ORGANISED BY : Projects Abroad
DATES : 13th October - 12th December 2012
NEPAL - 2012
Medical Placement with Projects Abroad
Sent 15th Oct THE START
Well, well, well - where do I start??? Here I am in NEPAL !!!!!!
You would have thought I would have learnt from the last time. No no it's amazing what time does to turn the experience of dust and starvation in Tanzania into an experience of a life time. Well - let me tell you it's all coming back to me know. Ahhh
Firstly - I caught the flight out of the Gold Coast to Sydney for my connecting flight to Hong Kong on the day that Sydney decided to drop to 8*C and blow 84km/hr wind at the airport itself. There I was thinking I was getting old and fear was creeping into my bones - either that or - they were making these new planes way tooooo light because the bloody thing was flapping around like a tin can. How releived was I when the plane and the airport made the news that night - ha ha ha 'Anyone flying into Sydney today would certainly have known about that wind" - ha ha bloody ha!!! I knew about it alright. So the good news is - I'M NOT GETTING OLD!!!! No no - brave Marg is back.
Mind you I arrived last night - 11.55pm and did not think I would survive the ride from the airport in this little van. As I reached for the seatbelt and tugged and tugged - the driver says - 'oh they do not work'. what ???!!! Ahhhhh Then we drove through the back lanes of Thamel - oh my God!!!! imaging Kings Cross at night x10. Met at the hotel by security (who was standing behind a metal gate) - quickly ushered inside and then escorted to my room where the guy proceeds to show me how to double bold the room. No kidding. He shouts 'make sure you use the bolts'. And I mean bolts. I'M OLD AGAIN - fear is back. I'm going to be raped and murdered. OK OK maybe only murdered. But I can not complain - they have real toilets - woo hoo.
Did I mention - my overnight stay in Hong Kong for the bargain price of $500. Mind you $200 of that was spent on food. I haaaaaave to eat. What did you think would happen - left alone in Hong Kong with real chinese food and 4hrs to spend at the airport. Of course I was going to eat myself to death. I sat down at this big round table and I ordered as I usually do (I mean real chinese food!!!! - c'mon). They proceed to set the table for 3 (I was wondering why) and then I asked for a beer. She said 'how many?" I said 'just one thanks'. She looks at me strangely and says 'how many are eating?' - 'just me' I reply. She starts laughing and says oh I thought there was 3 and proceeds to remove the other settings. Really??!! not funny. Every time they delivered another dish they laughed. Mind you all the other tables were sharing 2 dishes between 3 and not finishing them. No wonder they are so boody skinny!!!! However - I may never eat chinese again. Oh my God - thank God I had another 3 hrs to walk around before I got on that plane. OK so the plane food was free - what could I do.
And... now I'm at the hotel - had my induction today and the Hotel food is free whilst I'm here - so guess what??? I don't know if there will be food at the host family. Can't take any chances. You would think I honestly had a chance of EVER starving to death. lol... OK off to the Hospital tomorrow and moving in with the family. I seriously need another induction day. I only know how to go around the block and right now - once again... my chances of getting run over are much higher than murdered. I'm staying put. Baby steps!
Talk soon...I have to go as its dark now and they don't switch on lights. I can't see the damn keyboard anymore.
Don't cry - I will be home soon.
PS: By the way - they mentioned that there was another plane crash a few weeks ago and the ONLY survivor was a Projects Abroad volunteer. Did they think that tidbit of information would make me feel better???? - ahhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!
Sent 22nd Oct Week 1 - Culture Shock!!!
Well - Where do I start???
I discovered that I have actually time travelled (Oya would be so impressed). Today here in Nepal is 5th day of the 7th month of 2069 (I'm not kidding).
I have survived the week. OK - so I took a photo of the hotel to show that it wasn't really a hotel (single bed and sheets that didn't reach the bottom of the mattress) - ha ha ha It turned out - as I have discovered since - it was luxury !!! I have moved in with the family and my room consists of a mattress 2 fingers thick (no kidding) on a slab of wood and a pillow and doona that have seen better centuries. The other skinny volunteer (Sofie) asked if I had bruises the next morning. Bruises??? 'no why?'. They all woke up with bruises from the skinny mattress - ha ha ha 'no - I'm well padded' I reply. See it does come in handy. Not to worry - my trusty sleeping bag has come in handy too (only problem is that it's made for -20*C) - ahhhhh I'm dehydrating.
Yes yes I hear you say - why not sleep on top of it - but after the first night of having a mozzie buzz around my ear half the night - yep I'm hiding from the mozzie. Not that that really matters - the neighbours dog barks all night long - no seriously barks LOUD all night long. 7 hrs straight last night - I counted them !!! I finally got up and got my ear plugs - but to my amazement either they are broken or I have supersonic hearing - I could still hear that bloody dog. I took a photo of him this morning as I think I could get someone to assassinate him. hmmmm I wonder how much that would cost me??
So let me tell you what it's like in the future - there is no refrigeration - none. There is no real toilet (that was only luxury of hotel). AND there is NO hot water - none !!!! Oh my God!!!!! AND to top it off you have to rush and have a cold shower when you see the power light come on or there is NO water pumped in. ha ha ha ha There is an hour window of opportunity. The other girls rushed for it and I sat there in shock. lol... Oh yeah - by the way they are Hindu and therefore vegetarian - not that I'm actually complaining at that. Cows are actually considered Gods here and are not eating (Steve - you would be in tears). So the only meat is buffalo or goat - but Hindu do not eat eggs, meat, chicken etc. And of course there is no FISH - ahhh He tells me they can eat goat but as I commented on how many people were walking with goats all over town - he told me that is because they are sacrificing them on Sunday for the festive season. OK - thank God he doesn't eat goat either. So let me tell you what dinner consists EVERY NIGHT - yes EVERY NIGHT - steamed rice and spinach (only a hand full of spinach) and some nights spicy lentil Dahl. Phew last 2 nights we've missed out. (and Kim tells me I'm not a pantry that needs stocking - ha ha ha - I am the only one that stocks this poor pantry). Don't worry I found a supermarket and bought some cans of sardines - things are looking up. Yes sardines!
