Nepal Through the Eyes of a Child

Today’s our last day in Nepal.  So for home school, we set the children a series of questions about Nepal to find out what they really think of it, what they’ve learned and what they’ll remember.  Here’s what they had to say, in their own words, with spelling and grammar mistakes uncorrected:-

1. Describe a journey in Nepal including 5 things that are different to England.

Evie:  If you want to make a bus journey in Nepal you have to be prepared for a wild, bumpy journey during which you will probabley feel sick.  Flashing by you catch glimses of mangy old dogs which doesn’t help your already horrible sick-feeling.  Next to all the dogs you find yourself rattling along a cliff ledge with a terrifying drop below you and a towering cliff above you.  When you finally reach your destination you find chat-pot stalls flashing by instead of the terrifying scenes that have already been described to you.

Scarlett:  When making a taxi journey in Nepal you might see a Chat-pot stall which you would not see in England.  A chat-pot stall is a tipe of street food.  It is a lot of dried noodles mixed with pulses and spices.  You also might see a half finished building held up by bamboo poles which stretch between one floor and the roof, criss-crossing.  Another thing you would see is mangy old dogs with bold patches all over them and grey skin.  They make me feel horrid!  You would deffinately see little, golden Buddhas sitting in the frames of a wound up window.  When the sun is up they will shine and twinkle in its reddish rays.  Finnaly, you might see the same Bamboo swings.  These are four bamboo poles stuck in the ground.  Two of them are criss-crossing on the right.  One bamboo pole with ropes hanging off it is resting on the criss-crossing on the ropes there is a plank of wood.

Jemima:

Trekking in the Nepal Everest Region

Everest looming up and fountain mist.  Sherpas carrying things on their heads and things with Everest in their names.  Little children saying, “Namaste”.  These are some of the things you might see along the way.

2.  Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have learned…

Scarlett:  In Nepal I have learned that honking your horn means “I’m coming past you!”  I have also learned that in Chitwan it is legal to ride Elephants in the street.  The last thing I’ve learned is that there is a lot of guest houses with the word ‘Everest’ in them.

Jemima:

  • Fractions
  • Desemals
  • Long Devision
  • I hate Kathmandu!

[Mum – perhaps we need to work on spellings next]

Evie:

  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Websites
  • Writing improvements
  • Stories
  • Art
  • The tallest mountain in the world is in Nepal

3. Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have enjoyed…

Scarlett:  In Nepal I have enjoyed having elephants.  I have also enjoyed having both Mummy and Daddy with me.  Lastly, I have enjoyed playing.

Evie:

  • Elephant bath time
  • Mountain views
  • Bright flowers

Jemima:

  • Chitwan
  • Mountain views
  • Elephants

4. Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have endured…

Jemima:  In Nepal, I have endured going up Gokyo Ri and getting half an altitude headache; bus journeys and feeling sick on them; trying to manage with only half a suger lump in my tea when I like a full one; living in Kathmandu when there is no where to play.

Evie:  In Nepal, I have endured bus journeys because they are bumpy and seem to take forever; climbing to Gokyo in the wind and the snow; watching Tettie break her leg.

Scarlett:  In Nepal, I have endured going up Gokyo Ri.  It was so hard.  And what did I come up for?  An altitude headache!  I have also endured having a broken leg.  But I’m over that now.  The last thing I want to talk about that I’ve endured is a terrible taxi journey.

5. Describe a Nepali person you have met.  Include what they look like, their personality and your opinion of them.

Evie:  This person’s name is Phurba Sherpa.  He is a half-famous porter-guide who travelled with us and helped us carry our bags and find our way.  He had black hair, brown skin and was very kind.  We travelled with another porter called Hari who doesn’t speak English.  Phurba kept shouting, “Hari, O Hari!” over and over again.  Our whole family liked Phurba and he bought us lots of sweets!

Jemima: Phurba Sherpa!

He is a porter-guide and Daddy is half way through making a website about him.  He is small and happy with black hair and brown eyes.  If he goes with a porter called Hari he is always shouting, “O Hari, O Hari!” over and over again.  He is kind and kept buying us sweets!  I like him.

Scarlett:  I’m going to describe my friend.  I met him in Chitwan National Park.  His name was Bharat Kattel.  Every elephant bathtime he would play the tiger moving game with me.  Like all Nepalese people he had brown skin and a long nose.  He was friendly and said I was clever at the tiger moving game.  He gave me a 400 discount for a copy of the tiger moving game.  He makes a lot of jokes.  I love him and miss him when he’s away.

