What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE: 

What’s that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would love to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their £3 coffee and stare at their £40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is: “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another: “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one: “What’s your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders during Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living in host homes whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more & more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China; along with all the requirements for the move very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for it here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself 🙂

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

Continue to stay up to date on the journey by following my social links below,

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

Nepal Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Nepal GoPro

My return to one of my favourite countries with some of my favourite people; the beautiful, Nepal!

I’d never used a GoPro before so I appreciate I need to work on some of my shooting skills but I’m pretty pleased with my first try! I edited it in the Gopro Studio and iMovie. Overall I was really impressed with how the GoPro  captures the footage and the quality.

I used a Gopro pole and housing case which were great but came with some downsides. The housing compromised the sound quality which is Ok if you just want to capture footage. If you’re looking to use it to capture sounds I’d recommend buying an external sound recorder. The pole was great in capturing different perspectives. i would of liked to make the camera more steady though so if you have any recommendations of what to use then drop me a comment below!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

Memories, Places & People’s Faces | Portraits

Memories, Places & People’s Faces | Portraits

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Portraits & Photo-Journalism

I have been fortunate enough to have met some incredible people on my journey so far. During my recent travels I took it upon myself to start capturing some portraits and try to tell a story. I actually found it really fun trying to create an image that would give an insight into a persons life and also enjoyed the photo-journalism side of it all as well. Creating a collection of images that I am proud of and archive some amazing memories I’ve had with that/or involving that individual. This is the first post to share the few portraits I have released so far and I have many more that I’m working on and more to take!

I just hope that upon hearing some of these stories it will inspire or give someone else some perspective on what another person has gone/going through. I think that its human nature to be curious and want to know about other people, especially those that are in a completely different culture to us. Looking at portraits transports someone into someone else’s life for just a brief second and I’ve found that I really love capturing their portraits!

First up is Prayash, who I met whilst staying at a guest house in Bhaktapur. He works there whilst attending some college classes and managing his radio show. If you’re ever in the area then tune into 107.9fm every thursday 3-4pm for some debates and slick tunes. Prayash dreams of becoming a media personality and enjoys exploring to see new views like the one behind him. He took me to see his home village and the incredible view from Nagarkot, thanks man!” 

“Next up is one of my Nepali Didis, Gita. She works in the fields and helps look after Bhakatapur Children’s Home; as well as be a mother to 3 of her own children Suraj, Sumon & Susata. Her husband is away in the Nepali army currently but she still manages to have one of the kindest, goofiest and warm personalities I’ve come across.”

“Rahul taught me the power of a ‘pinky promise’. I have so much time for this little bro. He has a bright future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see him succeed in everything he chooses to do next.”

“Let me introduce the taxi driver with the most swag, Rameshwor. You’ll be able to identify him from his blacked out shades, leather driving gloves and nepali dance tunes. When I first visited Nepal he was our trusted point of call for transportation between the village and marketplace. He doesn’t speak much English but we still managed to have some funny conversations. When I returned to Sipadol I was walking through the market and to my surprise he ran up to me and remembered who I was; which was amazing! I was also happy to see that he was able to buy a new car and had employed someone else to drive the old one, growing his business.”

“Back in 2014 I went for a wander in the marketplace in Bhaktapur where I was staying. I decided to head into a shoe shop to have a look around. 2 minutes later I ended up sat having chai (tea) & shisha pipe with Suniel Duwal, who is a pretty cool guy. Recently I went back to surprise him and once again drank chai whilst he showed me some metal bands concert videos – he’s a massive fan, as well as being a dedicated Arsenal supporter. I also got to meet his wife, daughter & mother-in-law. If you’re ever looking for some new style – Sunil Fashion House can sort you out.”

“This is Kopila (lalala my nickname for her, she finds it funny calling me Jackalalala) who loves to dance and spends most of the time giggling with her best friend Anita – who is also at the children’s home. She is also the one who taught me the numbers from 1-20 in nepali as I kept getting stuck at 10!”

“If you have a question, Sushil can answer it. He’s very smart and his dream is to be a doctor. He is just an all round cool guy and I spend a lot of the time learning from him!”