So anyhow - I started at the hospital officially on Tuesday - but it is their Dashain festival (like our Xmas) so everyone is away visiting family and it's dead quiet. The nurses are great - very funny and so the week has progressed slowly. The first day they measured my blood oxygen levels - and I had to laugh that I was worse than the old patients lying in the hospital. 'That cannot be right they say' as a reading of 86 came up. 'You must be tired' they say. No kidding - that bloody dog and mozzie. The poor body has finally acclimatised to the altitude and I now register 99 (nearly there). 4 Ltrs of water a day just keeps me hydrated. They had 7 cases last month of volunteers being hospitalised because they wont drink water as they don't want to use the toilets. ha ha ha Not me - I am a professional toilet user (well - sort of - that bloody hole keeps moving).
This is a private hospital - however Tanzania looks like a 5 star resort compared to Nepal. Check out the emergency treatment room with blood and mould on the walls. We dressed a recent amputee with an infection in that room- no wonder why his wound was infected. Next a 15yr old girl came in claiming she was assaulted by her 'owner' (not kidding). There is a police officer assigned to every hospital here that takes any police report matters - some hospitals have 4 officers assigned. Anyhow 3 turned up straight away with shotguns strapped to their backs - I would have taken a photo but I was too scared of being shot myself. Bloody hell !!!! This is more like Beirut !!! And... as for the size of the ambulance - ha ha ha (Oh Kenny you would be in trouble).
Yesterday I thought I would go for a walk and see if I could find a little safe haven of a hotel with a gym or a pool to relax by - ha - who was I kidding. The 'father' - Madhav said he would show me the way to the Monestary as he was heading that way for a meeting. Two buses and one hour later (lucky to have survived crossing the road) we arrived at the town, walked another 30 minutes up hill and then climbed 200 stairs to get there - ahhhhhh who needs a bloody gym. I should have known it would be bad when he said 'there it is' and I had to look up to the sky. A monk came by and offered me something to eat (God knows what) but it looked like sand and tasted like sand. I smiled and nodded and ate it. I think it was sand !!! Anyhow then I walked another 30 minutes to the Monkey Temple where I met a Nepalese artist and his American student. Very friendly. I took some photos and asked 'where are the monkeys'? - 'oh you just walk around the outside and up some stairs'. OK of I headed. 300 steps later - Christ !!!!! I survived. Actually had a really nice day out - met a really nice old Nepalese that explained the whole history of the place and gave me a free healing with these singing bowls. Either that or he thought it was hilarious to put bowls on my head at hit them with a stick. On my way back down the million stairs and down the path - a man shouts something - I think he wants to sell me something - they all want to sell you something - so I ignore him. He shouts louder and gets up and comes towards me - so I keep walking and looking back at him but he finally clearly shouts - 'SNAKE' I look forward and nearly step on the bloody thing.
So if I don't get hit by a car or have a heart attack walking up a million stairs - I will get bitten by a deadly snake. Climbing Everest could be the safest thing I do. I am finally getting used to it all. I know my way to the hospital - out the door - past the cow - past the chickens - past the rice fields - past the screaming children (you would think they would be cute - but there are so many of them , I think they could take me down) - find the alley between two houses - over the broken sewer - past the construction site - keep going around the bends and yeeeeha out onto the main road. Now turn left past the butchers (lots of butchers) - walk fast so blood does not drip on your head from the carcass hanging above the street - ha ha ha and finally find the black stones in the road and whala you are at the hospital. No probs see - I have this down pat.
I should survive another week. Not to worry...
Hope everyone is going well there and missing me heaps. Time for lunch (sardines await me). Mind you it has taken only 3hrs to get this computer to work. ahhhhh
Till next week.
Bye - from Ted and I. xxx
Sent 22nd Oct Week 2 - Cultural Experience !!
Let me just start by saying - I love the beach, I love my cafe, I love the grass, trees, sky and fresh air - I love my bed, my shower and my lounge. I even love my kettle and fridge. I LOVE HOME HOME HOME!!!!!! ok that's enough of a meltdown for now - you get the idea...
So OK - the week starts with Madhav (the father) saying I want you to meet my wife and baby and have lunch with my family on Wednesday. It is still their Dashain Festival (Xmas) and Wed is like Xmas day. I say 'But I have to work'. He says 'No no you have already worked 22 years - you need to experience Nepalese Culture. It is more important you experience the culture'. He obviously had no idea I was already in culture shock from last week. ha ha ha 'But I have to sign in and out, I just can't have a day off' (seriously sign in and out like a real job - don't they realise I'm a volunteer??) 'No no you just take leave'. Right work a week and ask for leave. 'you will get me in trouble' I say (the supervisor really doesn't smile at all - it's really like a real job!!) 'He is my friend I call him now' After a short conversation with Madhav saying 'No no she has worked 22 years it is more important she experience our culture' He gets off the phone and says - 'he says you can have the week off'. Work a week - have a week off. hmmmm this might be alright after all. ha ha ha
The culture experience begins.
