Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Faces of Pokhara

Hello lovely people,

I’ve officially completed my volunteering here in Nepal. I’m happy to have finished my project but I am left wanting to do more. I had conflicting feelings coming here. In undergrad/gradschool I learned a lot about policy, community development and specifically the impositions of the western world onto “underdeveloped” countries. Part of me felt that I would become that imposition by intervening with a culture the I knew very little of.

Thank yous…

I first was exposed to the South Asian community in high school when I volunteered at a women’s shelter. That is actually what initially gave me the idea to do social work. It was not until 2013 when I had a community development internship in a government housing community, that I began to really understand some of the South Asian cultures; and fell in love with the community of women. I have been fortunate enough to also be mentored by very passionate people who offered such insight that I continue to use today (shout out to Joanne, Neil, Evan, Anuja, Pila, Lucrecia, Jaime, Kavita and Tara if you are reading!) All of them in different ways taught me a lot about domestic and cultural violence, community development, community engagement and volunteering abroad. They have each individually inspired me to be who I am personally and professionally today and collectively pushed me to come here. They also showed me the ways in which community service can be altruistic if done in a particular way, and thank you for showing me that way.

A word of advice…

I came here with an open mind, a willingness to give, but more specifically, a willingness to be utilized in whatever ways that the community needed me. My offer of advice to anyone who wants to volunteer abroad, is to recognize that volunteering is selfish in many ways, understand how self-validating and question our feelings of reward, and then ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Giving is a reciprocal process of gain and give, and at times, we may gain more than we give. Remember what the purpose is for, and do not complain when you are not using your skills in the ways that you expected to. Do not feel humbled because you feel better off, feel humbled because you are learning so much more from people that you never would have previously. Learn the lessons of every situation, do not dwell on the negative aspects of it. Do not assume you know more, because you don’t. Let them lead you, and you offer what you know. Do not feel shy to get dirty and live locally, it will probably be the best thing you ever do.

On that note, live locally. I don’t think any traveling experience that I have had thus far comes close; not even that time I lived in Italy to learn Italian, even then it did not feel this way. Thank you to the Gurung family for giving me that experience. Not gonna lie, I cried leaving, and laughed hard reading your goodbye notes haha. Finally, (thanks Vivek!) learn to trust people; don’t assume every stranger is going to have bad intentions hahaha.

The paradise called Pokhara…

This week I had the opportunity to kick back a few beers in a paradise called Pokhara. I was there a couple of days before meeting up with my two friends at our guest house. Having the opportunity to be alone for the first time since arriving in Nepal was much needed. I rented a bike and took off, allowing myself to stop and talk to anyone who I had a good feeling about. As a result I had the randomest week ever. Here are the highlights of some memorable encounters. Enjoy!

 

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A Tibetan refugee Dolma. She came over as a young child, being carried by her mother and since cannot leave Nepal. She also cannot get a Nepali passport so essentially she is stuck here. She’s been hand making Tibetan jewelry for 30 years and has someone cross the border to bring in materials that she buys. She sells independently and you can find her by Lakeside East.

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Musician Prem has been playing the Nepali Sarangi his whole life. His father and grandfather were also musicians and taught him what he knows. He hand carved this Sarangi and taught me to play the scale by the Phewa lake. When not selling instruments, he plays in his band.

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After biking uphill to Seti River Gorge, I met Ram who stands at the end, inviting tourists to take photos with him. He then asks you to mail him a copy of the photo so he can add it to his collection (you can see behind him), a collection he’s been doing for lord knows how long. He has one black and white photo of his mother doing this, so that gives you an idea of how long haha. He then invited me to his home which is right beside the river and introduced me to his farm animals and family.

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Saroj is a hotel manager at the guesthouse that I stayed at. Originally from Chitwan, he is very passionate about his job and it shows when he interacts with anyone who comes in. Knowing that I was alone for a couple of days, he offered to show me Begnas Lake during his break. He took me where only locals swam and even let me drive on the motorbike. You can see behind Nepali children bathing.

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The Dutch couple, aka Camiel and Lizzy, who met up with me in Pokhara. If ever you had doubts that soul-mates existed, just have dinner with these two. They are looking at the amazing view of Pokhara from the World Peace Pagoda

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Me taking a solo swim in Begnas Lake looking at the waterfall.

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Meet Vince, the most frightening yet funny pilot and person you will ever meet. Funny in that he told me his company has killed 19 people in their history of running. Yah, really funny. The real answer was zero by the way. Vince is originally from France and he has been paragliding for over 10 years now. He currently is training to Base Jump.

