We are Laura Craig Harvey and Louise Moseley, both aged 19, from South England, on our gap years. Coming together from home, we were put together throughout the program. We chose to do a 6 week placement because we wanted long enough to get into life on our placement but also wanted time to travel independently around Nepal, afterwards, before we went on our other travels to other parts of Asia.
Our first night was spent in the Mandap, with 4 other volunteers (2 Aussies aged 19 and 24, 1 Canadian aged 20, and one English aged 65). It was nice to meet all the other volunteers in a relaxed atmosphere. The GVI and Himalayan Encounters (HE) staff gave us a quick outline of what we would be doing, which calmed our nerves. That evening Shamila (our HE guide) took us for our first experience of Nepali dal bhat (rice and lentils) at the Thakali Kitchen. We were shocked to see how big our portions were, and couldn’t finish our plates (but within a few weeks we were soon use to it!).
Throughout our first week, Shamila took us sight seeing around the best places of Kathmandu, helping us get use to the culture, which involved teaching us how to haggle and travel local style. We had a great adventure at the Pashupati Temple when eating our chocoloate bars didn’t go unnoticed by the monkeys- but we had to hide it quickly and run. We had a couple of cold nights in our home stays, where the families were very friendly, feeding us dal bhat for breakfast and supper…this was just the beginning of dal bhat!
Nepali lessons came as a shock at 7 am, but we had great fun with role plays, and getting to know each other better. One piece of advice: Nepal in January is EXTREMELY cold, bring layers.
After another cold night in the scenic Valley Farmhouse, outside of Kathmandu, we had a 3 hour hike through the rural part of KTM valley, and got a taste of the village culture, away from the bustle and noise of the city. Another stop was the beautiful town of Bhaktapur, with its ancient architecture (piece of advice for here: don’t go to Marco Polo Restaurant, where we were presented with some very amusing dishes!).
Laura CraigHarvey and Louise Mosely, 2012, 6wks in Nuwakot