31st March: Kathmandu

Testing ….Testing..123…Phhh..Phhh…Tap…Tap..Is it working?…Oh, Hello out there!

The wonders of modern technology. It only took the German boys and myself 24 hours but finally we’re on the air. It was quite simple really. Just had to ask the right person.

I can even wireless in the courtyard but that’s for later because right now I’m sitting in my room listening to Mother Nature put on the most spectacular sound and light show.

I arrived yesterday (more on that later) to a rather hot humid day. Thank goodness I’d packed my shorts in my carry on, quick shimmy in the backseat of the car, out of tracky pants into heat relieving shorts. A few hours later I’m at the hotel,unpacking, settling in and it all went dark. Mother Nature hit Play! What a show. At home the occasional thunderstorms we get are moving and pass over pretty quickly but these just sit over Kathmandu.

Again this afternoon 4pm right on cue BANG! It’s now 7:15 and it’s still rumbling away. Awesome! And now the rain and more thunder!

But I digress, back to the beginning:

Packed with minutes to spare! (well actually…sitting in car in driveway…Pillow! Back inside. Very glad though, it meant I got 6 hrs sleep on the plane).
Last minute interview with the lovely Caroline at Radio 891.
Lovely send off at the airport with Mum, Dad, Jacquie and John. The “Girls” had colds so were very kind and sent emails instead.

Thai were wonderful, especially Lyn in Melbourne, all my luggage got through! All 60kg of it!
And the service continued in Bangkok being wheeled through the terminal. Yes wheeled! The club lounge ladies would hear nothing of me walking to the gate. “Oh No, you’re not walking!” Out came the wheelchair. Wheeled to the front of the passport check point, past all the queuing passengers right on to the plane.
But wait there’s more…..Arrive Kathmandu…wheelchair waiting at the bottom of the steps! Oh no! Wheeled into Kathmandu airport! Come to climb Everest and get pushed into town! Oh well, no room for ego on a mountain nor would it seem at the airport. Ankle first!

When I offered Plan my climb in October I had no idea what amazing experiences were coming my way.
I had my first meeting with representatives from Plan Nepal yesterday afternoon, a few hours after I arrived. Their enthusiasm is inspirational and they’re just plain nice (personally, I think nice is the most under-rated word in the English language! If more people would aspire to be nice… but again I digress)

Donal (Country Director) greeted me
Followed by Dilip’s security briefing:

The Congress leader, Koirala, died aged 87 and the country has been in mourning. The 5 time premier guided the Nepali democratic movement, bringing the Maoist rebels into mainstream politics for peace and stability. In a nutshell now the respectful time of mourning is over, the coalition government may be deposed in the next couple of weeks and on top of this the constitution “runs out” (that’s my technical word for it) and if the politics impacts on the new constitution drafting process, they may just well be without a constitution right about the time I’m on Everest and if that happens they’ll revert to the old one, which of course recognises the Royal Family and the Hindu state! Got it? Bottom line, I’ll be here to witness a lot of change.
That said, being at BC will be pretty much like living at Ayers Rock. When I was there, the world was invaded by “teenage mutant ninja turtles” and we were totally oblivious to the whole thing.

Enough of the politics!
Dilip then slipped in “Kathmandu’s overdue for a big scale earth quake”. I now know how to “Drop,Cover, Hold On!” Why do you cover your head with your arms? So they can identify you…thanks… just what I wanted to know!

Then we got on to my visit:
This is where I was blown away. I thought I was visiting a site to gain an understanding to help me in my public speaking back home. No! These guys have gone to so much effort and it’s all linked in to a book launch when I get back from Everest. They are so excited about it and I’m just stunned at the people I’ll be meeting and the things I’ll be experiencing.

Friday I head to the Makwanpur region (it was to be a day trip but I’ll be overnighting in a “Western tummy friendly” hotel because we need to be off the roads at night!)
I will be meeting with women from the saving and credit co-operative programme. Speaking with Donal today (he is an amazing man but would argue it’s not him it’s the amazing locals that they work with, he gives them the tools but they do the work but I’m still going to call him amazing). I told him as an accountant we’re pretty useless compared to Doctors, nurses, builders & plumbers but that my hope is that one day these women will have built their business to a point where a bit of bookkeeping advice might be useful. His response “Talk to them. Talk to these women about it”. I will.

I then get to interact with the Child Club members (not sure but I think this is where the cricket equipment will find a home. Yeah!)

Then observe and interact with the JKK (a lot of information to take in I’ll have to explain this one later)
I’ve used the acronym as for safety reasons (for the kids not me) I’m allowed to name the region I’m in but not the actual towns or the surnames of the people I meet and I can’t remember who/what this one was. Can I blame it on jet lag which I’m not actually suffering from?

And finally an Early Child Care and Development Centre.

Speaking to Donal there’s so much more I wish I could witness. They have amazing programmes using maps and colours to aide illiterate women in their prenatal care, programmes that have a 50% success rate in preventing the transfer of aids from mother to child at birth, programmes where mums and grandmothers go back to school, programmes for girls that have been rescued from “Bond” where they teach them life skills and give them an intense short course education which of course they were deprived of being bonded into service since they were young girls and the list goes on.

Maybe I’ll have the opportunity after my climb.

Before then Plan Nepal have organised interviews with the media from the 3rd to the 5th and they’re talking to BBC/CNN/Al Zajeera. Local journalists will follow the site visit and I’ll meet the press in Lukkla on the 6th.

After the climb is the bit I’m excited about. Plan Nepal are launching their story book on “Because I am a Girl”. The list of invitees:
Mountaineering & Trekking Associations, Tourism Board
Nepali women who have climbed Everest
A member of the world championship winning Nepali U19 women’s cricket team
Govt officials/UN/INGOs
Women and girls from the field
and me!!

How cool is that? I’ll get to meet these amazing women and hear their stories. Just got to climb a mountain first!

Ahhh! Silence the power has come back on line and the generator has stopped. Lots of power shedding here pre monsoon and the thunderstorm has passed.

I’ve spent the rest of the day doing a little shopping. The usual suspects, bottled water, snacks, toilet paper (no such thing as too much toilet paper particularly as the first few days of travel are spent with a protesting gut. You should hear it gurgling away right now. So much for the silence!). This time I’m getting a little sophisticated, dettol hand wash for the bathroom.
Speaking of the bathroom I always love that first tentative shower, coming to terms with each other. Every shower is unique and they all have their own little idiosyncrasies. This one Hot water full bore and just a tiny smidgeon of cold. Still nowhere as confounding as those showers in the bath. You need to be Einstein just to work out how to turn them on.

It’s now past my bedtime and I’ll bid you adieu (Great, I now have the Sound of Music in my head…The sun has gone to bed….)



PS tomorrow I promise to learn how to use my camera and insert pictures into these blogs

2 comments to 31st March: Kathmandu

  • lachlan

    granma and I have just read your blog ,good luck
    lots of love from QLD

  • neil

    Great to hear you have arrived safely,Look forward to reading more later.All the very best, it’s another couple of laps of the snakepit with SIMO.
    Regards Neil of North Haven

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