Here are some more photos taken…

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The view of Phewa Lake and the boating dock.

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Walking through Gupta Cave was beautiful but so terrifying.

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On my bike ride I randomly decided to go through the farming communities and took this shot of locals drying out their clothes in the sun

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And then there is the view of the Annapurna Himalaya range…the reason why you travel to Pokhara and wake up in the middle of the night to see.

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A Letter For Someone Special

It is 5:15 am and I’m having another dream about you. Last night my host sister asked me how old you were when you died and told me that the photo of you on my phone hugging me is nice.

I used to dream a lot; dream a lot about a lot of nothing. After you died I stopped dreaming, or just stopped remembering my dreams. Nearly a year later I began to dream again. Since arriving in Nepal I haven’t had many good dreams that I can remember. I think that I push all of my sad thoughts to the night and then have nightmares about them. Nightmares about many people that I used to know but do not now, nightmares of feeling alone, of being abandoned, nightmares that I am not good enough.

Last night though I didn’t have a nightmare. I dreamt that you were alive and you were able to watch me and what I am doing here. In my dream though, you died again except this time I didn’t cry. Everyone around me did, but I didn’t.

You are probably the person I think of the most while I am here. I wonder what you can see, what you can feel, if you can feel. I wonder if you know that I do what I do because of you?

I have memories of you. Memories of us. Memories of you telling me about the painful moments in your life. You did so without crying. You shared from a place of strength. You possessed a strength that I still continue to strive for today. I see that strength in every survivor of trauma that I meet. And when I see them I see you and I feel braver not more scared.

If you can feel how I feel, what I feel, then you know that I miss you. I rarely say it because I try not to acknowledge the pain, but I miss you so much.

If I can ask of anything, it’s for the feeling of certainty that I am in the right direction. If I can ask of anything, it’s to put my mind at rest from the past that keeps haunting my sleep. If I can ask of anything, it’s to help me move forward free from resentment and full of forgiveness. If I can ask of anything, it’s that you know that in everything that I do, I do for the two strongest women that have made me who I am today. My two mothers; the one reading this in Canada and the one I’m writing to now.

Thank you,

Crystal

Categories: Regurgitated Thoughts | 1 Comment

Video of My Leap of Faith

Hallooo family and friends, I finally got around to uploading the video for those who wanted to hear me screaming, and yes I screamed. These were the reasons why I decided to jump off of a bridge:

  1. To let go of always wanting full control over everything in my life and try to put trust in another human being
  2. To show myself that I can put an impossible dream in my mind and achieve it, no matter how irrational or scary
  3. To trust that my life and life’s plan extends far beyond today and I will not let inhibitions or fear hold me back from it
  4. Because It’s badass

Sorry the video quality is poor, but you’ll get the gist. Take care! -CS

Categories: Nepal | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Recent Blizzard in the Himalayas: News Update

Hey family and friends,

Obviously, I’m still alive (I’m posting this after all). My deepest sympathies go out to the people who have died on the mountain including the 4 Canadians, and to those who are still missing. Apparently the Canadian embassy has not released the names of people yet, but fear not I am clearly not on that list. People have been contacting me to make sure I’m not on my trek yet, so I thought this would be the fasted way to reply to everyone.

The news articles say that over 20 have died now and more are still missing. People at my volunteer organization were also warning me about the recent news. It’s been a kind of scary morning trying to decide what I should do, moving forward.

As far as I know, there was a cyclone in India this week. Kathmandu was hit hard with rain; more rain than I ever remember seeing, even in my childhood! This caused a blizzard to affect the Annapurna Circuit. This is the western point of the Himalayas and Everest Base Camp (EBC) is in the eastern part, farthest from India (a thanks to Prajana for explaining this to me haha). My volunteer manager also explained that by November 1st the weather should settle down.

I called GAdventures who is the company that is taking me on the trek in a couple of weeks. Apparently it has not affected EBC at all, and all of the tour operators on the mountain have been accounted for with no injuries. The trips have not been cancelled and he assured me that everything will be ok.

I will monitor the weather over the next while, and continue to ask for updates on the mountain before I actually start the trek. Although there are risks in everything we do, I’m really not looking to die so I promise I will be safe. Love you mom 🙂

Until the next post,

-CS

P.S. For anyone who reads anything about an avalanche on Everest, just take note that it’s the media trying to bring up the April 2014 avalanche, and that was for trekkers climbing the entire mountain, not the base camp.