6. Make 3 recommendations for an English person who is planning to visit Nepal.

Jemima:

  • Go to Chitwan and do an elephant safari because it is brilliant.
  • Stay in Kathmandu the least time you can with children.
  • Visit the monkey temple but don’t touch the monkeys because they might have deseases but do go because it is one of the few exciting places in Kathmandu

Scarlett:

  • I recommend not to stay in Kathmandu long because it is REALY noisy
  • Go on a jeep safari if you ever go to Chitwan.  This is because you get ever so far into the jungle.
  • Lastly go trekking because of the view.

Evie:

  • Go to Chitwan and do Elephant Bath Time because it is totally brilliant
  • Don’t stay in Kathmandu because the air is polluted
  • Go to Pokhara because the lake is fun and not polluted in the middle so you can swim in it

7. Finish this sentence:  The thing I will most remember about Nepal is…

Scarlett:  The thing I will remember most about Nepal is the elephants.  They were like huge boulders rumbling along the road with the mahoots balancing on top.

Evie:  The thing I will remember most about Nepal is the elephants because they had different faces.  They towered above people, motorbikes and horse and carts.  They are hairy and tickle your legs when you sit on them!

Jemima:  The thing I will most remember about Nepal is the elephants because it was the first time I had ever seen them.  They are hit a lot by the mahoots which makes me feel sorry for them.

He’s Back!

Welcome Back

Hooray, he’s back safe and… he has the parcel!

Here’s the welcome party, complete with Harry Potter outfits, a home-made banner and party food. All suggested by the girls, they really did miss their Daddy.

Thank you so much to Avril and Rob, the parcel feels like a real haul of goodies! Acquiring the parcel from customs was rather a saga, but I’ll let Ferg update you on the full story.

The main thing is that Scarlett how has her waterproof cast cover ready for Thailand’s beaches, there’s real English chocolate for Christmas Day, and we can all have a lovely cup of Redbush tea… wonderful.

Welcome Back

Kathmandu, We’ll Soon Be Seeing You

We’re free! It’s 6am and were all loaded onto the bus waiting to set off back to Sauraha, next to Chitwan National Park.

It was late yesterday by the time Scarlett was discharged from hospital, then, this being Nepal, there was a last minute problem with the internet so we couldn’t get all the paperwork we needed. We were promised it would be sent on but we’ve learned in the last few months that these things are much better sorted out on the spot, so we waited around in our room for an extra few hours.

Eventually we left. But with all out bags and bodies, and Scarlett in her plaster cast and with crutches, there was no way we were going to fit in one vehicle. The hospital had arranged an ambulance for Scarlett which we crammed with as many bags as possible (plus Scarlett and Janet, of course).

The ambulance screeched off into the mental Kathmandu rush hour traffic, sirens blaring. Me, Evie and Jem watched it weave across a packed intersection then tramped off to find a taxi. I was worried that Janet would be stranded with both Scarlett and a mountain of baggage but luckily our taxi driver was equal to the mentalness of the traffic, and without even the aid of a siren, managed to arrive across town mere moments after the ambulance.

We’d splurged on a more expensive hotel for the night – the original Kathmandu Guest House where The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix once stayed – because unlike all the other Thamel guest houses, it has both a garden and restaurant on the ground floor. Not something I’d normally pay $45 a day for but I really didn’t want Scarlett to brave the hectic, pavementless streets of Thamel yet nor did I dare carry her around. Even with able-bodied children, the streets of Thamel take all my concentration to navigate.

We didn’t have tickets to leave Kathmandu yet, and there was loads of organising that needed to be done to clear things with the insurance company and see if we can fly out of Nepal with Scarlett in a full-leg cast, so Janet went off to a cybercafe while I stayed with our girls in the garden.

It as fine at first. Evie and Jem went off exploring, occasionally popping out of flowerbeds or dashing across the lawn, while Scarlett and I did slow circuits of the paths to help her practice with her crutches.

Then Scarlett announced that she needed a wee. And, of course, she was bursting. It was coming. Now.

I immediately began to consider the logistics. Two children off hiding in the undergrowth. One too slow on crutches to reach the toilet in time. No idea where the toilet was.

Letting her crutches fall, I picked up Scarlett, tramped around the lawn calling for her sisters and, having finally found them behind some flowerpots, got Jemima to retrieve the crutches and set off inside. Evie had been to the toilet with Janet earlier, so I asked her to lead the way. So far, so good.

Except, after five minutes wandering through the surprisingly extensive hotel, I began to suspect that Evie was lost. Our next turn took us back into the garden. Yes, she was lost. And my arms were burning from Scarlett’s weight.

Abandoning the search for a downstairs toilet, we made a dash our room. Negotiating the stairs in flip flops while carrying a child who was becoming heavier by the second was made no easier by Jemima leading the way on crutches and a constant barrage of requests from Evie to use the iPad while Tettie was on the loo but eventually we reached our bedroom door.

