Day 3: POOn Hill

04:30 = Poon Hill O’clock…time to get on your walking boots, all your warmest clothes and head lamp.

Tonnes of people were walking in single file on really hard slippery ground, all to make it up to the top of Poon Hill for sunrise where we had been promised we would see the ultimate sunrise.

You needed to really watch your feet, use your walking poles and push through the pain to sweat your way up all the steps. It took about an hour to get to the top. I lost Lynda on the way (which is quite surprising considering how brightly we are all dressed)

At the top there was a viewing tower (more stairs right?!), so me and Sierra walked up to the top for the ultimate view. We saw Lynda make it to the top of the hill and we met a funny man from New York who works in a circus in Kathmandu training Nepalese children to do different acts. This guy was on his way down after completing ABC and he informed us the trek only gets harder.….but then the sun came up and distracted us from this terrible news.

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It was as beautiful as they said it would be.

We tried to take lots of snaps, but this was definitely a challenge because of gloves and painfully cold hands.ย We saw a little coffee shop andย got a hot drink whilst takingย in the view. (We also discussed how the people working in this little shop have the WORST JOB EVER, having to climb those icy steps for an hour every morning).

Lynda started her way down Poon Hill a bit before us as she wanted to take it steady on the ice. Unfortunately it didn’t work out how she had planned :-/ ย We found poor Lynda on our way down having her second fall of the morning (get this poor lady a lifeline!).

Luckily for Lynda, Madan and the other porters were right there to help her up, they were super nice!…..less luckily for Lynda I gently patted her on the head to try and cheer her up, because I didn’t know what else to do. I think she appreciated it.

Breakfast time, and then a bloody long walk to Tadapani 2950m. Todays walk mainly involved going uphill through a wooded area, with lots of snow and ice, which Lou was not too impressed with after this mornings earlier events. I was out of breath a lot today, and walked through the snow in a T-shirt because I was so hot! When we made it out of the woods the sun was beating down on us, so I slapped on the factor 50+ and my baseball cap ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then we started a wintery descent, I was walking in front of Barje and Lou, who had become an ice combatting duo, and I mostly walked behind the rest of the group, enjoying my own company humming christmas songs. This walk took a lot of thinking, you have to place your feet very carefully going downhill on ice, occasionally you would hear a little scuffle as one of the group would style-slide there way out of a tricky situation ๐Ÿ™‚

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At Tadapani we dumped our bags and ran for the bathrooms thinking this might be the last chance for vaguely warm water we washed our hair…which was fine, but our hands felt on fire because they had been so cold all day. OUCH.

The toilets were pretty weird here, there was a western style one but it benefitted from a hole in the wall (window?) which faced directly onto the approaching path to the lodge. The sink to use to brush your teeth was right near these toilets…..I have never gagged so much in my life….We are certainly experiencing life to it’s fullest here.

We all huddled in the main room for the evening, some people played cards. We showed one of the porters Ishwor (you sir/Joshua) some photos off of Sierras Go Pro, it was so funny chatting with him!

 

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Artwork courtesy of Lynda Loo Rolls and Sierra Goat Woman

 

Night time means getting into my sleeping bag, probably in my blue smurf thermals, and because it is so freakin’ hot in mine I gradually strip off through the night…..so ย so grateful for my super warm bag.

Trekking is Trecherous! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Day 2: Give that dog a 7 out of 10

More Himal ….

We awoke to sunshine and cockerels…those things follow us everywhere. I had porridge and apple for breakfast…feeling strong!!! A Tibetan lady approached us at breakfast and encouraged us to come and buy some of her jewellery. I browsed the items laid out on the blanket and picked a pendant with a buddhist chant inscribed on it. The lady tells me this means ‘Good Luck’…..I will need buckets of that to get me through the walk, so I buy it and stick it in my bag! Off to trek again….but only a gentle 4 hours today.

