn't have any business for the last 3 dayys and I was apparently their first customer. I was almost suckered into it. However, is it a right for a store to emotionally appeal to you like that? Secondly, when they ask where I'm from, I always say Bangladesh. That's when they know they have to be more realistic with the price.

However, Ahmed was very chatty. I found out that although he was born in Nepal, his family is from Iran and India but most of them live in Doha. He studied in Moscow and wants to move there in the future (I asked why not St Petersburg, he feels more comfortable with the people in Moscow apparently). He planned on going to Hajj this year but he couldn't because there wasn't anyone else to manage the store.

Between trying on half the store's worth of scarves, we talked about politics, which I don't know much about but it seems like an unavoidable topic among Asians! He talked about how it's getting harder to live in Nepal through the years and he wants to escape and I talked about how he was lucky to visit Maldives, even though he would have preferred to go to Bangladesh.

Yes, like I mentioned earlier, there was the slight awkwardness trying to haggle afterwards. He didn't like my prices nor did I like his, even though he told me he was being very honest especially as it is Ramadan. I did walk out with a stunning blue scarf but I felt better that I was getting to know the locals and how they see Nepal.

Paradise Handicrafts

He told me it would cost me 5000 rupees to take a photo of him.
He told me it would cost me 5000 rupees to take a photo of him.
I visited this shop back in second week with Victoria and Harriet. What pulled us to the store was the 'Dear Human, please touch me' sign but what kept us there were the beautiful 'Kashmir' scarves. Victoria and I saw a couple we liked but 3hen the clerk told us the price, we knew we were about to enter the battle of bargaining. Prices where being thrown across the store when the guy working asked me where I'm from.  I said I'm Indian, which made him turn to Victoria and say 'I'm giving you a good price but not her, she's Indian and I know what they are like!'. I felt like Victoria settled but the guy didn't let us leave without giving me his business card: 'I'm famous, you know.'

Maybe I was a bit optimistic but I went back. The minute I entered, the same clerk turned around and with an excited expression and shouted 'Hey,  it's you!' He made another worker get a seat for me and a drink while he finished serving a few Chinese customers (didn't expect to hear him speak in Chinese fluently). I felt I was getting first class service (you should have seen me leaving the store with a SLR around my neck, a coke bottle in one hand and a shopping bag in another). I met the other clerks in the store, a 17 year old boy and the owner. I asked how the business was going and how everything else was but they weren't as chatty as Ahmed. Instead, the clerk preferred to pick out scarves for me and put them around the neck, not something I felt comfortable with in the scorching heat.  That's when we got down to business with the haggling. I already knew what I wanted but just as before, he was driving a tough bargain. Neither of us backed down. "You're killing me" he kept saying. I was softening again because he looked really sad (was he acting?) and then he insisted I ask his brother instead. No way did I want to start the bargaining match again but I didn't have a choice when he took my stuff to him! He brother kept making faces, I didn't know what he was trying to do but he insisted he didn't want my smile to go away He took my money, gave me more change than expected and  gave me a wink as I left.

Ratna Park

Ratna Park (I think that is the name) is one of the main parks located in the centre. We always pass it on the way to Thamel and thought we should give it a visit today. However, the biggest challenge is to get into the park. It's huge but for some reason it only has one entrance. We did manage to see a small chaos of people trying to get in through a gate and we followed them in. It just happens that today, the park was transformed into a market place but not a very nice market place. The ground was still muddy, littering is done too freely and there was smoke of people burning things (food? rubbish?). No sign of green, grassy park we imagined. There were some gatherings around the park, one was around a volleyball match while there a magic show somewhere else. It wasn't surprising that Harriet was attracting a lot of attention as we walked around but I did get some unexpected attention too: while we found somewhere to take a break, a guy came up to me and asked:

"Excuse me, are you Nepali?"

"No." I answered which seemed to have shocked him to the point of silence. He clearly had something to say if the answer was yes but now what was he suppose to say? He started at me for 2 minutes before asking me where I'm from. "Bangladesh" I answered bluntly (Ah, makes sense why I look Nepali) and he stares at me again. He takes off his glasses and declares his feeling for me:

"I think you're beautiful. I like you" he states and stares we me again.