Wrestling the crutches back from Jemima, I put Scarlett down, found the key and opened the door. I hovered behind her as she hopped inside, managing to keep her balance despite her sisters barging past. I turned to close the door, and CRASH!

She’d fallen. While I was turned, she’d set off again and her crutch had slipped on a rucksack strap. She was crying, gasping in pain, whimpering, “My fractures, my fractures!”

It was all I could do not to burst into tears myself. For first time since we set off in September, I just wanted to be at home, with Scarlett comfortably on the sofa , the other two in the garden, bouncing happily on the trampoline and everything we needed to be safe and secure.

I think Scarlett must have picked up on my upset. After I’d carefully laid her on the bed she started being very brave, telling me earnestly, “I’ll be ok in a minute daddy. Don’t worry.” If anything, I now felt worse.

After half an hour or so and with Scarlett restored by the combined soothing powers of cuddles, ibuprofen, paracetamol and Harry Potter, I was able to carry her carefully down to the guesthouse’s restaurant where, once again, having a garden paid off. I sat with Scarlett while her sisters had somewhere to play (does jumping out on guests from bushes and singing “namaste” count as playing?).

Eventually Janet returned and, with two adults, everything became manageable once more. Plus she’d managed to get tickets out of Kathmandu for the next morning. We were headed back to lovely Sauraha – the only place in Nepal we could imagine holing up for any time with an injured child.

I think Sauraha will be much easier. Scarlett can sit still not he veranda, the lawn or in one of the nice shady huts; I could even string up my hammock. Her sisters can play. There are fewer distractions, fewer dangers, fewer stairs. We know our way around. Of course the fact that Scarlett was able-bodied last time we were here may prove frustrating for her, but we also did a lot of schoolwork there, which she’ll be able to join in with despite her immobility.

Until we return to Kathmandu in three weeks anyway…

Moving On

In the Garden at Traveller's Jungle Camp

We’ve finally decided to uproot ourselves from our lovely guesthouse here in Sauraha – the Travellers’ Jungle Camp. By the time we leave on Saturday, we will have been here two and a half weeks. Not long in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but compared to trekking it seems an age.

Up in the mountains, we moved on every day. Having to repack all our stuff ready for a 6 or 7am start each morning meant we rarely unpacked much in the evenings which, in turn, meant none of our rooms ever felt much like home. Even in Gokyo we only stayed a few nights before our itchy feet drove us on.

When we got back to Kathmandu we stayed nearly a week but our time there was enforced rather than voluntary. We had to arrange Indian visas, the weather was torrential, and the festival of Desain (kind of like a Nepalese Christmas but with more animal sacrifice) had just begun when we arrived back, meaning everything official was closed and many non-official things like shops and cafés, too, as people went back to their villages to celebrate.

And even with the streets quieter than normal, Kathmandu traffic is still terrifying when you’re shepherding kids around. In fact, there really isn’t much open space in Kathmandu at the best of times, meaning the kids spent much of the time bouncing off the walls of our hotel room or cafés.

All of which added up to Kathmandu falling very firmly into the category of “not much fun”.

So when we arrived in Sauraha it was a double relief. We got to stay still and relax, but we also had space. In fact, we chose a guesthouse based solely their having a resident elephant which was, of course, awesome. But it turned out to be better in even more ways.  The gardens here are long and grassy, and divided up into enough parts that the girls can move around, exploring for ages. The food’s cheap and tasty and we can eat on our veranda rather than the restaurant, which means the girls don’t have to be on their best behaviour.

It wasn’t long before a routine began to establish itself. I generally wake up early so I’d chill out reading until one or two of the girls woke up, then we’d snuggle in a single bed and play Small World on the iPad until Janet or the third girl woke up, too. Then we’d all do sun salutes (Janet’s been teaching us all yoga to make us all into proper hippy travellers) and wander out to the veranda where we’d order a big pot of tea and some breakfast.

After breakfast, the girls would go and take the elephant some bananas then we’d do “jungle school” (mostly Janet teaching maths while I helped the girls hand-code website projects one at a time).

Around eleven, we’d all roll down to elephant bath time for some elephant washing, rising and splashing about in he river, staying there until the last elephant left at which point we’d have to evacuate in case the crocodiles came back.

Then more  “jungle school” until early afternoon before wandering up either the village’s one street or along the river and ending up at the only proper restaurant in town, KC’s, where the girls would play in the long garden while Janet and I chilled out over a beer until tea time.

Later we’d stroll back for story time and bed, ready for it to all start again.

