August 4, 2012 - 7:00 am
Where does the time go? One day I’m being lead around Nepal on a tour without realizing it, the next I’m saying goodbye to the extraordinary
staff and volunteers of the KAT centre and on a flight to Delhi. So much has happened since my last blog it is hard to keep track. The KAT centre is currently in “crisis mode.” The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) sadly, as of this fiscal year, has stopped providing (significant) financial support due to a change in policy. WSPA will now be focusing its efforts on more large scale government work. Furthermore, some of the full time staff at the centre recently went on strike demanding new policies, and leaving volunteers to provide for the animals (aside from feeding). Cathie, myself and some other volunteers recently spent time at the Saturday market, an area which mostly targets ex-pats, spreading awareness and attempting to raise funds for the centre.
It is so easy for us to focus on the overwhelming issue of lack of funds. And it should be. The fact is, the KAT centre currently only has enough funding to run for three more months. Some long term volunteers are frantically strategizing ways to come up with the money, and all donations help. What gets overlooked, or forgotten, are the day to day success stories. Lately we have adopted out three in-house dogs and successfully rehabilitated eight more. Two dogs (Johnnie and Sweetie) that came in over a month ago with serious spinal injuries and a poor prognosis were released last week with a clean bill of health. It was amazing watching them recover with the help of vet medicine and homeopathy. As well, following the strike, our two long term leg fracture patients were released as well as many other hairless, mange – turned luscious coat dogs. The recoveries these animals are able to make, if someone just gives them some time and care, is remarkable. Animals come in with massive wounds festering with maggots and a week or two later trot out looking for food and their companions. In Poland they say, “It heals like on a dog.” And I believe it.
These next few months will be crucial for the survival of the KAT centre. If the staff can settle their differences and therefore permit efforts to be focused on proper fundraising, KAT’s future can be bright. As the leaders in Animal Birth Control and treatment in Nepal, KAT has the potential to further reduce the stray dog population, educate the future of Nepal, and even expand to a second or third location. However, if staff issues remain and proper funding is not received the future looks grim. I urge readers to make even small donations. However, down the line I believe KAT will require a larger, corporate sponsor to thrive.
Over the past three months I’ve learned more about veterinary medicine, shelter medicine, life and humility then all my education combined. I also believe I have provided the KAT centre assistance in every way I could. Sometimes the staff and volunteers needed a laugh more than anything, and I did my best to help ease the tension when applicable. I will greatly miss everyone involved at the KAT centre, especially the children that lived in the attached home. I had the pleasure of taking these children to the cinema one day, and watched them marvel at the shear size of the building and play for hours on the “moving staircases”. I think I may have enjoyed myself more than they did.
My time with VWB has gone by in a blur and I loved every second of it. VWB makes an investment in us students. They send us across the globe to provide help bettering communities for animals and people. We do are absolute best to provide said help, and in doing so, learn more than we could ever imagine. For this, I could not be more grateful. I have made connections here that will last a life time. And, if I’m lucky, I hope to return to Nepal one day. Thanks to everyone I met and all the departure gifts. Your notes were hilarious and heart warming. I am in Manali, India now at a battery powered internet cafe during a power outage. I will be here for a few days then I will take a 22 hour bus or jeep to Leh, Ladahk.
All the best,
June 15, 2012 - 10:04 am
Yesterday I sat in on a strategy meeting for the KAT centre lead by Sarah Vallentine of the Word Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The majority of the staff, the founder Jan Salter, some long term volunteers, as well as donors and one or two board members were in attendance and discussed the direction, focus and hopeful future of the centre. Sarah pointed out the importance of establishing goals, and then outlining objectives to carry out such goals. As someone just entering the jungle that is NGOs, I found the meeting extraordinarily helpful for both my understanding of such work as well as for the future of the centre. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day treatment and sterilization of animals, but forget the big picture. We are here to improve the welfare of the street dog population of Nepal, and in doing so, the welfare of the people. During the meeting we recapped the four main, shall we say areas of desired impact, of the KAT center. Such areas include education, government support, animal birth control and treatment. As a team it was decided that “education” was in need of the biggest push. Sarah used the analogy of the KAT centre only performing sterilizations as the equivalent of trying to bail a boat with a leak in it. Now matter how hard we bail, that leak still needs to be plugged. Without education, unsterilized owned and abandoned dogs will continue to flood the boat that is Kathmandu with wave after wave of dogs. Furthermore, it was decided that rather than just sterilizing and replacing dogs in their familiar territory we will work to discuss our work with community members both before and after treating the dogs. Ideally, we would like to provide a local with an information card for the dog with our phone number so that if they see the animal in distress they can call us. Hopefully, we can work to establish a sense of responsibility for the welfare of community dogs by members of the community. Of course, the usual education of the importance of sterilization, rabies vaccinations, and proper care of dogs needs to be maintained or increased if possible.
