I had an amazing day in Kathmandu today!
I went in on my own, terrifying on the buses, but made it to Thamel, the tourist district, to meet my new friend Kinnari. To get from Bungamati to Thamel you need to get a bus from either Bungamati village (so walk down the hill for 10 minutes) or on the road by the house. This bus will either take you to Ratna Park (fingers crossed) or Jawalakhel, where you have to jump out and grab a mini van to Ratna Park. Mini vans are called microbuses here and they fill it with as many people as physically possible. 35 people in a minivan? No sweat. Actually, a huge amount of sweat, and no foreigners except me so that was funny. Once getting to Ratna Park I had to walk the next fifteen minutes to Thamel, which was when I got nervous because I thought I had taken a wrong turn. Turned out my supreme navigation skills were correct, and I got to Thamel on time to meet Kinnari. Or so I thought. She wasn’t there, and after 40minutes of waiting in the cafe I decided to try and find the trekking business she said the guy who runs the orphanage has. I wandered into central Thamel and immediately had no idea where I was.
Luckily, or unluckily, a trekking guide operator guy kept trying to talk to me. I fobbed him off a few times but he was persistant so I took his card. Then I had to stop to look around at all the signs to try and find API Himal Treks and Expeditions. It turned out that almost all of them have a variation on a name like this, and it was impossible. The guy (Krishna) offered to help me, and after wandering around and asking a few people he suggested I phone from the guide office. I followed him down an alleyway and up to the guide office (suddenly wondering if I was an idiot and should just run away haha) and we tried ringing the place I was looking for. There was no answer, and I had no idea how to track down Kinnari. Kinnari is the woman I met on the plane over here. I thought out loud that I should get a cell phone and Krishna’s boss told him to take me to find one. After introductions he took me out of the tourist area down to New Road. He said that I shouldn’t buy anything in Thamel because of tourist prices. Outside of Thamel was amazing! Lots of food stalls, and everyday items, shrines, stupas and rickshaws. I didn’t get my camera out but I will next time.
Krishna introduced me to a friend from his village, and then I was invited to their family for the Dasain celebrations! I’m not sure about that since Kinnari also invited me, and I think i will take her up on that. After purchasing a cell phone we had to get a sim card, which in Nepal is apparently difficult. You need all your forms of id, which of course I didn’t have, but Jatrinda put his drivers licence down and bought the sim card under his name. While we were waiting for it all to happen we were served Nepali tea – boiling hot black tea with massive amounts of sugar. I swear I will have no teeth after these two months. Then this guy turned up:
He put a tika on my forehead which stayed on til I got home and washed it off (Gopal and Eli would not approve I was told by the children.) I was getting tired by this time, and said goodbye to Krishna and Jatrinda. I headed back out of Thamel, stopping off briely at the Himalaya Java cafe that I was supposed to have met Kannari at earlier, when I saw her crossing the road! Small world. It turned out that the Java cafe is actually on the second floor, and the cafe on the ground floor is different. We had been there at the same time on different floors all along.
She suggested I come look at her orphanage, and after being squeezed into a jam packed microbus, me standing bent in two, we made it to Balaju. The orphanage is run by a Hindu man, and it was very much a traditional Nepali family/building. It was more colourful than House of Hope, and lots of signs of the festival coming up. The children were very excited, and it made me realise how reserved and quiet the children at House of Hope are.
They wanted their photo taken so many times! And spoke very good English, and called me Miss Alex.
They then showed me the new house they were building. It is in the style of most tradiational Nepali houses, and the kids clambered all over the building site. No OSH standards here!
Then we went and met the orphanage guy, and talked about how he wants the best for the children, and would like them to feel that they have a father and mother figure. More on this another time, I had to race to catch a microbus back to Ratna Park so I would get home on time, but it was way to hectic, and getting dark by that time, and I had no idea where i was once again. I don’t think I can remember seeing that many people before, not even in London rush hour. In the end I decided to just catch a taxi back to the orphanage, 500 rupees and all. It was well worth it I think!
When I got back, the children at the other orphanage had inspired me to make a real effort with the kids here. I decided that they were shy and ignored me because they didn’t speak English that well. It was a good decision, except for that fact that I had forgotten to tell anyone I was home and sent Eli into a spin! I felt so bad, but lesson learnt! Anyway, the girls were adorable, and I learnt a few more names, and they have started teaching me some Nepali words. They LOVE my curly hair.
Prayers, great dinner, and then to bed! Love you all, I have photos of House of Hope now, but will put them up in the morning. x