“This is Suraj – who is awesome. His mother is Gita who works at the children’s home. On my second visit I’d never met him, his mum or his siblings before, but we got on so well – he felt like my younger brother and we spent two weeks learning about physics, nepali vocab & wrestlemania! I can’t even explain how enriching for both sides going to volunteer or just talking to locals can be; if you’re considering doing it then don’t hesitate to drop me a message if your not sure how to go about it.”

I hope you enjoyed those portraits and snippets of memories from my travels.

There are many more to come so stay tuned and follow up on my social links!

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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

Face Project

 

Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

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Swayumbhunath – ‘The Monkey Temple’

It’s clear if you follow me or have read previous blog posts that I LOVE Nepal. I also love visiting the various temples you’ll find at every corner or hilltop if you venture around the country. My favourite though, is Swayumbhunath, a Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site nicknamed ‘The Monkey Temple’ sits atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley. From the first time I visited this spectacular structure I loved it and would strongly recommend giving it a visit if you ever plan on visiting Nepal and Kathmandu. Adorned with hundreds of coloured prayer flags and mischievous little monkeys the temple offers some awesome views of the surrounding city and mountains. The temples jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography make Swayumbhunath one of the most fascinating religious temples to see.

The mix of local souvenir sellers, religious devotees and spiritual offerings happening all around make visiting Swayumbhunath a great place to experience. People spin the prayer wheels around at the base; within each one the equivalent of chanting the ‘om’ prayer sits inside – to create a flow of good energy as they walk clockwise around the gleaming white stupa. All the while the sound of calm, ominous chanting is played which gives being there a kind of magical feeling; if you manage to go there on a sunny day then the whole place feels like walking in a dream with the light reflecting off the whitewashed stones.

I visited the stupa in March 2016 a year after the April 2015 Earthquakes and the stupa is still standing proud with some maintenance work going on but the structure still intact; many of the smaller temples surrounding it have been reduced to rubble.

Please enjoy some photographs I shot at the temple from my last visit!

 

Prayer Flags

Turning the Wheels

EYES

Om Prayer Wheels

Wheels

Pigeons on Stupa

Renovation Work 3

Renovation Work 2

Monkey at Sway 2

Flags With A View 2

Candle Prayers

Monkey Temple

Praying Statue

Renovation Work 1

Monk Meets Monkey

1000+ Hundred Flags

Buddha in Stupa

Monkey See

Prayer Wheels

Gliding

Staue at the Stupa

Sway

Keep up to date by following my social channels,

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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

 

 

Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

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Hello & Namaste!

A quick travel update to let you know what I’m doing, where I am and what’s next! I have just finished the first part of my travelling plans for 2016 with Nepal and India. Can’t believe I can add these to my travel history!

NEPAL

I re-visited my Nepali family & village which was an incredible trip being able to head back again to see them all. Most importantly it was good to see how relief efforts are going and to deliver the sponsored fundraising money! The homes are looking good and should be finished within a few months so they will be able to move out of the tarpaulin tents and back into their home.

For everyones continued support and donations – a BIG warm thank you from me & the children of Bhakatpaur Orphan Home. This is what we can achieve when we work together! I had such a great time with them all in Nepal and there will be more detailed blog posts coming up as well a few new projects I’m working on, so stay tuned!

INDIA

India is hard to sum up in one word. Unreal. Crazy. Beautiful. Chaotic. Awesome. It was everything I wanted from a trip to India and more. I met so many amazing people, experienced such diverse places and got a real taste of the culture. Although my time was short I managed to cram in so much and again I will be writing up some more detailed posts on my trip, along with reviews and some pretty epic photos! For now enjoy some of these…

GHANA

As you may know I am volunteering with VSO at the end of May in Ghana. I’m back in the UK for a few days to sort some things out for visas & work permits. However I am flying to Portugal for a week to soak up some sunshine & do some exploring! I’ll then come back for a Team Leader training weekend where I’ll find more out about my projects & meet some of my team hopefully!

You can still donate to my fundraising page and anything is very much appreciated – you’ll also be able to see the projects your money is going towards too!

https://www.justgiving.com/Jack-Gunns1

That’ll bring me to the beginning of May – where I have 3 weeks before I depart for my VSO program. I currently have some travel plans being arranged for that time and I’ll update as soon as I get confirmation, which is very exciting!