But I don't like you is what my mind instantly thinks but I'm sure I didn't say it. Before I had a chance to say anything, his friends came over and started questioning me about if I'm Nepali. Awkwardness reached a peak. "Harriet, I think we should move" was the last thing they heared me say before we made a move to escape from the park.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Second week: 14th anniversary, Durbar Square and Patan

Manasarovar Academy's 14th Birthday 
This week has been a very busy week for all of us: the teachers, the students and even the volunteers. The teachers have been preparing decoration for the school and they had little projects going, which meant that we had to take over more classes to let the teachers finish. We had 5 periods out of 7 and each day left me more exhausted than before. Respect for the teachers being able to cope with this 6 times a week! We had a "Week in London" theme where we taught the children about the royal family, the landmarks and how to get to and and around London. They wrote postcards to their friends and over the weekend, a letter to the Queen!
My contribution to the school decorations
Kids rehearsing the day before
I didn't know what to expect for the birthday. Miss Tsultrim told us about how children would come to school at 7.30 instead of 8.30 because they were so excited and I could see why! Boy, do these kids like to party!
Girls ready to honour the Dalai Lama('s photo)
Us, the volunteers, dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing
More colourful outfits!
Harriet, Victoria and I dressed up in the traditional Tibetan dress, the chuba, and when we arrived we were greeted with a round of applause! Parents acted like the paparazzi but the kids made us feel welcomes! It was 8am but more than half of the kids were already these in their fabulous party clothes. There were people in chubas, salwar kameez, "cool" western clothes and the odd spiderman outfit.
The day started out with the children paying respect to the Dalai Lama before breakfast. They had to lay down a special type of scarf, called the khada scarf, and bow down in front of a photo of him. The queue looked endless as it reached outside the school building.
The highlight of the day was the dance competition. Class 2 to 5 had a group each which prepared a dance to a bollywood tune. These kids would put you all to shame! They're all incredibly talented, they could be in a bollywood music video right now. It was a close call with the judges but class 5 won (even though I thought class 4 was the best) but the competition didn't end there. Some of them were brave enough to sing on their own (it was all spontaneous) and they all had a go singing Nepali, Tibetan, English and Hindi songs. Yes, there was also One Direction (I couldn't help singing along), Justin Bieber (I didn't sing along) and songs from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Watching the performances 
Miss Tsultrim tried to continue the dance competition but it slowly spiralled into a school disco because... who can keep a hall with over 300 kids patient for more than 20 minutes, especially when you have bollywood music blasting away? In fact, I couldn't sit still and pulled a girl sitting down into the dance floor asking her to show me how to dance but that backfired as I got pushed into the middle and everyone circled around me jumping up and down. What else could I do but jump up and down too?!
When it comes to having a Disco, Manasarvor Academy takes it to the extreme. I was trapped in the middle and with kids aiming to get a chance to dance with me, I witnessed way too many kids getting elbowed, pushed and knocked down. I tried to rescue some students, make a little clearing so they could do find a teacher to get checked out but these kids didn't want to stop. As long as I got them out of the circle of danger, they could U turn back into it! These kids are definitely not weak hearted. I had a lot of boys who wanted to twirl me around, and with me being twice their height, you can imagine how tricky that was. There was one kid, one of my favourite students, who wanted to hip bump me every 2 minutes. The kids loved the novelty of it the first time they saw it hence why! I tried to twirl a few people, there were a couple of ballroom dancing (including a kid in a suit!) but the funniest ones were the guys who wanted to sweep me off my feet (someone getting jealous, eh eh?).
12th July has probably been my favourite day of this placement. I got to see how talented some of these kids are but also it was a chance to chat to some of them personally. I found out one of my students have parents/family all the way in India! We bonded over our love for bollywood movie and I found out that Salman Khan is a VERY popular actor here (Some of the kids looked like they really wanted me to like him too... but I didn't want to lie). I also found out how popular our housemate Tenzin is with the students (and how well he could sing). I'm so lucky had a chance to see how the students love to celebrate their school's birthday!

Durbar Square
Located in the centre of Kathmandu is the preserved ruins of the temples and palaces that are still used for its original purposes or museums. Durbar means 'palace' and it was where the kings (of Kathmandu and then Nepal once Kathmandu Valley was unified) were crowned. The architecture shows a stronger Chinese influence with its three storey buildings that have the curved wooden roofs but most of the temples were dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses.
We ran into a minor problem getting tickets to the square. We were expecting to pay 300 rupees but the woman demanded we pay 750... Quite the price jump. She insisted they've had this price for years and the lonely planet guide was out of date (uh, no... It was published last year). Luckily the book did point out they were thinking of joining the price of the museum and entry ticket so we were happy to pay the higher price but we didn't like her tone. I cheekily took advantage that I was from Bangladesh so I only had to pay 150 (:
I'm not sure how their ticketing system works. The have a price for foreigners and another price for people from SAARC countries, which Bangladesh happens to be a part of. I only started saying I'm from BD to get the cheaper ticket because it makes a difference in places like the Durbar Squares. The counter never asked if I live/study/work  in Bangladesh or if I was born there, just looking Bangladeshi happened to be enough. Does anyone know how the SAARC ticketing works?