Sarah presented the idea of establishing a “Logical Framework” (log frame) for the KAT center. A “Log Frame” is essentially a glorified table containing each major problem we want to address, objectives i.e. what we want to achieve, the purpose and outcome of such objectives, indicators i.e. if objectives are being achieved what it would look like (ex. a reduction in street dogs by x percent each year), results, risks, budget, time frame and so on and so forth. In summary, a “Log Frame” is a framework of what we want to achieve and how we are going to measure it.
During the next few hours each area of emphasis was discussed. Jan mentioned the triumph of having the government stop the controlled poisoning of street dogs and how, in Nepal especially, it was so important to focus on what the government has done for us, not what more they can do. That being said it was decided that a push for government provided rabies vaccines at the very least, and possibly desired legislation, an employee or funding would be ideal.
Even the possibility of acquiring microchips and microchipping each dog we treat was discussed. The implications could be massive as we could learn anything from average life span of a street dog, average distance roamed, if the dog has an owner and of course the medical historyof each canine. Normally, the possibility of acquiring and effectively using microchips in a country where the average income of a given person is less than $200 Canadian dollars a year, is essentially nill. However, the center may be fortunate enough to procure the required tools at a significant discount, and therefore be one of the first impoverished countries to begin such a project. All attendees of the meeting agreed that such a project would take time before we really saw the benefits, but like any great idea, it has to start somewhere.
Finally, the KAT team was divided into groups according to areas of expertise to establish “Log Frames” for the four areas of emphasis. By this
point I think the collective brain power of all in attendance was drained and the sauna that was the visitors room started to become unbearable. It was then decided the “Log Frames” would be properly constructed next meeting. The meeting did not conclude without discussion of the success of other similar NGO’s around the world, and how we could work to mimic such successes (and avoid lack there of). For example, the organization “PAWS” (Philippines Animal Welfare Society) is currently doing a remarkable job to alter the image that having a pure bred dog is a sign of upperclass, while adopting a street dog is for the lower class. This concept is mirrored in Nepal, and something we would very much like to change. Almost daily we have failed attempts to adopt dogs because the potential adopter decides he or she would rather pay thousands of rupees for a pure bred Labrador, a “symbol of wealth”.
As a veterinary student whose desired future is a collage of NGO and shelter medicine work, it was a remarkable learning experience to be part of such a strategy session. As a (semi) long term volunteer, I felt it was important to sit in on such a meeting and voice what I see on a day to day basis. As a human being, its nice to know that extraordinary, passionate people are working so hard every day to solve problems that could so easily be described as insurmountable.
Cheers for now,
June 7, 2012 - 3:07 pm
Last week the KAT center team put on a “rabies clinic”, during which time we vaccinated two hundred dogs in two days. We loaded into (and onto) the KAT-mobile and drove around Budanilkantha and surrounding areas vaccinating free roaming dogs and dogs with “owners”. In some case, the term “owners” in the western sense of the word is completely appropriate, although far more commonly, dogs here are fed by a community and have a local territory but no one human best friend with whom they sleep each night, play fetch and slyly receive food from the dinner table.
The clinic was a huge success in my mind. Numerous locals joined in the fun, children constantly ran up with their puppies, and we always tried to get locals to hold the animals for vaccines when applicable. To the best of our ability we worked to educate the locals although in many cases I left this part to the Nepalese workers, as it is difficult to mime the benefits of rabies vaccinations and sterilization. The day was exciting, fun and it felt like we were making a real difference, for both people and animals alike. People here are often taught to fear the street dogs due to rabies. I have to say this is a pretty valid teaching. However, when locals see dogs with ear notches and red collars they know they have received treatment from the KAT center and therefore have been vaccinated. These dogs are then more likely to receive food and warmth from their community.
