June 7 2017

FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 4 / March - May 2017): training consciousness: meditation, trekking & conscious impact

Post meditation time

             BEGNAS LAKE

Finishing Vipassana meditation made me stronger in a way but weaker in another. It was weird being back in the real world, trying to incorporate the new knowledge into real life. Not to get attached too much. To look at my sensations and emotions with equanimity and impermanence. Very hard after doing the opposite for 34 years :).

The first day it was Holy, a festival which celebrates colours and overcoming of good over evil, just perfect timing :). I got a great place at Hotel Dreamland view on the top of the hill above Begnas lake with a 360 degrees view. I loved the view and the owners there, they were so friendly!! My first test after Vipassana was when I took a shower. At the meditation centre I was lucky to get one warm shower in 10 days, others were quite cold. So I had been dreaming about a hot shower for a while. They tolm me they have a hot shower in the hotel and for a while I forgot I was in Nepal and expected a really hoooot shower and got quite attached to this image. When I took the shower I was so disappointed when the water was lukewarm. At the beginning I was actually sad and very upset but after letting go of my image what my shower should be like I ended up enjoying the shower and I also managed to wash my hair finally! It was only after letting go of my expectations and attachment to it I could enjoy what life brought me :). Yeah, so much philosophy around one shower, I know, but it is true :). It was a great day, I enjoyed walking to Begnas lake and observing  the locals throwing paints at each other and as soon as I wished to be a part of the celebration my wish came true and at the end I got some of colourful “good luck blessings” on my clothes and hair :). The second day I went to Pokhara and that included a revelation that the knowledge I gained in Vipassana will need a bit more time to be incorporated in my life. When you start to be more aware of your sensations and emotions, it can get overwhelming sometimes, especially if at the same time you try not to have any cravings and aversions :)!! Quite challenging! I extended my visa, tried to get to World peace pagoda with a bus but got on two wrong busses (later I was told somebody was killed there the previous day so the busses wouldn't go in that direction), got some things I needed, a nice pancake and a singing bowl therapy :). Returning back to Begnas lake I had to stand in a bus for a while and having to guard my two papayas not to get squashed by others :). When I arrived home I was happy, it had been a crazy day and I needed peace!!

Begnas lake and the surrounding was a perfect place to stay after meditation. It is calm, friendly and with amazing views and air. I managed to keep on meditating in the morning and in the evening and I often even listened to Goenka’s (the teacher’s) chanting on Utube  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Qx_zZ0FSs) :):)!! One day I went to a trek around Begnas lake at it was amazing! Beautiful nature, lots of terrace fields guarded by cows or bulls! And seing some local village life, big trees and great views of the lake. I could see some mountains but soon the visibility got worse. I still enjoyed my walk, I walked about 3 hours at was already a bit tired when one guy with a motorbike stopped. He took me on the bike which saved me more than an hour of walking. We stopped for a while and I tried local Roxy (liquor) which after being a bit dehydrated didn’t do me so good :). The guy was very friendly, he took me to his small simple local restaurant where I met his wife and his kids and got a nice coffee before driving me close to my “home”. I was exhausted because I didn’t drink enough water but I had a great time!! The owners cooked great food, I learned how to make Dhildo – a local food made from buckwheat flower and it was nice talking to them although there were some language barriers. And I also enjoyed dancing and doing Tai chi on the rooftop, Begnas lake will surely see me again!! It even didn’t disturb me that the first night on Holi there was a group of Nepalese youngsters who partied the whole night, drinking and singing all the time – but I sure was grateful for my earplugs :)! And this wasn’t the first nor the last night I was woken in the night by some Nepalese partying :):)!

          CHITWAN

Next stop was Chitwan. The ride itself was quite long but after Vipassana I was more patient and I enjoyed the ride. First one guy drove me on his motorbike to the main road to get a bus to Chitwan – it was quite a bumpy ride and I was happy when our drive was finished :). The local bus driver was really good – it was one of the crazy Nepalese driving but I felt good and safe although here they don’t have much road rules. They drive how they want, they take over another vehicle in the middle of the curve and just honk to let know a potential vehicle approaching that they are overtaking on their side :). You get used to this soon. They honk a lot but the bus honks have a really nice sound :). In the evening after changing two more vehicles I arrived in Sauraha, which is a small village just outside Chitwan National park. I found an ok cheap room behind Crocodile lounge with a friendly guy. I was the only foreigner there, I liked it because it wasn’t crowded and my neighbours were two young Nepalese couple that eloped here to get married because their parents wanted them to have arranged marriage :). I loved it there, it was so relaxing and people were so kind! One day I just walked around, ate a great pomelo and had a lovely discussion about life with a local guy who told me that I have beautiful eyes but my left one is more beautiful than the right one :)!!  I had a lunch in one restaurant where the owner explained me for 20 minutes the difference between different types dals and rice!! One day I went to a safari. We were three plus two guides and it was interesting to walk in the middle of the jungle, observing the nature and hoping to find different species. In the beginning they explain you what to do if you meet an elephant, what if you meet a rhinoceros and what if you meet a tiger – for the last you should just look him straight in the eyes, I am sure I would react like this if I met him, just eye gazing with a tiger :):)!! We spent the whole day walking and checking different foot prints and hoping to find some wild life. There were some crocodiles, a lot of birds, some monkeys and I was really happy when I saw a rhinoceros up close. When our guides spotted him we walked slowly not to frighten him. We didn’t want him to hide nor to attack us so we tried to  observe him from a little distance and it was quite amazing to see this creature in its natural environment. We saw some fresh tiger footprints and at one point we were waiting close to a creek for him to come drink some water. All of a sudden I thought: what the h… are we doing? Waiting for a tiger?!? I wasn’t really sure I wanted to meet him like this, I didn't feel eyegazing at that point :). And we didn’t meet him, I guess he was a little scared of us also! We walked almost the whole day and it was nice to come back in the civilisation. The next day I did some more relaxing and I rented a great quite old mountain bike and drove around. It was so lovely, I found some beautiful spots, green scenery and small villages. I wanted to find the road to 20000 lakes and just by lucky guess I found it, but I needed to cross the river with my bicycle to get there. I managed to do this only to discover I can’t get in the park because I was alone and this was wilderness and also it was also quite late. So I carried the bike back on the other side of the river and enjoyed more driving in the countryside. In the evening I watched a Nepalese cultural performance and left this lovely place the next day. One day I will return to meet the tiger and see the lakes :) !!

I want to describe what a typical Nepalese bus drive looks like. The drive back to Kathmandu started even crazier because my landlord was supposed to drive me to the bus station but 20 minutes before he realised his car doesn’t have any gas. So we waited for his wife to bring the gas on the bicycle and then we had to push the car more times to make the engine start working. It was funny and at the end it worked and because the guy was so friendly I couldn’t be upset with him :)!! This was a tourist bus which means a little better than normal but not much. My sit kept on reclining back so I had to lie almost whole way. They said it would take me about 5 - 6 hours to get to Kathmandu and that the tourist bus is faster than normal but I arrived in Kathmandu very late, I think after 8 hours. Of course on the way we stopped somewhere to eat. You never know where or when that will be and usually I don’t eat much on the road, mostly some bananas or sometimes some rice with them to make my stomach calm. I was a bit upset coming this late in Kathmandu especially as it took us 1 hour to move the last 6 kilometres. I wanted to get my trekking licences but arrived too late for it so I found a very simple cheap room (which I wouldn’t rent again) and got some more things a needed for the trek. I met Nicole I met in Thailand and Berta who was sitting next to me during my Vipassana meditation. I was great seeing them both and they calmed my doubts about doing the trek alone, so the next day it was time to go North East a bit closer to Sagarmatha :)!!

