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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I’m having trouble concentrating right this moment. I’m supposed to be writing a section on how Prerana’s supporting women with disabilities. They run an amazing rehabilitation centre in a rural district, so it’s pretty straight forward and they do outstanding work. BUT, I can’t get the damn thing outta my head and onto the page. Instead I’m writing here.

It might have something to do with the fact that I’m wrapped up all comfy in a new purple n gold pashmina – soo pretty and cozy. And I’m staring out at sun-lit rooftop gardens, adorned with prayer flags, resident birds, and new poinsettias and orchids.

Rooftop life.

AND, I’m listening to the Thicker than water soundtrack for the umpteenth time in my life…equation for daydreamin’ right there.   

Yes – umpteenth is a word. Google even told me how to spell it properly. So there!

I’m also pretty stoked for my upcoming weekend – a solo adventure to Chitwan Jungle. I’m doing a tour-package with a hotel, so I’m sure I’ll meet fellow travellers along the way and during our elephant safari, ‘nature’ walk, and canoe ride.

Yep, it’s going to be a good Easter weekend for moi.

Speaking of elephants, I bought Peyton (my niece) the cutest handmade elephant from my all-time favorite Kathmandu store – Mahaguthi.

So cute huh? And it's a fair trade product.

I’m hoping it becomes her new top toy, since my fav snuggly was also an elephant, aptly named Squishy (he was well, squishy! I wasn’t the most creative three-year old). I still have him tucked away, ready to see the light again when I have a lil one of my own.

Since I’m clearly not being productive, I think I’ll head for lunch. Oh! Speaking of food, I haven’t really written too much about the cuisine here.

So this peanut butter really is tasty, all natural, and made through a great program in Nepal. But wow! the wording on the side wouldn't fly in Canada. Chalk it up to 'cultural differences', I suppose...

So this peanut butter is super tasty, all-natural, and made through a cool program in Nepal. But wow! the wording on the side wouldn't fly back home. Chalk it up to 'cultural difference' I suppose...

I will say that I’m loving these little treats called Momo’s. Mmmm, Momo’s. They are a Nepali take on gyzo’s and you can have veg, chicken, or well, I’m not sure what it is – goat maybe? I clearly stick to the veg or chicken. The spicy tomato-curry sauce they come with is to die for – they make the perfect 2 pm snack, since Nepali’s don’t generally have a big lunch. Actually, my co-workers giggle away when they can hear my stomach rumbling around noon!

But other than Momo’s, I’ve been having a lot of fresh curries, chow-mein, steamed veggies/rice and westernish food (pastas, wraps, pizzas, etc.). Last night I was craving junk so I ordered ‘Kathmandu fries’. It was my worst meal nightmare come true. K, not as bad as the ‘chicken soup’ in Nicaragua that actually came out as a massive fish (head n all) in a bowl of salty water, but it wasn’t good. These fries had been doused in cilantro. I’m talkin, I pretty much ordered a side of fries with heaps of the green junk. GROSS! Needless to say I didn’t eat dinner last night.

Anyways, food is cheap here. Like, real cheap. An average meal costs me a whopping $2-3 CAD dollars. That’s including a drink! I think it’s a little more pricy in Thamel – where I’m heading tonight for an Israeli-style meal, but restaurant bills hardly ever top five bucks.  

I’m missing fresh veg though. I’ve only braved one encounter with raw vegetables in the form of a fresh salad. And I’m proud to say I made it through the next day without visiting the toilet a million times.

Actually, I know you’re all wondering – I haven’t had any stomach issues since I got here! Apparently I’m the first Nepal volunteer in a looong time to say that. Knock on wood that Delhi Belly doesn’t get me!

Happy Easter all!

fyi – contrary to what my header text said, I’m in South Asia, not Central. I knew this, but I clearly wrote my profile text in a  pre-trip excitement daze and didn’t catch my mistake till now. Oops.