We spent most of our time exploring the temples and the Palaces (turned into a museum) but I'm not sure what the highlight of the trip was. We had a chance to see a Kumari devi ("living goddess"). The goddesses are usually between the age of 4 and when puberty hits (she becomes "mortal" when she has her first period) and the choosing of the new kumari is similar to choosing the new Dalai Lama. She has to recognize the possessions of her previous "incarnation" but she must also have the right horoscope, specific physical appearance and she must be brave. What were we expecting when we waited for the goddess? Not a lot. I can tell you though she was about 15 minutes late! She sat down, looked around for a few minutes and got up to leave. No smile, so words were spoken. If anything, she looked like a moody kid forced to meet strangers. The Lonely Planet mentioned it is bad luck to marry an ex Kumari but the bigger problem is being married to a spoilt ex goddess!
Fun fact: The previous kumari went on strike because her guardians were refused a salary increase.


Pagan has an interesting history. It's said that when Ashoka converted to Buddhism, he built four stupas (north, east, south and west) which now define Patan. Maybe this information interested me because Shah Rukh Khan played the great Ashoka in 2001 but he was a great Emperor that helped spread Buddhism especially in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. However for tourists, the attraction lies in Patan's zoo, Durbar Square and the fair trade shopping.
I met this cutie-pie and her sister (I assume) just outside of the museum. I took a photo of her because I was taken away by how beautiful and big her eyes are!
Patan use to be a separate Kingdom, hence why it has its own Palace, until King Shah from Gorkha started to merge the kingdoms of Kathmandu Valley. Patan's Darbur square is smaller, more compact than Kathmandu's and hence maybe not as impressive if you visit it after the central one. You can go go from one side to another in minutes and after visiting the other. I do have to say it is a very interesting and informative museum about the history and development of Nepal's two main religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. Harriet and I were saying just minutes before how we wish we could understand the symbolisms in the religious art. Patan museum was the answer.

At this stage, I'm already halfway through my placement!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

First week in Nepal: Monkey fever, getting lost & Manasarovar Academy

Monkey Temple


Saturday morning we were greeted by the monsoon rain. We've managed to escape it so far but the day we set our heart on exploring Kathmandu, with the Monkey Temple as our first stop, the weather decided to be an obstacle. We sat in, reading for a bit, trying to avoid an alternative plan. Harriet was clearly determined to go to the temple today. We're been looking forward to it before we even arrived. We made a back up plan in case the rain doesn't stop, but we 10:30, we made our way to find a taxi. Nepalese taxi drivers don't seem so keen on using the taxi meter, but you have to insist or just step out. The prices they suggest are possibly higher (not by too much but still).



The monkey temple did not disappoint. The cab trip on the way showed sneaky monkeys peaking out as we got closer. The temple is located on a hill and the main part is the stupa at the top. It didn't take long after we entered to see the monkeys playing about freely. Sometimes food was left for them, the pigeons seemed to be better feed, but the monkeys preferred to climb the stupa, the railings and the trees. The excitement of being so close to monkeys never died away! I'll happily visit it right now if I could.

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I have to admit, I was a little bit afraid of Nepal's stay animals. I'm afraid of dogs, a little bit less of cats after having them forced on me but I'm still scared of being near wild animals. Not sure how I'll cope in Borneo!


Manasarovar Academy


We went to our school the day after we arrived. It's a 5 minute walk from our house but you could easily recognise it by the screaming and laughing that came from the hall. As soon as we walked in, the children were aware of our presence. They are use to having volunteers and they knew what to do! They started running up to us with cheerful faces, greeting us with 'Namaste' or trying to shake our hands or poke us. The way they treat us hasn't changed us at all!


My favourite thing about Manasarovar is how tuneful it is. During the lessons, you could hearing the younger children 'singing'. It's probably their Tibetan class I'm listening to. We've always been told how children are forced to memorise by 'chanting' in developing countries. They have very little resources to learn from, it's one of the few methods they have. What we don't know is the rhythm they learn it with. They have memorised the capitals using a song, sounds boring but it's so catchy. The school is never silent but I prefer it that way. The altering low and high pitch, the terribly cute voices of the younger children make me feel very comfortable.