Trekking from Shivalaya to Namche Bazaar

When I came to Nepal I didn't think I would do so much trekking, I was hoping more for some easy treks. I ended up going to 5.357 metres peak, did a 3 week trek which included ascending 2.000 metres in one day and all of this I did alone. Why? Because it felt right :)!!

Before I came I thought only crazy people go trekking so high and I guess I was right :)! Soon after arriving to Nepal I knew I want to go trekking close to Mount Everest. Why not: I love trekking, I love mountains,  I love nature and I love adventures. So considering all of this my trek makes sense. 

I can't say I wasn't nervous about it. I can't say I was sure I would manage to do so much walking. But what I can say is that it just felt right. And after buying all of my trekking equipment I was ready! Excited although I part of me was a bit worried. But I knew I will be able to listen to my body and follow the path I want to take. And I was right :)!!

My blog is written in days which makes it a bit longer but I was writting some of it during the trek and I continued writting in this form. When I was reading it later it seemed to me like I was suffering a lot. Like it was hard. The truth is that it was hard, I felt exhausted some times and had some physical difficulties. But I wasn't suffering much. Looking at my photos I can see that. The happiness, the excitement and the contentment in me! Oh yeah it was an amazing experience!!

Doing the trek alone seems crazy. But to me it felt natural and I have been told it is not a problem. And actually it wasn't. I do a lot of trekking so I have quite good orientation and I didn't really get lost, maybe I just took a few wrong turns on the way. I thought I would meet some people to do the trek with and I did, but I needed my own tempo, my own space. Being able to go with your own pace is an amazing feeling. You learn to depend on yourself more and listen to your body which tells you excatly what it needs. Sometimes you need food, sometimes water, sometimes rest and sometimes you just run along the way, feeling totally peaceful!! 

I was also really lucky that I didn't have any problems with injuries or getting lost. When I needed there was always somebody around who helped me along the way. I was doing my trek alone, but I was never alone. I was safe.

Before doing the trek I needed to get the permits in Kathmandu, it didn't take me much time but because of this I took the bus in midday. I decided to divide my bus ride in two days which was a good choice, although it took me about 16 hours to get to Shivalaya. Considering I had an 8 hour drive one day before it was quite an adventure but actually I didn't mind. I was much more patient!! It was dark, after 7 PM when I arrived in Charikot and for a moment I was worried because the drive took so long, sometimes it took us 1 hour to travel 15 kilometres because some parts of the roads are really bad! I was quite happy when I learnt that here there are quite some hotels here, because along the way I could see only some buildings with a sign hotel or guesthouse but they seemed more or less deserted. After visiting some overpriced hotels I found I nice simple one with very friendly guy and great food, a winning combination!! The next day it took me about 5 more hours to get to Jiri where I needed to wait fore the bus to take me to Shivalaya. I met I guy who started in Kathmandu the same day and arrived in Jiri before me. I couldn't believe it, but I guess it is true what I read - that you should take the first 6 o'clock bus to Jiri (you need to buy the ticket 1 day before), because the traffic is still ok this early in the morning. Having to travel 6 more hours made me a bit upset for a moment but I remembered it is all about the journey and was thankful for my patience. Just one more hour of bumpy ride and I arrived in Shivalaya, the lovely place where I started walking. On the bus I met a guy who has guesthouse there and I followed him. It was a nice place, with good food and a warm shower - at that time I didn't know more than two weeks will go by before I will get my next hot shower!!

Guesthouses or teahouses are usually qute ok places where you get a private room for just 100 NPR (less than 1 $) or even for free, but you are expected to eat meals there, which can be sometimes a bit overpriced, but considering you get to sleep almost for free it is a good deal. However this price doesn't include shower, drinking water or charging electrical devices (sometimes at lower altitudes charging phone is still free) and these simple things soon start to become very expensive :).

I took a nice walk among rhododendron (Laligurans) trees with my freshly washed hair and I felt great with the wind in my hear. I was ready to follow it! 

WARNING!!! The following pictures include a lot of photographs of myself and food, so if you don't want to watch these, just skip them :):)!! I think that some things can be best said just by looking in my eyes or the smile on my face, and others by looking in my plate :)! Well there are also a few  photoes of the surrounding mountains, don't worry :)!!!

24.3.2017:  DAY 1 (walking 7 hours from Shivalaya to Kinja)

Craaaazy, I started today the trek to see Mount Everest or Sagarmatha a bit closer:):)!

It was great. Yeah some difficulties along the way. When I was reading back at my description it sounds like I was struggling so much! And at some points I was. But despite all this it felt amazing. Walking in the nature where there are no roads but everything that moves around needs to use it's own energy not machinery, that is admirable! The mountains you see along the, the fields and the villages, people you meet. Everything together makes this adventure so special that it is indescribable. Being able to follow my heart to this surrounding and keep going although being tired and sometimes a bit hurt. Because you know, you just feel this is place for you. And then a feeling of happiness and gratitude fills your whole body! It is a great feeling to be able to follow your heart and listen to your body. To learn when you still have enough power to go on and when you should really stop. And take your time. And enjoy!

I started with a backpack that weighted 14 kilos with some food also inside:). It was quite hot. I didn't like it that almost from the beginning there were children begging for sweets and money. Almost everyone who talked to me first spoke some English words and later asked for money or sweets, some even tried directing me in wrong path, but then another child helped me and pointed in the right direction. There weren't so many of them, but still more than usual. I guess this is connected to the fact that in Bandar so many homes were destroyed and it was really horrible ruined. It was quite sad to see so many remaining memories of the devastating earthquake. You can see that people here don't have a lot. But unlike in other places in Nepal here I saw little happiness and more sadness. A lot of sadness. Not much hope. This was hard because the Nepal I have discovered was totally contrary - happiness, smiling people, full of life. Yeah they have a hard life but they are vibrant. Not wanting to give up!! I admired that and fell in love with this!

I was lucky to get some food in Bandar which seems totally ruined and still aching from the earthquake. I got a simple lunch in a place where I realised they had a birthday party for a 3 year old girl :)! Inspite of me crashing the party they were very friendly and offered me to sit with them and shared cake with me. It was sweet.

The nature is amazing!! Walking pass the powerful river! It looked sooo fresh. And the bridges across are very adventurous:)! It is hard, wanting to give more to the people. More money, some food. I love sharing food but here I can see this can lead to people starting to beg which is not good. Especially kids. I hope here is a future here for them. I really hope for some bright thing.

 DAY 2 (walking 9 hours from Kinja to Junbesi)

Craaaazy day...a bit too much but I managed. Somehow. I guess I have more strength than I thought!

The beginning was ok but after one hour and a half I started to became weak. My legs were weak. Surely it didn't help that I ate only 2 apples and some coconut, some sugar cane:) and later some dried chickpeas - what I had with me, but I didn't find a place to eat when I needed it. The last 2 hours of walk to Dakachu was torture. I had to stop so often, sometimes every 20 minutes. I was so happy when I reached Dakachu!! I thought that surely this day I will walk just a little more but I was wrong. Before me lied an adventure and the test of my will and muscles :)!! Luckily the surrounding was so beautiful that surely helped to keep me going !!