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So you all knew this was coming right? The slow, creeping delay of posts… The entries become sparse and few and far between…

I know. I was really hoping I’d keep this updated daily but in reality, I knew it was going to be tough once I got buried in work and especially when I start really travelling and I leave my laptop in a CECI corner.

The trickiest part is that I’m face down in this machine most of the day now and I don’t really want to give it even ten minutes of my evening time anymore! But the nights are relatively quiet around here (okay, I’ve dipped into the Turborgs with the other volunteers a few times, but I digress). 

I’m back. And I’m brewing up some quality postage!

So, I’ll travel back in time to my most recent adventure – exploring around Kathmandu. I spent an entire day strolling around (at my very own leisure) this riot of senses city.  It started with a steaming cup of chiya (milk tea) on a street corner, tuning out all the blaring horns that Nepali people just can’t seem to get enough of.

Okay, I get!! I ‘ll move a quarter of an inch to the left so you can navigate your taxi around the cow! Part of me loves the chaos since I don’t get a lot of people-watching action in Kelowna anymore. But the other part of me is often thinking – wtf! And ‘did I just feel that motorbike graze my arm?’ Eep.

After hopping into one of those obnoxious cabs, I headed for Swayambhunath – or as us touristy people call it because we couldn’t pronounce that word if our lives depended on it – the monkey temple. I fell in love within the first two minutes, I kid you not. This gorgeous temple soars high above Kathmandu and provides a mini-sanctuary away from the exhausting (though, intoxicating) city. 

The climb of over 400 stairs to reach the top went by in an instant! I had the soundtrack of Buddhists monks completing their rhythmic morning chants to keep my head far, far away from my burning thighs.

Slippery steps. And my go-to travel footwear didn't provide much grip. But my feet were breezy!

It would be a looong fall. Peaceful – with the chanting and all – but long.

The only word that can really describe an early morning high above Kathmandu, swirling with Buddhist chanting and wafts of incense is…mystical. 

Everything about this place was enchanting and spiritual.

 And what I especially enjoyed was the religious mix of Buddhism and Hinduism (in Nepal they don’t consider them entirely separate, since Buddha apparently started out as a Hindu).

Peaceful up top. Very peaceful.

The resident monkeys were also a favorite!

I like his style. Just another casual morning at the temple...

I got a terrifying lecture about ‘the temple and rabies and mean monkeys’  from my travel doctor before leaving the country and as it turns out, the lil guys could have cared less about my presence. I didn’t show any food or water, but I made eye contact and captured a ton of photos. They were too busy playing on the prayer wheels or nibbling away at whatever they found on the ground to be bothered with me.

A bite of breakfast at the top followed by a descent down the stairs and I was ready for Thamel. Lonely Planet calls this district the Disneyland for travellers, so I was pretty much ready for anything. It turned out to be quite crowded with tourists, rickshaws, and Nepali’s. But filled to the brim with amazing shops and restaurants!!

I snapped up some excellent deals and gifts. Great idea not bringing any scarves since I bought two!  I also had a melt-in-your-mouth mushroom/spinach/bean enchilada, washed down with an ice-cold Everest beer. Yum!

Plus, I met some really interesting people – mostly shop keepers and not tourists, surprisingly enough. This one guy actually stopped me in the street to draw my earrings (Lana, I was wearing your beautiful gifts from Brazil!) I ended up chatting with his entire family (wife, brother, and son) about karma stones and chokras over delicious cups of tea for nearly an hour.

Very cool in my opinion. Even cooler that he had zero intention of selling me anything. He didn’t even show me a hint of merchandise or mention his products once during our entire conversation. That’s Nepali culture summed up right there – genuinely friendly and always seeking to share knowledge or learn more about others.  

The day ended with me lounging in the Garden of Dreams. This was after a spin through Durbar Square, Kathmandu on a rickshaw – I could have left that part out of my day altogether. It was busy and smelly and men were yelling ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey-babe’ at me the entire time. I have no idea why I paid 300 NR to enter it.Yuck.