P.S. pictures of the clinic are up on Facebook
May 29, 2012 - 1:11 pm
Originally I thought it would be a great idea to write about “a typical day at the KAT center,” but very quickly I realized there is no such thing. Never, has one day at the center been repeated the next – - and I am very thankful for that. That being said, our days do all the start the same. We open the gate to the familiar sight (and smell) of our twenty-two house dogs greeting us with lolling tongues, wagging tails and muddy paws. Often, we then walk the dogs first thing. From then on, however, the day is “a box of chocolates”. Usually, myself and other “technical volunteers” perform the daily, morning treatment off all the dogs which require such. These consist of anything from IV fluids to medications to bandage changes. Everyday though, different animals arrive in desperate need of care. Today, for example, I arrived at the clinic to find a puppy no more than a month or two old who had fleas and demodex so bad it had scratched its head to the bone, and was covered in open, festering sores. The puppy however was just happy to be held by a human and gratefully received treatment. We cleaned the wounds, applied anti parasitic, topical treatment and administered both local and subcutaneous antibiotics. As well, the puppy received an e-collar (those giant plastic cones around the neck that threaten the animal of drowning if he looks up during a rain storm – you know the ones) to prevent further scratching. It really does amaze me how easily these street dogs, dogs which in most cases are lucky to receive garbage food from humans let alone contact, are willing to accept our treatment. It is extremely rare for any of the animals that come in to so much as growl at a human when really, they have every right to do so. At home, I don’t think I ever worked a day at a clinic where a few “Cujo’s” didn’t walk through the door each day, eye up my jugular and try and may mince meat out of me. Here, however, these dogs are so starved for attention they’ll let you poke and prod them, jab them with needles, apply ointments and all the works, so long as they get a pat on the head at the end of it. It kind of reminds me of the children here whose faces light up when you so much as give them a balloon. Both animals and people here have so little and are so grateful for even the smallest amount of compassion it makes you realize how spoiled we really are in Canada. Anyways, I digress. Learning and performing veterinary medicine here I would kind of equate to moving to a small town in Spain to learn Spanish. I am completely immersed in it, far out of my comfort zone and have no choice but to try my best, ask as many questions as people will answer and learn from my mistakes. We lack essentially all diagnostic equipment– we cannot analyze blood, take radiographs or look at ultrasounds. Essentially, we take our most educated guess and treat accordingly. It isn’t perfect, we know that, I know that. But at the end of the day our best guess is a hell of a lot better than the dogs’ other option – - nothing. At the KAT center I feel as though I have played the role of bother teacher and student. I’ve learned to place catheters, perform intramuscular injections, perform blood transfusions and place casts. At home, we spend so much time reading text books and watching the vets perform that we forget, or don’t get the chance, to really do things for ourselves. However, we bring a knowledge of first world medicine and bio security that goes a long way here. As well, my recent course in veterinary neuroscience has proved more useful than I ever expected as day after day dogs come in with different neurological issues and we have to try and determine the issue at hand. Sometimes, however, even localizing the lesion doesn’t change the poor animal’s outcome. Other times we see miraculous recoveries.
Yesterday, we arrived at work to find a two day old kitten someone had found and brought in. The kitten has not left the arms of a fellow volunteer since and has accompanied us to dinner and spent the night with her, being fed formula every two hours. So far, the kitten seems to be doing fantastic and we all look forward to “Everest” opening his eyes.
Anyways, that is just a little bit of the type of work we are doing. Some days we arrive to hear devastating news of dogs succumbing to injuries or disease overnight, while other days we arrive to see a sick puppy or kitten we treated the day before up and about, ready to take on the word as though it had never been sick. That’s the way it is. That’s medicine . But I have to say, if two days were ever the same this may not be the gig for me. But they never are, and so I believe I am on the career path to the best job in the world.
Cheers for now,
May 26, 2012 - 4:38 pm
When I first learned that there was no tourist bus to Langtang, and instead only public transportation which took approximately ten hours to reach the base of our trekking adventure, there should have been a few doubts in my mind. Images of the public bus we take to work everyday should have immediately jumped into my head. The buses here are extended passenger vans which comfortably seat about twelve people but cram fourty-five. Nothing starts off your day quite like a sweaty mosh pit of strangers in the blistering heat that is Nepal. A smart man would have heard “public transportation” and said no thankyou. An even smarter man would have looked up the distance this ten hour bus ride traversed – a mere 115 kms – and considered walking, biking or any other means of transportation. Colin Taylor on the other hand stupidly smiled and said “sign me up!”
The bus turned out to be a step up from those taken to work everyday, as we had assigned seats and therefore retained some of our personal space (a concept which fails to exist in Nepal). That being said, make no mistake the bus was always well past what we would consider “capacity”. People crammed into the aisles and onto the roof, and bags and supplies were stacked wall to wall. At one point we had a woman with a child in one arm and a rooster under the other squeezed into the mix. Myself, I was wedged between sacs of potatoes and garlic and was only a few drops of sweat shy of a Colin stew. It was at that point , the point when I feared that a few more degrees celsius and some salt and pepper and travelers would be coming towards me at the back of the bus, ladle in hand, wondering what that formidable scent was, that I decided the roof of the bus seemed like a good idea.
