Nepal is like a breath of fresh air compared to India, literally and figuratively. From the visa process to walking through the city to the people, and even the air quality – everything improved when we left India (except my health). We spent our first two nights in Kathmandu. We really only had one full day to explore, so we started at the Swayambhunath Temple. It was a 365-step climb to the top, which was slow-going due to the chest cold I was suffering, but we all made it. There were vendors along the way and troops of monkeys to keep us entertained. And the grounds were kept clean – finally, it seemed that people were actually taking care of their monuments!
After Swayambhunath, we found the Tribhuvan University Natural History Museum, which is a collection of creepy animals and animal parts in formaldehyde and poorly-taxidermied creatures in strange poses. Ray and RJ loved it. I chose to spend this time relaxing in the sun.
Finally, we visited the National Museum, which was somewhat interesting. There were lots of plaques, so Ray had the best time. This is his favorite piece in the museum. I’ll let you figure out why.
There is so much more to explore in Kathmandu and we’ll be back at the end of the month.
For now, we are in a small town of 16,000 called Dhulikhel, where we will be until at least January 20. Ray is working here at the Dhulikhel Hospital teaching classes and doing some work in the clinic. Life is very different here in Dhulikhel. First of all, there is a major fuel crisis here in Nepal. Most of the fuel comes through India and there is some political dispute between the two countries that is causing the backup. The result of this shortage is power outages for 18 hours a day. I can’t quite figure out the schedule, but there is an app that lets us know on a daily basis when we will and won’t have power. Cars and buses wait in line for two days to get gas when some actually makes it here. People can’t get to their jobs or school. The buses that do run are so crammed that people now ride on top.
We are living in a three-story, cement guesthouse with other medical students and instructors working at the hospital. The rooms consist of two single beds, a small shelf, maybe a desk, and sometimes an attached bathroom. However, there is only one shower for everyone as the on-demand water heater has to be hooked up to a propane tank in order to have hot water. There are no TVs or any other conveniences that you might find in a typical hotel room. The outdoor temperatures range from 35 for a low to 65 for a high. Not too bad, except that there is no heat at all in the rooms, so our rooms are a consistently chilly 45 to 50 degrees. Since the town is so small, there is no where to send out laundry and the machine here at the guesthouse is broken. When there are dirty clothes, you wash by hand.
While this might not sound appealing, we are doing great. We have done a bit of shopping to add an electric kettle and space heater to our room to use when there is power. There is a young couple who run the guesthouse and provide breakfast and dinner every day. They cook only vegetarian and the meals are delicious! We bought enough clothes in Kathmandu to keep us warm through the night. Ty and RJ’s room faces the sun and warms up in the day, so we spend indoor time in their room doing homework and playing games. We spent a couple hours doing our own laundry, which probably didn’t get the clothes totally clean, but definitely taught the boys what life is like for the people of Nepal on a daily basis. And you can see the Himalayas on a clear day!
We will have more to report from Dhulikhel soon!