K, the ride was pretty sweet.

Now this ‘dreams’ place on the other hand, lives up to its name!! Serene gardens with comfy therma-rests everywhere to stretch back and relax in the sunshine. 

Colourful flowers, gorgeous ponds, swaying palm trees - bliss.

I cat-napped in the heat, while sipping on an iced-latte, and intermediately chatting with a very kind Danish couple. I also finally finished my book-club book – Yeah!

All in all, a very fine day. I had forgotten how travelling entirely alone means you meet loads more people since you’re much more approachable. And you only do exactly what you want to! It’s a selfish pleasure really, and I very much enjoyed it. Not to say I wouldn’t love having my friends/family and especially my sweetie here, but a little me time is always good for the soul.

Namaste.

Ps – I know the pics are massive when you click on em. Sorry, but the alternative seems to be having itty-bitty ones scattered throughout the blog and I just can’t have that. Unless I’m missing something with images and WordPress…

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The weekend all started with a productive work day on Friday wrapping up with a 3-hour long dinner meeting with the entire staff and board of Prerana. A lot of well-educated women make up the executive committee and it was inspiring to hear what sort of humanitarian work they all have their hands wet in. Plus, now I have some research behind me when I have to explain the female leader roles in the org for my proposal! The food at dinner was fantastic too, mind you, I’m struggling with all the -gasp- cilantro. I’m not surprised it’s so present in Nepali/Indian dishes, but ugh do I HATE that herb!

Saturday was culturally explosive for me. I was a guest at a Prerana cultural program, centred on action for women against violence, that took place in the Lele valley. It took over an hour to get there on a dusty, windy, ‘road’. Our bus was crammed to the max with women from all around Kathmandu (many of them disabled) and all of them full of passion! I’ve never heard such laughter, singing, and yelling!

The views on the ride up were spectacular

And, I finally saw clear blue sky! Kathmandu has such poor air quality that despite the fact that it’s been a balmy 25 plus everyday since I arrived, you can never truly make out the sky past the smoggy haze hovering over the city. I’ve figured it out now. Just drive for about 20 minutes straight up and wham! you’ve got green pastures, rolling hills, and ah, yes, straight up sunshine. Delicious.

After turning a barren-looking empty spot on the side of the road, into a full-blown stage set up (chairs, banners, sound-system, and sun-shielding tarps), the dancers/singers and I all sat down for a hearty meal of chow-mein. Some of the girls were around my age and are professional dancers in the valley. And they are in love with Western culture. It was riot to compare skin/hair colour, giggle at my attempt to speak Nepali (and them, English), and attempt to learn a few traditional dance moves. Plus, they couldn’t believe I put the ‘spicy sauce’ all over my meal. That’s right, I can handle it!

I blend right in.

The program itself was unreal. I imagine it’s similar to what some tourists see in the Newari/Nepali traditional restaurants in Thamel (tourist district), but so so much more. All of the entertainment had a clear message: women have to fight for their rights. They have to rise above only believing their place is in their home. They have a voice and they need to come together and use it as one.

What was even more inspiring than the women putting on the program, was the audience in itself. Women of all ages gathered to take in the festivities and they shouted along with the speakers as they drove home their message. They were cheerfully clapping along with the dancing and nodding in agreement to the discussions. I stared in awe at the glittering array of colourful sari’s, shining in the afternoon sunlight.

Lele villagers enjoying the performance

Men also gathered to watch the show and listen. Though, I did see one young boy rip up the info paper and throw it in a little girl’s face – disheartening, I know, but you have to persevere and keep pushing for change.

It all wrapped up with the awkward foreigner (me!) being forced to dance on stage with all the performers. At that point in the day I was pretty used to being pointed and stared at anyways, so I might as well make a fool out of myself!

dance, dance, dance.

Ah, you know it’s a good day when you fall fast asleep on a very uncomfortable bus ride and you wake with sore cheeks from smiling so much.

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