Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Chitwan National Park, a crying baby and rhino or two
PROJECT: Teaching, living with a host family
WRITTEN BY: Jack Murphy
So another two Nepali weeks have passed, and with it, more stuff to talk about and plenty of cool pictures to show. These past two weeks for the group have unfortunately been shadowed by illness. Each of us have taken it in turns to be down in the dumps, though with the weekend just passing, we are all feeling better after spending the past two weeks freefalling 160m and touring around all David Attenborough like in Chitwan National Park.. So with plenty to report I’ll get stuck in.
First up for Anna Mitch and I, teaching these past two weeks have been about establishing our routines as well as experiencing feelings of apprehension for the next month to come. This week definitely for me at least, saw the last of my ‘cool new guy’ status wear off with my students, and replaced by ‘another boring teacher’ status. My year 3 class this week has been particularly difficult. With class starting on a high note with lesson plans and activities set out, it usually descends quite quickly into any game that will keep the kids from going crazy with boredom. I was certainly feeling the language barrier this week with the kids.
Our version of classroom discipline, as the group and I have since discovered, is quite ineffective as discipline in the schools and home is quite often of the physical kind. And being very very hesitant to immerse ourselves that deep into Nepali culture, the group is left to use the occasional raised voice, which the kids seem to shrug off. So it is up to us, and the games to keep the classroom a fun and safe place for this kids to hopefully gain some form of education from these very ‘out of their depth’ teachers.
Apart from the challenges of teaching the kids in the classroom, the school environment presents other challenges for the group. Friday last week was quite a confronting day for me as a teacher. Midway through a class, a dad from across the street came into my classroom as I was teaching. With 1yr toddler in hand he left his child on the floor and walked out of the classroom with only a wave before locking the door behind him on the way out. The kid, unsurprisingly, went absolutely ballistic, a proper weapon of mass distraction for the classroom of 12 year olds I only just managed to settle. Quite taken aback, I opened the door to find the dad had walked back to his house, with the clear idea that I would look after his infant for him for the rest of the day, quite undeterred by the distress of his child. Unfortunately this complacent and irresponsible attitude is not limited to one parent, but is rather an outlook of many parents of the village.
Fortunately however, with the bad comes the good, and only a few days ago I spent my lunch time running around with the kids. Being 2 metres tall is quite the novelty for these kids and after countless shoulder rides, soccer games, and tips all feelings of apprehension to the school evaporated, replaced with a happy sense of satisfaction. It seems that this teaching business attracts both the good and the bad experiences, which is something I think we’re all starting to get at the moment. Hopefully these next few weeks will bring on some more good times! – Stay tuned
Apart from the teaching last week, on Wednesday, the group decided on a camping trip to nearby Nagarkot. Nagarkot, as previously reported, is a very famous Himalayan lookout point for the surrounding region, and after meeting a very cool and chilled back café owner, we managed to get our hands on some tents and some firewood. After a steep trek up the mountain, we reached the summit where the café owner PJ supplied us with some tents and a fire pit with which to embark on our midweek adventure. The camp itself proved to be lots of fun, and the perfect escape for the six-day straight teaching trek that was this week. And also, we were blessed with toasted Nutella coated marshmallows, but more importantly our first Himalayan View!
That Friday, with the recovery of the whole crew, we very excitedly boarded the village bus on our usual pilgrimage to the capital. That weekend however instead of our usual browniccino binge, the group again flexing their extreme sports muscles, took up the challenge of bungy jumping, With much anticipation, butterflies and jelly legs we each took it in turn to brave the 160m freefall (3rd highest in the world) with lots of laughs from the onlooking group members. The verdict- Insane!! But a hell of a lot of fun. Can’t wait to do it again! Go-Pro footage is on its way, so if you thought you were being cheated of odd facial expressions and high pitch screaming fear not! The footage should be up for next week’s blog.
(Segway to this week’s activity)
Following our exciting weekend of bungy and screams, the group this week embarked on our much-anticipated tour of Chitwan National Park. This park in the south of Nepal bordering India is famous for the wildlife, beautiful scenery and of course the elephants!
I’m happy to report that Chitwan did not disappoint! The group spent 3 days in the heat to; Bath with elephants, relax and enjoy a beautiful sunrise canoe down the bordering river (complete with croc escort), jungle walk, jeep safari, enjoy traditional dances and embark on an Elephant ride safari. Each activity was fantastic and the break from hustling Kathmandu to calm and green Chitwan was well received by us all.
Highlights- the elephant bathing and the elephant safari. Getting up close with these giant animals and having a very one sided water fight with them will be something I wont forget. They are stunning animals and being able to ride them and interact with them was awesome! The elephant safari, which basically entailed four of us precariously, perched atop a VERY large male elephant riding through the jungle on the hunt for some wildlife. Because of the very little noise that the elephants make, apparently spotting wildlife is much easier. The animals that day however proved elusive for us as we were all paired with some very rowdy Indian ‘Spring breakers’ or so we thought for the amount of noise they made. Alas not a tiger was spotted that day. However the novelty of riding an elephant was enough to satisfy our safari fantasies and we all departed feeling very Attenborough ish. – Still on the hunt for a safari suit.
The jeep safari was also memorable, and we even managed to sneak up on 3 adult Rhino and a baby and have monkeys dart about our heads on the tree branches above. Our very enthusiastic guide leader provided the soundtrack for that afternoon with his rendition of all the animal calls he knew (a very extensive list). The verdict is still out on wether or not these calls attracted any animals.
There is so much to say about our time there, but I think ill let our photos do some of the talking as well, we caught some absolute stunners and with the beautiful scenery and all the animals we were in a photographers paradise. So please enjoy!
As for village life, its still delightful and this week with all the rain we’ve been blessed with a stunning view of the valley and the Himalayas from our very own bedroom window. The photos cannot do it justice but I promised I tried my best! Hopefully you can all grasp that little bit of bliss that the group and I get each time we sit on the balcony and take in the surrounds. Complete with a Jack Johnson soundtrack and a Nepali tea, what could be better? Am I sounding more like a hippie? Perhaps it’s the new pants and the incense…
So until next week,