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The Unattainably Perfect Mind/Life

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving,

It is all fine and well to believe perfectionism doesn’t exist yet simultaneously strive for it anyways, until it completely consumes everything that you thought you willingly did. I completed gradschool, therefore I have been privy to the questionably unhealthy manipulative tactics that students use to self-validate in a “humble brag” sort of competitive way. I am sadly not exempt from this. At times though, it really is unconscious. Capital gain, credentialism, survival of the fittest, living with your parents forever, ‘may the best [wo]man win’…these all subconsciously infiltrate our minds in ways that significantly alter how we behave. In my life, it finally got to a point where I stopped celebrating the small successes, in pursuits of bigger ones. And I can’t be satisfied until I know that I am not last in the race. This indirectly translates to, “I cannot be happy unless I know that I am not the unhappiest.” What really is the worst of it all is, I can’t be honest about it without feeling either guilty for sharing, or for fear that someone might judge me. It is precisely why I’ve decided to comment now on it.

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Photo credit: Victoria Nechodomu

I went bungy/bungee jumping (why are there two spellings…?) this past weekend, and to say the very least, it was underwhelming haha. I spent so long convincing myself it was terrifying and I was incapable of making that (literal) leap. Then I realized it was not scary, but blew it up to be this life changing event of gratitude. It really wasn’t haha. It was fun, very very fun, and I did it with two great friends (hey there if you’re reading this!) but it did not become what I had thought it would represent. Instead, dinner at a dingy “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant, having an extremely honest conversation with a friend, is was solidified the experience for me.

There was graffiti on the walls of the restaurant but I could NOT for the life of me think up of what to write. My friend Victoria said to think about what this trip signifies for me, and what am I looking to gain from it. I had to think for a second because in so many ways, it is providing me with so many lessons that I’ve been trying to learn. But to summarize what I hope it will do for me is:

presence_Fast forward to a few hours ago when had a conversation with a friend about how I over analyze everything (which is true) which made me recall a conversation that I had months ago with a not-so-much-a-friend (hah) about how I overly analyze as a way to distract myself from what is really happening (still very true words). Immediately after that conversation I logged onto facebook, and read this article on my newsfeed:

8 Ways to Stop Over-Thinking and Find Peace in the Present Moment

And now I am here sharing the link and giving way too much information over the internet haha. I guess the difference is I do not expect nor do I want anything in return. I obviously hope someone will get something out of it, otherwise I wouldn’t have shared. I just assume that I can’t be the only person out there completely obsessing about the “what’s next” phenomenon.

What I hope to achieve is a sense of presence in my life. I think in the third person, externally analyzing what I do more than experience it. I find short thrills exciting and rewarding, but mostly distracting of the everyday drone. I doubt that “normal” monotonous life will ever captivate me because I’m always looking for the spontaneous, the new, the sexy, the wow, and I forget how to find all of those things in the everyday. I think life really should have all of those things, but what I hope to learn (in what I hope will be a long long life), is how to achieve that perspective in my own everyday, and not in my escapisms.

I learned very young that the best way to be successful is to market your skills well. I think somewhere along that path I took a turn from enhancing to creating. To some extent, we create ourselves to be who we want to be, hopefully based upon who we already are. For some years I felt like I was creating myself to be someone I don’t think that I am, but rather someone I thought I should be, to survive.

So then, what am I really saying here? I’m not quite sure. Welcome to Crystal’s chaotic mind. I guess what I am trying to say is:

  1. I am grateful for who I have become, and forgive myself for my shortcomings because in actuality my weaknesses are also my strengths.
  2. I accept that I cannot be what/who everyone wants me to be to them. I also cannot expect everyone to be everything to me.
  3. I appreciate those in my life no matter how frequent or rare those meetings might be. I will not take duration of time spent personally.
  4. I am enough for what I need.

Is it ironic that a post that was meant initially to stop overthinking turned into a reflection that caused me to seriously overthink? haaaah well it’s a work in progress. Hope you enjoyed, and if not, then don’t worry it was only 1000 words of your wasted time =P

-CS

If stuff like this actually interests you, then I highly recommend this book:

coverI read it before the trip and have slowly been adding in a document my favourite quotes to remember, that I’m planning on sharing…eventually!