DAY 1 Mon
'We must leave early' he says. Right - we're out the door at 7am and on the move. Squashed into the little blue micro (bus) that I do not dare get on alone - we begin the journey. Finally get a taxi and arrive at Dhana's (his wife) family home in the country. Hmmm not bad. Trees and all - wow. Even blue sky (there is none in Kathmandu). OK this is more like it. We walk around into the backyard and straight into the slaughtering of a goat - ahhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!! WELCOME TO NEPALESE CULTURE
Namaste Namaste (hello hello) to everyone - I meet the family and take in the sun whilst they cut the goat up into a million bits - there at my feet. 'Do you like yoghurt' they ask. 'No thanks - I'm OK' - see not totally silly. I know there is no such thing as yoghurt here (not that we would consider yoghurt). So they bring out a plate of food. 'Here eat eat' 'Thank you' I say. I start to eat and say to Madhav 'What is it'? As soon as the words are out of my mouth - I regret them. 'Goats blood and rice flakes' he replies Ahhhhhhh 'Do you like'? - 'oh yes very nice thank you' You see, I was brought up with manners and I was brought up to finish everything on my plate. Both of which are very detrimental in situations as these. I silently chant 'don't think, don't think, just eat' phew I finish. 'Would you like some more'? - 'no no thank you I am full' - ha ha ha I have that line down pat. I spend the morning playing with the baby and relaxing before they say - 'join us for lunch' oh no - yep goat and rice. I must admit the goat meat was not so bad. As long as I kept telling myself to wipe the mornings image of the slaughter out of my head. 'you like'? 'oh yes thank you very nice' 'would you like some more' 'no no thank you I am full'. lol.... They love me - I eat well
'Would you like to go for a walk with the sister'? 'sure' She was carrying a load of washing and for some insane reason I thought we were going for a walk down the road to a laundromat. Too much sun I think... But no - we climb over a fence and head down a slippery goats track. I'm sure I'm going to kill myself. By the look on her face - she's sure I'm going to kill myself too. We make it down to a watering hole where everyone is hand washing. Can't just stand around can I. 'would you like some help'? they stare at me. I keep them all amused as they watch the Australian that can hand wash, whilst being eaten by mozzies the size of birds!!! Up the hill we climb (much easier up). 'She washed the clothes' she screams. The others laugh and now I am part of the family. It's getting dark. 'The brother will take us on his motor bike' (3 astride without helmets through the rubble roads, down the mountain) - NOT ON YOUR LIFE !!! No way !!!!!!!!! My insurance doesn't cover that (I read it).
So off we hike down the road - only 10km home - ahhhhh Thank God we found a taxi half way for the bargain price of $2.20 ('I'll pay' I say. I'm sooooooo genorous).
Finally made it home - 'Are you hungry'? - 'no no not really'. I heat up some goat. Ok - I suppose the goat meat wasn't too bad. He dishes up two bowls - I look down - ahhhhhhhhhhh 'You know what it is'? he says - no no please don't say it - nooooooo 'It's the goats intestines that I cut up this morning' - oh why why did he say it????? 'Eat eat - do you like' 'oh yes thank you very nice' ahhhhhhhhhhh 'don't think don't think just eat' I silently chant. It takes all my strength and a litre of water to get it down. Of course I'm up half the night peeing. I finally crashed and didn't even hear the dog! As it turns out - the barking dog was not the little fluffy white ball that belonged to the neighbour - oooops nearly had the wrong dog killed. 'That's the dog' says Madhav one morning pointing to a stray. OK contract on stray issued. Looks like he got wind of it because he decided to go camp outside somebody elses window at night. He is seriously lucky to be alive.
DAY 2 Tues
'We must leave early' he says. Right - we're out the door at 8am (we slept in) and on the move. Through rubble and an actual garbage tip (seriously) - we hike and hike. We're off to see a temple and possible cremation. 'How far'? 'No no not so far' he says. It's warming up - has to be nearly 30*C - it's burning into the back of my neck. I knew I should have warn a hat. 'Aren't you cold'? he says He's wearing a padded parker (not kidding) - he's mad. I'm hanging out with a mad man. 'This is where we used to play as kids. we saw 2 planes fall out of the sky as they were coming into the airport' - WHY is everyone intent on telling me about plane crashes??? !!!
An hour later we arrive at the Goddess Temple - quite amazing really. Lots of monkeys and lots of photos later, we watch a funeral (cremation) down by the river - quite surreal. As you can see from the photos - everyone washed in the same river as the body. hmmmmmmm Welcome to Nepalese Culture... Anyhow - walked around some more and the we headed to the Boudha Stupa (another big temple and shopping area). 'How far' I say 'no no not so far' he replies. An hour later - I'm carrying his stupid parker in my back pack and I'm dripping sweat (seriously) - I'm sure I have heat stroke. I'm going to kill him.
