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Namaste Nepal

NEPAL | Saturday, 2 July 2016 | Views [392]

After a long 14 hours, sprinting through a Chinese airport and rough turbulence I finally arrived in Nepal- my luggage, however, did not. Now here I am, three days later in the same pair of clothes and soaking wet shoes and socks, still waiting for my luggage which is somewhere in China.

I arrived in Kathmandu late at night to the sounds of motorbikes, cars, buses and drunken people roaming the streets. It didn't take long to see the extreme poverty and situations people were living in here in Nepal. When I arrived to my hotel there was a young boy outside doing cocaine and children begging to come inside. Now while I arrive in a car, get to stay in a hotel with hot water and a comfortable bed, the majority of the population of Nepal lives below the line. In this moment I realised how much I hated being white and privileged.

The first few days I am spending with my in country manager and sightseeing in Nepal. The first day was spent visiting two world listed heritage sites. Firstly the Boudha Stupa - one of the largest and most significant Buddhist monuments in the world. It is believed that those who reside around this great stupa will never have to suffer from the hunger, femine and unfavourable conditions. People come here to spin the prayer wheels, count prayer beads and say their prayers as they walk around the Boudha in a clockwise direction. Nepalese people of all ages, some with no limbs and some with faces of great despair continuously walked around the Boudha. I had not seen anything like this before and it was pretty magical thing to witness.

The second was the Pashupatinath Temple, a famous sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Pashupatinath which located on the banks of the Bagmati River. Along the banks of the river, Hindus are cremated and their bodies are placed into the holy river. It is believed the Bagmati River purifies the people spiritually. Five bodies were being cremated while we were there, I had learnt about this in Anthropology so it was super interesting to see.

At night we visited a traditional Nepalese restaurant where we were welcomed with a Bindi (red dot) on the forehead. It was a traditional sit down restaurant and the food was incredible. In Nepali culture it is polite to offer more food, I felt rude for saying no so my plate kept getting filled and now I won't be eating for months. While we were there, a Nepalese band performed tradition songs and dances.

The second day we visited the ' Swoyambhu Stupa' located at the top of the hill in the Kathmandu valley and also known as the monkey temple. We went by motorbike and I don't know what road rules are in place or if there are any at all, but it was insane to say the least. Dodging cows, dogs, goats, buses crammed with people, motorbikes, people carrying tables on their heads - I thought we were going to die. We managed to get to the top and the view was well worth the near death experience. It was packed with people- few tourists and mainly Nepalese people who had come to light candles or spin the prayer wheels. The stupa was covered in prayer flags and it was incredibly beautiful. On the way back I was asked if I wanted to drive the motorbike home, I laughed but he was completely serious - he must have not seen my face of fear on the way there.

The shopping is incredible here- clutches, bags, jewellery, harem pants and hiking gear for the cheapest prices. The shop owners are all desperate for sales and they know westerners have money. So much so that when I visited a shop and began to look at a clutch the lady basically tore apart the store just to show me the rest of the clutches. I didn't mind because obviously I was going to buy something, everything is gorgeous. However, it is amazing to realise how much power and privilege you have as a westerner in a developing country.

While exploring Kathmandu it is devastating to see the impact of the 2015 earthquake- buildings and landmarks destroyed, people living in tents in the centre of the city and people working tirelessly to rebuild thier homes and shops. But in spite of this, majority of the people I have met so far have so much hope and peaceness within them. Sure some of the people are angry and extremely unhappy, but i think there is a lot we could all learn from the Nepalese people. For such an impoverished country - they are so rich in culture, hope and life.

 

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