Our time in Thamel, Kathmandu

Namaste everyone! I hope everything is well with all of you. I had hoped to be able to upload photos with this entry but unfortunately this computer does not seem to recognise either my memory card reader or my camera so they should (fingers crossed) follow in due course.

The journey here wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected, it was only the long wait at Heathrow that was mildly annoying. The flight to Dehli was pretty busy but the food was surprisingly good and the layover was only a few hours long. The flight from Dehli to Kathmandu was really short and I had a pretty good view of the mountains as we flew over them. The most exciting part of the journey however was seeing my bag on the luggage carousel in Kathmandu. My biggest fear had been that I would arrive and my bag wouldn’t.

We met up with Olivia and Gaurav just outside the airport and we drove off towards our guest house in a mini bus. The driving here is insane. There are no traffic lights and hardly any road markings either. The drivers have amazing spatial awareness – something which I can only dream of. When we arrived at Thorong Peak Guest House in Thamel the first thing we did was drink some Nepali Chia (tea) – it’s so yummy!! Then we went to find our room. Freya and I shared a room on the 4th floor with an amazing view from our balcony and only a few steps away from a very pretty roof terrace. I still can’t get my head around the view of the hills.

Our first experience of Nepalese food was pretty amazing too. The portions here are massive – I don’t understand how the Nepali people are so small. We had Momos for a starter which are basically dumplings stuffed with either chicken or veg. At this point I thought that the Momos were the whole meal because they are so filling. Then arrived the biggest plate of rice ever which I assumed was going to be shared around but 3 more followed shortly after. We must have looked so stupid because when the Dahl Baat arrived we thought it was soup, and ate it as so, when in fact you are meant to pour it over the rice. We also had some chicken and veg with it and it wasn’t too spicy for me – another of my fears! After dinner we hit the hay and I slept so well despite the really loud British club music blaring from a local bar.

On our first full day we went to visit Pashupatinath where we saw cremations being performed just across the river. We saw almost every stage of the cremation process as there were about 5 being performed at any one time. The body is carried to the side of the river where a short ceremony is performed before being taken to one of the cremation areas. The body is carried in a circle around the site 3 times before it is put down and the priest says his words and the corpse is lit. We also saw the disparity in wealth when just on the other side of the bridge (were the royals are cremated) there was a very different cremation taking place. This time a bamboo and marigold shelter was created and the whole area was swamped in marigolds. We watched this cremation from a hill on the other side of the river which also gave us a really good view of the Pashupatinath Temple itself. The whole roof was made from gold and so I can only imagine that the inside would have been just as amazing (only Hindus are allowed in). We crossed the bridge and walked to the minibus which drove us to Boudhanath area. Here we were allowed to walk around the temple and even spin the prayer wheels! We ate oven fired pizzas in a restaurant overlooking the temple which was being replastered. We walked back through Old Kathmandu which has some really ornate shutters.

We started our induction the next day and learnt the numbers 0-40 and some general terms such as ‘My name is Emma’ which is ‘Mehro nahm Emma ho.’ We sat on the roof terrace which was so nice and sunny. At lunch we were taught how to properly eat Dahl Baat with your fingers and then in the afternoon we taught each other about the Caste system, the different Nepali groups, women in society and the geography and geology of the Himalayas. At dinner, Freya received an offer from Cambridge which called for a celebration on the roof terrace which involved a couple of rounds of Ring of Fire.

The following day we learned the numbers 41-80, days of the week, some foods and shopping phrases and tried to teach Gaurav’s cousin, Sussil, how to play Bullshit. He didn’t understand the concept of having to lie when you don’t have the right cards. In the afternoon we practised learning games which was just an excuse to have a lot of fun. In the evening Olivia henna’d us all and then we went to bed.

Yesterday, we learned the numbers 81-100, more foods, measures of time and weight, colours and parts of the body. In the afternoon we went to the Garden of Dreams and had Masala Chia in the Kaiser Cafe. It was a lovely, relaxed and quiet place to visit. We went out for dinner in the evening and then Gaurav took us to a really nice jazz bar where we met lots of locals and had a really good time.

Today we leave for Besisahar, where we will spend the next couple of months teaching English.

Hope this was somewhat interesting. I’ll post as soon as I can.

Lots of love,

Emma xxx