We walked through…a jungle? Well it seemed very jungle-like to me. There were massive trees and big rivers, and it was cool and fresh which was nice to walk in.

Along the walk we bumped into some cute baby goats! (Which Sierra, queen of the goats particularly enjoyed). There were also some ponies and a ย huge herd of sheep, so an excellent animal appreciation day. We see dogs here all the time, we discussed how we think the quality of the dogs reflects on the village we find them in. Sometimes the dogs look a bit ruff *ahem* ย ๐Ÿ˜‰ around the edges to say the least. But sometimes they are beautiful and I want to cuddle them (and sometimes I do) even though they might have rabies and fleas. We’ve started rating them out of 10, we consider how cute they are, the lack/presence of unusual growths, glossiness of their coat. We saw some7/10 dogs today, a good dog day for sure!

We have also started gambling our luxury snacks. Porters randomly strap together and carry our main bags each morning. The person whose bag gets put down first by the porter at the end of a walk wins….so far I think we are drawing. Although it is hard to always be sure as we usually arrive much later than the porters….we may need to adjust the rules of the game.

After todays trek we have arrived at Gorhe Pani, 2700m. We are staying in ‘Nice View Lodge’ and to be fair, that is a sound name. There is an awesome view of the mountains outside. We’ve been into the little village nearby to explore…we heard something about a German Bakery…..which I believe is the only reason any of us walked further than necessary haha! But our dreams came crashing down when we discovered it was closed as it is out of season, we managed to find a shop that sold chocolate that was in date, so we restocked.

We are spending the evening hanging out in the living area of the lodge, there is a nice fire in the middle for us to dry our things on and warm up next to. We are chatting to the porters a bit more and preparing for a super early rise in the morning to walk up Poon Hill to watch the sunrise.

There are also showers here which we are all making the most of.

Trekking is EPIC

One year ago….Day one trekking

As it is the one year anniversary of my trek it seemed like a good idea to type up all of my journal entries…….ENJOY!

Day one of the trek.

We bid farewell to all of our suitcases containing many outfits, and loaded our rucksacks, which had barely anything in them to keep us going for the long trek ahead, onto the bus. This is where we met our porters, soon to be friends ๐Ÿ™‚

When we got off the bus there was a little window to get some snacks from, and out of fear of starvation we all caved in and squeezed some additional snacks into our bags. Then the walking commenced!……and within the first 20 minutes I consumed the snacks I had just purchased.

I was immediately glad I had bought the walking poles, we were already using them, the first days walking consisted mainly of a wide dirt track and then millions and millions of steps ย  ย  ย MILLIONS.

Whilst awaiting my well deserved hearty lunch of noodles (delicious and trustworthy food), “Muffin” was born.

Barje created little Muffin using just a scarf, his arm and a very sinister voice….this may have been delirium setting in, due to extreme stress on our bodies and minds. OR maybe I was just about to trek with some very interesting folk ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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Muffin spilled drinks and used bad words and most importantly kept morales high.

The trek continued, sometimes uphill…..sometimes downhill

Downhill was considered a treat. We passed the day, and distracted ourselves from our aching legs, by developing ideas to advertise Mountain Men Bars. These are some excellent fruit and nut energy bars that you can crack your teeth on. Me and Sierra would star….Mountain Man Bar in one hand…..curling a baby mountain goat with the other, demonstrating our mountain man strength.

Then it ALL KICKED OFF…One of the group (I will call him Rick….because that was his name;-)) needed to talk to Barje, and he chose to do so in a pretty rude manner. He and his wife were at the back of the group trekking, and felt like we should goย slower, even though we kept waiting for them and it really wasn’t an issue. He might have just been super tired, it was a really hard day, but he didn’t deal with it in a very cool way.

As a group we all decided to push on to cover as much ground as possible and make the second day a bit easier, as it is known to be a bit of a killer otherwise. So we trudged on, and made it to ย “Nice View Guest House” by dark. Here we put on all of the clothes we could possibly wear at once, because it was unbelievably cold….and the owners like to keep the doors open???!

