August 2008, a short adventure to visit Maeve working in Bangladesh.
19.08.2008 -17 °C
As usual I was having a panic that we'd miss the flight, little did I know that the flight was actually later than I originally thought!
After a fairly pleasant 9 and a half hour flight we arrived in Dhaka. Got through customs and got our bags and walked outside to see Bangladeshi people climbing at the rails of the airport. Maeve was there to meet us and we took her car to her apartment. The roads are absolutely crazy, like bumper cars. All the cars are dented and scratched all over. Maeve had bought us all a camise and a scarf to wear as your have to cover bottoms and breasts in Bangladesh! We had a sleep for a couple of hours and then got up and had our first taste of Bangladeshi food of Kedgeree and lamb, it was very nice.
We went out on the rickshaw and after going to the glasses shop we headed for the orphanage in Old Dhaka. We got a taxi, which didn't have enough petrol to get there and then we squeezed into a CNG, which then fell down a hole in the road, so we all had to get out and push it out....whilst almost getting run over in the process! Hilarious!
We spent a couple of hours at the orphanage, giving babies cuddles, changing little cotton nappies and entertaining the disabled children. It was really sad to think that such beautiful children have nobody.
We got a CNG back to Maeve's, it took ages and we were followed home by 3 boys which hung off the back of the CNG for several miles. We got back to Maeve's, had a quick shower and then went out to the Bagha Club for dinner and drinks. We got back to Maeves and played scrabble...I won by loads of points! Wahoo!
We got up early, I didn't feel to well. We headed for the Radission Hotel for breakfast which i really didn't feel like eating. I force fed myself, as I wanted to at least try and get my monies worth! After the Radisson we went to the Bagha club and spent the afternoon by the pool, it wasn't until about 5pm when I started to feel a bit better.
We then got on the rickshaws and went to the supermarket and then to the beauty salon. Rose, Caz and I had a thai massage while Maeve had a body scrub, we had a detox facial too which was awesome. Maeve opened a can of tonic in the salon and it sprayed directly in my face and all over the waiting area, it was so funny!
On the way back from the salon we went for a Japanese, it was new to me, but I really enjoyed it. We dropped by for a drink in the Nordic club, which is the Scandanavian club on the way back to Maeves. I was totally shattered and headed straight for bed when we got in.
We got up early and headed out on rickshaws to meet Maeve's friends and their cars to take us to Savaar to get on the boat owned by 'Friendship' an NGO. We cruised along the river from 10am-4pm, again I felt ill all the way to the boat, but luckily I felt much better by about 11am. The weather was great until the boat returned and then it absolutely chucked it down, we were drenched running 5 metres to the car off the boat. People in the rural areas around the river really are living with nothing at all.
From the boat we headed back to Dhaka and saw a nasty accident on the way back, a car was underneath a lorry. It's hardly surprising though after the way people in Bangladesh drive. We went for a quick drink in the Bagha club and then went back to Maeve's. We stayed in and ordered pizza for tea and got our stuff ready for the next adventure to Nepal.
We got up about 8:30am and got ourselves sorted. Maeve sent a random man to get some eggs and then we had scrambled eggs before going to the airport. Amazingly for a Biman flight it was ontime, although it did end up being about half an hour late. We got on the Fokker 28 and which was pretty scary as it was such a small plane. The food on board was absolutely horrible!
We arrived in Kathmandu, got our visas sorted and then Mohan was there with the car to pick us up. They greeted us by putting big flowers around our necks, which is Buddhist tradition for good luck. They took us to the Samsara hotel where we were staying for one night and then we went straight out again to the monkey temple. We drove around Durba Square on the way back and then stopped for our first taste of momo's in a cafe in Kathmandu. We stayed around the town and bought some socks and trousers for the trek, and then had a drink and a shiesh pipe in a shiesh cafe.
4/8/08- Up to the Langtang Valley
We got up at 6am and left the room and headed in the car up into the mountains. We stopped at 10:15am for our lunch...little early and we had to eat Dalbaht. We continued up the mountains until about 3pm when we had to get out and walk for a few hours because of landslides. We arrived in Dunche about 5:30pm, it was raining so we were very wet, but because of no sun, meant no hot water. We stayed at the Hotel Himalayan Legend and Lodge. It wasn't too bad, apart from being a bit damp. I ordered lasagne for tea and when it came it was tagliatelle with onion chicken and bacon, really nice but nothing like lasagne! We headed to bed pretty early, the first of many very early nights!
We got up at 6:30am and had some porridge, which I realise I don't like and then headed on our way just after 7am. We stopped at about 10:30am for tea and biscuits which were much needed! The village wasso cute and so were the people there. We saw all the children on their way to school and then walked through the school. The children were so sweet! We continued walking and then we stopped for lunch and Mohan made us a potato curry. Up until lunch time the weather was nice, but then it started to cloud over. A couple of hours later we came to our place of rest, we had a look around the teeny tiny little village. played with a cute girl that stank of goats, bought lots of yaks scarfs and went to a little monastry on the hill. We had dinner in the tea house, it was a bit chilly, but I had omlette and chips which was great! The electricity kept going out, so we went to bed about 8:45pm, I didn't sleep too well though as I was cold and the Nepalese villagers were rather noisy!