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The second thing I love is lunch time. You haven't seen team work until you have seen the children work together! The school has limited resources so it uses the benches and tables in the classroom to be used to make the dining room. We tried to help the kids, but the boys preferred showing off how they could carry a whole bench on their own. The older children help out in the kitchen and distributing food in the larger pots while younger children help set the table. Younger children eat first but the older kids will help feed them if they want help. You should see the expressions of the older kids trying to help, almost maternal! When lunch time is finished, they all work together to take back the chairs and roll up the carpets. Sometimes children go out in the balcony to work if they need to catch up. Bearing in mind kids can come in for P.E at 7.30 am and some stay after school past 4pm, that is dedication!


Getting lost

Buy a local map. Despite how much you suck  at reading one, it's a valuable resource.

In fact, use two different maps together! It's what we had to do...

Sunday morning, Harriet and I set off again to explore Kathmandu. This time we decided to walk to the centre and visit Darbur Square. We only had a lonely planet guide at hand and a screenshot of a Google map. What we basically gathered that we would have to follow the main road west and that's what we did, or so we thought! After several hours of walking, we couldn't recognise the the street names but then again, the lonely planet guide's maps hardly have any street names. We past a bookshop and decided to have a look at a map. We thought we were near the centre but it turns out... We were in south Kathmandu, less than an hour's walk from the airport. Well then!


Did we give up on the walking? No! We made our way to the centre, changed our itinerary a little (because it turns out the map we bought is also a little funky). We spent our day in the garden of broken dreams, garden of dreams and Thamel. Garden of broken dreams was what we thought was the garden of dreams but turned out to be its car park. We knew the buildings looked too eery to be a romantic hotspot! We eventually decided to walk back however, as successful as we were using the two maps, I was feeling unwell and it was getting late. We (I) gave up and took a taxi but turns out we were on the right path!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Locked out!

So sometimes you have a little voice in your head telling you that you should be doing something now. You could listen to that voice or... dismiss it and say you'll do it later, what's the hurry anyway? NO! Listen to that voice! It's an old habit to turns things down for later and as they say, old habits die hard.

So on Friday, we left for dinner at around 9:30 ish.

'You're going out this late?' Our house mate, Chowden, exclaimed. "Remember to take the gate keys and let me give you my number now."

So 9pm doesn't sound very late to us westerners, but in Nepal everything has to shut by 11pm. Walking out of the house at 7pm in Boudha will leave you with 80% of the shops already closed for the day. Only big restaurants stay open this late.

Now bring on Saturday. We have just visited monkey temple and we left for lunch around 8ish. We  heard so many raves about Flavor Cafe (yes, it's spelt the American way), so we decided to finally eat there. Our expectations were not let down. Pretty outdoor dining, excellent wifi AND trust-able western dishes & local (salad washed in iodinised water, anyone?). We had to stay there for as long as we can, we were getting internet withdrawal effects. In fact, the restaurant had to push the bill to our faces for us to get the message that we had to leave.

We started heading back around 10:30ish, talking about which desserts we want to try in flavor's, when we were greeted by a big, fat lock. Then came flooding back the memories of Tenzin telling us the gates get locked at around 9pm and Chowden telling us to take the gate keys if it's too late. "No worries, we had Chowden's number", we though, "We can call her and get her to open the gates for us." That was until Harriet scrolled through her contacts list twice and saw no sign of Chowden's name. We were locked out.

So this is when we worked like the A team. We all had different resources to get us out of this pickle. Harriet tried to climb over the gate but it seemed to be too good at guarding against intruders (that's a good thing, afterall) and we tried to flash the torch towards our flat but the view was probably blocked if not facing the wrong way for our housemates. I had Miss Tsultrim's number and Victoria had credit but the phone would't go through. We thought we could somehow contact Joanna about our flatmates' numbers. Luckily, Harriet had told her mom to call her an hour later in the restaurant. Perfect timing! I thought I had Joanna's number (house and flat) and I gave that to her. She called back moments later saying it had to be the wrong number. The conversation went like this:

'Hello' comes the reply from a guy with a thick Yorkshire accent.
'I don't think you are Joanna...'
'I don't think I am.'

We tried to give the number again in case it was wrong. There are no street lamps in our section of the road so we waited in the darkness. To make things worse, I really needed to pee. What would we do?

And then a miracle happened. A figure came into a balcony. Was it our balcony? YES! We jumped up and waved our arms in the air like we were trying to be rescued from a shipwreck. Our saviour, our hero! Chowden was soon running down the stairs and opened the gates for us. Turns out, she saw we left the gate keys and that we were still not back, so she decided to look out for us. We ran back to the flat and immediately demanded we had Chowden's number (and she took ours).