I was thrilled I had bought my own sleeping bag because it was roasting inside. Some people had rented theirs and they looked a little bit on the thin side to say the least. WINNING

Day one over: ย legs aching, Muffin created, drama occurred…alarm set for 06:30 to go at it all over again.

Trekking is great!

 

 

 

 

Pokhara memories

I am now safely back in England, suffering a terrible cough (I swear it’s Kathmandu flu again), and I am trying to catch up blogging the rest of my adventure.

After we finished our volunteer work in beautiful Chitwan we hopped on a bus to Pokhara. I think the journey was something like 6 hours. All I remember is mainly feeling quite ill, I think I had been drinking magic hot chocolates the night before ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wasn’t alone in my travel sickness either there were a few of us feeling rough and one of us even laid in the aisle.

We drove into Pokhara in the evening and got to our hotel. It felt SO much colder than in Chitwan. Our room was smaller and we had a very unusual bathroom. The worst bathroom of the entire experience in my opinion, including trekking! The shower head was above the toilet and the drain was on the other side of the room behind the sink.

The process of showering was as follows:

  • Use one big bucket to collect freezing cold tap water to prevent feet from getting too cold.
  • Use tiny jug to collect moderately warm water from shower head.
  • Try to avoid cold sprinkling leak.
  • Turn off water to prevent being gassed to death from heating system.
  • Tip full bucket of cold water down sink.
  • Use tiny jug of water to begin wash…..and so on. It was a long and uncomfortable process.

Anyway we went out to explore Pokhara. The main street there is crammed full with shops selling “North Face” clothing and anything you might need for trekking. There were also plenty of shops selling yak wool scarves and Pashminas. It was a nice area though, full of chilled out people who had either been trekking or were going trekking. There were also bakeries…which means to my delight, there was also cake! Pokhara was a great place for tasty snacks and drinks.

We were only there for a few days but wanted to make the most of it. We went out to explore Phewa lake, the best way seemed to be by boat. Me and my chum hired a boat, and life jackets of course, and embarked on our mainly embarrassing and difficult journey across the lake. We had heard there was an island so that was our goal, a lot of people pointed and laughed at us whilst we rowed, but we held our heads high and made it to our destination.

…Well not quite, there were a lot of other boats and we hadn’t quite mastered steering so we looked at the island from the boat and turned back. Some friendly folk took photos of us and some even proposed a race…although they had an engine so it didn’t seem fair. We made it back to shore alive Hurrah!

 

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Rowing along Phewa Lake we could see a lot of paragliders spiralling around in the sky, which is exactly where we were heading that afternoon.

We went to an office round the corner from the hotel, paid our money for the paragliding and then piled in a bus which took us higher and higher and higher up a big hill (Mountain). The view was amazing, Phewa lake beneath us, the himalayas behind us and the sun shining brightly. Some people were feeling more nervous than others. Lynda couldn’t wait to run off the mountain and was fitted in her harness before we could blink. I watched several people go and then it was my turn. Suresh called me over, he looked super cool in his dark outfit and sunglasses, and he put my harness on and told me all ย I needed to do was run, just keep running. I asked of course “what happens if I don’t run enough?” and he replied “we will fall over into the bushes”. It didn’t sound too bad.

He also added, that there is a plastic bag on my shoulder strap in case I need to be sick. I took his comment on board, and then felt slightly offended when I realised nobody else had had the sick bag pointed out to them, he obviously thought I looked like a vomitter. (With my recent run of bad luck, I did start to wonder myself if I was going to get ill. I’ve never done anything like this before, how would I know!) I didn’t have time to question his judgement of me, we had to run towards the edge of the mountain.

I’ve never run so hard and gone such a short distance, it was a very strange sensation having the wind hold you back, but we made it!