There I ate quite a lot - an omelette and due to a misunderstanding I got also Dal Bhat:) ! It was time too see if the saying: "Dal Bhat power, 24 hour" works :). I  ate a lot and yet wasn't too full :)!! I continued through amazing forest - it was beautiful so I thought I will stay somewhere here. But in the next village I still had my strength so I walked some more. Soon I came to a part where there was nobody, nothing to sleep and no soul. Nothing but a lot of snow:)! The road was covered in snow and the fog was really close. For some time I didn't feel the best but I guess a little of colder weather or dal bhat power got to me and I got my energy back. I knew I had to move!! I was hoping I was on the right path as on this day I couldn't find any marcations until close to the end, but the first day the path was well marked! Soon there were some local officers who assured me I am on the right path. I was so happy when I got to the lodge at 3400 metres above sea level, the highest I have ever been:)! But I still had some energy and time left so I thought to walk maybe an hour more. What I didn't know was that I would actually walk 3 more hours with already a pretty sore back, sometimes it is better not to know what is waiting for you :). When I started my descend the walk became easier and I saw a couple from Netherlands whom I met the previous day. It was reasuring to have somebody close, actually because of them I did this whole crazy trail from Kinja to Junbesi in one day because they were planning it and it seemed doable. Well climbing about 2.000 metres + descending quite a lot in one day was really hard but somehow I managed. I got my powers back and the way down was quite fast. The views were magnificent when we came out of the forest and I was having fun. I thought the destination is surely close or I would find a place to sleep before Junbesi. Then at one point I realised I would have to walk one more hour to get to Junbesi! It felt absurd as he road started to ascend some more before finally descending to my new home! I was so happy and proud of myself to manage this day!!  Yeah at the end my back was quite sore but after getting a semi warm shower I massaged myself all over my body. I also did in Vipassana meditation a deep check of the sensations which can have an effect like a massage :)! It helped so that I wasn't so sore the next day as the previous day.

I promised to myself during the walk that the next day I will do much less of the crazy walk for sure :)! And I got a nice chocolate pancake as a reward :)!

DAY 3 (walking 6,5 hours from Junbesi to Nunthala):

I slept a little longer and started a bit late. I ate garlic soup with noodles but was soon very tired. I had to stop and eat. My legs were weak and my stomach a bit upset. I  felt better after eating more, the energy returned but I felt like there was something in my body that needed to come out, so I wasn't the most powerful especially climbing up to Taksindu la (pass) which was so steep! I didn't really feel the best but I managed, I stopped as much as I needed. I didn't want to sleep in the pass so I went down to Nunthala which was quite fast and much easier especially after drinking some ginger tea. I was following a local guide and we chatted for a while so the time went by quickly. The road was very muddy, probably because a lot of mules walk there. In Nunthala I got a good bed but a bit weird owner. I ordered dal bhat and because I found no lentil in my soup I asked if he can put some and he got upset. But when I drank from the bowl with dal he got crazy upset. It was only after reassuring that the food is mitto (good) he gave me seconds :)! I have learnt here that you should never drink dal bhat from a bowl :)!!! Walking further the prices started to rise which is understandable as  it is very hard to get stuff here -  just by carrying them on the back of porters or mules :)!!

DAY 4 (walking 5 hours from Nunthala to Bupsa)

The day started good, I descended to a river with another suspension bridge where I enjoyed the peace. I ate in Jubhing, a nice place where I got a special local meal with the friendly locals - nettle soup with white corn instead of rice, and I ate with my hands, like the locals :)! The walk to Kharikhola was nice and there is a nice village, but the path up to Bupsa was haaard for me. At the end I was so slow that I was so happy to reach the goal! I relaxed, bought a ticket home and talked with the people I shared my trek with - I was walking alone mostly but was constantly sharing the path with a couple from Netherlands, an elder guy from Deutschland, a young guy, 3 Israelis, an Ukrainian guy and 2 Australians - those were really nice, taking the trek really slowly and enjoying every part of it! Surely I felt safer having them somewhere around.

DAY 5 (walking 7,5 hours from Bupsa to Chheplung)

The road began to become muddy again and quite for a while. A lot of mules were walking and shitting on the wet floor so the walk wasn't so pleasant and it took me much longer than it was written on the map. It was a hard day for me, maybe I was thinking too much about other things or I don't know just the yin-yang reversal came to its minimum but the walk was very hard. For a while I even thought to myself: what the hell am I doing here?! During my travels I have learnt that when I reach to this point it is good to ask myself if I really want to be here, right now, at this place, doing this. To remember that I am doing this because of my own will and I can always change my plans if I want! But this was exactly what I wanted - the lovely scenery and local villages - now there were even cuter villages, with the walls around and a lot of prayer stones and bells! I loved the village Paiya and Chaurikharka, I don't think you can sleep there but it is definitely worth spending some time. In Chepplung I went to the monastery in the rocks and slept at some little guesthouse with friendly owners.

DAY 6 (walking a bit less than 7 hours from Chheplung to Namche Bazaar)

I was a bit nervous because it was a big day as I wanted to go to Namche Bazaar which involved quite an ascend. After having a difficult day I had my doubts but soon they vanished - it was a great day. The scenery was getting better and better although the road began to get more crowded as here people who flew to Lukla joined us. Most of the people who do the trek fly to Lukla but I actually loved the trek until there, very peaceful! I had enough strength and enjoyed the lovely walk. Before the grand ascend to Namche I ate a nice Dal Bhat in Monjo which proved again to be a good choice - it gave me enough power to walk high up to Namche! Slowly but steadily. Step by step! Actually a little helped that there were also others who struggled and when I saw porters carrying crazy heavy stuff I didn't complain about my 13 kg backpack :)! About 15 minutes before the end I lost the dal bhat power so it was a bit of a struggle but I made it :)! I found a nice hotel with free bed (at the beginning of my trek I paid 100 nrp for a bed but then realised that it is normal to get a free bed if I ate breakfast and dinner there which I anyway did. It is hard not to feel guilty to bargain for a free room which I started to do after 4th day (it is actually not a bargain but you just ask), because you get usually quite a nice bed. But the prices for the food are so high (somewhere even more than 5 times higher than in Kathmandu) that soon it makes sense :)!!

I walked a little around Namche and got so tired. I felt dizzy and had a little diarrhoea in the evening. I slept really bad and I got worried about the altitute sickness.

DAY 7 (resting day at 3.440 metres above sea level)

I felt better in the morning and it started as great day, the sun was shining, I washed my clothes and it felt good to have some fresh clothes. But soon I felt weak. I still had some stomach problems and felt tired, I could hardly move my legs. I couldn't imagine how I made it so far! I rested the whole day and felt better after Dal Bhat :)! Later my legs became a bit lighter and after getting a delicious chocolate walnut cake I was ready to continue my trek the next day. Before I was worried for a while but it is quite usual that the high altitute gets to you somehow. I visited the monastery and met a nice monk who showed me around and we planted some flowers together. He gave me a red cord around my neck which in Tibetan budism is used for protection and blessing - so now I was ready to go on :)! And  I was planning to go to Gokyo first but  after talking to some people got a bit worried about going alone there. There are less people on this path which is what I loved but this meant a bit more danger to me as I was walking alone. So I changed my plans and thought about going to Everest base camp first and then Gokyo. Unless, I thought, the next day I find some people to walk with to Gokyo:)!

 

 

Still trekking - reaching 5.360 meters above sea level

DAY 8 (walking a little less than 5 hours from Namche bazaar to Phortse Tanga)

When I woke up I felt really good so after good breakfast I started my ascend. Soon I saw how many people walk to Everest base camp. It is interesting to see but to have this for a week it would be too much for me.  And seeing how much of their "burden" is carried by porters or yaks makes me realise the price that trekking tourism brings to the locals and it is at the cost of people's health.

It was very easy to walk for me as I had been training for a week already and the path is great. The view started to change into white mountain tops and soon I was pointed where the highest mountain in the world is :)! There are so many beautiful mountains that you just couldnt tell :). I met two nice guys from Norway and talked and walked with them and their guide. They were going to Gokyo and told me I could join, so I decided to change my plans once again. But about an hour before the pass the altitude was starting to get to me so I walked slower. On the top I rested with a cup of tea and after it was easier to go downhill. I thought I will meet the guys in Phorte Thanga where I was staying but this is actually not a village just two places where you could stay which were far apart. I chose one by the river and I guess they chose the other one. Anyway they were too fast for me, I need my own time to take it as easy as I needed :). I relaxed by the river, had a nice Dal Bhat which the lady refilled so much I was completely full untill the next day!! I met some guys there and we had nice talks and played an interesting game and yacht (with dice) so the day went by fast. One of them wasn't feeling the best so they were resting. And so was I :)!