Riding on the roof was exhilarating, and it answered the question, how can it take ten hours to drive 115 Kms? Besides the numerous stops, the answer to that question was the road. We meandered along a single laned, dirt road using the bus horn at each bend to announce our presence to oncoming vehicles. If we did meet a bus coming in the other direction, one of the vehicles would have to reverse to a point where the other could pass. At points the road was no more than six inches wider than the bus on which we sat atop, laughing and taking pictures and videos of the view. I gotta say I never expected potatoes to save my life. But as we rounded 90 degree turns looking down at nothing but a thousand foot drop, I was certainly glad I had twenty pound sacs of tatters to cling to.
Hours later we arrived in Sering Busey (not spelled even remotely right but I can’t locate the correct spelling) where we grabbed a bite, found a room, battled a few spiders and crashed for the night, ready to take on the Himalayas come sunrise.
In the morning we registered at the army post on our way into the mountains, snapped a few pics of our smiling, nieve selves and crossed the 100 foot suspension bridge which marked the start of our trek. That was the last point of the day of which we were on the correct trail.
After about twenty minutes we were surprised by the difficulty of the trail. It was, to put it nicely, hell. The route consisted of a pine-needle covered rocky ninety degree razorback, a zig zag of unyielding hills. After each “zig” we prayed we would take a turn and see a “zag” of even remotely level land, but we were instead always confronted with a natural, dream-crushing staircase of rocks. Why would someone other than a masochist attempt such a feat? The short answer – they don’t. We were on the wrong trail. In fact, we were on a yak trail to Tibet. Somehow we had immediately gone in the wrong direction and only decided to consult the map and guidebook after a few hours of hell and the realization that we had not heard or seen another soul in the entire duration of the trek. The guide book described the first few hours of the trek as an “enjoyable, scenic stroll past frolicking monkeys as the sounds of numerous local birds floods your ears.” Unless this was a typo and by “frolicking monkeys” they meant you will lose the will to move and by “sound of numerous local birds” they meant you will hear only your own ragged breaths and gentle sobs as you dodge yak faeces, then we were not on the right track. I always loved the idea laid out by Robert frost to “take the path less traveled”. I could be wrong, but I bet ol’ Rob probably wasn’t referring to the ninety degree death march towards Tibet that would have made lance Armstrong say “no thanks, I’m good,” when he wrote that poetic gem. Of course I exaggerate, but not by much. Our first day on the Langtang trek- – well, just off the Langtang trek I should say –was by far the most physical exertion my body has ever endured. Yes, I am currently out of shape, and perhaps eating little more than Nepali “momo’s” (similar to dumplings) and popping Imodium like tic -tacs for the week before the trek may not have provided me with the precise energy balanced diet required for such a journey, I still maintain the trek was hell. When we came across a small village after eight hours of climbing we were so exhausted we had to collapse onto the stony mountain face just minutes from the village. Chests’ heaving, hearts’ pounding, wise cracks long gone for the day we laid on the face of the rocky outcrop for about twenty minutes before gathering enough morale and energy to make the last steps into the village where we were welcomed into the home of what I can only believe was in angel. Keep in mind that at that altitude this is not too unlikely.
We were fed some incredible Sherpa stew and provided with a warm bed to sleep in and I could not have been more grateful. It wouldn’t be the last time a Nepali family saved our lives on this trek, but that story is for another time. That night, with food in our stomachs and clear minds we were able to locate our position and figure out how to meet up with the proper trail. From then on the trekking was everything I hoped for – -unbelievably scenic, challenging but doable and just an overall cool experience. Personally, I loved when the trekking was done for the day and I got to sit outside a small teahouse in the middle of the Himalayan mountains drinking tea and reading a book or just taking it all in.