We arrive, take photos and we are both sooooooooo buggered that we stay 10 min and head home without even talking.'I might head off to the Hyatt and have a swim' I say. 'Oh no it is too cold and it cost $10' he says. Little does he know I would pay $100 right now. But I get home, have a cold shower (first time it feels good) and crash. 'What are we going to do now'? he says - I just look at him. He is lucky he's alive. He just laughs. Yep Yep
DAY 3 Wed Xmas
'We must leave early' he says. Right - we're out the door at 6.30am and on the move. 'What about breakfast"? I say - 'no no no breakfast' 'What'???????? 'We eat on the way' he says. Eat what - eat where????? I knew I should have gone to work. We trek for 1/2 hr to a bus along a main street and people are climbing onto the roof (seriously) - I just look at him. He says 'I don't want to travel on the roof' 'No way in hell I'm getting up on that roof' I say. They are all maaaaaaaad !! 'no no let's go to the bus depot' - Ok off we trot - 10 min later arrive at what looks like a wrecking yard with 2 decrepit buses. Oh my God!!! We get on - it's 7am and he is so happy we got the last seats. At 8am we finally leave (I am not speakingZip). 5 min down the road (not kidding) not even a km - we get a flat tyre. They change the tyre (it take a whole hour - one hour). 9am - and we just begin to move (I am not speakingZip). 'How far'? 'No no not so far' he says. 'one hour' he says. ha ha ha - at 10am he is abusing the bus driver (we're stopped on the side of the road having a break). I'm not speaking. Zip
We finally arrive at the destination at 10.15am. 'OK now we just walk down the mountain' he says what?????!!! 'How far'? 'No no not so far' he says. (This becomes our joke) I'm seriously going to kill myself getting down this mountain. 'I don't want to break my leg' I say 'no no you wont break your leg' he says - NO I wont break my leg - I'll break my bloody neck at this rate. Do you have any idea what I'm like - 5hrs on the move without any breakfast - not even a COFFEEEEEEE!!!!! ahhhhhh 30 min later we arrive at his fathers house. Nice view though... Namaste namaste everyone.
There are 28 family members washing and cooking and sitting. I'm not speaking. (not to Madhav anyhow)
Finally at 1.30pm he says 'Are you hungry'? - I hit him. The others all laughed. 'Hungry? - no I'm not hungry. I was hungry at breakfast. Now I'm starving'!!! He just laughs. We will have lunch now. I've worked out the trick. Starve you to death and then you will eat anything. I've never been soooooo happy to see rice, spinach and beans in my life. 'Do you like'? - 'oh yes very nice thank you' 'would you like some more' 'hmmm yes please'!!! seeeee I was starving.
Anyhow - the priest came to the house and did the Tihka (the red sticky rice on the forehead) for the elder member and then he did the Tihka for everyone else. I even had it done. Of course I kept forgetting it was there and kept knocking it off. I played with the kids blowing bubbles (the baby pissed on me - and that was before lunch - I seriously needed a coffee. what is it with kids peeing on me???)
Anyhow at 2.30pm we headed off with a belly full of food. UP the mountain. I was sure I was having a heart attack. 45 min into the climb he says we stop at my sisters and say hello and have a rest. Good thinking. Namaste namaste everyone. They rush inside and come out with a big glass of HOT milk - ahhhh Now I love milk - cold milk. I can't stand hot milk - especially when we're climbing a mountain and I'm going to throw up. Seriously !!!! 'How rmuch further? 'No no not so far' he says. 'I will be sick' I say 'Only 5 min' he says. I stare at him. I finish the milk and for once he's not lying. 5 min and we're on the road. yeeeeeha 'Now we just walk to find bus' he says what ?????? @#@#@# UP the mountain?? - ahhhh he says 'this is not a mountain this is a road' - I'll kill him. We walk along a gravel road UP and UP and UP. An hour later he says 'hmmm my back is wet' - ha ha ha finally he's hot. I don't know why. We're out in a million degree heat walking UP a road with no hat, no bus and only 500ml of water left (I'm rationing it). Finally he sees all these people walking towards us. 'see they have come from a bus - there must be a bus down there'. he says. He speaks to them and they tell him there are NOOOOOOOOO buses today.
Oh yeah - now he's worried. We're 50km out in the middle of NO WHERE !!! 'This is stupid, no buses. It is a festival. How can there be no buses' he grumbles. Now I'm laughing hysterically.Laugh Tongue 'I'm calling Projects Abroad. I have insurance - they will send a helicopter for me' I say 'Nooooo' he says 'They will say why did you take her up a mountain'???? ha ha ha we just laugh. Don't worry about what they will say - I'm bloody well thinking the same thing. It starts to get dark...Believe it or not - an hour later we come across a taxi and beg for a ride. It will cost you he says - 200Rp ($2.20) - ha ha ha How about I give you $200 to get me home!!! 'we are so lucky' says Madhav ha ha ha No - he is so lucky. He came so close to being thrown off the mountain. I told him - he laughed. Ok so another 30 min taxi ride and we find a bus. School bus 'quick quick get on' he says. After much argument we squeeze on and when they see the white women with a Thika on her forehead they are very friendly. 'sit sit' 'namaste'. All is good. 'How far' I say 'no no not so far - only one hour now' he replies. ahhhhhh
we then come across an accident - taxi rolled off the road. The police stop the bus and the injured passengers are squeezed on board (don't know how - we're on like sardines). 'Water, water does anyone have water' Of course I'm the only person on the planet carrying water. Madhav grabs my water bottle and hands it to them. what????!!! We get off the bus by being passed over the top of people (like a mosh pit - seriously) - oh my God !! survived. Now we head off UP the road with no water. 'I'm dehydrating - I need water - I can't believe you gave my water away' I shout - he laugh and laughs. 'you're trying to kill me'!!! he laughs and laughs.