I also wanted to take a moment to just consider everything. I feel super grateful that I am able to have these experiences – I have created a lot of them for myself with dedication, handwork & persistence. But it just shows how you can completely change your lifestyle if you truly want to. This time last year I was in an office not enjoying it all, I took the steps to change that.

“If you want something badly enough. You’ll make it a priority.”

Stop dreaming and start doing.

Keep up to date by following my social channels,

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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

What To Pack For Nepal

What To Pack For Nepal

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Ok, so you’ve made the brilliant decision to travel to Nepal! Nice one, you won’t be disappointed by the natural beauty and kindness you’re about to experience. But you want to be prepared right? So here’s a guide on essentials items I’d consider packing before you head off on your trip! (This is as much of a guide to help you as it is to help me, as I’m currently also packing to head to Nepal, see you there!)

First off we’re gonna start with the sensible essentials to make sure your fully prepared for any instances you may experience whilst out there.

 

 Medical stuff

De-hydration tablets – these are vital as you’ll probably have access to a lot less water when your travelling around Nepal. You can buy bottled water and always make sure the top is sealed but its better to be prepared in case you do start experiencing dehydration symptoms.

Water Purification tablets – always handy to have in case you have no choice but to drink water from a river or rainfall whilst travelling or trekking. These make the water safer to drink if you leave them in a sealed bottle for an hour or so depending on tablet requirements.

First aid kit – never travel without a small one.

Wet wipes – again an essential travel item!

Depending on season – suncream – I made the mistake of not taking suncream out in the summer months and I got burnt on my face so badly! haha make sure you take a little if your sensitive to the sunlight like me.

Diarrhoea tablets – I went through packets of these. You do not want to experience this whilst trekking. It’s not a great situation. Nepali much like the infamous delhi belly can occur due to the change up in dietary lifestyle you may experience when travelling through Nepal. I’d recommend avoiding all ‘western’ options and just eat nepali cuisine as the western equivalents often made me sick.

Hand Sanitiser

Small basic medical needle set – just in case you end up in a medical situation where you need one of these. The medical facilities are obviously not as advanced and I find its always good to be able to use your own set of clean needles for your own peace of mind.

 

 Clothing

All clothing items are pretty cheap to buy in country and most trekking stuff you can buy there too. This can save money, time space and allow you to have less luggage to carry on the way there.

Summer

A few T-shirts – also pretty cheap to buy in country if you want to travel a little lighter

Shorts

Linen trousers

Sunglasses

Slip on shoes – good to pack as they are easy to take on and off if entering houses/buildings that do not allow you wear shoes inside

Winter

Wolly Hat

Thermals

Gloves

Socks

Trekking

Hiking boots

Thick socks

Waterproof jacket

Thermal jacket

Neck warmer

 

 Useful

Torch – Nepal experiences frequent loss of power so its always good to have one of these at hand

Batteries – again batteries can be more reliable than the electricity.

Swiss army knife or multitool

Re-fillable bottle – I have a small bottle that folds down in an accordion style which is great as I can pack it away small and use it with the water purification tablets if I need to.

Ear plugs

Head torch

Multiple passport photos – you’ll need these if your trekking to get passes

Travel card and some US dollars – US Dollars are accepted in most places in Nepal, you can use other currencies like GBP or AUS but most prefer dollars or NPR (Nepali Rupees) I found it was handy to have some dollars.

Camera – of course!

Power charger/external pack – good to charge phones/cameras if you are not able to access electricity due to power cut

Bag waterproof cover – monsoon season

Basic mobile phone unlocked – so you can purchase a sim whilst out there and use this whilst in country. To get a Nepali sim card you must have passport photos and copies of your passport to purchase one ( I found there was more security when I got a sim card out than there was walking through the airport, they even took my fingerprint!

 

Right, bags packed so head to the airport and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Nepal is beautiful and you’ll be fully prepared for any circumstance you come across now so enjoy!

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media links and keep an eye out for some youtube content coming this way from my upcoming trip to Nepal.

Happy travels and #positivevibes

Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

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It’s nearly time to head back to my village in Nepal! I’m super super psyched to return and see all those smiling faces. I visited and stayed in Nepal in 2014 for 2 and half months and it was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had! Its been over a year since I left and I made the decision to head back and visit.

