Nepal Pics

Jan 5th, 2009, 09:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I went to two big weddings in the village. I'm so delighted your husband entered into the unique adventure. Anyway, go on with your report, I'm dying to hear how everybody fared.

I'm thinking it wasn't a great start - but it's not exactly Pulbari's fault you had an idiot driver. Aren't they infuriating when they're hopeless? It's a breed.
dogster is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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"An Uninvited Guest…"

Each meal was served in a similar manner…either outdoors or in the modest kitchen/bedroom but always with an audience and that certain creepiness we could not seem to shake. The meals were vegetarian-simple yet hearty- made with the crops grown on this well run organic farm… and always with the cook hovering nearby looking for a nod of approval. We were even treated to homemade wine and a couple bottles of cold beer during our stay.

Our days at Apa Villa were spent exploring the property and watching the farmers tend to the fields in the same simple manner as their ancestors. There were beautiful discoveries all over the property- gardens- ponds- and places for mediation— but our favorite was the lookout spot where we could gaze upon the horizon watching the Himalayan mountains appear in and out of the clouds in the distance. It was a great place to relax and unwind and take in the beauty of Nepal.

There were also many visits to the nearby village… but more about that later.

Honestly we did not have much to do at Apa Villa except unwind and relax…which wasn’t so easy after the chaos of Delhi and Kathmandu especially for my 21 year old daughter and husband who seemed to prefer to be on the go. It was on the second day after we had finished lunch and were relaxing in our room when we heard someone walking around the first floor of the cave house. Since my husband had once again gone down to the village to explore, my daughter, mother-in-law, and I assumed the noises we heard were him returning for one reason or another. But to our surprise- after 15 minutes or so -a young girl appeared at the top of the stairway staring at us. She spoke very little English and we could not figure out who our uninvited guest was or what she wanted. At first we thought she came to clean the room but we soon realized when she just stood there motionless staring straight ahead that she was not the cleaning girl.

Not knowing what else to do…my mother-in-law decided to take her outside for a chat. They sat for over an hour patiently trying to communicate with one another. Turns out she was just a curious kid from the village who wanted to check out the property and its strange visitors. My mother-in-law had a wonderful time chatting with our young uninvited guest. Mom loves kids and I know the time she spent trying to get to know this young lady was one of the highlights of her time in Nepal. Eventually, one of the farm workers came by, noticed the girl, spoke to her abruptly in Nepalese, and she left.

Next installment “Becoming a local”
erwench is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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I'm loving this. I was a bit worried that I'd sent you in a wrong direction after the first posts, but now I can see you are getting into the swing of things. Your mother-in-law and that child just sounds like the most beautiful thing. She [mum-n-law] sounds great. Send her my doggie regards, eh? Next instalment, please... you write very well.
dogster is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:38 AM
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I, too, am following your story with great interest. More!
Kathie is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 426
wow, your husband's photographs are outstanding. i love the color contrasts and all the great picturs of the people. glad you had an amazing time! will keep on reading...
quimbymoy is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 05:40 PM
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“Becoming a local”

Early on the second day, my husband Jack took off after breakfast (camera in hand) to explore the surrounding area and village. Because our visit was during the Dashain holiday the children were not in school and instead were out and about playing in the dirt roads and carrying out their household chores. While walking along the road, Jack soon noticed a small group of children had begun to quietly follow after him. There were giggles and shy smiles when he turned to acknowledge the inquisitive gathering. Eventually, one of the followers built up enough nerve to ask for the visitor’s name. Upon hearing his response the group of kids began yelling an unending cacophony of “Jack! Jaaack....Jaaacccckkkkk!” mixed with laughs and giggles.

Entourage in tow, there were nods and smiles from everyone he passed--there was no doubt he was welcomed here. He walked through their uncomplicated lives… soaking it in…. observing… learning…. and of course wanting to know more. It wasn’t long before a teenage boy extended an invitation for a cup of tea at his family’s unassuming teahouse. Knowing this would be an adventure but at the same time fearing for his gastro-intestinal health, Jack tentatively accepted the invitation—all the while happy to have the opportunity to get a close-up look at the Nepalese way of life.

Over tea they chatted. The young man explained he was home from college where he was studying hotel management and that this teahouse was his family’s business—a place for the locals to gather for social exchanges and purchase daily necessities. The teahouse was a basic room with a large tea urn heating on a gas burner behind a basic wooden counter. There were two long wooden benches to relax and enjoy the hot tea. Jack tells me he was relieved to see the tea was steaming hot! Past experience has taught him that GI bugs on vacation are no fun!

There was no charge for that day's cup of tea…or so he thought... future conversations with his young host would raise questions about the generosity. But for now the hospitality of these kind villagers would draw Jack back for several more encounters and countless memories.

Next installment “Shuckin’ like a local”
erwench is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Jacks sounds like a cool fella. I never found that tea-house. Damn. I think I can see a little learning curve coming up here. Nothing is for nothing. Let's wait and see. This is like a slow strip-tease.. lol
dogster is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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“Shuckin’ like a local!”

Jack headed back down to the village several times over the next two days… my daughter tagged along a couple times and I made the trip with him once. His mom never felt like trekking down the hill so she always stayed behind but honestly appeared to prefer the slower pace and relaxation the farm provided. Our trip had been action-packed and physically demanding up until now and although Mom had always kept pace (with a smile on her face) I think she was a bit worn-out… actually I think she was exhausted.