'How far' I say 'no no not so far' he replies. 'I'm not stupid - stop saying that - we're no where near anywhere' 'It's always far' I now have visions of Monica screaming at me as I say to her 'It's only around the next bend - not far at all' and she looks at me with death in her eyes. I just laugh. We make it to Dhana's parents house and they say 'how was it' 'He tried to kill me. He made me sit on a bus for 3 hours and walk up a mountain for ever and starve me to death and then he gave my water away' They laugh and laugh and instantly bring food. yep goat, rice flakes and this time I even eat the yoghurt (curd). I am sooooooooo tired. There are no taxis and I'm sooooooo tired. 'Stay stay - sleep here' says the mother. She is lovely - but all off a sudden I'm awake ' no no thank you' My sleeping bag on a slab of wood is looking like luxury. The ONLY way home this time IS on the bike. I nearly cry. 'You will be very safe - I promise' they all say. 'The brother is a good driver - he goes slow' 'There used to be lots of accidents before because everyone drink and drive - but now if the police catch you - you spend a night in jail' - Well well well - a whole bloody night - that should stop it then. ahhhhhh Of we head home - I'm gripping the poor brother for dear life (he is quite cute) lol... Seriously - every time he comes close to a car or bike - my thighs are getting a work out and I think I will cause the accident in the end. Some how we make it home alive and I CRASH!!!!
DAY 4 - Thurs
Right - enough of Nepalese Culture - It was time for some Margy Culture. He slept in today. 'I'm very sore - my body sore' he says. Oh I don't know why??????? ahhhhhh' Today we visit only 5 family houses' 'you come'? 'No no thank you - you are crazy - I will rest today before you kill me - thank you' he laughs... I went back to bed and got up at 10.30 (Margy culture). Did my washing (unfortunately a must - by hand on the roof) and then trotted off to find a taxi (bargain price of $2.20) to take me to the Hyatt. After a bomb search of the taxi (no kidding) we made it through 2 security checks to get into the Hyatt. Bloody hell... BUT - I found paradise.Crystal clear pools (OK so they were freezing and toooooo cold for a swim) but who cared. I was to tired to get changed. 'A Mojito please' oh yeah no we're talking. I laid back on the deck chair 'start a tab please I will have more Mojitos later' I say. How embarrassing - 1 Mojito was enough to wipe me. 4hrs later after falling asleep in the sun I asked for the tab and was lucky to find my way home. ha ha ha very cheap drunk now. I actually think I had a hangover.Yep
DAY 5 - Fri
Right - into Thamel today at 8am for a meeting with Projects Abroad - 'feedback' they call it. Basically 'is everything OK' ha ha ha h ha haha 'he's trying to kill me' I say. sign here. ha ha ha Nobody cares. No - he really is great! Ok need to pay and sort out the Everest Base Camp trek. Meet the guy at his office - very professional. He's booked me into a nice hotel on my return (if I return). Even has a bath (now that is unheard off). Happy Days. 'Now the transport is on local bus - there is no coach that goes that way' he says what???@#### 'you can have a 4WD but that will cost a lot more' 'how much more' '$120' he says. ha ha ha It's a 9hr drive to the start of the trek. I would pay $520 more not to be stuck in a local bus. 'Is it safe'? I say 'Have you seen the roads in Nepal'? he says. Smart arse!!! 'But 4WD is safer than bus' excellent.
'Is the trek hard'?? 'Oh yes very hard - the first week - lot of up and down' - Ok he needs to stop talking now and I need to stop asking questions. Have they ever heard of saying 'Don't worry everything will be fine.' Lol.. oh my God. I leave and buy myself a chocolate donut !!!! heee heee heee before the taxi picks me up. hmmmm that is dinner.
DAY 6 - Sat
So today is Sat and I'm verrrrry verrrrrrry slow. 'What will we do today' Madhav asks. I look at him and say 'I'm going back to bed'. He thinks I'm crazy. ha ha ha
OK finally got up - found my way to internet and now I will meet him for lunch as he wants to go to the Boudha stupa again. Heck I'm hungry !!!
All in all - I've just survived - but I am still having a ball. I'm tired and sore and hungry BUT you just have to laugh...
Hope everyone is well and enjoying the luxuries of HOME!!
Take care,Tired Marg and (not so tired Ted - he sleeps all day) xxx
Sent 4th Nov Week 3 - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
OK - I hope everyone's missing me and I'm not just risking my life to keep you amused !!!
This is officially my last adventure of MADNESS !!!! I need to be scheduled. From now on cocktails by the pool on a cruise ship with Egyptian thread sheets.
So - let me tell you it took every ounce of energy I had last Saturday to get out of bed and send you my weekly update - the things I do for you...
Anyhow - I agreed to meet Madhav for lunch at the Bhouda Stupa. Just 15 min up the road he said. OK - off I went - past open sewers, dust, smoke, through a garbage tip and an open market of fish, chicken and meat covered in flies and arrived 30 (yes 30) minutes later, resembling a sneezing, runny nose, watery eye MONSTER!!! ahhhhhhh Madhav took one look at me and said 'Oh - we need to get you a mask!' I'm not sure if that was to stop further pollution effecting me or just to cover my face - full stop. (All the locals wear masks - that should have been a hint). We had a very nice lunch in a Vegetarian Cafe at a Monastery. Of course I sneezed and blew my nose throughout the whole lunch. I shouted and even bought us some chocolate cake - yeeha I needed it. Thank God I brought hay fever tablets with me this time - ha ha ha
Anyhow - Sunday (after the tablets kicked in) I decided to go and do something I actually knew how to do. So off I went to Tri Ratna School with the other volunteers from Germany, Denmark, Britain and USA to PAINT the classrooms. Actually a lot of fun. I'm a very goooood PAINTER. lol... Maybe that's what I should volunteer to do because the hospital definitely needs a paint job and so does Madhav's kitchen. He tells me he hates painting - I can tell. Arrived home after 10hrs and slept for 11 hrs straight!!!! Real work will do that to you - I had forgotten. ha ha ha I didn't even hear the bloody bells Monday morning. Did I tell you - everyone prays at 5.30am, makes an offering to God and then they ring a bell. Bells ring all over town at 5.30am. I complained to the nurses and they just laughed. 'A natural alarm' she said. Natural?? Natural ?? there's nothing bloody natural about a million bells ringing at 5.30am. 5.30am!!!