Unfortunately I was supposed to fly out in 2015 but due to the terrible earthquakes last April I was unable to go. I decided to delay my flight until this coming March 2016 and use the time I had to raise funds for re-building. I took on the challenge of a half marathon and managed to round up a £1000 worth of sponsorship which I’m really grateful for and proud of.

IMG_0029

 

Its a few weeks till I go now and I have mixture of anxiousness, excitement and energy. I can’t wait to see everyone but the situation is going to be a lot different to my previous stay out there. I know from speaking to them and other volunteers that they are still smiling and positive about the situation but it will be a shock to see it first hand.

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into helping them with whatever I can. They have finally got enough funds to start the re-build of the orphanage and I’m no builder but I’m ready to load up some baskets and carry cement around on my back with them! I cannot wait to see the children and find out how they are all doing with school and take them out a few gifts and surprises to lift their spirits as well.

Nepal is going to be a very different state to what I saw previously. They are currently not in the best political situation (but they never really were…) and the fuel crisis is another major pressure on the small landlocked country. Causing fuel shortages and limited accessibility and transport around the country.

However I’m still positive about the trip out there and the reunion I’ll have with everyone in the village! I’m hoping to vlog (for the first time on my youtube channel! say whatttt) some of the time I’m there to give you an insight into what’s happening and what I’m doing.

Stay tuned and up to date with all the details of my trip by following my social media links or subscribing to my brand new channel 🙂

My Travel Goals 2016

My Travel Goals 2016

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My New Years Resolutions of 2015…

We are at the end of 2015 already! I can’t believe how quick this year has gone by, I swear every year it seems to go by quicker and quicker.

At the beginning of this year my main priority was to try and find something that would make me happy in my working life. I’ve struggled this year to really find something that satisfies that box but I have realised that my passion is travelling – so if I can try and make some kind of career that involves this in my life then I’m half way there. I’ve spent this past year building on myself personally through research, preparation and knowledge. I have thought about lots of different careers or paths that will incorporate travel in them and so have taken the necessary steps to create the foundations needed to pursue them.

Every year one of my resolutions is to be healthier (I mean everyone says that right?) and every year it never really happens. I think the problem is that I keep ending back in a place that I’m not 100% happy with and so fall into the same routines and habits. My hope, is that once I start making moves to change my entire lifestyle; that diet, exercise and general wellbeing will shift with it. I want to make every effort next year to tackle it.

I also wanted to get my site up and running and start blogging – which I am happy to say I have succeeded! There’s a lot more to be done and a lot of work ahead but I can at least say I have my online platform up and running for when I go away which I’m proud of! I also managed to get some freelance projects up and running this year which is exciting and adds to my expanding portfolio of work.

What’s happened in 2015?

Well, 2015 for me was a lot of changes and confusion. I was a recent graduate in January and a recently arrived traveller. I started the year going from job to job and ended it still switching jobs! I just couldn’t settle in any of the work I was doing, something was missing. I realised for me I find it hard staying in one place and extremely difficult working in an office environment. I felt like it was restricting my freedom, creativity and passion. So, October I made the decision to head back to a small shop job and concentrate on making travel my priority; whilst working part-time and trying to start up my website/blog. I continued to do some freelance design on the side along with my part-time hours and trying to create a reliable blogging schedule with a new post at least once a week.

I also made the decision to start studying for a TEFL qualification so I’d have an option to make money on my travels and also get some amazing experience teaching abroad.

So aside from working a part-time (full-time in retail for anyone who knows what working in a shop is like…overtime), creating a blogging platform, writing, freelance designing and studying for a TEFL. I thought i’d apply for a volunteering team leader role that would start next summer in one of 5 locations. Turns out that I got accepted onto that so now I’m going to be leaving for that as well next year!

The whole process was daunting at first and I had (still have times) where I think what am I doing!? Is this the right idea? Did I blow a good opportunity for another career path? But in the end I know that one thing makes me happy: travel. And not just going on a jolly somewhere, I mean real travel. Exploring, learning and meeting like-minded people like myself. I have always liked getting involved with projects and volunteering so this decision is th right one for me at this point in time.