And so day after day passed. It felt like we were in slow-mo sometimes, as almost everybody else in our guesthouse would stay for two or maybe three days. They’d arrive from the mountains by bus, do an elephant safari, elephant bath, jeep safari, watch a Tharu stick dance and take a canoe trip down the river, then shoot off again having done every activity on offer in a matter of days when we only just managed to squeeze them all into over two weeks. And we never did get round to the canoe trip. Nor the stick dance. Although having see Stomp on the Royal Variety Show a few times and heard the stick dance going on from across town, I don’t think we missed much.

If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure why we are leaving. Sure, we’ve done everything there is to do here (canoeing and stick dance excluded) several times over but we’re very happy. And having decided not to do India any more, we have ton of time left here in Nepal.

Is it because we’re still near the start of our trip and I want travelling to include, well, more travel? Is it momentum left over from trekking? Am I subliminally trying to avoid having to sit on an elephant and be squirted with high-velocity river water again (which was fun the first few times…)?

Whatever the case, we’ll soon be back on the road, heading up into the mountains for another trek; perhaps even the huge Annapurna Circuit.

But even with the soothing routine and constant new horizons of trekking, I think we’ll miss it here. It’s felt like home.

Best Bath Ever

by Evie

Elephant bath time is a fun and exciting, scary and wet event which is on almost every day; you just need to know the way! You can ask passers by the way if you need.

This event happens in a crocodile-invaded river, however the elephants scare them away! The water is ice cold and dirty so if you get it in your mouth: spit.

Elephant Squirt

For fifty Rs. It is possible to ride on an elephant and get sprayed with water from your elephant’s trunk!

The Crocodile Game

The sound of people screaming has no impact on the lovely effect of this event! This event is extremely fun; in fact three adorable triplets have been sighted at the bath time, jumping and pushing each other over, laughing their heads off!

A Bumpy, Itchy Ride

If you want to ride an elephant, you have to be prepared for the bumpy, itchy ride where you get soaked to the skin. When the event is on, it happens at 11 o’clock and when it is you should go! The best bits are the elephant ride and just playing!

Splashing About

The few dangers with this event are getting washed away and eaten, getting trodden on by an elephant, not noticing the elephants getting out and getting yourself eaten, going too far out and getting eaten and, basically, drowning. Don’t be afraid, it’s not likely at all.

[This was Evie’s ‘Write a Newspaper Article Challenge’. It was typed up, paragraphized and spelling-corrected by Dad but otherwise all Evie’s work. Only 6 wrong spellings, too, which is brilliant.]

A Jungle Bumper

Mahoot's Awaiting Elephant Safari

by Jemima

Every day in Chitwan National Park people can go on an elephant safari at 7 or 8am. It is a fun activity lasting about an hour that people need a National Park Permit for. Chitwan is in Sauraha, Nepal. The park permit is 1500 rupees per person. Children are free.

There are lots of people there. Some people are tourists and some people are Nepalese. Behind the fence there are lots of elephants with people on the front and the passengers behind in a sort of box with a cushion on the floor for the people to sit on. Some have riders, some don’t.

The elephants are coming and going – elephants appearing out of the forest and elephants walking away into the distance as far as these visitors can see.

When you get on an elephant is best not to spoil anything except that on the ride you get hit in the face by branches and that sometimes the wildlife is there and sometimes not. It is a very bumpy ride but you get used to it.

Elephant Friends

As you wait to go up on your platform, from which you must step carefully onto the elephant’s bottom and into the box, you can smell the hot air and the elephants all around you. When you go onto the elephant, however, you can smell sweet air through the desert of leaves. As you wait you also hear the shouting of mahoots as they urge their giant shopkeepers to the desk! There is also the noise of people chatting as they feed bananas to the elephants who are sticking their heads over the fence to say hello to the newcomers!

Elephant Safari

On the elephant you can hear the chattering of birds and occasionally the mahout telling you the name of wildlife. As the people chatter they are too busy to notice the gentle touch of the elephant and the cool breeze brushing your face, asking you to follow it to the place far from the pouring sun.

As you ride the trees shade you but it is hot. Bumping and jumping you can taste the sweet, sweet air. The elephant’s scent covers up the scent of the human so the wildlife isn’t scared away.

All Aboard our Elephant (Poody)

It makes a lot of people feel like they want to it to carry on forever but towards the end, they start getting hungry and want to get off.

It is 1000 rupees each. To get there you need a jeep for 50 rupees. The jeep is extremely fun but also extremely bumpy.

[This was Jemima’s ‘Write a Newspaper Article Challenge’. It was typed up, paragraphized and spelling-corrected by Dad but otherwise all Jemima’s work. Only 6 wrong spellings, too, which is brilliant.]