DAY 9 (walking 2,5 hours from Phortse Thanga to Dhole)

This was supposed to be an easy day which turned into a crazy day for me. It was supposed to be just 2 hours walk up untill the next village where I should sleep because of the altitute difference. But as I started already I felt a little dizzy and didn't have much power. And I had some struggles with myself, crazy thoughts about the food, money and stupid stuff, so not really being there, not being present. I decided to rest at one stone while Nepalese army was passing by. I didn't feel the best already and was a bit careless. When my backpack fell over into the steep forest I screamed, I just saw it fall down with my water bottle, toilet paper and something else falling way down. As it was the only water I had and also my great water bottle Nalgene I, in a panic, didn't respond well and started descending into the steep slope. I knew I wasn't doing the best thing but still continued. I was alone there and it was really dangerous to walk there but my mind was too confused to stop. I continued until I realised I am risking my life for a water bottle and I returned to the road. I was upset and there was a guy who tried to help me but I could find only my toilet paper all rolled around :). I didn't know what to do, I thought I should go back because I didn't have any water which is crutial in this altitude, but then somebody said that soon I get get some water. I already felt upset and dizzy but didn't want to go back so I continued, of course after I picked up the toilet paper which was very valuable at this altitude :). As there was nowhere to buy water I was directed by one guy (who spared me a sip of his water for my immediate relief) to the glacier, so I put the water in my thermal and added the desinfecting pill inside. It was quite a struggle and confusion to ascend, luckily there was this local guy with whom I talked and it was easier to walk. I was so happy to reach Dhole, found a nice place to stay. I was happy to reach my goal but very tired, exhausted and with a slight headache. It was very early when I came there so I had time to rest, eat , rest some more and later we played some games to pass the time quicker. The groups I met were very nice there, very friendly and the place had great food. In the evening it started to snow and it was fun althought we were wondering what the next day will be like.

DAY 10 (walking 3,5 hours from Dhole to Macchermo)

It was so nice waking up in the snow and walking surrounded with white mounatins. Luckily the sun was shining and it was pretty warm to walk, so the snow melted soon. I started slowly but later realised I was doing quite good. You need to walk slowly here because otherwise  you get exhausted too soon. I wanted to eat somewhere so after 3 hours walking I ordered dal bhat in Luza and was quite disappointed with it, it was the worst I ate :). After that I needed only to cross a  little hill to get to my next dome but that part was a real struggle. I lost my energy and had troubles with only a 45 minute walk, I gues dal bhat power wasn't working :). Soon in Machhermo I found a nice Snowland hotel with friendly owners and prices and I rested. I really didn't feel the best, a bit dizzy and with a headache. I tried to rest and drink a lot. At 3 pm I went to the talk about altitude sickness in the local clinic where I got a bit worried. I had a lot of simptoms although they weren't strong - headache, dizziness, tiredness. I was worried about getting ams (accute mountain sickness) and also the volunteers that were doing the presentation said you shouldn't walk alone. Oh yeah, I got worried! I was alone although I was constatly meeting nice people on the way. I felt a little better after sherpa stew and ginger tea but still not the best. There was this couple from Slovakia and Czech Republic with whom I had nice talks. But the night was a bit sleepless and I felt a small headache, so I was really worried. I decided that I won't continue the next day to Gokyo yet because I needed to sleep one more night at the same altitude or lower. I was even afraid I would have to go back which didn't help me to sleep any better :).

DAY 11 (resting in Macchermo at 4.470 metres above sea level)

I felt very good in the morning but still decided not to go to Gokyo the same day. Anyway the place I was staying was nice and not overpriced with only 100 npr charge for an hour of battery charging which was so cheap at this altitude!! I walked to the next place less than an hour away and wanted to sleep there but changed my mind after talking to some local guidev and decided to stay at the same place. Anyway the walk to Gokyo should be just 3-4 hours from there. So I returned to Macchermo and walked to a bit higher altitude where I also did Tai Chi (amazing!) and rested, it was a great day :)

DAY 11 (walking 4,5 hours from Macchermo to Gokyo)

I didn't sleep good. I woke up and felt ok, ate sugar lemon pancake and started the walk to Gokyo. Soon I realised I don't feel the best. I felt quite dizzy and tired. In Phannga I stopped after walking just 45 minutes because it was the last stop before Gokyo. I ate a lot more - nice rice with vegetables and an egg and had two black teas:). I felt a little better but still wasn't feeling the best. I was funny how the previos day I walked to the same place and I felt much better, I guess here the Yin Yang reversal (changing nature of everything) is more noticeable. Every day is different, you already think you don't suffer any altitude problems but then it comes:). The night before I met two guys who had to descend from Gokyo asap and another one who had problems at Gorakshep, close to Everest Base camp. It is normal to have some difficulties but if you feel totally exhausted it is not worth it. Although quite some people continue despite feeling exhausted or try to conceal the symptoms with some drug. I started ascending and hoped for the best, I decided to walk according to how I feel. The dizziness went away, but I was so slow. Short of breath. Slow. Tired. Slow :). The ascend was really hard but luckily I didn't feel worse so I continued. The nepalese generosity and helpfulness was so obvious just when I needed it the most. Some guide was always asking me how I feel, I told him in the begging about my dizziness but he said I shouldn't worry too much, luckily I still had a good appetite :). His kindnesss helped me a lot. It is so weird feeling how little you can do at such a high altitude. You do some slow steps and you stop. And have to drink a lot of water. And this was normal for most of the people at this altitude. When I came to the first lake and the second one it was amazing. The view was greate and although I needed to walk just a little more to the third lake I was so slooow! But soon as I saw the amazing scenery around Gokyo I was so happy. It is a magical place. I found a great room at Cho Oyu view lodge and restaurant with a room almost directly on the lake. So beautiful and also the food there was amazing, not overexpensive, very good and big portions. I did have some troubles in my stomach, probably because of so much garlic they put in the food - it is a natural remedy for altitude sickness. I felt ok but had a headache and it was the first time I took a pill for it, I didn't want to suffer anymore and it was a good choice, soon I felt much better, the pressure in the head was gone so I could relax more. I met again the two canadian - uk couples which I met in Dhole and have been really friendly worrying and taking care of me. Although themselves have had quite some problems with altitude. When you travel alone, especially this kind of crazy adventure, it is nice to meet someone who cares about you and keeps an eye on you when you feel weak, you feel a bit better immediately.

DAY 13 (resting in Gokyo at 4.790 metres above sea level)

When I woke up I felt better so I walked to the 4th lake. It was a nice, slow walk and I liked the frozen lake. I had some fun ther with the snow but then got worried - a guy I met was in front of me and then I just couldn't see him anymore. I admit I was worried something had happened to him but later I realised he just walked further:). He have me a lot of good information and it was nice talking to him. In the evening I had some nice talks with nepalese and played some cards with a group with one American guy - I learned a carded game called Call break but wasn't very good, I was still learning - it was fun anyway. Didn't know at that time that soon I will become almost an expert at it :)!

DAY 14 (morning trip to Gokyo Ri at 5.360 metres above sea level)

I woke up 3.30 to start the walk up Gokyo Ri at 4 to see the sunrise. I was lucky it wasn't windy and it was lovely to start the walk in the night with the sky full of stars. I didn't really sleep the best in the night and I was waking up more times so I didn't have the most power when I started walking. And the ascend is so steep! I think it is just about 600 metres of ascend but at this altitute it feels like 1.600 :)! I was quote slow, breathing deeply and stoping often. When the sun started to light the sky I wasn't at the top yet but still I could see the sun behind Mount Everest and Lhotse, both with a little cloud that seemed like a smoke. It was fascinating! After 2, 25 hours I got to the top and I was so happy. The view was amazing, all around, 360°. You can see so many different mountains, lakes, glacier, it was so nice. I stayed for a while and while descending I was very happy that I was going down already when a lot of people were strugggling :)!

