Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hello from Nepal #2

Hi everyone!

It's been an epic couple of weeks over here. Whilst all my friends back in Melbourne have been struggling with 40+ degree days, in Nepal it has been cold, cold, cold. As much as I am experiencing some really amazing things over here I won't say it hasn't been tough in equal measures.

I knew before I came here that this trip would be difficult for me, and that's a huge part of why I decided to come. I am a person who likes my relatively familiar, comfortable and simple life. I am proud of my home, my work, my family and my relationships back in Melbourne. I don't feel the need to uproot myself to find wonder and amazement somewhere else. Melbourne is my home and I feel proud of the fact that I've really build something great for myself there.

Here on the other hand I am faced on a daily basis with things that I inherently find difficult. unfamiliarity; being away from home, loved ones and routine. The cold; oh man it's been cold. Patience; things happen on "Nepali time" here, and often in a seemingly absurd and confusing manner. People; I am naturally introverted and sometimes I have to push myself to be around people and make conversation.

The other day I was feeling so upset at myself for struggling so much whilst I've been here. Not being able to "live in the moment" all the time or find everything spectacularly amazing and wonderful. But then I had a realisation that maybe I'm actually doing okay. For the most part I have been happy here. I've had some teary moments and homesick moments but for the most part I am making the most of it. I could be doing a lot worse. I can't expect myself to be like everyone else so I should be happy with the fact that I am doing the best I can.

Anyway, that all aside, here are some more photo snippets of the great things we've done in the last few days!

First and foremost, a visit to the Foundation for Sustainable Technologies which was established by a man named Sani Kaji, possibly the most endearing, enthusiastic and inspirational person we've met here. Sani has dedicated the latter part of his career designing sustainable alternatives for the Nepalese people, in particular his unique "Briquettes"which are made from a compressed combination of waste paper and biomass (sawdust, grass, leaves or rice husks etc). 1.5kg of his briquettes is the equivalent to 5-8kg of timber in terms of cooking capacity, and he is training people to make their own.

Social entrepreneur Sanu Kaji in his greenhouse

Sanu Kaji's briquettes

Making briquettes from paper pulp and biomass (sawdust, grass, leaves or rice husks etc)

Next up, a trip to Chitwan National Park! We floated down the river in a massive canoe made from a single dug out log (past 3m crocodiles!), went trekking, and slightly contentiously went for an elephant ride through the jungle. I'm not 100% sure about the ethics of elephant riding. It does seem very different here to places like Thailand; most of the elephants seem to be cared for in people's back yards amongst their chickens and goats which is nice. Not sure if that makes it ok though. I do know that the elephants are largely used for conservation in the jungle as it's the safest way for the rangers to patrol the area. But it has also definitely burgeoned into a tourist attraction and I don't think elephants being raised for that kind of life is necessarily the best thing.

A rhino in Chitwan National Park

Thanking my elephant for the privilege

On the way back from Chitwan we detoured to the very rural district of Gorkha. Visting Gorkha has to be up there in terms of the most difficult experiences of my life, mostly due to the cold and lots of waiting around in the cold due to "Nepali time". Whilst Kathmandu is sunny during the day, the mountain areas were foggy the whole time we were there. There isn't much distinction between outdoors and indoors and certainly nothing resembling heating (not even a fire to huddle around). That said it was beautiful to witness the simplicity of rural life. And it certainly made returning to Kathmandu feel like a luxury.

Rural living in the Gorkha district

Last highlight of our trip - teaching a class of students at the local school! They were gorgeous and so enthusiastic and asked for our autographs at the end, funny!

My class of kids at Precious National College

Kids at Precious National College

6 more days and I'll be back in my beloved Melbourne town. I'd best go make the most of it. See you back home soon!

xx Lara.


little bird big chip said...

i think you are doing a fantastic job and should be super proud of yourself. i totally understand what you say about feeling like you arent doing enough or living in the moment, i felt the same way when i was travelling. all you can do is do what makes you happy and try as hard as it may be, not to compare yourself to others. thats the key i think, but easier said than done. love your pictures, enjoy your trip

Cathy {tinniegirl} said...

Good on you for stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk. I know what you're saying too - we put a lot of expectations on ourselves to be a certain way, feel certain things. But the truth is we feel how we feel. I hope the next 6 days are good to you and look forward to seeing you back in Melbourne town.

Juicy Roo said...

What you are describing is perfectly human. Don't be hard on yourself. Part of the joy of travelling to places like that is seeing the contrast between your destination and your home. You don't have to love every minute! It is part of the experience. Besides, I'm always surprised how profound those "hard" moments become, later on down the track. Safe travels xo

Jodie said...

I too often feel like a fish out of water when I leave the comfort of my surrounds and routine. It's good to step out of your comfort zone, it helps you learn more about yourself. Go you!

katiecrackernuts said...

Sounds amazing and how cute is that school name - precious.

Jenny said...

I second and third what's been said above. I think you are brave, kind, intelligent and honest - and totally normal. Culture shock is a strong and unsettling thing. Thank you for telling us about your adventures -the photos are terrific, and your reflections very interesting. Thanks also for your honesty - as someone who struggles, sometimes with things that others seem (note, seem!) to find easy, I appreciate you sharing how you feel. I am sure you have lots of people cheering for you in Melbourne and beyond, and a special person waiting for you when you get home is the best welcome home of all.

Blessings and peace.

Bianca said...

So proud of you Lara! Even though I love travelling and being in unfamiliar situations, I do understand where you're coming from. I had the same feeling travelling to South America by myself, the biggest mental struggle I've had. Loving all the photos, it looks like you will have amazing memories to cherish for the rest of your life. Have a safe trip back. xxx

gaby@727m2 - a garden diary said...

Lara, I'm reading this after I read Tegan's post over at the I & S blog and it somehow seems very relevant and connected given you would have known of her news for quite some time... especially when you say 'I don't feel the need to uproot myself to find wonder and amazement somewhere else.'

I hope I don't offend you in presuming to know you but I can only imagine the impact this change has had or will have. The dynamic duo are splintering off in different directions, one adventurous soul is taking the road less travelled and the other adventurous soul is taking the reigns. For two people who work so well together, who finish each others sentences it must be incredibly hard to imagine I & S and daily life without your amazing business partner and no doubt best friend.

Just know that life works in mysterious ways and as cliche as it is - everything does happen for a reason. As Juicy Roo so wisely says, the hard moments do become profound later on down the track... whether it's this trip and all the challenges it has thrown up or the changes over at I & S... it's all exactly as its meant to be even though it may not seem that way now and believe me no one has struggled with this concept more than me :)