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Whilst airborne Suresh got out his selfie stick and go-pro camera and was snapping pictures, then he started doing this interview session. He was trying to get me to talk into the camera, for quite a long time. I hadn’t planned for this and didn’t really know what to say, so now I have a dvd of me looking a bit awkward for about 5 minutes, then Suresh points out the Annapurna mountain range. At the end Suresh got me to hold the selfie stick into my abdomen and he proceeded to do tricks…it was freakin’ AWESOME. I loved it. Suresh could keep that plastic bag for his next customer because I didn’t need it.

Our next day in Pokhara was spent obtaining the last few things we needed for the trek, which meant shopping. I was not particularly excited at the idea, but it had to be done. I got a bit grumpy but my chums kept me smiling and encouraged me to make good purchases…like neon blue thermals…..matching thermals. I just can’t shake this Smurfette look!

One of my favourite memories of Pokhara was going into a little old ladies shop looking for backpacks and fleeces. She had her smartphone out and was watching what I can only assume wasย a bit of adult entertainment with the volume on the loudest setting available. We didn’t make eye contact with each other, or the peculiar lady, knowing we would laugh and cry and not be able to stop. We tried to continue our browsing but the noise was relentless, the woman did not seem to mind us listening to her entertainment. One of us cracked, we ran out and cried laughing in the street for about 5 minutes. It was very strange. I guess it says more about me than perhaps the old lady, that this was one of my favourite memories.

 

And then we bid farewell to Pokhara for several days of trekking…

Jeep Safari Adventure Spectacular

After a lot of caffeine last night my mind wanted to rest but my body wouldn’t let it, or my body wanted rest but my brain wouldn’t switch off. Either way, I didn’t get much sleep, but who needs sleep anyway?! Especially when it’s time to get up and go on a safari! ๐Ÿ˜

It was so misty and cold when we got on the bus to the riverside, we distracted ourselves with animal impressions. We have mastered the Rhino.

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We got to the riverside and had to clamber into a long canoe to take us across the crocodile infested water to the other bank. We had to squat in a line, it was pretty inelegant and I didn’t feel very secure as it rocked from side to side. Luckily I hadn’t got in the last boat as Keshab was stood at one end of it, purposefully rocking it and shouting “Don’t worry crocodile curry” then laughing!

We had a short walk to the jeeps and all piled in. There were 3 jeeps altogether and us UK girls were in the middle one. We followed a track through areas of tall grass and huge trees. It had rained the night before and some parts were quite slippy. We experienced our first stuck jeep early on in the journey. It required most of the guys to hop off and push to get it out of the mud, then the same with the other 2 jeeps that followed.

Not long after the mist lifted and we saw lots of spotted deer

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The ongoing saga of our vehicles getting stuck in the mud continued….all day. Luckily there was plenty of wildlife to see, check out these ferocious tigers

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๐Ÿ˜‰

After getting stuck in the mud multiple times our hard staring finally paid off and we saw all the real wildlife! A bright blue beautiful kingfisher, a pretty male peacock and some macaques. Whenever we passed a lake or river we would see loads of marsh mugger crocodiles. But we were all desperately looking for tigers, leopards and rhinos. Finally luck came our way and one of the guides tapped on the back of their jeep telling it to stop, he pointed to some tall grass….and we could see some twitchy grey ears, a rhino! The first jeep tried to slowly approach it to get a better look. The rhino got scared and trotted off into the bushes, we got a brief glimpse of his horn and his bottom as he turned away.

I know this does not sound too exciting, but I loved it!!! I was so happy we got to see one and see how big they are. All day we could see their trails in the tall grass where they had been stomping, and big piles of poop where they have there own bathroom area, then we actually saw one ๐Ÿ˜

The sun was really beating down by midday, it was so much fun stood on the back of the jeep, flying through the jungle getting thrown around. It was nearly lunch time as we drove through another tall grass area, the first jeep hurried ahead and our guide tapped the jeep causing it to halt. Another rhino was stood, hiding in the grass.