Later I relaxed, had Dal Bhat already at 10 am and in the afternoon I took a walk around the lake which was supposed to last one hour. It took me two hours and quite some walk in the snow, not on a real path but on a slope that didn't feel the safest. The views were nice but I was just too tired that later all I did was relax :). For a while there was no wind and the sun was strong so I could just lie on the ground next to the lake and enjoy the fantastic scenery and be grateful for my achievement :)!

DAY 15 (descending from Gokyo to Thore by walking 5 hours)

It was time to say goodbye to this lovely place. I wanted to descend on the other side of valley I ascended, so I needed to cross Ngozumba glacier. That was quite a challenge to get to the otherside. I needed to climb some more and cross a place where very close there were constantly falling rocks so I went by very fast. There wasn't much of a glacier but the remaining was very beautiful. While walking untill Dragnag to the other side I realised I had made a great decision not to do the Cho La pass. The walk over was quite exhausting because of the altitude. In the night I had some problems breathing and also my heart started to beat very powerful. I admit, the altitude gave me quite some problems and it was time to start descending. At first it was hard to decide because I knew I could do the Cho La pass and get to Everest Base camp. I would want to see it and do the Kala Patthar walk but because of so many people that are there I am not really sorry I missed it. The mountains remained quite peaceful for me as they should be. But if I would go to Everest Base camp I would have struggled with my strength and my will too much that I don't think it would be worth it. I am happy that I listened to my body to guide me, to see when the bad feelings are stronger than the good ones - and this is the point to leave, no matter what. I hope I learned something from this experience :)!

Descending was much easier for me as usual and here even more because with every step I could breath easier. I walked 2 and a half hours to Dragnag and than about the same time to get to my next home, very simple Sherpa Lodge with a friendly owner somewhere from Thore to Thare :). From Dragnag there wasn't any place to eat, sleep or even buy some drinks until Thore where I had lunch and then continued. The walk was very nice because I was observing from across the valley the same path I was walking on just a week ago, I felt a bit nostalgic and happy with my experience. Towards the end I was a bit tired because the path takes you mostly down but then you start ascending some more before going down and then up again :). Like life, some ups and downs, although here I was more looking forward to the downs than ups :)!

DAY 16 (walking 5,5 hours from Thore to Pangboche)

I decided to go to Pangboche which on the map didn't look much challenging. But the reality was totally different :). To get first to Phortse I needed to descend about 500 meters lower but what I didn't know was that I would be again doing so much walk up and down this day that at one point I would be ready to strangle somebody if there would be much more climb ahead of me!! It took me almost 3 hours to get to Phortse and I expected to walk a bit more than one hour! And on top of it my phone which should have been almost full got completely empty all of a sudden! At this point I really needed to contact my parents to tell them that  was ok because I hadn't been online for more than 3 days. Usually I didn't contact them so often but here on the "top" I told them I would contact them at least every 3 days to tell them that I am ok. At some places they have WI-FI cards but not always. Luckily the NCELL network which I was using for internet connection  was finally working here, so I charged my phone a bit while eating apple pancake and drinking two black teas. I knew that I should be walking the same day about 3 more hours full of ups and downs. Actually I was quite fast at least at the beginning I got my strength and had no problems. But at the end there came the point of wanting to strangle somebody if the path would take me much more up! Luckily there weren't much other people around and the Yaks walking by seemed a bit too strong for me, so nobody got hurt :). When I finally arrived in Pangboche my effort was rewarded. I found a nice lodge with good prices, great food and friendly owners and took my first warm shower after 2 weeks! It felt so good, it was a real shower, not a bucket one :)! I felt so good at this place, a great energy,  it was a nice village where mostly locals lived and there were only a few lodges. Mostly places I walked by for the last week had only lodges, but here the locals were living and it was a totally different vibration. I felt really good here and also my phone did, the battery was full again all of a sudden, without recharging, although before it was empty - I guess he also had some altitude problems :).

DAY 17 (day tour to Ama Dablam Base Camp at 5.570 metres above sea level)

I decided to walk to Ama Dablam base camp which seemed like an easy walk. Well I actually forgot how long it took me but the goal was high again (4.570 metres) so it included slow walking and quite some stops. I was lucky because there was one expedition there so I got to talk with them and they were so friendly offering me whatever they had. I didn't want to take their stock but I really needed to drink so I got a tea and some boiled water so my walk back was much easier being hidrated :). Ama Dablam is an amazing mountain - it being shaped like a human being it is very intriguing. I remembered when I saw it for the first time - it was at the same time I laid my eyes on Mount Everest for the first time, but Ama Dablam  intrigued me at least the same or even more maybe. And seeing it upclose it was even more amazing and powerful! Although being "only" 6.812 metres high her glory can be seen on lots of my photographs :)!

DAY 18 (walking a litle less than 5 hours from Pangboche to Kyangiuma)

The previous day was quite windy so I got some pains in my neck which didn't seem to go away. I still could walk with my luggage but had to rest more. I got a bit worried I would have to change my plans. I decided to see how the day goes and how I would feel. The walk to Tengboche was very nice, the path started to involve a lot of trail through the woods which I like. It was quite a change from seeing bare mountains with just a few bushes from time to time. From Tengboche there is a beautiful view to Ama Damlam and Mount Everest and this is quite a nice place to stay. But I enjoyed descending to Phungi Thanga a lot, it only took me 1 hour. Like usual walking down was much easier for me, I didn't have any problems with my knees or ankles. I have met quite few people who preferred walking up but for me it was so much fun going down, sometimes I was running like a kid :). I was happy I wasn't one of the thousands of people going in the opposite direction which was a bit overcrowded for my taste. After eating a nice Dal Bhat again I had to walk more uphill which was slower again and much more troubled. Finally I arrived in Kyangiuma where I spent my last night over 3.000 metres :)!

DAY 19 (walking about 4 hours from Kyangiuma to Bengkar (or somewhere around it))

My pain in the neck was still hurting so I got a nice professional massage in Namche bazar with Sim Lama at The Real professional Massage Therapy & Ayurvedic Clinc (you can find him on FB, I really recommend it). It helped me a lot, I felt so good but I needed some rest to make it completely better.  Yet I continued to walk some more the same day with my heavy backpack, I didn't want to stay in Namche Baxzar. There I had the best chocolate walnut brownie in my life on my way up and I was dreaming about it for a while. I ate one and took one to go and I admit I still dream about it and will try to "recreate" it at home :). It was a perfect blent - nutty chocolate with white chocolate pieces that melted when it was hot!! I wanna go back as I am writting this :):)!! I visited the monk who gave me red cord around my neck for good luck and he was so happy to see me, he hugged me so tight :)! I walked few more hours and when I was tired and found a place to sleep.

It was time to decide what my next path will be. Since my pain in the neck I was worried about finishing my trek the way that I had planned. My plan from the beginning was to finish my trek where I started, in Shivalaya, but this time do it slower and in more days. While going up I personalized my map with details of good places to sleep and nice view so I had an approximate idea where I wanted to spend more time and I was looking forward to it. Because of my neck pain I started to think about flying to Kathmandu. I needed to decide now because if I wanted to fly I needed to go to Lukla and if not I would have to walk about a week longer to get to Shivalaya or at least 4 more days to get to Salleri where I could also take a bus. I wanted to walk back but my body was telling me I really need some rest so I decided to listen to it and finish my trek the next day in Lukla. This decision was easier because of the fact that this meant that I could go to the handover of the school I was helping to build two months before!