What would have happened if we were locked out? Sleep on the streets? Ask a stranger for their couch? God no! Boudha has plenty of guesthouses. We weren't terrified or annoyed at the situation. We laughed throughout the night and still look back at being looking that Chowden was looking our for us. As for Harriet's mum's second attempted at calling Joanna:

"Hello, is Joanna there?"
"This is Joanna's mum, Joanna is sick."
"I'm calling about her flat in Kathmandu."
"Joanna doesn't have a flat in Kathmandu..."

And the little voice in my head? It was telling me on Thursday I should take Chowden's number too with Harriet, but I thought I'd get it from Harriet later.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Welcome to Nepal

[P.S. I'll add photos as soon as I can, I promise! I'm typing this from an internet cafe and as far as I know, they don't have an SD slot.]

There's a certain type of mistiness in the air, the view is surrounded by mountains and there's a constant beeping from the motorbikes and cars. Welcome to Nepal.

I set off on Monday. My flight wasn't until 9.30 pm, so I was determined to see some of my old friends whom I haven't seen for months. We did some catching up over udons and compared how we at such different stages of life. My sisters were surprised to see me com back home later that day ('Why aren't you gone yet?!' 'Geez, thanks!'), which made me miss the days when they refused to let me leave and cuddle me to death. Why do kids think that not caring makes them look cool? My parents, on the other hand, found salvage in praying. Letting their daughter go away for 10 weeks wasn't how they'd expect me to celebrate being away from them for a year.

I've packed like twice already but with hours left before I leave for the airport, it just felt like I still had more to pack. Oh, maybe I should pack that cardigan or take that top. The biggest trouble was that I knew I was teaching at a Tibetan school but I didn't know how strict the dress code was. Did they strict or were they happy for us to teach in strappy tops? If they wanted me to cover up fully, how can I pack for both Malaysia and Nepal in a 35L bag?

The plane ride wasn't... pleasant. I was already bragging that I was taking the World's no.1 airline to and back (it was the cheapest option, somehow). I took plenty of things in my bag to keep my occupied: books, iPod, lesson plans for ideas. My problem was that I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to wake up just in time to land at my destination. I hate waiting. Trying to sleep on a plane is one of the most challenging things yet. I miss the days when I was young and my mom would just let me lie down on her lap and I could stretch my legs. Even last year, I took Air China (do not recommend), I had seats either side of me free, so I could happily lie down as rest as I wanted. No one was going to pass a ride on Qatar and although I was praying under my breath not to have a passenger next to me, it was hopeless. I kept changing positions every 5 minutes, even made up new positions, some involving resting your leg on the front seat pocket. I have enough moves to make a yoga book out of it.

The physical discomfort from the lack of sleep isn't the only worst thing about a plane ride, it's also how slowly time drags on. You know when you doze off and you start to lean to the side or forward until your reflex snaps you back awake , that happened more times than I would like, you might expect for at least 15 minutes to have passed. Nopes! Maybe 2 minutes if I'm lucky. On my second plane ride, it happened so many times before the plane even took off...! One of the most painful rides ever.

At least the food was decent.

The first thing you notice about Nepal's airport is how small and cosy it looks. My transfer was at Doha airport, which I'm pretty sure is bigger than Cambridge town itself. It was full of boutiques, gold shops and a Lamborghini or two. Nepal's airport, similar to Bangladesh's, was a small red brick building. Their visa on arrival was an assembly line that worker quicker than my bag's arrival. There isn't much to say, it's small and dark. Not very impressive but very functional.

I was picked up by the school's headmasters, which was very sweet of them. I got to see a sneak peak of Kathmandu as I travelled to my temporary home. All I can think of is that it looks like a less developed Dhaka, except that gives it some negative connotation. There's more greenery, it feels fresher and the beautiful mountain side view is not disturbed by high rise buildings or concretes. It's better this way.

I'm just going to sign off with a bit about my home. I'll talk about Manasarovar Academy and the amazing children in the next post. I'm living in Boudha, in an apartment with Joanna. I share a room with Victoria and Harriet, who I am working with, and there are two other students living with us. The room looks amazing.  may be saying that because it's much higher than my expectation. We have a view of the mountains and the marketplace at our doorstep. Our housemates are also very nice. One of them use to go to the Academy and he also takes us around Boudha, helping us try new restaurants and settling us in (re: sim card incident). I'm happy/very comfortable where I'm living and where I'm working. I hope things stay that way!