Wednesday, October 30, 2013


We left to the Mustang region, containing himals such as Annapurna, Maachhapuchchhre (fish tail), and Dhaulagiri (no Sagarmartha, that's more east).

After bus-ing in to Polkhara, we were supposed to fly in a STAL plane (an unfortunate acronym that means Short Takeoff And Landing) to Jomsom then hike down to Tukuche. However, India's cyclone was making it pretty baadal laagyo (cloudy) so the flight was cancelled. Those flights are booked a few weeks into the future, so we weren't able to re-book. Instead we bought out a public bus and bus-ed up to Tatopaani. The bus ride was muddy and steep and scary as hell. The 2-wheel drive bus was so close to tipping over many times or sliding off the cliff because the wheels were so close to the edge. My videos of the bus ride look like were on a rough sea. In Nepali, tato paani means "hot water," so in Tatopaani, there are hot springs!! That night we paid 100rs and chilled in the springs for awhile.

Big lake in Polkhara. On a non-cloudy day, you can see the himals' reflection.
 One of our language gurus stuck in the bus. All of our language gurus are fantastic.
My friend is really good at braiding hair. Looks like Daenerys' hair from Game of Thrones.
Everyone modeling their Nepali squat. Potty talk is a daily topic of conversation, from hand wiping techniques to how clean the last squatty was.

Nepali scenery. Some of the jungle kept reminding me of George of the Jungle.

All of us crammed into the bus - notice 2 people sitting in the aisles. Also I have a new hat! It was knitted by the girl two to my right! So cool.

Swayambhu and Dashain

Went to Swayambhu with some friends the weekend before our Annapurna trip. Swayambhu is another Buddhist stupa, like Boudha. It is smaller, but it's on a hill so there's a better view.

Jiwan and I copying the statue between us - a photo that would have happened had my family been there.

Steep stairs up to the stupa

The iconic stupa with the Buddha's eyes.

The 4 of us with a view of Kathmandu in the back: Me, Jiwan, Adarsha, and Lina

This picture is for mom. Last two times we were here, she took a picture of Kyle and I in front of the blue door. I made Adarsha take the picture with me because he looks the most like Kyle.

Dashain is one of the biggest holidays here. People have work and school off for a few weeks. Many people in Kathmandu return to their original villages, so the city seemed a little empty. This time of year is similar to Christmas/Thanksgiving time back home. My didi had school off and my birth sisters went back to my birth village for the big weekend. My class was in town for the big day of Dashain, but we missed the last week of it.

I'm still a little unclear about how and why Dashain is celebrated, but I guess that goes for xmas and thanksgiving a little bit too (for me at least). Anyways, on the big day, everyone wears nice clothes and travel around to relatives houses to get blessed. At the end of the day you end up with a giant tikka on your forehead. In some families, kids get money from families. Sometimes it's only girls, sometimes the kids give money to their elders. Older people bless the younger people. So, my hajur buwa (grandpa) gave many blessings. Because he isn't too mobile, my family didn't travel too much, other family came to us. I really liked Dashain (and many classmates liked it for similar reasons) because it definitely felt like family-time/holiday-time and I definitely missed that xmas morning feeling or that content feeling after eating thanksgiving dinner with everybody. I got a few blessings and ended up with ~400 rupees and a big tikka. The bills I were given were new and crisp, and in small denominations which means....bus money!! The buses don't take 1000 rupee notes (they don't have the change to break a 1000 for only 15 rs), but that's all the ATMs spit out. ke garne. 

One day was a blessing for cars. So my buwa told me to go outside to look at their blessed car and motorcycle.

Getting tikka from my hajur buwa.

 ping khelnu: Swinging! These big swings are built from bamboo shoots and kids go swinging in them. I have no idea what there significance is, but they were every where, and kids were flying super high.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Headless Goats and Humungous Spiders

Pictures are up in the previous post! Sorry for the deteriorating quality of this blog. Pictures are all that matter right?

This past week has been pretty busy with a language exam and 2 papers due. I thought study abroad was supposed to be less work than real college. Lies.

Last week my class went to Bhakatpur's Durbar Square - one of 7 World heritage sites in Kathmandu. There are 3 big sections/districts of Kathmandu: Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. They used to be separate kingdoms, but grew into each other, like the Twin Cities. A Durbar Square is an old palace. According to our prof, Bhaktapur's is the largest.

Oops....can't remember what this is. I'll find out. I just remember walking through an archway and finding this surprising view. There are catfish in the water, which we fed. So creepy, their mouths look like spiders.

One of the courtyards
Tree that has grown over a mandir. Kids charge a few rupees to pray for you because they can fit into the hole between the tree roots.

Detailed wood carving - very old

A kiln. They fill up the entire room then some how heat it enough so that the clay gets baked.

Bhaktapur is famous for it's yogurt, and for good reason. I'm not usually a yogurt fan, but I went back a couple days later to shop around and bought a tub to share with my host family. I think my family really enjoyed it.
BAM! another spider pic. Documenting my phobia. I saw this just before going to bed and had to give myself a pep talk as to why I shouldn't wake up my aamaa for help, put on my big girl panties, and ignore it and go to bed. Day one in Nepal, I am 100% certain I would have woken up my aamaa or thrown my water bottle at it. Progress. Speaking of phobias, one girl is afraid of bridges, someone else hates knives, and someone else hates ketchup (weird, but it actually bugs her). If there is a situation where there are hanging knives and spiders crawling all over a ketchup painted suspension bridge we have to cross, most of our group would probably choose to swim across.

nothfield restaurant in the tourist district

not just northfield, but Carleton's Northfield!! Jesse James and nofo is not a coincidence. We asked to talk to the hakim (boss), but something was lost in translation. Good food though.

Happy Dashain! People build these big swings and go swinging during Dashain. Also,  many goats are eaten. My current headless goat count is 5.5 when walking to school. I came home the other day and my helping didi was cutting up tons of meat and there was a bowl of intestines, a liver, and a heart. More about Dashain later! The big days are coming up.
OH and next week we're going to Annapurna/Mustang for 3 weeks. NO computer, so don't check the blog during that time.

Highlights from this week include:
-Learning how to make daal bhaat
-teaching the language teachers slang like "take a chill pill" and "make like Tom and Cruise."
-dealing with housing upon returning to Carleton (thanks Ives!)
-2 really late nights of writing
-eating lots of goat meat
-discovering good youtube videos from class mates: A really cute kid  and "Banana Frustration"
             wait for the whole video to load first!

Feeling a little burnt out! Looking forward to Annapurna.