DAY 20 (reaching Lukla airport)

My whole body was already tired from all the walking I did and adding to that the neck pain and heavy backpack (by this time it weighed "only" about 10 kilograms because I left some clothes for Sherpas and ate the food I had at the beginning, but still it felt heavier every day) I knew the decision was good. I walked to Lukla trying to enjoy every step because I knew it was finishing! I was happy but sad at the same time. Happy to be relaxing soon but sad to be leaving this amazing place which gave me so much!! Last days I had quite some sugar cravings which in my body language means usually that I am a bit sad :). For the finish I ate a pizza  which was actually delicious and spent some time with a girl I met while trekking. It was time return to Kathmandu, I was ready! Although flying from Lukla airport is very adventurous (one of the most dangerous airports: http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-04-12/this-is-the-worlds-most-dangerous-airport, but it was quite nice flight during which the pilot was reading the news :)!!!

Going back to school :)

Coming back to civilisation was nice. It was so refreshing to wash my hair after 3 weeks, on the photos you can see the picture before and after - a big difference but both have a special glow in my eyes :). It was great seeing Tenna again, a Danish girl I met while volunteering. I got a bit lonely at the end of trekking so returning to Kathmandu a bit early to be able to see lots of familiar faces was a good choice. The first day it was Nepalese New Years Eve so we enjoyed catching up with a beer or two and good food. We danced a little on the music that was provided by a DJ on the open stage. At midnight we huggged and wished each other all the best and returned to our home – it felt a bit uncomfortable being surrounded by so many Nepalese man who when drunk can get a bit annoying.  We needed to ring a bell so the lovely hosts at Metro Eco hotel let us in our room, it was arranged in advance to ring a bell when we return. This is a nice place with great values for the money – basic clean room with great hosts and a nice view from the roof top. I liked staying in the local environment instead of in Thamel, but still we were only a 5 minute walk away from it.

We were mostly relaxing and walking around, one day we had a nice long walk to Patan and we got to see Kathmandu outside of Thamel which was more real. In Patan there is also Durbar square with old temples and royal palace and we enjoyed walking around some random streets until at some point there was somebody smiling at us. It was Uttam, a Nepalese guy that was working at the project with All hands :). It is so funny how sometimes you meet people youknow at totally unexpected places. Like walking in Kathmandu I met another girl from All hands, Shama, who later  introduced me to another project I loved. And a few times I also saw a girl from Israel whom I met during trekking – in one hotel, just walking around Thamel and on a bus stop 3 hours away from Kathmandu :)!! Funny! I loved taking it a bit easy, having a good massage at Herritage spa and eating great food at Indian restaurant (in Paknajol Marg street a bit South from 7 corners - good to know for next time:)) – delicious and very cheap food, I loved their naan, vegetable paratha, curries and a great palak paneer :)!

The day before the handover we went to Dunche Trisuli Bazar. We made a rookie mistake and took the bus in the middle of the day which meant a very hot bumpy bus ride with a lot of traffic. When we arrived at the destination I felt tired but Tenna felt exhausted. So I went looking around for a nice room and after getting there I got some food and walked around, but Tenna felt sick so she slept mostly the whole afternoon and the night. Luckily in the morning she felt much better so we were ready to go back to school :)!!

We were so excited coming back – we walked just a little then got a ride directly to Ratemate, we were very lucky :)!! Driving up on the bumpy road made us feel like kids in an adrenaline park – we had so much fun. Finally we arrived to Ram Krisna’s shop, we couldn’t believe we were back! It was great seeing lots of familiar faces who were still there doing really hard work. At the end they were catching the deadlines so the work got even harder and longer, I have a special admiration for all of them who helped until the end!! The camp site changed and you could see that things were coming to an end. While the hard workers were getting ready for one of the last bucket shower Tenna and I went to see the school. We saw the pictures already but seeing it in flesh is totally different! It looks so beautiful!! Although at first it seems weird that the colour of the school is blue, there you can see that it fits the environment – there are quite some blue buildings in the area which I didn’t notice before. There were even kinds playing around, checking out their new safe learning place!! I felt a great combination of happiness, pride and excitement seeing the school finished! Knowing that I was a part of the process, a small one but still important. I was checking the wall I helped building and was quite proud :)! The end walls of the school are painted which makes this place alive! We checked Ama’s place (Ama is the lady who donated the land for the school) which is being built, went one last time to the squat toilet on site and returned for a delicious lunch. Seeing so many happy and satisfied people at one place was very gratifying. The volunteers who finished the school, the volunteers who worked on the school months or even a year ago, masons and their families, other people who helped in the project and the local community! The ceremony was a bit formal, my eye caught the image of Ama. She was sitting there with dignity but like a statue, not showing emotions. It must have been so hard for her to be so serious because I know how much all this meant to her. When we met before she was thanking Tenna and me for being there (in Nepali, but you could feel the gratitude it her eyes), I got so emotional and thanked her with tears in my eyes and when she saw this she got even more emotional. I guess she didn’t want us to see her like this so she just walked away, if she didn't do that we would all be crying like crazy, and this would have been a happy cry no matter how weird that seems. Some volunteer girls learnt how to dance like Nepalis and it was such a great performance. Later we all joined and danced like crazy! It was so much fun, all of us, so different by the colour of our skin, eyes and the history we had but yet so close! Celebrating together, dancing, laughing and completely enjoying!! Tenna and I were told we can’t sleep at the camp as we were just visitors that day so we needed to get down the same night. Although a lot of locals offered us their home we decided to go back to our hotel the same day or as it turned out in the night. We were lucky again and got a drive back down after dinner. This way we got to enjoy some beers, our last dinner and our last dinner walk! The project was finished, only a few people stayed a bit longer to finish some details. So they decided that everybody that was leaving would give a goodbye speech after dinner. As there were quite some people leaving this lasted a long time but it was nice listening to their stories and finishing statements. I could see that although they were quite exhausted they were so happy and proud. And more than one said that after this experience they started to believe back in the good of human nature!!

And this is what projects like this do – rebuild hope, for the locals who suffered some disaster but also for the volunteers. Although volunteering seems selfless it is totally contrary – you get so much out of it that you forget about the feelings of tiredness, loneliness and the lack of privacy!! I think that this experience has ruined me a bit – I realised what I had already known, that to me it is really important to so something that matters to another human being. Something valuable. Even if it just a small thing, but still. Doing good. It was so great to come back but on the other hand I was satisfied of my journey since All hands. There were however some moment when I felt a bit guilty not staying until the end, but I knew I gave as much as I could - I was happy to have got this experience and very satisfied with the length of it!! The drive back down was bumpy and funny and at the end we needed to be a bit inventive to get into our room because the front doors were closed, but we managed. The next day it was time to say goodbye to Tenna with whom it was really easy to spend a week together and much fun!! I bought a “Nepalese” necklace which now I love wearing because being yellow, green and red reminds me of the colourful Nepal which is a part of my heart for good!! And I returned to Kathmandu for one day before going East and a bit North, this time to Sindhupalchowk district!!