Anyhow back to the hospital - very quiet. Patients have obviously got wind that I'm around and are staying away. Although they really should be more afraid of the doctors. I was in Emergency this week but really - there are always 4 or 5 doctors and they just sit in a row and drink tea. Not kidding - that's all they do. Looks quite funny really. I get up to stretch my legs and they say ' no no sit sit' ahhhhh Made friends with the boss hee hee hee (he bought me tea and said 'Anything at all - anything you just let me know') hee hee hee 'How about I finish at 3pm?? 'no problems' This friendship is working out quite well. Now I have time to rush home wash my clothes, hang them up on the roof and take them down before everyone starts burning. Although who am I kidding - they burn all day long - PYROMANIACS !!! Where's my mask???
The kids in the street see me coming and come running. At first they used to say 'You have sweet? you have chocolate?' 'No- no sweet - no chocolate' Now they have worked out that I have Japanese DNA and as it turns out - so do they. Now they come running and say 'You have camera? You take photo?' Very cute. I have daily models. They grab their friends and bring them along to the photo shoot.
Kim tells me I should buy bug spray - ha ha ha I thought the same thing until.... Cockroaches started crawling on the counter at the hospital. The nurse says 'Oh look' I say 'Just use your slipper' (they all wear thongs, even the female doctros - thongs). They ask if my feet are cold because I'm wearing socks and my trusty hiking boots. ha ha ha I walk through a sewer, garbage tip and construction site ha ha ha If I had it my way I'd be wearing gum boots. Anyhow - back to the cockroaches. 'Just kill it' I say. Ooooooops - big mistake. 'Why - It's one of Gods creatures too' they say. That's why there is NO bug spray. However, when I tell the Germans, British, American etc - they ask 'What sort of spray?' - 'What do you do with it?' Mind you they were petrified of spiders. 'We have someone catch them and put them outside' Holy Shit - as it turns out Australians are the only killers of 'Gods creatures' on the planet !!! Give me Baygon and chemical warfare any day. lol...
There really isn't anything to do at the Hospital so I told my new best friend the 'boss' that I wanted to experience more of Nepal and I'd return on Monday. Finally part of my brain had received some oxygen and I had come to my senses. Little did he realise I meant the spa at the Hyatt.ha ha ha 'Yes yes please - very good'. So off I went and just in time because it wasn't a good sign when Madhav asked how I slept on Wednesday morning and I burst into tears. 'no no don't think - you think too much' he says ha ha ha the poor man he was distressed... I spent the next 2 days enjoying the gym (OK only 20 min), the steam room (too hot - only 10 min), the spa (ah very nice - 30 min) and of course my standard one cocktail by the pool reading my book (allllllll afternoon). Finally I had recovered enough by Friday and I joined the Korean girl (Rana) at her placement - Orchis Garden School. They were having their annual sports day. Like a little Olympics. Very very very cute !!! I haven't laughed so much in a long time. Best day so far in Nepal.
BUT - It was time for a NEW ADVENTURE ! So I packed my bags on Saturday and now I'm about to head off on a ten hour drive to Chitwan. Woo hoo here we go again (it really can't be worse - no really - it just couldn't. Could it?? - Nooooo - no way - impossible - nah
Believe it or not - I think I'm starting to miss you all !!!! Oh my God ! - that's how bad it is...
PS: You are not going to believe who I bumped into in a Bhudist bookshop in Thamel. There I am minding my own business (I don't know anyone) and I hear 'Margaret?" Oh my God! what are the chances. 5 of the people I did the mountaineering course in Aug with are currently here. Mia was in the shop, Sue is currently climbing. Geraldine got airlifted out by helicopter 3 days into the climb, Martin walked past whilst we were talking and another girl got airlifted out and flown to Bangkok with 2 blood clots on the brain because she didn't take Diamox. Ha - not me - I've just bought a years supply. I might die of an overdose but not from a blood clot.
I DON'T WANT YOU TO LOSE ME - and cry. I know you will. Don't argue!
Anyhow - till next time.
Signing off - from your mad friend and her trusty side kick Ted xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Nepal Festivals - Dashain & Tihar
Chitwan National Park - Elephant Safari & Canoe ride
Paragliding - Pokhara
Everest Base Camp
The following are emails sent from Nepal at the time
the adventure continues...
Shankarapur Hospital - Joparti / Kathmandu
Chitwan Medical College - Chitwan
Sent 12th Nov WEEK 4 - Chitwan
OK - before I start...
There is one - YES ONE computer in Chitwan that works - when it wants to!!!!!! Oh my God!!!! I have not just been lying by the pool drinking cocktails as some of you might believe and ignoring my main job of ENTERTAINING you!!! Typing an email is liking writing on stone with a pick. Ahhhhhh Hence the photos may also be all jumbled up - but you should get the gist of it. ENJOY !!! I risk my life every week to bring you this update.
Week 4 - Chitwan !!!!
Yeeeeeha WOW WOW WOW!!!! Leaving Kathmandu started with a celebration - my first beer in Nepal - FAREWELL!!!! yes yes just one beer - we were off in the morning. So bags backed - I couldn't wait to get away - I made a run for the elevator and jumped in. As soon as I did I thought maybe it was a bad idea.
