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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Our November 2014 Volunteer Group

The November Volunteer Tour has just ended and it was a great success, due in no small part to the dedication and vibrancy of the volunteers. My early arrival allowed me to meet them at the airport, which I was thankful for. When we arrived at the hotel it was very late at night and all the cafés and restaurants were closed, so we provided toast for each of the hungry volunteers before bed. The next day we started by visiting the Monkey Temple. Lunch was at a local style café, and we undertook other activities such as shopping and packing, and getting ready for the long 21 day itinerary.

Our third day started with breakfast at the hostel after which we traveled by bus to the trekking start point at Sundarijal, where we arrived at 9am. Some of our porters met us there and some travelled with us from the hotel. We began our trek with an up-hill walk, passing through Tamang villages on the way, and stopped for lunch at a little Tea House where everyone enjoyed Nepali DhalBat. The views of the Kathmandu Valley were spectacular, and the weather was perfect. The group members, guides and porters enjoyed the trek, making friends along the way and learning many new things. My greatest happiness from the day was that no one suffered from the walk. We arrived at the stop point at 4pm, 2500 meters above sea level, in plenty of time for the sunset over the Ganjala Himalayas.

November 2014 Group

One of the highlights of the day was that the village girls made great connections with the Australian volunteers. For some of our female porters it was first time that they have visited Kathmandu. They had the opportunity to meet western volunteers one on one and had the chance to begin sharing their own stories.

Chisopani is on the trekking trail to the Langtang region. The lodge has a western styled menu and comfortable beds – an ideal over-night stop off for tired Western visitors not used to trekking. At 2pm the next day we arrived at the village where my Mum and other family members welcomed the newly arrived volunteers with marigold flower necklaces and freshly made village tea. Everyone relaxed and rested for the remainder of the afternoon.

We met the hostel kids after they arrived back from school, then walked up to the hill top above Batase village where we could see the new hostel being built by the FHC charity. There was a picnic tea complete with sunset views of the Himalayas – a perfect introduction to the village.

Our cook, who takes care of feeding the volunteers, is Nurbu Sherpa. She’s a great addition to the team and prepares all the meals from scratch, meeting whatever dietary requirements she is faced with while still keeping a strong Nepali flavor to each meal.

The following day started with a village tour and a visit to the Batase Blacksmith and Leather man who serves the farmers and villagers by making tools such as Gurkha Knives, bags, baskets and belts. The day continued with a Nepali lesson, some school plan preparations, and the division of the volunteers into smaller groups. A meeting with the current English teacher made planning the school work a little easier, and gave the volunteers a better understanding of what to expect.

The first day teaching at the school was an interesting day for the volunteers. Everyone enjoyed teaching grades one, two and three. All the kids loved the volunteers and wanted to learn as much as possible from them. It was more of a challenge with the smaller classes, but even there the knowledge the volunteers bring to these young people is valuable. Some of the members in the volunteer team wanted to stay longer than the allocated time in the classrooms, which was an inspiration to myself and the other teachers from the village.

The two weeks went by quickly and everyone left with tears in their eyes, great feelings and life-long memories and connections with the villagers, school and hostel kids. It was a two hour walk to catch a tourist bus from the bottom of the hill to Kathmandu, where everyone enjoyed a rest day before the start of the wildlife adventure at Chitwan National park. The six hour tourist bus ride to the Park was the most challenging part of the trip for the group members as the road is windy and a little rough compared to what they were used to back home. Finally, we made it to the hotel safe and sound.

After our arrival, the activities began with a local Tharu village tour of Chitwan National Park. Seeing how the locals lived was an eye-opener for the volunteers. Despite being situated next to one of the main tourist districts of Nepal, the local girls are still not sent to school and families have eight to ten children. Parents prefer boys to girls. Young girls here are treated much worse than in the villages — all due to a lack of education and to unacceptable cultural norms whereby girls are expected to get married and leave home at a young age.

Our tour continued with a performance by a local dance group, an elephant ride, and a jungle walk to experience the local wildlife. During this trip, we managed to spot many different birds, crocodiles, wild elephants, rhinos and monkeys, and we also got to experience the sound of tiger close by.

This was a small group of very inspiring young Australian University students, and I feel honoured and lucky to have met them and to have been their group leader. I enjoyed being able to share my life story and to introduce them to my family who still live in a small mud hut in Batase Village. I’m always excited about what next adventure will offer in my life.

~ Som Tamang

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