What can you expect from this blog in the next year?

Well my travel goals 2016, are hopefully a lot of travelling! Tales of adventures and insights into different projects I’m working on whilst i’m on the road. I’ll be writing, reviewing, sharing, photographing and uploading anything that I come across on my travels throughout the year!

My rough plan for the next (few) years is firstly to head back to my village in Sipadol, Nepal next March for a few weeks to go and see the children and villagers. I’m so excited to head back there and see everyone over a year later. And with everything that happened with the earthquakes this year it’ll be great to see everyone is doing ok and help out with anything that they need. Re-building work has just started on the children’s home and the estimation is up to 6 months to get everything done so I should be able to lend a hand where possible!

I’ll pop back home after that for a week or so and then head for the volunteering team leader role; which if I get to choose will be heading to Dharmsala, India for 8 months! I’ll be a team leader that co-ordinates with other volunteers and community projects whilst I’m there. It should be a highly valuable experience and a tough challenge but I cannot wait!

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02574/india_2574432k.jpg

After 8 months as a team leader I’ll head over to China to do some teaching with my TEFL qualification! A chance for me to test the teaching waters and get the opportunity to live as a local. I’ve wanted to explore this part of the world for some time now so I can’t wait to take it all in and of course take a lot of photos! Another big challenge but a great experience and lots of cultural adventures and places to explore!

http://www.thewingsofhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Emal-China-Trek-Photo-645591.jpg

My plan after that is to use the money that I earn as a teacher to do some more travelling around that part of the world, not much of a plan as of yet but I want to keep it fairly flexible and open to anything that  may come up – so a lot more of Asia to discover!

If I have anything left over I’d love to head over to Australia again but that is quite a few years away so anything could happen!

How can I follow the adventures?

I’m on lots of social media

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

I really hope I can continue to upload content here and share all these experiences with you. So if you want to keep up with my travel goals 2016, then make sure you follow my social links and look out for posts every Tuesday (usually)!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Travel Goals 2016

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Nepal Volunteer

A Day in the Life of a Nepal Volunteer

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If you’ve not considered visiting the stunning country of Nepal then I’d strongly recommend looking into it. I’d never even thought about visiting here until I came across a volunteering program that was running in Nepal. I’ll be honest and say one of the biggest things that did it was the fact it was so affordable, I had recently graduated from uni and was a skint student with not a lot to my name but a strong desire to head off travelling. I really liked the idea of volunteering and doing a home stay as I had done some teaching abroad but never a home stay. It was a terrifying thought when I was booking it all but I thought why not?

Fast forward to the end of July. Now picture this, I had just travelled around the east coast of Australia for a month and had landed in Nepal after 32 hours of travelling via Dubai, Delhi and finally arriving in Kathmandu. I was extremely sleep deprived and in for the biggest culture shock I hadn’t prepared myself for. I went with it and I had the most incredible experience. I got placed in the most beautiful little village in Sipadol in Bhakatpur and the next two months couldn’t have been better.

For any of you thinking wow I’d love to do some volunteering but I don’t know if I’d be any help or Nepal seems a bit too ‘out of my comfort zone‘” I would say to you that Nepal surprised me and completely changed my view on travelling and outlook on life. You can do a lot of good and really create true lasting friendships with the people you meet. I still speak to all my volunteer friends and everyone at the orphanage and I”m heading back very soon! The media makes things look way scarier than they actually are, of course always be sensible and do your research but Nepal connected me with the most friendliest people I’ve ever encountered!

Anyway, I could waffle on about how great it all was forever but for anyone wanting an insight into what exactly a ‘typical‘ (I use this in the loosest sense as you never know if you’ll be invited to some strangers house for tea, end up doing a dance in festival time with loads of Nepali villagers, watch a cow give birth or smoke Shisha in a local shoe shop – all of these events actually happened, no day is dull while your volunteering) day was like whilst volunteering then here you go! 

Volunteering Timetable

5:00am It’s time to wake up, open those eyes wide and Jump out of bed with a spring in your step… Well it was more like peeling the eyelids back and dragging yourself down the rocky path to the orphanage but after a few days you get over it and then you can’t get down there quick enough!

