The kathmandu valley, Birds eye views are the best #nepal #landscape #instadaily A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on
I finally arrived in the Tribuhuvan airport in Kathmandu Nepal, after a gruelling 32 hours travel from Sydney. The flight into Nepal was great getting to see glimpses of the incredible mountain range and gliding through the clouds to the airport.
Stepping outside the airport was a flurry of shouting, smells and blinding light. It’s very overwhelming at first especially if your travelling solo, I had no idea where to go or what I was doing. But once I found my airport pickup – who was holding a makeshift sign with my name questionably spelled on it – we made our way to Kathmandu guest peace house. They definitely call it a ‘culture shock’ for a reason; it couldn’t be more different to England but I was looking forward to embracing it and learning alot from this experience. Nepals road system is questionable but I held on and took in the busy sights all around. Im not going to lie you have to be prepared for it, I was so overwhelmed and slightly terrified as I got into a small white van with two foreigners who spoke little english. I spent most of the journey planning my escape route! Luckily I had gone through an organisation IVHQ so I had some comfort but it was still pretty scary.
After settling into my new guest house and having my first taste of breakfast – which was very sweet ‘bread’ and black coffee. Needless to say Nepal doesn’t have access to many of the foods I’d usually be having but even this was a luxury as I knew my host family wouldn’t be serving this once I was on placement. So for now I made the most of it and looked forward to my few days of orientation.
My 3 day orientation was so much fun and a great way to start the experience. We had one of the smallest groups in a while at 15 people including 2 canadians, 2 french, 2 italians, 2 aussies, 1 Netherlands, 2 chinese, 2 portugese, 1 hawaiin and me representing the brits. Everyone was so cool and we bonded really well as a group so much that most of us have booked to do the chitwan safari in 2 weeks time which will be great to catch up! The orientation consisted of visiting the beautiful monkey temple Swayumbhunath. The temple is, as the name suggests, populated by monkeys who have no fear about going right up to you and are incredibly curious; also fairly intimidating when you start to get surrounded by them. We made our way up steps towards the main stupa taken in the awesome views of the Kathmandu valley surrounded by vast mountain ranges. Thousands and thousands of colourful prayer flags covered the entirety of the temple grounds. We got to take a look into an art gallery to find out about how some of the masters paint works such as the mandela and buddhas eyes. It was really interesting to find out about the different levels of mastery in the artwork and how the masters use gold within parts of their paintings. As we carried on our journey we made it to the top of the stupa; when visiting a stupa, you must walk around it clockwise. You can also spin the prayer wheels that line the base of it to create good karma or energy as you go round.
Just incredible views! #nepal #mountains #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on
You just don’t get details in building like this anymore #wanderlust #statue #travel #travelblog #travelgram #travelling #travelblogger #buddha #buddhism #blue #igers #insta #igdaily #igaddict #detail #architecture #building #asia #nepal #temple #culture #natgeotravel #natgeo #goodvibes #goodvibesonly
Swayambhunath #monkey #temple #peace #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on
The orientation provided another trip to the Buddhist haven of the Boudhanath Stupa where we got to witness yet another marvel of building and detailed craft of Nepal. This particular stupa had 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha around it.
Boudhanath #temple #nepal #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on
We also got to see the famous Durbar Square and do a bit of shopping in Thamel. If you’ve been to Kathmandu you’ll know its a dusty combination of old meets new with buildings on top of buildings stacked up and crammed in. But it is a hive of life and interest, as there is always something happening and you can walk into a shop and find pockets of peacefulness to sip your coffee that you wouldn’t have expected find compared to the high speed noises high streets just outside. It a bizarre yet wonderful mix of bustle and calm. There are tonnes of shops, souvenirs and cafes to explore that you’ll have a hard time not picking up at least something! A lot of the shops in Thamel sell western snacks – like oreos – which after placement will be a welcome relief, make sure you stock up on a few packs to take with you! You can also find ATMs scattered around most with armed guards around them. I’d take out as much as you need but be sensible, don’t carry too much on you – most of the placements around Nepal will also have places you can draw some out. Also be clever about it as some of the machines charge a fee to draw out. Once I got to my placement I pretty much drew out most of my money as I knew after meeting my host family that I could keep it safe in their home and it was easier as I was based there for the duration as well as it being a quiet village. I only took out small amounts whilst I was in Kathmandu.
notes with elephants and rhinos on! Now thats my kind of money #nepali #currency #traveller #elephant A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on
One last thing about Thamel – if you want a great place to have a drink or two in the evening or day – head to Phat Kath and grab yourself an Everest beer! We loved it and its a great starting point to onto some of the other bars along the hight street. Don’t get lost in the maze of guest houses and shops that start to meld into one giant jingo game after a few days of living there!
Our orientation had to come to an end after a great few days learning about the culture, meeting new friends and exploring the many temples of Kathmandu. It was sad to leave them all to go to placements but exciting to see were you will be based for the next few months!
I then got placed in Bhaktapur not too far from kathmandu but much more rural which was a welcome change. The volunteers, host Family and staff there were all friendly and welcoming. The kids were awesome. Too cute. I started getting called ‘Jack Uncle’ by them all. The next few months were going to be on some of the best I had ever experienced!
So I’m about a week into ‘living’ in Nepal now. I love it. The initial shock and anxiety has been replaced with excitement and awe at this beautiful country. Filled with breathtaking scenery, a wealth of culture and so many friendly faces!
Stay tuned for my next instalment to my adventures in Nepal!
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