Sarah's Arrival

As I exited Kathmandu airport and found my name in the sea of signs I was greeted by the wonderful Himal (Volunteer House Manager). Himal presented me with a blue scarf, another item of clothing I probably didn’t need to add to my jeans and long sleeve shirt in the scorching Kathmandu heat. As we walked towards the parking lot we were bombarded with taxi drivers all shouting at us in Nepalese presumably to take their cab. Eventually, Himal followed a small man to a small beat up car that looked like it belonged in a car wreckers and definitely not on the road. I wasn’t sure if this was for real, were we actually getting in this car? Could this car even start? It certainly wouldn’t pass a roadworthy certificate in Australia. I went to open the car door but there was no handle… not to worry, he opened it from the inside. I hopped into the back seat, sitting on an itchy rug that was placed over the back seat of the car. Instinctively I went to put on my seatbelt. None there. The driver did however have a seatbelt, it was tied to the interior door of the car with several pieces of straw.

Visiting the Garden of Dreams in Thamel, Kathmandu.It took a few starts but the car finally turned on, as we entered the chaotic, dusty, loud traffic I held onto my seat tight. I’ve travelled to many countries but this traffic was like none I’ve seen before. There are absolutely no lanes and the dirt roads with massive potholes made for a bumpy ride. The car stalled several times on the way and as other cars stopped suddenly only inches, maybe even centimetres away from our taxi before honking and speeding off I wondered if I was going to make it unharmed to the volunteer home.We finally arrived and I breathed a little sigh of relief. The volunteer house was a solid three story building with an additional rooftop level, I was sharing a room with three other girls. Some things I would have to live without included a TV (although didn’t miss this), a washing machine, a decent internet connection, the ability to hop in my car and drive anywhere, comfortable and well supported bedding, a nice flow of warm water, a western bathroom, access to fast food and the ability to choose my meals. Lucky for me only a few days prior to arriving the volunteer house had finally purchased its first fridge so most importantly I had somewhere to store my insulin. In saying all of this, upon returning from my placement in Ramechhap the volunteer house was like returning to a five star hotel. My 10cm thick mattress and hard pillow felt like a cloud, the shower, access to flowing water and the delicious food made by our in house cook tasted incredible. I didn’t even mind having to hand wash my clothes anymore!

I haven’t backpacked before, I’m not much of a camper and I rarely attended any school camps but when the house was full and the conversations flowed I really enjoyed my time there. Following dinner a group of us would sit and enjoy tea and chocolate or biscuits and chat, sometimes for hours. We would talk about everything from politics to human rights. It was a nice change from my usual topics of conversations. On a few other nights we all (5-8 of us) huddled around a small laptop screen, clutching our pillows as we watched movies.

To read the rest of Sarah's adventures in Nepal, go to her blog at https://www.sarahcollectingmoments.com/