On one of his solo visits to the village, Jack noticed an older man at work shucking corn. He decided to take a chance and asked to sit down with the fellow. Through gestures and nods he was given permission to take a seat. He watched the man work for a little while and then began to help reaching for the first of what would become many ears of corn. After shucking for a while, a woman and four of the village children joined the two new friends. They seemed to find a tourist doing their chores very amusing and laughed and chatted in Nepalese as they too began shucking. At times, the kids would hand Jack an ear of corn and challenge him with “fast, fast!!!” He used the chance to tease the kids by picking up an empty cob and a handful of corn… spinning the cob frantically and letting the corn kernels drop then exclaiming, “DONE!” They worked together as a team… tackling the big pile of corn…and teasing one another. This experience proved once again that laughter and a smile are key when traveling.

A little later the teenage boy from the day before showed up. He greeted Jack with the title of “uncle” and appeared overly friendly. He extended another invitation for a cup of tea at his family’s teahouse, which Jack accepted. While they sipped tea he told a story about a group of kind French researchers who had visited the area a few years before to learn about Nepalese culture. During their month stay, he had become their unofficial guide and translator. As a result of this friendship the group generously agreed to help pay his tuition for the college he attended in Kathmandu. They had held to their promise and paid for his education for two years but would not be able to send the money for this upcoming semester. He did not have the money he needed saved and was very worried that he would have to drop out of school due to lack of funds. A sad tale indeed!

We did wind-up giving him a “tip” at the end of our stay but did not become the new sponsors that he hoped for… we passed on his request to wire cash to his education account. Can’t blame the kid for trying.

erwench is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 02:30 AM
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I hope you realise that your young lad is completely normal. It's always a bit of a wake-up call when you realise that nothing is for nothing... in Nepal, just like New York City. It's always a bit of a bummer to realise that all we are, despite the smiles and laughter, is a gigantic walking wallet. The bite always comes - direct or subtle - it's an inevitability.

I hope you didn't draw too long a bow from that experience. The way I look at it is that he provided a service, a chat, some chai, a touch of reality, a priceless connection - that always has a price.

More to the point you guys seem to be getting into the Phulbari experience. From what you write, baksheesh and school fees not withstanding, it seems like just the kind of rare experience I'd hoped you would have.

Go thru the Nepal trip reports in here - NOBODY comes close to what you experienced.

Did your daughter sulk the entire time? Lol. She's not playing much part in the narrative so far.
dogster is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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I rather expected that was coming... it happens everywhere. And it seems the most effective way of helping the visitor and their money part ways is to invoke the issue of paying for education.

Dogster is quite right -it was small payment for a priceless experience.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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I'm glad you're following along here Kathy, after I've gone on about this place so much. What are you thinking as you read this? Your kind of place?
dogster is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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I don't know that we were necessarily surprised by the request for money just that the kid was so clever with having a bank account set up for transfers complete with routing numbers-- that's the part that took us for a loop. Again, can't blame a kid for trying. We were happy to give the lad some money... like you said he provided a service and that rare experience that I craved.

My daughter's experience at Phulbari was over-all good. She really hated being stared at during meals but after a while learned to just roll with it... she could appreciate it as just a cultural difference. She went down to the village several times with Jack, drank tea and watched how other young people live. Even picked up the title of "sister" by the children... she thought that was neat. But she did eventually get bored.

I have to say that my daughter absolutely loved the country of Nepal... the beautiful landscapes, the faith of the people, and the strange foods. She took over my Fodor's travel guide and read about all the places we were missing in Nepal and schemed on how we could decrease our time at Phulbari so we could take in more of the country. I think like any 21 year old she just wanted to be on the go, see as much as she could. and get as much as she could out of the trip. Having Grandma along definitely slowed us down a bit which in the end was probably a good thing.

When we didn't go along with her plan to leave Phulbari early, she found Namo Buddha in the guide book and pushed to visit this historic pilgrimage sight on our last day. That visit seemed to perk her up a bit. As long as she was active she was very, very happy.

So Dogster, all in all I would have to say that Phulbari was a success! Thank you for sharing your "wildcard" with was exactly the experience I wanted for my family!

erwench is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Well bravo, one and all. Now you've taken the time and trouble to rememmber it for us, I bet this report will become a resource. It's definately a wild-card, but you can tweak it. I've been puzzling about the meals. It's the oddest experience. What they are looking for is a reaction - to the food. This is prepared with loving kindness in the most basic of kitchens - you saw. They will dissect your every move. Strange but true. Really odd, but benign.

I bet you all talked about the reasons behind that simple thing. In a way, if you uncover that, you'll understand a huge amount. I bet this experience comes back in your dreams. It does in mine. It is high on Dogster's list of really unique places.

And the view. You didn't really mention that gob-smacking, wondrous view. That's what your mother-in-law was doing. She was busy - drinking in the view.
dogster is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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Oh, yes the view! We did spend a tremendous amount of time gazing out at the Himalayan mountains as they peaked in and out of the clouds. There were two benches were we sat and chatted--- one time while drinking cold Coca Cola out of worn glass bottles that the staff proudly served us.

Govinda gave us a mountain map to help identify which peak was which in that magnificent panorama. It was fun trying to match up the jagged summits with the pictures and figuring out what mountain must be hidden by the nearby clouds. It was also beautiful to watch the sunset and the darkness creep into the valley....then spot the individual fires as they lit-up one by one and sparkled in the night.

Since there was a full moon during our stay we also had beautiful views at night. Jack and I even woke up during the middle of the night so we could go out on the balcony and see if the clouds had cleared enough for us to take in the view by moonlight.

It was so serene and beautiful there!
erwench is offline  
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