During our trekking I found there were two main types of people on the trail (with our trio of two chain smoking, yet outdoorsy Americans and the out of shape Canadian as a stark exception.) The first of the two character types to which I am referring was the fourty-year-old, trekking gear clad woman carrying little more than a purse and a vitamin supplemented water who strolls by at a brisk pace stating a pleasant “Namaste” as two sweat and dirt covered porters lag along behind carrying packs stuffed so full they must contain what I can only imagine is her living couch and bedroom suite. The second prominent character type I discovered on the trail (and my personal favourite) was the dude (and I choose this term appropriately) who never left the seventies. He would stroll up to you with his smile as wide as his pony tail was long and ask how much you were loving life. He wore round glasses and a tight t-shirt and acted as though any question he could answer of yours was the sole reason for his existence. I loved running into this type of person and was always happy to hear his (or sometimes her) unbelievably positive outlook on travel and on life in general. It is a pretty cliche and obvious statement, but it is the people that make travel so worthwhile, so enjoyable and o so memorable. So far, there has been no shortage of that in Nepal. From the employees and volunteers at the Kat center to the crazy Himilayan mountain folk who have been oxygen deprived too long and just look at you smile, stick out their tongue and spit, I have met some truly extraordinary people, and my adventure here has just begun.
For those of you looking through my Facebook photos, waiting to see the very top, looking for that picture of me standing on the snowy peak, smiling down at the world, it isn’t there. Our journey ended just three hours shy of the top. It is not my place to describe online why we stopped short. I will say that there is a remarkable and heroic family that lives in the mountains at Langtang, and if anyone ever plans on trekking there please contact me for their information. But that story is an adventure all to itself.
Cheers for now,
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth for all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain
May 15, 2012 - 6:34 pm
A warm and sunny day here in Thamel, Kathmandu. Enjoying my Nepalese milk tea from my hotel balcony with a beautiful view of the mountains from afar.. Sounds peaceful however this metropolitan city is far from that. Not a day goes by without the sounds of vehicles constantly honking and countless dogs barking from dusk till dawn. In the midst of all this pollution and organized chaos (as a tourist friend describes it) you can’t take away the beauty that this exotic country has to offer outside of Kathmandu. The kindness of the Nepali people, the wide variety of delicious cuisine, the splendid views of the mountains (the land of the Himalayas) and a very rich culture and history is a reminder of why so many tourists visit Nepal.
Anyone visiting this beautiful country will no doubt recognize the overpopulation of stray animals. There’s an overabundance of stray dogs wandering the streets that have sustained injuries from vehicles or abuse from humans. They suffer from starvation and are highly susceptible to illnesses due to their living conditions. The most common zoonotic disease seen in these animals is the life threatening virus rabies and sarcoptic mange(a severe skin disease caused by a mite). This evidently poses a serious public health and safety issues for the locals and tourists. This is where the KAT (Kathmandu Animal Treatment) center steps in.
I was fortunate to join the KAT team to celebrate their 8th anniversary on May 9th. It was a day that represented hope and continued progress towards improving the lives of the Nepali street dogs. Since my arrival at the center I have had the privilege to work with wonderful volunteers and staff members who dedicate their time effortlessly to make a difference. We all have one thing in common and that is to help and provide comfort to these sick and injured dogs. Sadly, not every story has a happy ending. Thus far, empirical diagnosis is the way to go due to the very limited resources and lack of diagnostic tools the center possesses. Accurate diagnosis is very limited therefore treating appropriately is very challenging. Unfortunately, this is expected for the reason that the KAT center is a non profit organization based in a developing country.
Animal Birth Control or ABC as they call it at the KAT center is a cardinal program and has been proven to reduce the stray overpopulation of dogs in the Kathmandu region since 2006 with the staggering number of 36,000. Currently the numbers have reduced to 22,000 roaming dogs in the streets of Kathmandu alone. This is work in progress and hopefully the numbers will continue to decline as the years go by and of course providing that sufficient donations are contributed towards this very important cause. Every animal that comes through the doors of the KAT center is sterilized and vaccinated against rabies before they are released or in some cases adopted.
In just one week, we were faced with many cases of HBC’s (hit by car) at the KAT center including dogs that have laid on the side of the road with fractures for an undetermined period before a Good Samaritan (if lucky) takes the initiative to transport them to our center. Unfortunately for most of these dogs as the days go by the extent of their injuries and damage to organs could not be reversed.
During our walks in the city we encounter a considerable amount of dogs with severe cases of sarcoptic mange, if left untreated this disease can be fatal. The center is currently treating a number of dogs with this condition which requires daily treatment. Unfortunately the center does not have the capacity to take in more than 50 dogs at a time. That is a very small number considering the amount of dogs roaming the streets that require some form of medical intervention. Adoptions are always an option but this is scarce in Nepal due to cultural beliefs. Community dogs are common in Nepal as the locals feed them however most dogs are not as privileged and are seen scavenging through garbage for any food scraps.