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This is my picture the rhino, I could see it pretty well on the jeep I’m just a terrible photographer ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

After all this excitement we drove to a river side for lunch. We had fried rice with curried vegetables and a tomato paneer cheese thing, which was delicious.

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We tried to skim some stones, but were terrible, but it was rumoured Keshab was amazing so we called him down. He confidently told us he is “fucking awesome” at skimming stones, and went ahead to prove himself right. He never quite got it to the other side of the river though. Then he called us all back to the buses and decided to tell us a ‘non-veg joke’ which we’ve heard are pretty funny.

Well we were all laughing by the end of the ten minute story, but probably for many different reasons. Even after a few magic cokes Keshab couldn’t quite say some words, he hilariously danced around the subject, which was quite difficult considering the content of his joke. Some people looked amused, others less so. Then it was time to go back through the jungle for several more hours.

We chatted with our guide, he’s worked the job for 20 years and knows the jungle extremely well after spending days walking tourists through it or going on the jeep. He had encountered tigers before and he had even had to use a stick on a sloth bear that had gotten a bit aggressive with him on occasion. He was so knowledgeable and had a lot of respect for the environment and the animals within it.

After a quick stop off at a crocodile conservation centre we finally made it back to the river near our hotel. On one side of us the sun was setting and on the other was a snow topped mountain range. A perfect end to a wonderful day.

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Life is good ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ—๐ŸŠ๐Ÿพ๐ŸŒฟโ˜€๏ธ

Devghat Sightseeing

I spent last night with my Australian neighbours trying to play drinking games. I was the only representative of the UK and I don’t think I embarrassed the nation too much ๐Ÿ˜Š apart from when I had to do an Australian accent….some of you know very well how bad I am at that (“fosters”) ๐Ÿ˜‰

This morning without even a slight hangover I went to an important Hindu area, Devghat, with the rest of the volunteer group. As we drove in we could see the rivers below appearing between the gaps in the trees. You could tell right from the start it was going to be a day full of beautiful things!

First we had to cross a long narrow bridge, I tried to snap a few photos on my phone, but I was also nervous I might drop it and lose it between the gaps underfoot.

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Then we walked through several streets to take us to a residential home for elderly people. Often people are cared for by their families as they get older but here are people who, for unfortunate reasons, are without family to help support them. There are 31 elderly people living here and it is given a little bit of funding from the government.

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They played some music, sang and danced. We gave out oranges, little yellow balls (that I am not a fan of) and some fried sugar treats. It was quite cold and although they were well wrapped up we bid them farewell so they could go back inside and stay warm.

We continued our walk through the area, which is scattered with homes and many shrines. We walked down some steep steps and peered through the bamboo leaves at the beautiful river below. A small religious area was created from a natural cave like crevice, with cages enclosing shrines and incense.

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We all walked further down to the rivers edge and got aboard some little boats to cross to the other side. I was my graceful self and managed to fall backwards off my seat nearly getting my bottom soaked in a puddle. Luckily my other volunteer friends saved me ๐Ÿ˜

At the other side we headed back to our bus and drove out of Devghat on the windy roads. Getting stuck at one point whilst a family repositioned the body of a loved one on the back of a tractor. They would be taking them down to the river for a religious ceremony, cremating the body. It was a bit awkward as I don’t think our driver had realised what was going on. He was impatient and quite heavy handed at beeping the horn ๐Ÿ˜ณ

The driver (whom we have been referring to as Pooh, due to him wearing a Winnie the Pooh cap) pulled over in a nearby town for us to enjoy some lunch. Spicy chicken, with curried vegetables, Dahl and naan bread, it was delicious!

I have spent the rest of my evening chilling out, drinking too much caffeine and catching up with my blog ๐Ÿ˜Šโ˜•๏ธ Tomorrow we go on a jeep safari where I might get to see a Rhino or maybe even a tiger if I’m lucky!