A room with a view #nepal #travelling #view #instadaily

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

5:30am Meditation. It’s time to channel those inner energies and create good karma. The kids used to all be up and ready sitting crossed legged whilst chanting by the time I used to get there. They also sing there national anthem everyday which was pretty cute to watch.   6:00am It’s never too early to do some chores and have a quick clean up of the bedrooms before school.

“Feed the birds” #nepal #ivhq2014 #birds #instagood A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

6:00am – 7:00am This is free time to spend with the kids to play games, have a chat, do the girls hair and if your musically gifted (I’m not) then some of the volunteers teach guitar lessons. I started going with Ashis one of the older boys to take the milk down to sell. It’s pretty cool to see and they have a way of measuring how good the milk is in exchange for rupees.

Sushil & Ashis, 2 of the best guys you’ll meet 👌 #nepal #bros #smiles

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Jammin’ time with Rohan! #drums #nepal #ivhq2014 #travels #thebiggestsmile A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

7:00am is breakfast time, cue chaos, absolute chaos. The kids all rush in to grab their plates and the volunteers man the rice and dhal creating a conveyer belt of food for each child. Throughout breakfast you’ll just hear the munching of rice with the occasional ‘more rice uncle’ ‘more curry’ ‘paniiiii’ (water)

7:30 – 8:00am It’s time to get ready for school. Everyone takes their positions outside the house as each child bursts through the front doors for shoes to be put on, lunchboxes to pack and hands to hold (everyone wants to hold your hand on the way to school) you’ll end up with two arms full of swinging kids as you manoeuvre down the slippery ‘path’ with each one handing you flowers. Don’t forget to get blessed with a tika on the way, one of the kids will get it done for you! It’s probably one of my favourite parts of the day! So many laughs! As you wave goodbye to all the kids shouting from the smiley bus you instantly cannot wait for them to be running back down the path to come home.

#blessed #tb #peace #tika 🙏✌️

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#morningwalks #schoolrun #countingthedays #nepal ✌️ A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

9:00am Now it’s time to fill your belly a with a delicious breakfast cooked by aama. Rice, dhal and sometimes an occasional potato will be your main diet for your stay. There were times I never wanted to see rice again but overall I loved aamas cooking and whenever she made rotis I could have jumped for joy and sung from the treetops.

9:30am – 10:00am Freetime is something you’ll welcome after the hectic morning you’ve just had, have a rest but not for too long…

10:00am -12:00am Get back over to the house and help out your didis (older sisters/ the house mothers) there’s goats to graze, cows to clean out, house to clean, grass to cut, grass to carry and clothes to wash. Some of the best moments were getting to know and bond with the didis whilst helping out. It’s the best way to learn some of the language and get a real feel for a Nepali way of life. The mothers were outstanding and taught me a lot about being strong, kind and hardworking. You also get to make a fool out of yourself and have a laugh at your grass cutting technique or cow milking motions.

Hajur baii #nepal #ivhq2014 #aseko #instavillagemission #laugh

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working the field, planting them crops #nepal #travels #instavillagemission #farming #colourspopping A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Pdidi grass cutting #nepal #travels #farmlife #instavillagemission #vscocam

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12:00am Fried rice time! This doesn’t sound that exciting but when you’ve had a limited food diet and worked up an appetite in the fields this is the best thing. Fried rice, chilli, garlic and egg lovingly cooked by the house mothers.   1:00pm – 3:00pm is Freetime and can be spent helping out, reading a book or heading into the old town to do some shopping. I used to love heading down to the fruit sellers and bringing back delicious mangos and bananas for the kids and volunteers!

down at the fruit stalls #nepal #travelling #instavillagemission #vscocam A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

The kids love mangos just a little bit #nepal #ivhq2014 #smile #vscocam

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3:00pm The kids are back! Sometimes if you’ve gone down into town you can time it to catch the bus back up with the kids which always goes down well as you see the big grins walking towards you from the school gates and everyone wants to sit next to you on the bus!

it’s been a long day at school #sleepy #busride #puttinginthehours #nepal A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

4:00pm Time to go down to the stream and wash the school clothes/ mess about in the water soaking the volunteer (me) and getting soap everywhere! Even the dullest activities are made fun by the kids, they have such a zest for life and never seem to be down, it’s really inspiring.

the only time i loved doing the washing 👌#happy #nepal #travels #tb A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Surfsoaping #surfer #nepal #ivhq #instavillagemission

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5:00pm Time to help with homework – this translates to – trying to get everyone to stop throwing there books around and sit quietly, when I say everyone I pretty much mean the boys haha the girls were pretty good at getting on with it. You pretty much hold the fort until the actual teacher comes and then you can let him do what he’s good at and get the children studying.