 

Enjoying farm life

When I first arrived in Kathmandu I saw an invitation for volunteering on a farm, Biloba Organic farm. I chose to stay there because I felt like something was drawing me to this place. Maybe to experience the generous hospitality or to get involved with another project (Conscious impact). But since I got there I felt nothing but welcomed. They treated me like a guest although I came there to work and help around. They took care about me, smiled a lot and they even gave me a Nepalese name: Shila. For the first 3 days I worked just a little. One reason is that the first day they didn’t work because the manager’s grandmother died. When I told him I am sorry, he said: it is ok, it is natural, she was old. I admired the reaction because in the West we are so afraid of the death instead of accepting it as a part of our lives. And I saw the people that were a part of the funeral and I didn’t see anyone crying, amazing! Accepting death as it is. Ok, I got a bit distracted, what I wanted to say is the love that I got from the locals there. The manager told me to eat what I want and do what I want here. And that I can go around and come back to sleep. And that I can stay for a month. No problem. If I want to do something ok, if not it is ok. Usually I really want to help and do a lot but when I came I was a bit exhausted and had a cold so it felt good not to be doing much. And also because of the rain it was sometimes hard to work outside. Usually I would feel bad not being much useful but I tried to accept the things as they were. I rested, took my time to write my memories, cooked my own food (they have a nice market with delicious vegetables) and in the meantime helped around a little. Total strangers welcomed me as a friend. One day I was helping in the garden with Madap, a local who speaks a bit English but not much, but we managed anyway, it was nice. I also did some cooking and later we were digging the holes for coffee, which gave me quite some blisters :)! It seemed like they had a lot of fun having me around. One day on the way back I started picking up plastic from the road and without asking them for help they immediately started doing the same. I visited also the other farm in Kattike which is a bit far uphill but so beautiful. I helped taking care of the growing fruit and nut trees, it is amazing to imagine what that place will be like in a few years! I wanted to stay there just one day but felt so good because Diki, the girl whose family is helping with the farm, was so friendly and warm that I decided to stay one more day. We practiced English together and I learnt some Nepalese words which are useful to know: like dunga (stones), garmi (warm) and shishnu (nettles). I love the food they cook - it is very delicious and one evening Diki made me also pancakes with homemade ghee. Actually here you eat like the locals, so Dal Bhat every day, sometimes even twice a day. But I loved it and when I wanted something different I cooked myself, just making some salad or something else for a change. Or potatoes with nettles I picked around the farm :).

The living conditions at the farm were very clean and simple but I really didn’t mind the squat toilet or bucket shower with a cold water. I just got a bit lazy – but I think it is totally like the situation in front of you: if there is a lot of work, you just manage, and if there is not much: you also manage (and get “lazy”). But I think I had done so much hard work in Nepal that it justifies some feelings of lazyness :):):).

When I was staying in Nawalpur I also liked that I had a lot of time by myself so I could do meditation, blog writing, cooking, relaxing and doing Tai Chi. If somebody wants to be more involved with the locals or don’t like spending afternoons and evening alone than the farm in Kattike would be a better choice. Although staying in Nawalpur was quite nice because you can see the local life in the village, just sitting and observing you experience real Nepal. You can still see how much this area had been affected by the earthquake. But the hope remains, new houses are being built and when you see the locals living in their new homes, sometimes made just from wood or tin, you feel such an incredible admiration towards them. It is unimaginable how people who have suffered so much share with you so much love.

But after one week  it was time to visit my next (last project) and also I got  bit lonely, so I said goodbye to the farm life. I hope to come back some day to taste all the delicious fruits and hang out with the locals :)!!

 

Conscious Impact

When I was working in the farm I visited my friend Shama who was working on another project in Takure with a great name Conscious Impact (https://www.consciousimpact.org/), just about a 45 minute walk from where I was staying. When I came to the camp I knew this is project I should be involved with and I had to come back. Before I came there I got very lonely and I missed home so much! Staying with the locals at the farm was very nice but I needed something else, a bit more company. And this was a perfect place.

I can say that I got just a taste of the project because I stayed only for a week as I was leaving Nepal  soon. The first day I came was Saturday, an off day, and it was a strange day. For lunch we cooked our own food and one guy prepared some special porridge. There was this rumor that there is some special ingredient and that you shouldn't eat too much of it but we were told this won't make us high, maybe just relaxed a little. I didn't think much but soon felt a bit dizzy, tired and a bit confused. I realised I got high which made me upset a bit because I was worried the effect will be too strong. The first thing I did (as usual when feeling upset) was to eat almost all the snacks I had in my tent :) - oh yeah, I already knew I deal with my emotions often through food, but here it felt like I was observing myself in this madness: combining a piece of dates, a piece of coconut and some peanuts to get the perfect combination that would taste like a candy, and I did find it :)!! And later I think I felt the moment when I fell asleep. Usually I can't remember this moment - I am awake and then I wake up, but this time it felt like I could feel the change of my consciouness into unconsciousness :). Mostly I was upset about this new state of mind - being high in a totaly new surrouding made me experience a lot of different feelings, the strongest was wanting to run away from this new, unfamiliar place!! All of my emotions got multiplied because of the special food I had :). But luckily I stayed! And later I realised there were quite some people that had some special effect that day :)!

I knew two people from All hands project there (later another one joined) and one guy I met on my first day of trekking and seeing him there was a total surprise :)!! Although there is a community life everybody is on a special path, so a lot of time is spent for relaxation, reading, yoga or other personal stuff. Staying there just for a week with my mind already one third at my home I can't say I was totally present there and totally relaxed. Getting quite strong digestion problems also didn't help me to fit in immediatelly. But in spite all this I can say that it was I place that felt so special!

The whole project is based on helping others with the emphasize on our own feelings. This meant that every day you could decide freely which work you want to do in the morning, which in the afternoon and there was absolutely no pressure. If you didn't feel good, you could easily sleep in or just relax (close to the toilet if needed :)). As we were preparing our own breakfast and dinner we were put into groups, so each day you did also some camp support - some day you prepared the food and the others you cleaned the dishes. I loved cooking again and washing the dishes in a group is way more fun than doing it alone :). This was also another way of connecting with others and it worked. 

When new people came we got a tour of the camp and it was amazing to hear the story behind the organisation from one of the founder, Orion, his description of the project is so strong and real that you can feel the positive, conscious impact that it aims. There are more programs this organisation cares about the best thing I liked is the vision of the sustainable, conscious impact it wants to achieve. They want to help the locals not just by doing something and then leaving but by creating some support longterm.

The fact is that a lot of buildings, mostly homes in Nepal haven't been rebuilt since the eartquake. People are living in improvised places that were are not a long term solution. Conscious impact offers alternative methods for rebuilding homes. They make their own bricks from local materials (sand, earth and water) and by adding just some cement. This way they give jobs to the locals providing them the opportunity to work at their home close to their family rather than having to go abroad like so many others. These bricks have been used to build a school and a senior center and are meant for rebuilding lots of homes. For one family talso provided earth bags which is an inexpensive method using mostly local soil to create structures which are strong and can be quickly built. They are also involved in the building of the orphanage very nerby. 

What I liked about this project was also looking at the bigger picture. Besides helping with the reconstruction of the buildings they want to help with the education and also their agriculture program is amazing. Just by coming at the camp you can see that it is really important to be aware of the impact we have on the surrounding and trying to make this impact as small as possible, regarding the life of the camp. Everybody there should use biodegradable soaps and for washing the dishes we were using ash which doesn't pollute the environment. They have their own garden where they grow some vegetables, do their own composting and even have a compost toilet - it was the first one I have seen and it looks very interesting :)! But the best thing is that they want to share the agriculture knowledge with the volunteers and the community so they started to grow trees and some plants. I love their coffee tree campaign - they bought coffee seeds and made a nursery to make seedling which are sold to the locals. They explained that by selling them (for a price that is much less that it costs to make one seedling) they assure that only people who are really interested will get involved in the project rather that just giving them away to people who won't really care about them. And this makes the project more successful. I like it because they think about the bigger picture, not just doing something for the good feelings of the volunteers or the organisation, but considering different perspectives. And this is what conscious impact means and is all about!

All this combined with the atmosphere inside the camp - helping each others, working together, sharing special knowledge (like yoga in the morning), representing nonviolent communication and caring about each other makes this place really special. I can't say that it is easy for me to live in a community but here I felt safe, relaxed and appretiated. And having gratitude circles before every dinner during which people openly tell each other what are they grateful for is very heartwarming. For me I need a bit more time to open up to new people and new surrounding, but seeing so many open minded and open hearted people made me be able to express my feelings easier. Thinking about what we are grateful for makes our everyday life more precious and present. Being conscious about the good things in our lives.