Contrary to popular belief, most of these stray dogs are not aggressive. When approached in a gentle manner they wag their tail and seek for some attention (they roll on their backs and love to have their bellies rubbed).
So far, I have met many wonderful volunteers from all walks of life and feel blessed to be surrounded by such admirable and dedicated individuals. I have no doubt made friends for life.
That is all for now, until next time!
May 7, 2012 - 1:44 pm
It turns out I have by no way mastered the Nepalese language/accent. The Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) center is located on the road to Budanilkantha. It also turns out there is a town in the exact opposite direction of the Center which sounds a lot like “Budanilkantha.” Needless to say we were slightly late for our first day.
Upon arrival at the center we were greeted by the warm, smiling faces of the employees and volunteers and numerous wagging tails of the KAT center’s residents. The KAT center is an extraordinary place. The main focus of course is animal birth control – - the success of which I have already witnessed in the numerous ear notched dogs walking the streets. Dogs spayed at the center are given an identification tattoo, ear notch and red collar. The people of Kathmandu recognize that these dos have been vaccinated and spayed and are far more willing to care for them. When I first heard the center spayed and vaccinated strays and often released them back onto the streets, I was skeptical. With the success rate of adoptions and lack of stray dogs we experience in the Western world, it is hard to understand how people who clearly care about the well being of these animals can release them onto the street. But Nepal is not Canada. For starters, the center always releases the dogs back to the same neighbourhood from which they came. Often these dogs know where to get food and shelter in their home area. Some of them even have “owners.” Furthermore, in a given year the KAT center is lucky to adopt out 50 dogs. The city has over 20 000 stray dogs. In order to effectively reduce to stray dog population in Kathmandu it would be ridiculous to only spay the number of dogs they could find homes for.
The KAT center does have a decently equipped “surgery suite” but medically, the center is a long way away from a Western veterinary clinic (obviously). It is not the desire to perform top level medical aid that is lacking, quite the opposite, it is simply the diagnostic tools and supplies that are much needed. I think the medical supplies we brought with us will go to good use, as we have already torn open boxes of gloves and used some of the towels and drugs. Currently, the KAT center is well staffed with volunteers and veterinarians as it is tourist season. It is very neat to see how even routine procedures like placing a cast are done rather differently by vets from different parts of the world. After a dog chewed off its cast today a different vet tried her “American way,” to see if it would hold.
The level of Mange (skin disorders caused by parasitic mites) is Kathmandu is quite extraordinary. I witnessed more cases today of advanced mange then in the rest of my volunteer work and work work combined. It can be treated very successfully, however, and I am looking forward to seeing the transformation of some of these animals over the next three months.
Upon our return from the KAT center I decided to explore the streets some more. And by explore the streets I really mean play human frogger through traffic and say “No thankyou” a few thousand times to pushy, yet friendly store owners. Just as I took a quick turn down a backstreet in an attempt to dodge a flying 3-wheeled “tuck-tuck” (by flying I mean speeding, this land is magical yes, but not in that way), a well dressed, English-fluent man approached me, made an off hand comment about the crazy traffic and proceeded to walk the street with me talking about school life and asking me about my home country. Suddenly, we were in front of temples and old buildings and he was giving me history lessons about everything in site. Then, before I could say “Budanilkantha” I was on a rooftop and he was pointing at shopping squares and more temples. I was on a tour. I had not scheduled one. I had not asked for one. I had not even realized I was on one until it was half way over. In the end he wanted a lot of money, a few thousand rupees, and I gave him 500 rupees – - the equivalent of about 6 dollars. I had been swindled, somewhat, but I did get a pretty nice tour of Kathmandu for a reasonable price.
Cheers for now,
P.S. pictures will come – sometime
May 6, 2012 - 5:26 am
After two and a half days travel we have officially arrived in Kathmandu! I enter this first post huddled over in a darkened internet cafe, just off the busy streets of Thamel, Kathmandu Nepal. Despite a brief hold up in the Indian airport, travel went well, and finally we have reached our destination. It is a bit of a culture shock stepping out of the airport into the dusty streets of Kathmandu with taxi drivers yelling and forcefully “asking” for your business.
The majority of the population is in poverty here, and cows and dogs are more common lane dividers than medians. That being said, it is an incredible place, with almost a peaceful aura despite the craziness, and everyone is extremely friendly. I cannot wait to begin work at the KAT centre. Pictures will follow once I can get internet on my own computer and am not using a rental at an internet cafe.
Cheers for now,