Categories: Regurgitated Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First (and hopefully not last) Dashain

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Me and the youngest two girls in our Kortas

Allo,

Earlier I posted an update about what I did during this week for Dashain, but I didn’t have my photos to go with it. Here is the completed update with the photos!

We gathered around to receive tika from our elder and a blessing in our new custom fitted clothing (Korta) that was given to us by our host family. During Dashain, you must give money to the younger generation after applying tika (a red paste) to their foreheads. You then go around the city to other relatives houses accepting and giving tika. Oh and eating. Lots and lots of eating.

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Grandfather is giving us Tika and blessings in English. We are laughing because his speech is very short and to the point.

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Me giving my Tika and money to the younger girls. I am an elder to them. Good god. Also I provided some pretty insightful blessings in Neplenglish.

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The Nepali Fam-Jam

I couldn’t get over the taste of the goat intestines. Also I had to swallow chunks of cooked goat fat which turned into swallowing it whole because I couldn’t bite into it.

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We gathered on a relative’s roof at a family party to have a kite battle in the sky. Apparently it’s a thing to not only fly kites but to try to attack with your own until someone loses theirs. This can get pretty aggressive. Children are terrifying. Just kidding…ish.

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We hiked in a very deserted Kathmandu (everyone is visiting relatives) to Durbar Square (one of the ancient cluster of temples) to see buffalo sacrifices. Every year 108 buffalos are sacrificed to reenact the bloodbath that occurred when the Royal family was murdered. It’s also a sacrifice to the gods for the holidays. We weren’t allowed to see because we are not Hindu, but I got a lot of shopping done =)

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The only time of the year that you will ever see Kathmandu look like this

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-CS

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Human Trafficking in Nepal: Child Labour & Female Sex Work (Research Update)

Today was the BEST day ever. Like, ever-ever. Well probably not, but it sure as heck felt like it 🙂

For those who forgot, Maddie and I have been asked to collect qualitative data in the Kathmandu area regarding human trafficking in Nepal, with a special focus on sex trafficking and child labour. I did not know when I signed up for this that I would actually get the opportunity to speak with influential people in this area of research in Nepal, but also in the world. What was the most impressive part of today was hearing the passion behind every organization. It was truly inspiring and motivating for me to keep doing what I am doing.

We first set off with our translator, and staff social worker to an organization that specializes with trafficked children within Nepal for labour with a focus in domestic violence and sexual abuse. To get there though we had to take what they call a “micro” bus. To give you an image, imagine a very mini bus that is stuffed with way too many people. The size of it though is comparable to construction worker’s truck (gosh, what are those even called). So many people that Maddie’s bum was hanging out of the “bus”, with the door open, just so we would fit. I had to bend my body in a 90 degree angle just to fit. Yes, that means my ass was out in the open unfortunately.

On route to our second location we got to speak with the executive director and co-founder, as well as the president and founder of SASANE Nepal. I was completely impressed with the entire experience there haha. They went through a thorough explanation of the entire organization, and answered everything we were looking for.

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The idea behind SASANE is very unique. They work with female survivors of sex trafficking who have their high school diplomas and train them to become paralegals. This serves many purposes. For one, it helps them better understand their own legal battle when pressing charges on their traffickers. Second, it allows them to offer information to other vulnerable women in similar situations, while also providing mentorship. Thirdly, it elevates their social status given that they cannot reintegrate due to the stigma of their sex work. This last part is so vital because it allows them to transform their public appearance in their communities. Finally, it provides them with economic independence in that paralegal jobs in Nepal pay well over the average Nepalese income. The director has also worked for 20 years as a human rights lawyer at what would be considered the supreme court level here. He’s also conducted research interviews with over 2000 traffickers and survivors of trafficking, collaborating with American, Swedish and Canadian Universities such as UofT and UofC. I was pretty star struck, and soaked up every minute of that interview.

After lunch (obviously yummy–we’re in Nepal after all) we went to a large police station that has a trafficking unit to interview officers in the field. What I thought was most interesting about that experience was how officers recognize that trafficking is a problem in Nepal, yet within their jurisdiction there has not been a reported trafficking case in over two years. We were told that as high as 96% of women who are rescued from trafficking do not press charges against their traffickers. It was shocking to know that millions of women are trafficked out of Nepal annually, yet not a single one in this area has reported it. An indication it is nonexistent? Hmmm…doubtful.

