Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Kathmandu in all its crazy glory

PROJECT: Teaching, living with a host family
WRITTEN BY: Jack Murphy

Hi All!

Arriving in Kathmandu as a westerner with a big pack on your back you attract instantly the attention of the horde of Nepali men, eager to help you in anyway you need. It was not until helped into the taxi that they inform you of the demanded, hefty ‘service fee’. Frantically dodging dogs and stray cows, other bikes and cars, all while not wearing a seatbelt (ahh scary!), we made our way to the hotel. My driver clearly ignored the one set of traffic lights that worked but thankfully we made it to the hotel in one piece. I gratefully collapsed into a rather hard but comfortable bed.

Come morning, we were greeted with a Nepalese take on the continental breakfast. The group and I ventured out and adventured eagerly into the markets surrounding our hotel. It was not until the sun was out and we started mixing with the locals that the culture shock really set in. The smells and noises of hanging pig carcasses and taxis buzzing by were mixing with all of the shops. They sell everything from Gurka Knives to marijuana incense! All Nepali market virgins, we were swarmed by shopkeepers and street merchants, though thankfully now we’ve learned the firm no and shake of the hand to ward them off!

We finished our eventful day with a lovely dinner with out new found friends and a pint of Everest beer.

The next day was filled with much the same, treks through the dense markets except this time we all came out with a few pairs of hippie pants! How I’ve lived 18 years without experiencing this level of comfort is unknown to me! Safe to say on my return to Australia my uniform will consist only of hippie pants and thongs - Bliss!

After already venturing through the markets the day earlier this time we went out searching for a bit of ‘western style’ comforts. Thankfully we found them in the form of the Himalayan Java Café and The OR2K Restaurant. The café sells the most delicious milkshakes that come in Oreo flavor! I happen to be tucking into two of them now as I right this blog. The restaurant offered fantastic food and a lovely rooftop view of the city as the sunset serenely over the surrounding mountains. Safe to say at that point we were all feeling well chuffed and thoroughly in love with our new environment.

Day three we were all in for some serious sightseeing! After a late breakfast we were all shuttled of to a large Hindu temple where each day Hindu devotees perform sacred death ceremonies on the banks of a river in the heart of Kathmandu. After a very moving and emotional ceremony, we witnessed a son performing his own father’s cremation in the public area beside the river (see photos for better explanation). Being such a new experience we were all a bit taken aback but look back on it as the most powerful experience thus far.

Afterwards we ventured on through the very hectic traffic to the great Buddhist Stuppa. This landmark appears on just about every Nepalese postcard there is, but to see it in person was incredible! The size of the monument and the people surrounding it was a fantastic and fascinating combo. It’s a very important Buddhist landmark with prayer wheels and other religious iconography and architecture. In fact it’s the largest of its kind in Asia. Here we were lucky enough to get our picture taken with an extremely dedicated male model who attempted various different expressions, poses, outfits and locations before getting the perfect snap.

From here we headed to the Monkey Temple. It’s a fairly hectic and bumpy bus ride up to a fantastic view of the Kathmandu valley. It was from here that the sprawling metropolis can be taken in fully and you realize how nestled it is amongst the surrounding mountains.

For dinner we headed once again to our now favourite café Himalayan Java for club sandwiches and Oreo/Chocolate Brownie milkshakes – our last piece of heaven before we vacate to the village where chocolate and sugar will be things of the past!

Kathamdu is a wonderfully vibrant, buzzing city. There has been so much for our senses to digest and after such a full on introduction to this wonderful country, we are all looking forward to the laid back, relaxed village lifestyle and clean fresh air. Looking forward to getting the teaching caps on!!

Namaste until next week!

Jack and Nepali Gang.

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