Because of the short time and feeling high and also sick I didn't manage to experence the true potential this project has and I didn't have a chance to share with others my true potential, but the taste of it was sweet :). I think a project like this should be experienced for a longer time and this would make me be more present and opened so I could truly share with others the best of me. As I feel really strong about supporting this project I decided to make a foundraising project of my own, using my creativity to get some donations. Let's see how this project turns out :)!!

I left the project on the next Saturday. I was pretty confused, having some stomach problems and some wishes to spend my last days with the local community. I ended up walking down to Melamchi because I missed the bus but this walk was really great. Beautiful surrounding, interesting people and me walking to my last Nepalese adventure, again into the unknown.

Last days in Nepal

Two weeks before I left Nepal I felt anxious. I missed my home, my friends and family and beautiful Slovenian nature. I wanted to be home already. One week later it all changed. I realised I will be missing this beautiful country. Although being there was not easy sometimes, as there is not much comfort and even moving from one place to another involves a "bit discomfortable" bus rides. But while leaving I realised I will miss even the crazy bus rides. Because of moving so slowly you get to observe and see much more. And understanding that some discomfort doesn't mean suffering, unless you decide to make it that way :)!

Realising all this I decided to make the most of my last remaining days. I wanted to see some more big snowy mountains, eat good, walk in the nature a little and experience some more of Nepalese hospitality. And this is exactly what I got!!

I decided to go with a bus from Melamchi to Timbu and even my walk down to Melamchi was so much fun. I can't forget one Dai (older guy) who was sitting under the fascinating giant old tree in the shades. When I was passing by he told me to sit there. To relax in the shades. And that is exactly what I did. He didn't speak English so we couldn't communicate with words but just with gestures and just by sitting there, together, in peace. I felt so relaxed and it was a really precious moment.

When I got to Timbu there was just one guesthouse with very basic accomodation. I can't say we had a great connection with the owners but what I was looking was just around the corner. When I was walking around a little girl came and talked to me. She showed me her home where I met her aunt, grandmother and her brother and little sister, Nanu. They were so friendly and shared with me their food and roxy. I didn't want to take from them because they seemed that they don't have a lot for themselves. Because they were insisting I tried a little roxy (local liquor) and some egg, but felt a little bad taking from them. Now I know my feelings about the situation are not fair towards the family. I try not to judge but still I do, I think that they don't have a lot of things so I also want to take them away their right to share with me their generocity, their self. The next day before leaving I went back to the family because I wanted to buy some flour from them. To bring home as a memory and also to give them something back in return for their kindness. They gave me one kg of fresh, corn flour and didn't want anything in return. I tried persuading them, but they wouldn't take it. The grandmother told me that I am like her daughter, about the same age, unmarried :) and that we are the same. Wow, this made get a bit emotional. I tried to explain them that their generosity is really amazing but for them this is totally natural. Even if they don't have much they are happy to share what they have with a total stranger. And when they told me that they are poor, that their house is not good, I could understand that the simple life they are living is not easy. Improvised house which now turned into a real home. But on the other hand I wanted to explain them that all the money in the world doesn't help you if you do not appretiate things you have and the home isn't surrouned with love and kindness, which they have for sure!!

I wanted to reach Sermathang which was a high goal for that day because I wanted to take bus in the afternoon and the walk there takes 3-4 hours much uphill. But just after about half an hour of walking I saw a truck and waved. It stopped no matter that it was a very steep curve and it took a lot of engine power to start the truck moving again. They took me in so I was enjoying one more bumby ride and the lovely views. The snowy mountain tops in the distance were amazing! Sermathang is a nice village, not many people but still some lodges with friendly people.  I felt such a special tranquillity there, such peace, just what I needed :). I ordered Tsampa with honey (porridge they make with roasted flour) and it was so delicous I took some flower for home. And while I am writing this I got so hungry I will make it after completing this blog :)!!

Walking downhill was a lot of fun, it was a great day that ended up in not such a great bus ride. I wanted to be in Kathmandu the next afternoon and decided to stop somewhere in between to break the ride. I though I would be driving just 2, 3 hours until I found a place to sleep. I forgot that I was in Nepal and that a lot of people were still struggling with having improvised tin roof over their wodden walls and they can't worry yet about giving a roof over the head of some travellers. So I kept on driving until Dhulikhel, about 5 hours alltogether, to find a really nice place. I slept at unexpensive and friendly Lovebirds guesthouse and had a nice talk with the owners. I ate really good, tried something I have seen for the first time although being in Nepal: Bara (the dough made from lentils) and Chatamari (the dough made from rice flour), both were very good and are still waiting to be tried at home :)!! The next day I walked around to the Buddha statue where I did my meditation, lost a key again (it was the second time I had lost a key in Nepal but both times I found it later:)) and took a bus to Kathmandu. 

The last one and a half day I spent walking around Kathmandu and shopping, it felt like I want to take as much of Nepal with me as possible :):)!! I was happy to go home but upset at the same time. I was leaving Nepal, a coutry that gave me so much, how can I just go? I knew it was time to leave but also that one day I shall definitelly return!!

The last night was very upsetting. I ate something bad or maybe the last beer I drank there was not the best but I had digestive problems all night and they continued the next day. It was the first time I had to travel like this and in the morning I was a bit worried but luckily the plane was a bit late so I had time to use the airport toilet for a dozen of times before boarding :).

My transfer was through Dubai where my digestive system already felt much better but the humidity there was very unpleasant. I just walked around a little, went to the Marina and saw some big skyscrapers. I like to see also some shiny, tall buildings but I wouldn't want to look at them for very long :). And the next morning it was time to fly to another stop, Belgrade. And again, just before the end of the journey, I almost made a rookie mistake and missed my flight. I took metro to the airport to Terminal 1 but actually had to go to Terminal 3, which somebody told me before. I though there sure must be an underground connection but the only connections were a long bus ride or a taxi. I even though about walking but luckily I managed to think again and took the taxi because it wasn't as close as it looked :). 

It was good to break a little my return home, I had a good night sleep in Dubai and later I relaxed in Belgrade where I spent some nice time with my relatives who live there. Even the drive back to Slovenia with strangers I met through Bla Bla cars was fun! But I was exhausted, a bit from the change of the environment and local times, but also because of all the difference of the two worlds I both love so much. Trying to use both Eastern and Western advantages and make it into a special mixture can be hard but I will try to do my best :)!! I got a lot out of there, not let's see what I do with all these knowledge :) !!

July 30 2019
NOVEMBER 2019 ADVENTURES

NOVEMBER 2019 ADVENTURES

27.11.2018. Just sitting in my bed, overwhelmed with emotions. La Palma, such an amazing island and experience that is hard to be described. But this was only a part of my journey. This one I could split in three parts: 1. The wedding 2. Morocco 3....  

February 12 2018
BACK TO THE “NORMAL” LIFE

BACK TO THE “NORMAL” LIFE

 

                                  normal = conforming to a standard, usual typical or expected

 

May 22 2017
FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 2 / February 2017) - DISCOVERING NEPAL: Joining All Hands Volunteers Organisation

FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 2 / February 2017) - DISCOVERING NEPAL: Joining All Hands Volunteers Organisation

21.4.2017

 

 

March 23 2017
FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 3 / March 2017): Vipassana meditation - silent 10 day meditation

FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 3 / March 2017): Vipassana meditation - silent 10 day meditation

March 1 2017
FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 1 / January 2017)- the beginning: Thailand, here I come again :)!

FINISHING THE UNFINISHED (Blog no. 1 / January 2017)- the beginning: Thailand, here I come again :)!

June 25 2016
THE LOVELY VIETNAM

THE LOVELY VIETNAM

May 6 2016
MY BURMESE ADVENTURE

MY BURMESE ADVENTURE

March 22 2016
MIXED MALAYSIA

MIXED MALAYSIA

February 27 2016
TWO MONTHS OF THAILAND

TWO MONTHS OF THAILAND

January 14 2016
CHINA 2015 - The beginning

CHINA 2015 - The beginning