Well... what a journey to Kathmandu. After a pretty rubbish flight to Doha in terms of trying to get comfortable, we had the most amazing experience in (wait for it...) BUSINESS CLASS! That's right... free upgrade! I won't make you all jealous too much, but you can live through my experience with photos. Sorry... =P
Arriving in Kathmandu was somewhat interesting as it involved a two hour wait for our bags. We did get to see the copious amounts of TVs the Nepalese purchased in Qatar and 'meat joint' bags (striped bags or blankets that were wrapped up with lots of rope). Our drive from the airport to the guesthouse just made being in Nepal very real. Lots of honking horns and dogs barking. Guess what I heard this morning...? I'm learning to get used to these sounds as they inevitably wake me up.
If you're wondering about food, breakfast this morning was absolutely delicious! Banana pancakes (immediately thought of the Jack Johnson song), mango juice and a really, really nice coffee. Ooooo I loved that pancake. Wonder what I'll be having tomorrow... =)
Today was all about exploring Kathmandu (basically being MASSIVE tourists). We headed to get Nepalese SIM cards first and I honestly thought I was signing my life away. They needed our fingerprints, photocopies of our passports and a passport photo. Not exactly the process at Carphone Warehouse is it?
It was then a long walk to Swayambhu aka the Monkey Temple! Long but really, really fascinating. It was very evident that Nepal is a developing country. There is rubbish in the streets, stray dogs and the roads are in complete disrepair. The city is also quite polluted with a smog layer covering up the views of the mountains in the distance. I could really feel it on my chest and in my eyes today. Nonetheless, the people are very friendly and a lot of children waved and said hello to us today. Even got to practice my 'Namaste' (hello AND goodbye in Nepali). We also witnessed a funeral procession on our way to the monkeys. Lizzie (our team leader) told us that when Hindu Nepalese people die, their body is transported (within a matter of hours) along the Bagmati river to the crematorium. Once there, their body is washed to cleanse their sins and then burned. The ashes are collected and then deposited into the river. Hindu monks and children under five don't need to be cleansed as they have no sins. Up until 1925, if a man died his wife would jump onto the fire with him. If the fire didn't kill her, she would then be beaten to death by relatives. Thankfully that doesn't happen now! It was interesting to witness the ritual of how Hindu Nepalese say goodbye to their dead.
We eventually made it to the steps of the temple, and boy were they STEEP! Monkeys were EVERYWHERE and I got some great shots of the cheeky little buggers. One nibbled on one of our bottles and tried grabbing the same girl's bag. Clearly she was the 'chosen' one! Towards the top of the steps, a very large amount of people were moving the deity between temples. It was so vibrant with colour. The women were dressed in red and the shrines has rich pinks, yellows and oranges. It was beautiful. I even managed to get a video of the men negotiating the really steep steps. I'll try and post it! The top of the temple had really amazing views of Kathmandu, slightly obscured by the smog, but beautiful nonetheless. Then... the rain hit. Slippery steep steps and water... you can imagine.
We decided to head back towards the guesthouse and eat out for lunch. At the 'Big Belly' restaurant I had the Nepalese menu called Thali. This consisted of a dried vegetable soup, rice, a lentil sauce, vegetable dhal, an assortment of greens, a spicy sauce and banana in yoghurt. It was delicious, and if this is what I have to get used to, then I'll be quite alright!
The rain didn't hold off so we headed back to the guesthouse and spent the afternoon chilling. There were two big storms today and the lightning and thunder was very exciting. Not so much when the windows shake... This will be really good for the smog though. Clear away some of the dust.
I got my first taste of momos at dinner, and I have a feeling I'll be eating lots of these little creations of heaven. Vegetable ones are my favourite so far!
Anyway, training starts tomorrow and I have to be up early so I better finish up for today. Looking forward to meeting the counterparts and getting to grips with all the information. I have a feeling I may be pretty tired tomorrow...