You have to imaging one of those old elevators with a rusty old cage that shuts first and then the big metal door with a little window (I have worked out that the bloody window is so people can either laugh at you or watch you die slowly!). So yep - pushed the button and that was the end of it - my escape ruined. There I was at 6.30 in the morning stuck in a bloody elevator going nowhere. So I pushed the alarm for all it was worth and heard a little man come running up the stairs shouting at the tope of his lungs (probably woke the other guests up) 'I'M COMING FOR YOU !! I'M COMING FOR YOU !!'. What exactly was he supposed to do when he got to me I had no idea. What on earth possessed me to get in an bloody elevator in Kathmandu??!???!!! Ahhhhhh
After prying a crack open, my bags and I squeezed out (OK yes big crack) and finally I was on my way. Of course they had to find a way to get the bags to the bus - ha ha ha look at our bag transportation - a rickshaw following us down the road to the bus. lol... BUT escape I had !!!
Arrived in Chitwan after 7hrs around the mountain with no more than 50cm if that on either side (not kidding). I felt like I was on episode of 'Most Dangerous Roads' (with those mad truck drivers). The buses had a speed limit of 40km/hr but thank God they didn't go over 20km/hr. 6hrs into the trip I saw the sign '126km to Kathmandu'. I wasn't complaining - anything over 30km felt like 130km/hr - ahhhh. The other volunteer I was with - Sofie, said it was better to sit in the middle or towards the back so that if we had an accident all the other seats wouldn't slam into us. Seriously ??? Nope - Maybe it hadn't occurred to her that we had more of a chance of going straight over the edge rather than a head on at 20km/hr. I don't think it mattered where we sat !!!! We would DIE!!!
Anyhow - we did arrive in one piece.
The week has been crazy - just go go go. I joined a gym for a month last Monday and I've managed to go for 1hr. ha ha ha
So arrived at new host family - Geeta (the mother) and Rimka (the 23yr daughter-in-law). Rimka's husband is actuallyt living and studying in Australia (in Dee Why). What are the chances - so imaging how happy she was when she saw the Australian flag on my bag - hee hee hee. I have a room mate - Delphin (from France). The house is spotless. EVERYTHING is PINK!!!!!!! - check it out - ha ha ha I like it. I live in a PINK PALACE! AND it has a REAL toilet (OK so they don't believe in toilet paper and you have to carry it around everywhere - but hey - a REAL toilet - IN the house!!. AND - they are great cooks - I will not be losing any weight here any time soon - in fact have put on at least 2kg in the week. If I keep this up I will need a crane to get me up Everest. ahhhhh
I'm working at Chitwan Hospital in the operation theatre - WOW WOW WOW. I just go from op to op. They have 5 theatres going non stop and NO - they are not crazy enough to let me touch any of the patients - so don't worry they are safe. For now anyhow - I still have 4 more weeks to convince them I'm a genius - lol..... It might be a bit hard when Mike (from Aust) showed me the way to work the first day - 45min work along a not so bad road. I don't know why I bother having a shower - I'm drenched in sweat by the time I get to work. Anyhow - I concentrated so much on getting there and how to catch that blue 3 wheel contraption (a tampo) meant to be the bus - God help me!! - that by the time I got off the thing I was standing in a paddock wondering which house I belonged too. ha ha ha
Just when I was about to call for help (of course I was busting to go to the toilet) - these 4 kids come running up for their photo- God bless them - 'Do you know where Binod lives'?? 'Yes yes we show you' - I would trust anyone at that point. 'There'. Yeeha home!! Then the little girl runs after me and gives me a flower 'Good luck on your journey' she says. You would think I was off on a pilgrimage - or maybe she thought I really just needed luck.
Anyhow - seeing a lot - enjoying it a lot. Babies keep popping out left, right and centre - or should I say- get ripped out. Check out the face of my first Nepali baby after he was yanked out by his neck. Yep ha ha ha not happy. The neuro surgeon is great. There I am trying to be discreet as he drills and saws the skull off a guy to expose a massive cerebral hemorrhage and turns to me and says 'CAMERA' - everyone wants to be a director- ha ha ha I'm known as the Australian with the camera. The week has flown - Wednesday night was the social meeting as they call it. WOW - vodka and orange is only 90c - yep 90c!! Of course I had 4. I needed them to recover from the horror stories of the other volunteers who live only one house away across the paddock. They sleep with mice and rats in their beds - NO JOKE!!!! They use a mosquito net now to try to keep them off them in bed. - What the f@#k ???!!!!! More Vodka I say. !!!
Friday afternoon - after working really really hard !!! - you have know idea how hard it is to watch some one else working - not to mention standing in one of those X-Ray jackets that weigh a bloody ton for an hour (I was exhausted). So - off we headed to Chitwan National Park on an Elephant Safari. Meant to be relaxing!!! Nearly got eaten by a pack of wild dogs (dingoes I tell you - dingoes!!!). Carin from Sweden thought it was hilarious - 'Don't worry she says - I will send your last email to your friends' 'You don't know me but I want you to know that Margaret was relaxing, having a nice cold beer, watching the sunset when she had her throat ripped out by the dogs' 'She did her bit for Nepal and fed the animals'. 'Don't worry I will send a photo too' she says. Yeah bloody hilarious !!!