It’s fun being a tourist X

Headlice and Hand washing

Now I know you are probably assuming from the title that I have now become infested with headlice, luckily this is not the case.

It was our final couple of days of working in villages with SVPI. The village we went to needed a bit of help digging a long trench out to lay pipes in, which would provide them with access to clean drinking water. A very important job!

First we went to visit the local day centre where little kids go, allowing their parents to work without the stress of worrying that the children are lost in the jungle in danger of bumping into Rhinos. Very different concerns to those of families back home in the uk. The day centre is just a very basic building with a few educational posters on the wall and a mass of wide eyed curious little children running around inside. I was apprehensive as usual whenever I have to hang out with little kids, or big kids. But I need not have feared, they were pretty cute, especially one girl who was sporting a lovely grey iPhone jumper. We all took a shine to her and nicknamed her apple. They took it in turns to do an alphabet including English words and Nepalese words. When it was Apple’s turn she would point to each word say it very slowly and turn round and shoot us all a cheeky smile โ˜บ๏ธ

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We all tried to get stuck in digging the trench and the locals were digging away too. Gradually the local people (including elderly people and pregnant ladies) would take over from us and do a super impressive job after we had all made a good effort. We packed up on the first day patting ourselves on the back, we walked round the corner and saw the rest of the trench plotted out for digging the next day! There was still a lot of work to be done.

On the second day we drove right down to the river at the same village. We would be providing a first aid area, hand washing and headlice sessions, tooth brushing sessions and men’s and women’s health discussions. I had done most areas previously apart from hand washing and headlice treatment. So I decided to do this on my last day of work. This involved a lot of interaction with the children again.

I took a deep breath and approached the children, bars of soap in hand. They were great and I could tell they had received hand washing sessions before. There was one shy little girl, a bit reluctant to wash her feet. This was my big moment. I picked her up ( I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a child before, I was surprised how light she was/how strong I am), I sat her on my knee at the river edge and gave her feet a good wash before putting her shoes back on and sending her to the headlice treatment area. I was pretty proud of myself, she didn’t cry or run away ๐Ÿ˜Š

Then I tried my hand at head lice treatment. This involves massaging into hair a mixture of mustard seed and water, leaving for a few minutes and rinsing before applying oil and combing out. I found myself a child who had already had mustard rubbed in their hair (I knew this because she smelt like a mild mustard salad dressing). She was so trusting and let me wash her hair and comb through oil; I remember when my mum would do my hair and I would kick up such a fuss. I asked the girl what her name was, I didn’t understand what she said in response, but she smiled and walked off. Another job well done!

I caught up with the rest of the group who had been doing the women’s health discussion. They had found one woman suffering a severe prolapse who would now be going to hospital for corrective surgery. Another woman approached me holding her little girl. She held out the girl’s hands, showing us some burn scars which had healed fusing some of her fingers and her thumbs together. This was highlighted to the group and she also will now hopefully receive corrective surgery which will obviously improve her quality of life significantly in the long run.

It was such a great last day of health work, topped off with a palatable lunch of cheese and tomato toasties and mango juice ๐Ÿ˜Š. I spent my evening with a few of the other volunteers playing charades and busting out some pretty great animal impressions.

Life is grrrrrreat (a super tiger impression see ๐Ÿ˜‰) x

BIRTHDAY

Today I’ve turned 26, and what a great day it’s been!

I woke up early and gently reminded my roomies about our important day ๐Ÿ˜‰. I had a few cards to open that had been given to me before leaving England. I also had a card that arrived at the hotel the night before from my Grandma (it was a Christmas card, but exciting all the same!). My roomies also surprised me with wonderful gifts and cards ๐Ÿ˜„

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When it was time to go for breakfast I left the room to find a box of chocolates taped to balloons and a surgical face mask with “happy birthday” written on it. At breakfast they did banana pancakes for everyone, my favourite!!