On the way home I was staring at the young boy working in one of the “micros” who did not look older than 10. I tapped his shoulder and asked him how old he was, and he couldn’t understand English. When I asked in Nepali he turned his head away from me. On our next bus ride, a police officer stopped our bus. He had a pretty animated discussion with the driver about the child who worked on the bus. Afterwards, I asked another passenger on the bus (yah I’m nosy get over it) who told me that the officer was upset about how young the boy was on the bus. He instructed the driver that the driver should not be employing children under the age of 14, and that he should not let them hang off the side of the bus.

DSC06217To give you some context: How buses run is that the driver drives while a child (always male) hangs off of the side of the door yelling the major intersections that the bus goes to. He is the one that collects the money and gives the change. They are always under the age of 18 and sometimes they even look as young as 10 or 11. In Nepal child labour is defined as a child under the age of 16 who is employed in full-time work that interferes with basic health standards and education. Unfortunately the laws are not enforced, and it is within the culture to accept child labour. This is not to say that every child worker is abused, but it does give some incite as to who can and cannot have access to education here. It also makes me appreciate our education system much more (those who know me know what a critic of it I am…).

Lots of information today. Maybe I should have apologized in advance. Oooops heh heh. I will say this, I am definitely passionate about research. I hope, with whatever job I will end up with, it will include opportunities for evaluation and research.  Until next post,

-CS

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Chitwan National Park

Hello everyone,

Today we got to go inside of the park but in the end, although a decent trip, I was still left with a guilty feeling inside.

We woke up at 6am to go on an elephant safari ride through the jungle. There is “potential opportunity” to see some of the wildlife, but I knew that that probably wouldn’t happen just because tourism kind of scares all that away with their voices and camera sounds. At the very least though it was a spectacular view from a vantage point that normally one would not have. Also, I paid careful attention to how the “driver” lead the elephant and it was actually with verbal cues and their toes. Apparently this park is known for their alternative techniques in training rather than the debatably abusive operant conditioning techniques that happen elsewhere. So that was a slight relief.

When we finished we had a canoe ride along the Natayani river. We got out and went for a “jungle walk” for a couple of hours. It was nice to listen to all the birds and considering there are over 400 species of birds in the park, there was a lot to look at. We even canoed past a few crocodiles. In total we saw monkeys, elephants, deer, and rhinos during the trip.

We stayed at a watering hole quietly at the hottest point of the day to see if we could potentially see more animals going to drink water. Our guide has personally seen the Bengal Tiger and bear sloths numerous times here. He joked and said maybe they were out for vacation for Dashain.

I’m not totally disappointed 100% because the thought of seeing a wild tiger honestly freaks me the ef out considering we had no real way to protect ourselves (just in case).

On the way out of the jungle I noticed our tour guide eating these energy tablets. When he offered them to me I jokingly said, “I’m naturally energetic.” His reply was, “well you are the tallest and the fattest here so you would have a lot of energy.” Needless to say he made me cry, in private of course. I was warned in training that Nepali people view weight as a compliment because it means you are healthy. But I just couldn’t get over how snarky and backhanded his comment was. It also made me feel like some freak woman in the group, visibly different from all other women. I did force myself to have a friendly conversation afterwards, to humanize him more haha. Hopefully when I look back on this, this will not be my only memory of Chitwan :S

At the end of the day, we visited the elephant breeding centre again (like the one from yesterday). Chitwan has the second largest breeding centre in Asia and because wild Asian Elephants are threatened by extinction, it’s important that they try to maintain their population through breeding. That I can live with but it’s still hard for me to see some of them chained. The tour guide said it’s actually not for safety but rather, so they know where they are and they are also given roaming time to walk everyday.

At night our group shared some rum and cokes and met a traveling middle-aged married couple from New Zealand. They are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. They have been travellers since as early as age 15. They are such an inspiration to me, that I could maybe possibly be happy in a committed long term relationship but not have to sacrifice adventure and spontaneity. For some reason my schema of them has always been mutually exclusive.

In any case, time to say goodbye to Chitwan, most likely forever, and get myself prepared for the bumpiest bus ride know to mankind.

Namaste,

CS

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Categories: Chitwan | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 1 Chitwan

Allo,

Today at an unreasonable hour (ok only 6am) I met up with the crew to bus to Chitwan, the national park and reserve that protects x-hundreds of wildlife. If you would like specific information then I advise you Wikipedia or cross reference your lonely planet, and stop reading this now.

