Redland Green School

RGS Bristol

The Story of Nepal 2010

In a year of life-defining exams and the end of 14 years of schooling, the decision to travel around the world to the small, landlocked country of Nepal seemed anything but a formality for the majority of our group. The series of fundraising activities ranging from bake sales to quiz evenings seemed like a distant memory when the 15 of us jetted off from Heathrow, and what ensued made home feel like a lifetime away.

The shock of Kathmandu, we quickly learned, was nothing compared to the vast diversity of a country consumed by the giants of the Himalayas. East Asian architecture, alongside Indian influences, marked a sense that Nepal was as lost as we were. Our journey, from the wondrous temples, funeral pyres and marauding monkeys of the capital, to the tranquil lakeside town of Pokhara, through the foothills of the Annapurna range, and on to Shree Shanti Priya Primary School and Chitwan National Park, saw a three week bombardment of Nepal.

 

In order to view the slideshow, please install Flash

Open larger versionShow larger version

 

The expedition provided an array of adventures with truly great memories, among which came the surrealism of the Hindu burnings along the Bagmati River, where the deads' ashes were swept into the Ganges tributary. A later encounter with the holy monkeys of Swayambhunath Buddhist temple, coined by the group as the 'migration', saw a troop of monkeys suddenly converge on victims Georgette and Angus, much to our amusement and their unsuspecting horror. The small town of Pokhara had a particularly relaxed feel, with the natural beauty of the lake providing a spectacular backdrop to the small shops selling tea and pashminas, whilst preparing us for the job at hand.

That job, being a climb to roughly 3,000 metres, in a circuit encompassing the true beauty of rural Nepal and its mountains. This stage of our trip not only saw the group pushed to its limits in terms of physical exhaustion, injury and psychological barriers, but also brought the team together to collectively overcome the challenge. The recurrent phrase 'Maddie Paddy', named after its champion Maddie, is just one example of the forces against our trek, as traveller sickness spread through the group and Georgette's injured knee forced her to ride astride a pony; when asked of the experience she said, 'No comment'. Despite the trivial tragedies bestowed on the team, spirits remained high and, with our ability to grasp the English language deteriorating due to exhaustion, altitude and our surreal environment, phrases such as 'degraded?' became a common comical occurrence, from both teachers and students.

On a high from the completed trek and our newfound camaraderie, we moved to the southern region of the country to help in the small, poverty stricken Shree Shanti Priya Primary School. The array of teaching, nursery rhymes, building, painting and gardening had us working in the 40 degree heat for four days of intensely rewarding tribulations. Among the more rewarding parts of our trip was getting to meet the Nepalese people, particularly the children who, despite being part of the lowest class level, expressed the utmost happiness and hospitality towards us; a scramble for photos, a go on the newly painted hop scotch and a sing of 'wheels on the bus' becoming a daily routine. Leaving became an emotional departure as a goodbye ceremony set us on our way to Chitwan National Park, though during the start of our journey we were joined by one particularly flamboyant teacher who incited a dance on the moving vehicle to our embarrassment and near fatality.

Getting off the bus at Chitwan was a whole new experience, as the air conditioned lodges and buffets removed us to the tourist world, well away from the harsh reality of everyday life for most of the Nepalese. Yet we had no complaints; we experienced an early morning canoe ride, elephant washing and an elephant safari, on which we saw rhinos, peacocks and deer, amongst other local wildlife. Angus, clearly enthralled by the experience of being astride an elephant in the river, phrased it as 'the best five minutes of my life!' In fact the whole trip had come down to some of the best, most eye opening and intense 17 days of our lives... Oh wait, make that 24 thanks to the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull volcano!

The latter part of our trip, consisting of an unexpected week of relaxation in Kathmandu, left some missing the comforts of home, and others revelling in an extended stay, yet it gave all of us time to reflect on the immensity of our trip. From the breathtaking mountains in the north to the small towns of the south, it had shocked us all, from natural beauty, to the amazing way in which the Nepalese people carry themselves, we were, and still remain, in awe of the wonders of Nepal.

Adam, Year 13