A friend of mine and I did a week long ‘community lodge’ trek through the Annapurna ranges during our trek in Nepal in November 2012. The trek began in Nayapul (about a 1.5 hour drive from Pokhara) where most of the treks through these ranges begin and end. We had a fantastic group, consisting of two English couples and a Swiss guy, as well as a lovely Nepalese crew of porters, Sherpas and trek guide. The particular trek we chose was mainly on the ‘off track’ meaning no other trekkers were with us and we got to walk through local fields and villages, a great way to experience and see real Nepali culture.
Our mornings began at 6.30 am when two of the Sherpa’s would deliver warm water to us for washing purposes. We walked for 6 hours a day, mainly uphill of course and stayed in small lodges that were run by a local family. The lodges were really nice and cozy as we spent most nights sitting around a warm fire. Our staple food on the mountain was Dal Bhat which is a traditional Nepalese meal that was cooked on a clay stove. The food was delicious but nothing could beat the spectacular views that we had along the way of the mountains. We were so fortunate to have beautiful sunny weather, creating picture – perfect sunrises and sunsets.
A definite highlight of the trek was reaching Khopra ridge, 3660 meters above sea level. At this spot, we were completely surrounded by the Dhaulagiri ranges and Annapurna South and just a short walk away from the deepest gorge in the world. The scenery was indescribable and so breathtaking! Sleeping above the clouds was a pretty cool feeling. Our last night in the mountain was celebrated with traditional Nepali music and dancing with all of the trekking crew. It was lots of fun and a great way to end a fantastic week along with learning some new dance moves! The overall experience was invaluable with such positive memories. If you are thinking about trekking in Nepal then Annapurna trekking is much affordable. There are other world famous treks as well like the Annapurna Base Camp trek or the Annapurna Circuit trek which are longer treks.
Well it’s a bit hard to write about my experience as a volunteer here because I just got back from Annapurna Base Camp trekking. I went to Annapurna Base Camp trek and Poon Hill trek, did it in 10 days with my friend and saw the REAL Nepal. I am about to leave Nepal tomorrow. But I am thankful to Nepali Host Family; you really made me feel like home. I volunteered in two placements during my stay in Nepal. In the school, I was during the exams, so I helped the kids with some info and ask them a lot of questions to think about. In the Orphanage, I went after school to help the kids to prepare for their exams.
I am impressed how bright and kind are the Nepali children. I learned to be honest and to observe because this way I can help even when they don’t know how to ask for help. I taught some things which I teach back at home in Bulgaria, some Leadership training skills. The volunteering work at the orphanage gave meaning to my Nepal stay.
My journey to Nepal began on the 16th of August 2011 and lasted a month and a half. I had recently turned 30 and had quit my job with a merchant banking firm, deciding I had had enough of the rat-race. I decided my travels were to be more than a vacation and they were to lay the foundation to a future I wished to have. Volunteering in Nepal for a month and spending the rest of my time there exploring and appreciating the country’s wonderful people and culture seemed to be the perfect solution.
I was drawn to Nepali Host Family as it seemed to offer everything from a challenging teaching experience, to cultural tours of Kathmandu, to momo-making lessons, to helping with making all the arrangements for the Everest Base Camp Trek I had in mind, and I have to say, Nepali Host Family far exceeded my expectations!
Here is a glimpse of my life in Nepal –
Teaching in Nepal threatened to be a daunting experience, but from the very first moment I stepped into “Compact English School” it was nothing less than an utterly enjoyable and an absolutely rewarding experience. The location of the school was in about 40 min. walk from the hostel was a perfect way to start the day. Walking through the bustle of the city woke you up to the reality of the wonderful world that is Nepal. The children at the school were absolutely adorable and I left school each day feeling such a sense of joy over having done something worthwhile. We played games that required all the students to interact with each other in English, pored over the world map for long, discussing the locations and cultures of different countries, went over the curriculum and had discussions over their class work, and on some days we would just take pictures, sing songs and dance to popular Nepali songs. The principal of the school is an amazing and dynamic lady who ran through the school attending to an unending list of responsibilities that kept her from being comfortable ensconced in her office, even for a moment. Aarti Mam would often share lesson plans with me and always made herself available to any of the necessities I might have had of the school. The local teachers were just as wonderful and any nervousness I might have felt initially was forgotten after day one.
Traveling and trekking in Nepal offered a thrill and excitement few other countries can match. The country presents such extremes as snow capped mountains, to the chaotic city life of Kathmandu, to pristine agrarian villages, and finally even forests. Most weekends I occupied myself with out-of-town trips, be it the lake-side adventures of Pokhara – hiking up to the World Peace Pagoda, boating in the Phewa lake, biking to the bat-caves, or just chilling at the Busy Bee with a chilled beer, or be it the exciting jungles of Chitwan offering jungle safaris, jungle walks, elephant bathing, bird-watching, etc. Then there were the sights within the city of Kathmandu such as Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Swayambunath Temple, Pashupati Temple, Boudha Stupa, and the hour’s bus-ride to Bhaktapur, an ancient Newar town. These travels, of course, turned out to be an excellent way to bond with the rest of the volunteers when we first arrived and also a great way to see Nepal. The experience that topped it all for me was the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek. It is hard to put into words the experience of that breathtaking walk through the heart of the Nepalese Himalaya. I wasn’t prepared for the beauty I witnessed; it was both awe-inspiring and magical at the same time. Apart from being the highest mountain in the world, Everest is also a true beauty. Staying in mountain guesthouses offered an excellent way of learning all about the culture and way of life up in the mountains, which is just as hard as it is beautiful. However, the warm hospitality at the mountain lodges is something you will not easily forget. Overall, it was a life-altering experience traveling through Nepal, something I would highly recommend.
