Bill and Katie met Laurie, Keegan and myself (Len) at the Vancouver Airport Thursday morning. We picked up our boarding passes,checked our bags and moved through security very quickly. We departed Vancouver right on time at 1:05 pm and settled in for our 14 hour flight to Guangzhou., China. Laurie, Keegan and I watched several movies together, played some games and slept a little. The flight went by quickly. We had a relatively brief stopover in Guangzhou before boarding our next flight to Kathmandu.
All of us were able to sleep a bit more during the five hour flight to Kathmandu. We arrived at about 8 pm local time, picked up our bags, cleared customs and were met outside the airport by our Creating Possibilities partner, Nura. After a short bus ride, we arrived at our hotel, the Eco Hotel, in the Thamel area of the city. We went to bed early but only gifted and renowned sleeper Laurie had a big sleep.
Everyone woke up early and enjoyed a nice buffet breakfast together at the hotel before tackling a walking tour of our area of the city. A local named Rakesh befriended Katie and then led us through the winding, narrow and busy street markets and to many Hindu and Buddhist temples. Rakesh took us to his art school where we purchased some paintings and we then walked back to meet a number of the accomplished board members from Creating Possibilities for lunch.
Though we only walked through one area of Kathmandu, it was quite a remarkable experience. Kathmandu is colourful, diverse, chaotic and exotic. We learned that there are about 100 different cultural groups in Nepal with about 80 different dialects spoken. We saw that the streets either have no rules or very sophisticated ones that we could not figure out. Either way, we were amazed at how things move along with no one getting hurt!
|Laurie Marchand in Kathmandu|
We flew Yeti Air from Kathmandu to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, on Friday afternoon. Laurie was not that excited by the small plane and less so when we had to circle Lumbini several times before landing due to poor weather. Our flight attendant reassured us by telling us "not to worry" because it was "too dangerous" to land. Our attendant was lovely but I think something got lost in the translation. I am sure you have figured out that everything worked out well or I would not be writing this blog.
On safely landing in Lumbini the five weary Canadians plus the effervescent Nura took a jeep to the Dreamland Resort Hotel where we were happily greeted by the rest of our families - team leaders Maddie and Miles and workers Noah and Jacob - as well as Creating Possibilities partners Dinesh and Jewan. It was great to link up and hear more about the team's adventures, experiences and successes from the previous two weeks. Miles and Maddie spoke to us with enthusiasm, compassion and pride about the work already completed by their dream team.
Monsoon rains poured overnight as we all slept well. Everyone was up early this morning and many of us went for a swim after breakfast and before boarding our bus for Lamahi. We stopped at the birthplace of Buddha where we walked through many temples built by Buddhists from various countries around the world. The temples were breathtaking. The locals got a good laugh when Laurie asked our rickshaw driver if he'd like to ride in the back while I pedalled for a while. I was able to keep the rickshaw on the road but neither Laurie nor the driver offered me a tip for my safe driving.
|From left to right: Keegan, Len, Bill, Katie, Maddie, Laurie, Noah, and Miles|
|Noah, Miles, and Keegan Marchand|
After lunch at a local hotel we completed our four or five hour drive to Lamahi. The scenery was stunning and we learned quite a bit from Nura about the countryside and people. Our driver was quite amazing. He dodged potholes, pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and animals with aplomb and elicited only occasional shrieks from Laurie - whose barf bag was at the ready but was fortunately not used.
We have just arrived at our hotel in Lamahi. It is very comfortable, quaint and clean.
Our two families are really looking forward to diving into project work tomorrow!
Nepal, July 2014