From July 1 to August 1, 2016, I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal in a volunteer house. I traveled there to volunteer at a pediatric hospital, as part of a program by Volunteering Solutions. For a month, I learned so many new things, explored a brand-new culture, and met countless unforgettable people…
… and broke both my phone and my camera. On the fifth day. At the same time. Classic Cindy move. The story isn’t very exciting – it was raining, and we had just left our cafe to find our way home. Because it was monsoon season, the rain was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Imagine someone dumping buckets and buckets of water from the sky. In three minutes, my hair and t-shirt were completely drenched (as if I’d taken a shower!), and soon, we were treading in ankle-deep muddy water. By the time we got home half an hour later, my fanny pack had an inch of water inside, and both the phone and camera were burning hot. They never turned on after that, even after five days of sitting in rice. (Thank you, Mount View Hotel for the bag of rice). 😥
Hence the lack of photos, most of which were taken during the first 20% of my trip. Thankfully, the photos were salvaged! Here are some of the highlights of Nepal, aside from the phone-death tragedy.
Some friends and I were placed in Kanti Children’s Hospital, Nepal’s only pediatric hospital. For the 2.5 weeks that I volunteered, I spent a couple days in the Physiotherapy clinic and the rest of my time in the Surgical Ward. I was even lucky enough to go into the OT (Operating Theatre), where I donned a hair net and shadowed various surgeons.
Being a Tourist
Literally 27 photos of me being a touristy tourist with a fanny pack.
Around the House
We lived in a lovely neighbourhood called Bafal, near a nice hotel called the Soaltee Crowne Plaza.
Everyone in Kathmandu wears sunglasses and face masks out on the streets because of the horrific pollution, dust, and sand in the air. I didn’t feel out of place at all wearing my hospital mask and big glasses!
Uma is the woman in the second photo from the left. She is the coordinator for the volunteer program in Nepal, and helped me with everything from booking taxis to teaching me some Nepali phrases.
Also, 99% of Nepali girls are hair EXPERTS, as you can see from the braid that my friend whipped up in 2 minutes flat. And selfies are a big thing there 😉 With sparkly filters. My Nepali friends and I liked taking pics together!
I lived in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. There are countless temples and monuments here!
As the month went on, volunteers came and went. It was always exciting to meet new people every Sunday. I was thrilled to get to know so many people from around the world – now I have buddies in England, Tokyo, Brazil, Scotland, and more! We always ate together, and many of us volunteered in the same place as well (eg. orphanage, school, hospital).
It was always so warm and sunny outside, even being monsoon season. Unfortunately, we got very heavy rain every afternoon!
One of the highlights of my month in Nepal, we travelled from dusty, polluted Kathmandu to picturesque Pokhara by bus. The bus ride was a bumpy 8-hour ride, but my friends and I were thrilled to see the Land of the Lakes. We did a two-hour canoe ride, and I loved paragliding! That’s one item off my bucket list…
I certainly didn’t practice as much as I should have in Nepal, but I did learn a new pose – the scorpion!
With a program called Backstreet Academy, I learned to carve NAMASTE into a slab of stone (slate) and etch flowers and leaves into a chunk of wood. Both projects took 4-5 hours, and it was so lovely to talk to these art masters who made their pieces with so much ease. We also enjoyed milk tea! It was truly an enjoyable way to spend weekend afternoons, and I loved leaving with a piece of handmade Nepal. It felt super special, even with the deformed ‘M’ and uneven leaves. 🙂
I had a 9-hour layover in Hong Kong. On my way there, I had Cantonese milk tea with sweetened condensed milk, noodles, steamed milk with red bean and ginger, and massive bolo baos stuffed with “ice butter”, and peanut-butter stuffed deep-fried French toast. Yes, that bolo bao (pineapple bun) is the size of the dinner plate – and I ate the whole thing. Including the ~3 tbsp. butter. It was awesome. 🙂
Big thanks to my friend Crystal and her BF Oscar, who live in Hong Kong, for showing me around the city during my layover!
This was the harbour and the “cha chan ting” (Hong Kong cafe) that we visited. Hong Kong is so, so humid! It’s such a busy city, and much warmer than anywhere I’ve ever been.
Last but not least…
Breakfasts: muesli with banana, cornflakes, egg omelets, toast, jam and butter, milk tea and masala tea. The milk tea was definitely the best part of breakfast!
Lunches and dinners: noodles, dahl (lentils), fried potatoes, okra, peppers, tomato stew, tofu, mixed bean stew, fried rice and vegetables. My favourite meal was rice with yellow lentils and or green lentils. The tomato and tofu stew was also delicious, as were the steamed potatoes with veggies!
Momos: Momos (dumplings) are to Nepal as burgers are to America! These chicken/vegetable-stuffed dumplings come steamed, pan-fried, or even deep-fried and served with spicy dip.
Snacks from cafes and restaurants: sandwiches, mochas, cookies. My friends and I always stopped at Himalayan Java, the Nepali equivalent of Starbucks, for good wifi.
Eating out: from sizzling chocolate brownies to pesto pizzas and Oreo milkshakes, Nepal certainly has its fair share of decadent meals and desserts from around the world. This burning-hot brownie topped with vanilla ice cream was, without a doubt, one of the Top 3 desserts I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
If you’re looking to do a volunteer trip in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me about my trip – I did it with a program called Volunteering Solutions. I would be happy to answer any questions about my experience in Nepal. 🙂