Having survived that - we headed off to dinner and I was quite enjoying that too when a RAT ran past my chair and I screamed, put my feet up, started hyperventilation and crying. 'Are you OK' they ask - DO I BLOODY LOOK OK???!!!! 'Don't worry you have a mosquito net to keep them out'. I'll kill her - I swear I will. But she is hilarious and did tell me about the bat flying straight into her hair and getting caught, whilst she screeched and and cried. Finally ripped it out and flung a bowl of popcorn on it and ran her dad crying and screaming and he asked if she was drunk. We do laugh a lot. Laugh She tells me I should go to Sweden - they will cut a hole in the ocean and you can jump in. Bloody insane. Nope 'no no' she says 'you then drink schnapps in a hot sauna'. NO!!! 'you drink schnapps before too'. I've worked the Swedes out now - they love to DRINK!!!! 'In the winter we stay inside and drink' 'In the summer we go outside and drink'. I need to stay clear of her. ha ha ha
So off we went on out hour jungle trek across rickety bridges (holy crap!!) - But first our safety talk - right 'We stay close, we keep quiet, if we see an elephant you must RUN!!!! We climb a tree - must be bigger than 5 metres or they can easily kill you with their trunk. What the f@#K!!??? If we see a rhino - throw your cap on the ground, while he sniffs it, RUN!!! - you must zig zag and climb a tree. - What the.....??? If we see a tiger - DON"T RUN!! we stay together and walk backwards and if we see a bear we make very large sound and hit the ground with my stick - DON"T climb tree!!! they can climb' What the .... ???!!! He was dead set serious. At one point he says 'We have been unlucky and have not seen a tiger' Really ??!!! Unlucky??!! I seriously did not want to test out my tree climbing ability and I was dead sure zig zagging was only going to slow me up. The wild dogs were looking tame!!!
We arrived back Sunday and of course we needed to lie by the pool and REST !!! and SLEEP!!!! Do you honestly think I was going to get any sleep with a mosquito net and the thought of possibly being eaten by RATS!!!!
Back in the PINK PALACE - yeeha and eating and eating and eating. ahhhhhh
Till next week - I seriously need a holiday!!
Oh my God - I'm still missing you!!! Of course not as much now that I have a pink room and lots of food. hee hee hee
Take care, Marg and Ted XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Sent 18th Nov Week 5 - RELAXING in Pokhara
What can I tell you - the festivals here just keep on going.
The public holidays started on Wednesday for the Festival of Lights (really just another Xmas) and just like back home. We were up at 7am on Monday putting up Xmas lights on the roof - half asleep and without a coffee. Do you have any idea???? I thought Delphin would push Rimka off the roof -ha ha ha
Anyhow everyone was coming around on Tuesday night to see our pink palace and have dinner - so we rushed around decorating and cooking. Entree was a plate of pastries (not kidding a whole plate). The tiny new volunteers from New Zealand (Billy and Gerogie) were in shock. And then... dinner. And then... more pastries. Ahhhhhhhh!!!!! Oh my God!!!
As there was no more operations during the festival - we were off from Wednesday. I dreamt of a sleep in and a day relaxing by the pool. NO NO - let's go climb 1500 steps at 8am - what???!! 'before it gets too hot - common' - what??!!!. No kidding - 1hr exactly climbing stairs to see the temple. Why is it they build temples on the highest point of every town (and let me tell you - in Nepal that's bloody high). ahhhhh but I had to laugh when Delphin - was so tired she cried going home. ha ha ha it was her bloody idea!
Thursday morning however we headed off to Pokhara for a long long weekend - 'just to relax' they said. Ahhhhh the bus ride from HELL!!!!! not kidding! It was meant to be a 6hr drive around those stupid death bends and the MAD bus driver was flying!!!! People were screaming - I was petrified and some Japanese tourist started throwing up in her hands - holy Sh*t!!!! Half way I threatened to kill the bus driver (OK I begged him to slow down) - I think he sped up. We made the trip in 3hrs 55 min (unheard off). I needed a month of relaxing to get over it. I will need to be tranquilized to get back on.
It's been great though. Sleeping in a double bed, having hot (OK warm) showers, eating great food, sleeeeeping, drinking waaaaay toooooo much (that bloody Swede is going to kill me - we discovered happy hour yesterday but we obviously got confused because we were still going 8hrs later - Ted even came out for a few) ahhhhh. Dead tired but having a great time relaxing by the lake.
Actually went paragliding yesterday - BEST thing I've done in Nepal - magic!!!!! soaring over the mountains. MAGIC!!! The day before however, we got up at stupid oclock (4.30am) to go see the 'sunrise' at the top of the mountain. Sofie didn't want to miss the bloody sunrise. Of course we were too early. Stood there like idiots taking a million photos of nothing and then said 'right, breakfast then?' - 'sure'. Off we trotted down the hill to the waiting taxi - only to find the driver wasn't with the cab. Waiting waiting. And then... we turn around to see the light shine on the mountain. Sh*t!!!! the other taxi drivers shout at us 'sunrise NOW'. We ran back up the mountain just in time to see the sun actually rise. we laughed and laughed and laughed . We would have been the only tourists in history to wake up, stand there in the dark, think it's all over and actually head home without seeing the 'sunrise'. Billy said why do what every other tourist does - it's good to be different. ha ha ha
OK must go - lunch awaits - I'm thinking fried chicken - hmmmmmm - I know I will be back to lentils and vegies tomorrow. And yes yes - I'm still going to work.
I would post more photos for you - but I'm being considerate - probably too gruesome for breakfast. Just don't fall over and get a hemorrhage and for god sakes don't break a leg (or any bone for that matter). Those orthopedic surgeons seriously think they're playing with a meccano set - boys - seriously!!!
OK OK - hungry here.
Bye till next week. Yeah for festivals...
Ted and ME XXXXXXXXXXX