6:00pm Time to milk the cows and have a quick milk tea with the didis and take the rest of the milk back to the house for aama. Now it’s time for dinner and more rice and dhal bhat with a charades game with aama to explain what happened in the day (aama spoke little English but we still connected through lots of actions and facial expressions which she seemed to find hilarious)

7:00pm – 8:00pm is chill time with your other volunteers and time to pick out that perfect Instagram picture you can post and hashtag your heart away for friends and family back home!

9:00pm Bed. Sleep. You’ll be meditating in a few hours time and doing it all over again!

So there you have it, a typical day in the life of a volunteer in Nepal based on my experience. No day is the same and weekends are even more intense as the kids don’t have school on a Saturday! I used to love Saturdays and chilling with the kids, grazing the goats and going to watch the boys play football!

Go volunteer! I’m sure/I know you’ll have the BEST time!

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Namaste Jack Uncle | Travel Talk

Namaste Jack Uncle | Travel Talk

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“Namaste Jack Uncle” is what I would hear all the time on a daily basis. The kids here are among the happiest kids I’ve met and so content with so little. I was expecting it to be at least a week before they opened up to me and talked. Not at all, within the first few hours I had kids hanging from me like monkeys. I’ve gotten to know alot of them and kept finding myself anxiously waiting all day for the kids to come back from school so we could play and do chores!

the school run #nepal #ivhq2014 #chito

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get to wake up to this everyday #nepal #travels #nature

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so much red #shrine #nepal #temple #travelling

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I sought out a tatooist while I was there. I now have arms full of snakes, cats, a house and some mountains. Little rahul is quite the artist. We took the kids to the temple and had a picnic one of the days which was more of a mission than it may sound at first. I went into town with our host sister Saroza to stock up on momos (kind of nepali dumplings if you will – a favourite amongst the children and myself!), we then took a taxi up the mountain which sounds impressive but then if you throw in the fact that Nepal has no real ‘roads’ so the path up the mountain was a little rocky – an even more impressive feat for the taxi driver. As well as this we took huge speaker amps up so we could have music to dance too and marched 21 kids up a to the top of a mountain. It was well worth it and I think I was way more excited than the children! Over the duration of my stay we had various volunteers from different countries come stay and the orphanage was as busy as ever. I went to the old city of Bhaktapur and got the chance to see the Gai Jatra festival. Everyone dresses up and its a pretty great atmosphere. It was a hive of dancing and stick clapping. The old city is quite amazing with lots of old temples and architecture. It’s pretty impressive. Overtime I went down to the old city I felt a sense of ancient history and awe at the buildings around me.

Bhakatapur festival #temple #nepal #rammedro #partytime

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I also witnessed the birth of a baby calf on the farm. Just as we were leaving to go back one evening one of the mothers came shouting saying the gai (cow) was having a baby. We stayed and watched and it was incredible to see so close. We now have baby wally to add to the family. Just a typical day in the life of a volunteer.

Rohan and ‘wally’; the new addition to the fam #nepal #ivhq2014 #neckhug #baby #cow

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Time is flying! I have really settled into the nepali way of life and home now. The more comfortable im getting in my placement the more the days seem to be passing by quicker. I recently went to chitwan on safari where I met with the other volunteers from orientation, which was a great chance to catch up and see how everyones placements were going. The resort was really nice and we got to shower on top of an elephant! Then went on a canoe down the flooded river and an elephant safari. The weather held out for us and we only had one delay from a landslide on the way so pretty successful. More to come on my chitin safari adventure experience in another blog post!

