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!

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