So far my reservations of coming here were validated when I saw that the feet of the government elephants in the conservation section outside of the park, were chained so that they couldn’t walk. We haven’t gone into the park yet, and I have read about how this park is known for their good treatment of the animals, but seeing that just made me feel extremely guilty. I understand it is for our own protection. No I do not want to be trampled by elephants. But it does raise the question of whether we should have the authority to use animals for the sole purpose of collecting admission while we gawk at them. And to the extent that we would need to hold them down for a decent photo. It is just really unnatural and I don’t think justified. It just all seemed very Disney Dumbo to me and I was grateful to quickly walk away.

I am hoping tomorrow when we go to the park these feelings won’t return because we will see the animals more freely. I’m not totally apposed to a jungle safari so long as I do not see any animals chained. I guess we will find out…

On a lighter note, I did enjoy a beautiful sunset with friends. I’ve also been keeping a mental count of people who have told me that I look Nepali, and believe it or not people, the count is now at 5. I’m talking cab drivers, tour operators and even random women I meet. It’s quite flattering and I take it as a compliment. It must be the nose ring haha.

After the sunset we saw a cultural dance show which was interesting and boiling hot. Sweating this much is kinda nice, almost like a suffocating detox.

Now I am going to bed full of milk tea. Namaste,

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-CS

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A Buddhist Day

Hello all,

I’m writing this on my phone so quite possibly it might not send =S and that also means no photos.

But in any case, here’s the update:

DASHAIN
This week was (and still is) the 15 day festival celebrating the god Durga. Some really unique and memorable experiences were had.
1. I learned how to make a Nepali meal from start to finish (soon to be posted). Including how to prepare an entire goat that was sacrificed hours before.

2. We gathered around to receive tika from our elder and a blessing in our new custom fitted clothing that was given to is by our host family. During Dashain, you must give money to the younger generation after applying tika (a red paste) to their foreheads. You then go around the city to other relatives houses accepting and giving tika. Oh and eating. Lots and lots of eating.

3. We ate more than should be legal.

4. We gathered on a relative’s roof at a family party to have a kite battle in the sky. Apparently it’s a thing to not only fly kites but to try to attack with your own until someone loses theirs. This can get pretty aggressive. Children are terrifying. Just kidding…ish.

5. I ate goat intestines. It reminded me of my godmother’s squid soup (the texture of it) but I couldn’t get over the taste. Also I had to swallow chunks of cooked goat fat which turned into swallowing it whole because I couldn’t bite into it. That wasn’t the best.

6. I discovered that slow cooked goat is delicious.

7. We hiked in a very deserted Kathmandu (everyone is visiting relatives) to Durbar Square (one of the ancient cluster of temples) to see buffalo sacrifices. Every year 108 buffalos are sacrificed to reenact the bloodbath that occurred when the Royal family was murdered. It’s also a sacrifice to the gods for the holidays. We weren’t allowed to see because we are not Hindu, but I got a lot of shopping done =)

SWAYAMBUNATH
This is a World Heritage Buddhist temple that is known for its monkeys and impressive stupas. Today we decided to take a local bus, just Maddie and I, which was literally stand anywhere on the side of the road until a sketchy bus comes by yelling which Nepali regions they stop at. When you get on, you’re never 100% sure you will actually get there hahaha.

We get off and walk for twenty minutes and then climb stairs for what seems like another ten minutes until you’ve reached the very top. This was a particularly breathtaking experience because we got to see Kathmandu from the top.

BODHNATH
I almost considered not going here because of a satisfactory review, but I’m so happy we paid the expensive cab ride there (expensive being $10). This is Asia’s largest stupa! For those of you who don’t know what a stupa is, it’s a large Buddhist shrine with Buddha’s eyes on it. Inside this dome-like structure are holy documents, artifacts or remnants of important people that are locked up at the time of building it. When I asked a staff at VIN how they knew there really was something buried inside, he said that one has faith that there is.

This was probably my favourite stupa so far (well it was the biggest haha).

What I have noticed now are the backpackers have officially invaded. I was just telling someone last week that it’s so nice to be the only tourist. Everywhere I go I am the only one who obviously is foreign. Now they run the streets, dressed in multicoloured Nepali clothing (some really decked out) with hiking gear. So many gopros I cannot keep track. So many hiking poles in hand. I no longer feel original hahaha.

But none the less it’s been fantastic having a truly authentic and local experience. I am also really grateful to have spent it with a Hindu family who openly has welcomed us and has been so generous with us during their festival time. Can’t wait for Diwali!!

Tomorrow I go on a three day trip to the national park. Wish me well!

-CS

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Categories: Kathmandu | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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