Pdidi grass cutting #nepal #travels #farmlife #instavillagemission #vscocam

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We threw a birthday party for all the kids as it was two of their birthdays. Myself and the other volunteers bought mangos, rice pudding, a cake and new school bags for all 20 kids which was great! We danced alot and at one point got taken to a random party in the village as they were celebrating a festival as well. I had no idea what we were doing at a villagers house to begin with. Then music came on and everyone started dancing,  it was me and two other volunteers who were the only foreign people and the rest were nepali villagers. No one really spoke good english but everyone was so excited to have us there. They laughed at my questionable dance moves which I don’t blame them for because they were terrible! They offered us some delicious foods and then we went back to carry on partying with the kids and other volunteers. It was so fun and random to party with the locals and a truly unique moment. Life in the village was pretty sweet and loved being with the kids.

Jdidi Roti machine #nepal #ivhq2014 #food #vscocam

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The Nepali fam #nepal #homefromhome #ivhq2014 #vscocam

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The kids love mangos just a little bit #nepal #ivhq2014 #smile #vscocam

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pre-roti rolling with pdidi #nepal #food #culture #vscocam

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One man and his goats #IVHQ #nepal #goatherder #instagood

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I also had the cool opportunity of experiencing the womens festival a day where women dress up, dance and fast for the whole day to pray for a good husband. In support of the females in the house I also fasted. It was a long day. The girls all looked grown up in thier best outfits and saris and we went to the temple to dance/me take photos. At one point jamona and bdidi pulled me in to dance. I felt like I was gonna be eaten alive by the women ‘praying for good husbands’ at the sight of a giant white man.

the girls getting ready for the womens #festival with #henna #nepal #ivhq2014

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today was all about the ladies #womens #festival #nepal #culture #dancing #demsaris

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We got the paints out one of days which was great to see kids getting creative. The younger boys ishan, rahul and ashok decided to put paint all over their hands and then ran through the home to the bathroom. They dropped dollops of paint everywhere and tried to wash in the bathroom, which just resulted in blue stains and streaks. It was funny to watch until ashok filled a bucket of water to throw at the paint and got half of it over me. We all laughed as we cleaned up the blue mess. The whole time ishan telling me not to tell anyone.

no tell saroza, no riya, no rupak #nepal #ivhq #oops #blue #instavillagemission

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we unleashed arts & crafts today #nepal #ivhq2014 #instavillagemission #topstudent #moneyshot

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Nepal is pretty awesome. Made even sweeter by my little bro rahul who pinky promised me with both hands everyday. Then kissed them both and says “friends forever uncle, yes”.

before the painting got out of control #nepal #ivhq #painting #art

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There were so many incredible moments during my stay with the Thapa family from aama (the grandmother/mother) cooking us delicious rice dishes every morning and evening but not being able to speak any english; which was interesting when she would keep piling more rice on our plates even if we were full up. I impressed everyone by learning the days of the week and numbers in nepali along with a few other nepali words and phrases which got me bonus points with the house mothers and aama. Going with Ashis one of the older boys every morning to sell the milk. Helping them all with their homework everyday and walking them to the bus stop for school; sometimes we’d get on the ‘smiley bus’ with them if were headed into town. Getting to know the house mothers, who on the most part don’t get as much attention as everyone else, so it was really great getting to know Jamuna, Maiya and Parabati; even if we had to act out most of our conversations due to language barriers – this made it all the more worthwhile!

Hajur baii #nepal #ivhq2014 #aseko #instavillagemission #laugh

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Bumpy bus ride – nepali style #bus #nepal #travelling #asia #vscocam

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The end of my trip was bitter sweet. I was super glad to get home and eat some home cooking but this was outweighed and overshadowed by the fact that I was leaving my new family behind. Half of me was now entwined with this small nepali village. I never expected to fall in love with an entire village and the kids. The kids I had been with everyday for 2 whole months, who I walked to the bus stop and stayed up with to help with their homework. The kids I had bonded with, I had to say goodbye too. I’d never felt such a heavy pull on my heart as I did the day I had to leave and get in the taxi to the airport. I was leaving behind new friends, a home and a new family.

As soon as I landed back in England I was happy but sad that it had come to an end. I lasted four months being back before I booked another flight back there. I’m heading back to my nepali family and I couldn’t be happier!

this view though #nepal #travelling #instavillagemission #incredible #colourspopping #mountains

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big and small #nepal #ivhq #bestbuds #instavillagemission #hands

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