Living in Nepal, in a country between two world super-powers, India and China, offers a diversity which in no way oppresses upon the national unity and pride of the Nepali people. More so even than India, ancient traditions and beliefs are endlessly expressed and respected. Living at the hostel was a great way to get immersed into the community and get involved with everything. Taking the micro-bus everywhere, or even just walking through the city makes you feel like so much more than just a tourist. The hospitality of everyone at the hostel and the warmth you experience at the hands of perfect strangers makes you forget all of your home-sickness. My journey might have come to an end but the memories and friendships I have made in Nepal will be something I will hold on to my entire life.
I have met some amazing volunteers through Nepali Host Family, all doing quality volunteer work in their respective placements. They were all, just like me, looking for a worthwhile experience and a unique way to plunge themselves into the immensely beautiful community and culture of Nepal. Thanks to Nepali Host Family, my trip has been a truly unforgettable one.
My experiences in Nepal were simply breath-taking and unbelievable. Never before in my life had I been able to go to a country and fully be able to offer my efficiencies as I was able to do in Nepal. I had spent a little over a month in Nepal; I had spent the first two weeks of my trip travelling and trekking in the Himalayas. We had went to see Bhaktapur and Patan, two famous all cities filled with temples and architecture, the cities had left you feeling as if you had stepped back in time. In addition, we had travelled through the main city of Kathmandu to see Swayambhu (monkey temple), Pashupati Nath, Boudha, and Durbar Square, each location revealing a little more about the city’s rich history of tradition and culture in both Hinduism, Buddhism and other local religions. Being able to all these places and take part in Nepal’s rich culture really opens one’s eyes to the diversity out there. Furthermore, there is a sign in Nepal’s main city of Kathmandu that calls it a Land of Contrast, and that can definitely be seen when traveling from the main city to the Himalaya region. The Himalayas are majestic, overpowering, and full of peace and wonder—while the city remains vibrant, full of colors and noise.
The most wondrous part of my trip was my volunteer experience with Nepali Host Family, a Non-profit organization in Nepal. I was placed at a local private Hospital in Baneshwor, Kathmandu. The hospital staff and emergency department that I worked in was extremely friendly. They taught me so much about the Nepali Healthcare system and the overall health condition in Nepal. The doctors and health assistants there had also taught me new and different techniques such as how to draw blood, give injection and sutures. Furthermore, the hospital surgeons and physicians had allowed me to sit in on OPD and surgeries. During their free time, the doctors had also taken me out to visit the public general hospital and the teaching hospital in Kathmandu, so that I could understand and see the differences between the types of care provided. The overall experience at the hospital was a wonderful learning experience and had opened my eyes to a whole new side of health care. The part of my volunteer experience that made Nepal, touch my heart was when I was allowed to applied what I had learned in the hospital and through training.
During my volunteer stay in Nepal, a few of the other volunteers had been volunteering at a school for orphan kids located somewhere in North Kathmandu; the volunteers cared so much about the kids there and told me about some of the medical issues the school was having, such as no checkups in 8-9 months, etc. Therefore, we were all able to work together, the doctors from my Hospital, the other volunteers, Nepali Host Family staff and I to help put together a clinic for all the 151 children at the school. The Clinic was a success, as all the children were able to get checkups and referrals and medicines as needed. We had also found out the most the children had not received a dose of Albendazole in over 6 months, so we were able to administer a dose to them the next day. Furthermore, I was also able to give a class on public health to the children on my last day in Nepal, and making medical reference sheets for the school. The experience of being able to offer my efficiencies to the Nepali children, who needed help, really touched my heart and taught me so much about the importance of community care.
When I arrived to Nepal in April I had no set plans for my 5 week visit. I began researching volunteer opportunities and I stumbled upon Nepali Host Family website. I was thrilled to find a program that offered affordable local volunteer options (which is becoming rare these days). I signed up to stay with the program for 1 week. The staff from Nepali Host Family suggested that I volunteer in Kathmandu at a School to help students practice conversational English.
The kids blew me away! I wasn’t sure what to expect not knowing their level of conversational English. They were so curious and full of energy! The first day I brought in my computer and shared my travel adventures with them introducing them to different cultures. They are eager to know about everything especially where I was from. I spent time researching everything I could think of about American culture from our holidays, to sports, plants and animals. They LOVE animals! The principal of the school was so welcoming and even prepared lunch for us each day at her house up the road. I had a pronominal experience even if it was only a week.
From Kathmandu I headed towards Pokhara to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. I spent a few weeks in the area where I went on 2 kayaking trips with Paddle Nepal. I met up with a friend and trekked the lower Annapurna Region with a 5 day loop to Poon Hill. The scenery is absolutely stunning in Nepal! I finished my journey at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. They offer a 10 day into Buddhism and Meditation course which I felt was a great way to finish my trip, opening my mind to new experiences.