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With the whole day off we decided to go explore a local town, which is about 20 minutes away. We wanted to go by horse and cart so waved down the first one we saw. This happened to be probably the smallest horse around and the driver encouraged all 4 of us to hop on saying it would be no problem. The horse disagreed and reared, causing me and Lynda to nearly fall into the road. Eventually the horse slowly trotted onwards. Everyone laughed and stared as we went by their shops. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget, we agreed we would get a bigger horse back or a taxi if we could find one!

The town we went to was called Tandi and it was a mass of shops selling fake Chanel clothes and angry birds merchandise. We walked down the side streets and saw meat stalls with pigs heads and whole chickens laid in the sunshine. There were loads of material stores, with beautiful fabrics covering every wall.

We were hungry, thirsty and wanted to stop for some lunch, which is always a bit of gamble when about town here in Nepal. A sign caught our eye, “twinkle cake and cafe castle”. We went into a huge dark room, the only customers. A guy served us very slowly and mainly getting our order wrong. But the food was good (apart from some crazy spicey bread which was completely inedible). We got a taxi back to our town.

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I went out for a walk looking for a ring to add to my collection. I found a lovely silver ring with a piece of clear glass in it. I like having pieces of jewellery from different places in the world.

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Back at the hotel we got ready for the party. Unfortunately the guy I was sharing my Birthday with was poorly so he stayed up in his room. We all enjoyed a barbecue outside with an interesting selection of music. I got free drinks all night, which worked out well for the bar because I can’t manage a lot of alcohol. They also provided us with some hot rum punch, which gave off a lot of fumes in the steam. Everyone did great dancing, and then I was presented with a beautiful cake and flowers, whilst people sang “happy birthday Ebola”, haha!

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I cut my cake and the Australians told me that it is tradition in their country that if the knife comes out dirty you have to kiss the closest guy to you! I know I’m not Australian but the pier pressure got to me and I joined in and gave Raj a peck on the cheek ๐Ÿ˜ณ

We continued dancing even through the rain that made a surprise visit. I had such a super day!

Being 26 is not too bad so far X

The Mint Village

My alarm went off at 04:50am, it was time for another day of hiking. I watched as Lynda packed her rucksack, I still felt tired from the effects of not eating as much as I usually stuff in. I decided though I would only regret it if I didn’t make myself go.

The days plan; to go by bus for an hour to the base of a hill, then walk for approximately 3 hours to a village. At the village the volunteers would work with doctors to provide a health camp and hand washing sessions for the local communities. We would then walk back down the hill and get the bus back to the hotel. So it would be a long day!

We watched the sunrise on the bus journey out. We piled out the bus and started the walk. It was a bit steadier than the previous hill walk, with only a few river crossings to contend with. In a few areas the path would become narrow and force you to the edge because of previous landslides. We stopped for a nutritious breakfast of boiled eggs and bread (we were expecting this and many of us packed biscuits to enjoy instead๐Ÿ˜‰).

I soon dropped to the back of the group and slathered on the factor 50, it was such a hot day to be out hiking! Luckily all us volunteers get on well. We had a good laugh about our embarrassing levels of fitness whilst locals of about 60years old essentially ran past us, uphill, with huge baskets of rice and supplies strapped to their heads.

The village was quaint and beautiful and smelt of mint on the walk in. We had been expecting about 400 people to arrive but apparently there were several weddings on locally so there would be less demand. We put our supplies into separate rooms to create a doctors room, a first aid room and a gynaecologists room. Toothbrushes and soap were piled up ready to go in an open area outside.

I patched up a few fingers, toes and knees on several shy children. Then I went in to observe the doctors sessions, they were brilliant. One elderly man had been carried to the village on his son’s back. He had difficulty with his vision, cataracts, and pain when walking from osteoarthritis. The doctor suggested surgery to improve his vision and gave him pain medication for his arthritis, then his son carried him away again. I have no idea how far they walked, but I’m sure it’s further than I would ever imagine carrying another human.

The gynaecologist was a funny man, very interested in hearing how our degree is structured in the uk. Women came to him because they were recently married and hadn’t conceived a child yet. He mainly dealt with gynaecological issues,but he would also see people with general health complaints too. He said he had learnt a lot from other doctors doing health camps before.

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After several hours of work, we all had the spiciest vegetables with rice for lunch. Then began the walk back down, racing against the descending sun. We hopped across rivers and slipped down the loose stones all the way down to the bus. We waited in the darkness for the rest of the group to catch up. When we got back to the hotel I decided I deserved a nice glass of beer!

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It was a challenging day, we were so tired. I’m so glad I went and accomplished such a long walk after being ill, but it was also so nice to experience another village and provide help to people who struggle to access any healthcare.

Life is good! ๐Ÿ˜Š x

Nepali Nursing College

After spending an entire day in my room feeling sorry for myself I ventured into the dining room to try and eat a bit of something. I was greeted by lots of friendly faces and genuine concern, which I loved. As I carefully put a few vegs on my plate I heard a familiar tune.

“Nicola, she’s got Ebola”, apparently it has become quite a hit in the past 24hours. I managed a couple of bites of dinner and then went back to bed.

The next day was an early rise at 5am, with breakfast at 5:30. I still felt pretty horrendous but couldn’t wait to have a mini break from the short sentence I’d been serving in my room. It was only me, Lynda and Millie going out, the group had been granted a day of rest. Supplies of toilet paper and rehydration sachets had been scattered outside rooms. About half the group have been struck down with the disgusting gastro illness and our group will forever be known as the “spew group”.

Anyway, we were off to a nursing college for the morning to see how they do things over here in Nepal. Our journey was not the most relaxing experience. Our rear lights were out so we had the hazards on whilst navigating slowly through the mist and dark, avoiding cyclists, pedestrians, motorbikes and elephants. We could barely see a meter in front of the car the whole way. The driver did a fab job and we got to the college in one piece.

All of the nursing students were coming in for a 7am start in their beautiful lilac uniforms. We met some of the teachers who told us a bit about the college. This is a college of about 120 students, 40 in each year. They study for three years for a diploma in general nursing, so they cover all topics including paediatric nursing and midwifery. Students can start from about 16years old and they pay for each year of study, I cant remember how much, but it was a substantial amount!

We went into classes and introduced ourselves and explained what we do in England and some of the differences we have seen in practice in Nepal. We openly discussed things like the lack of hand hygiene, and they said they knew how important it is but the hospitals don’t have great facilities and they don’t have time between working with so many patients. We asked what they do if they get needlestick injuries, they said “nothing”. We were horrified, with the prevalence of HIV here that is a pretty scary thought. The teacher explained that the third year students who are involved in a lot of stitching in Caesarean sections are responsible for a lot of needlestick injuries, they all giggled.

We got shown around some of their practice rooms, there was a hospital room with simulation dummies. Their community room was focused on health education, and health promotion, apparently some nurses do home visits but this is mainly health prevention work, which is really positive. They also had a maternity focused room, which seemed well equipped with pictures of foetuses and breast development and another dummy in the room. I couldn’t compare this room to anything back home because we don’t do any midwifery.

After our tour we hung out with the staff whilst we waited for our ride. We had chats about their favourite movies, apparently anything with Angelina Jolie seemed to be a hit and another lady was besotted with “letters to Juliet”. One teacher invited us to her wedding in February, we politely declined as we would no longer be in Nepal at that point. They also invited us to a picnic on Friday but we would be busy working with the volunteer project.

After an interesting couple of hours I was happy to be back at the hotel relaxing and recovering. I started reading some of the book “Little Princes” I was worried I might struggle to get into it as it has rather serious content, but I’m loving the way it is written so far and would highly recommend it from the first couple of chapters.

Life is getting better X