We got up at 5:30am, had some Tibetan bread for breakfast and then we started trekking. We trekked down hill for quite a long way and my legs started to shake (Shakey Stevens as we called it). I slipped on a big rock and feel down and when I tried to get back up my legs wouldn't hold me so I fell down again. It was really horrible at the time my legs giving way, but I look back and it was rather funny!! From there we had to walk through a fast flowing river and our feet were soaked, there was a beautiful waterfall. We had Dalbaht lentils and rice for lunch. Maeve ripped her shorts so had to sew them up, then we continued....it was up hill from there. There were a few leaches around, I got my 3rd one! Leached!!
It was really hard up the millions of steps, several times I thought my legs might give up. We arrived in Rimche to a warm shower! Yay! We had a shower and then sat in a room with a log fire, it was so lovely. We got our shoes, towels and clothes dried off so it was nice to not feel so damp. We played cards and then headed to bed at the ridulously early time of 7:45pm!
Got up at 6am, had some breakfast and then started walking. We stopped for a cuppa and then it started raining. We waited at the teahouse, but then just had to continue on in the rain as it wasn't going to stop. I'm glad I had my brolly in my bag! We ended up losing our porters as they'd gone on too quick and Mohan was way behind at the army base check point, so we stopped at a little teahouse for potato soup. It was lovely.
We arrived at Langtang, was really damp and spiders in our room. we met some Spanish guys staying in our teahouse too. There was no electricity, so again a particularly early night with the spiders!
We had a little lay in until 7:30am as it was only a few hours walk today to get to our highest point of 3800m. The sun was shining and we could see the snowy peaks of the mountains. We headed off about 8:30am and arrived at lunch time to a rather chilly Kyangin Gumpa to the 'Hotel Super View'....again no hot water though. We were unable to head up to the glacier, as there wasn't much point as it was too cloudy. We sat in the Kitchen to keep warm and then had some lunch. The lady cooking and looking after us was called 'Keeper', she's so sweet. We put warm clothes on as it was pretty chilly up there, the yak scarves came out!
There was a 6 month festival in Kyangin Gumpa. People were singing and dancing and then men had made bows and arrows and were doing archery. There was four everywhere and many drunk Nepalese people!
We watched the crazy people and then headed back to our rooms. I had a major headache, think the altitude had got to me. We had a knock at the door and Keeper was inviting us down to their festival celebrations. They had pastries, biscuits, crisps, coke, all with yak butter on it....I think that's a sign of wealth. We were then offered yak curd, I had to refuse it as I thought I could possibly throw up if I was to eat that!! We then ended up staying downstairs and watching the ladies dance...and then I ended up joining in with the dancing. It was a cold, but funny afternoon.
I had tomato noodle soup for tea and we were in bed before 9pm again.
9/8/08- heading back down the valley. Mum's Birthday.
I didn't have a very good nights sleep and was awake early as the villagers were building a house next to our guesthouse. Looking out the window the man was outside milking his yaks....amazing. I had chipati and honey for breakfast, it was pretty nippy in the hills even though the sun was shining. We had a fairly easy walk back down to Langtang, stopping for lunch...tomato noodle soup again. My legs were feeling pretty tired. My calves and my knees were beginning to hurt from the downhill walking. We arrived back in Rimche, although it wasn't quite so pleasant the second time round. We were sharing our room with some rather large spiders. We spent ages murdering spiders with hairspray and deet. Caz and I didn't sleep too well even after moving our beds into the middle of the room. It was raining so hard and we woke in the morning to another massive spider when I moved my rain coat....we just had to get out! Mohan killed a chicken for our tea and cooked up chicken dalbaht and lentils, had fresh bamboo in it too. Latest night, as couldn't sleep for spiders!
Pancakes for breakfast then we headed on our way for the hardest trek so far. We stopped near the bottom of the hill for lemon tea and cookies. We carried on and trekked up hill which was really hard, we stopped in a nice place called Safrubesi for lunch, I had potato omlette. At this point we were all in so much pain, Maeve with broken boots, Caz with a painful archy, Rose just being very good at not moaning and my legs really did want to give up on me. We walked up some roads, one of which turned into a river...so wet feet again. We then reached the hardest part of the trek and the most challenging thing I've ever done. the steepest up hill and steps, I really thought I was going to collapse. I was lagging behind a lot and was in so much pain, blisters were setting in. I had an opportunity to stop when a little girl wanted a pen. It was great that I had an excuse for a small break! We reached the top of the steps and then it was still about 2 hours unitl we were to reach Dunche. We finally arrived about 5:30pm, it was a very long hard day.....but so rewarding. I can't believe I did it. We all had such sore feet and legs, but we were able to have a lovely warm shower and put some clean clothes on.
We had a late tea and went to bed about 10pm. We had a good chat with Mohan, Depak and Baulo.
Had a bit of a rubbish sleep as there's a festival on in the village so the guesthouse was full and people were very noisy. We rushed out of bed, had breakfast and then headed for the roof of the bus! We should have been picked up by the car, but because of the landslides we had to go about 20km, on two different buses, walking over the landslides. The bus was so much fun, but rather scary. A great experience.
After the landslides we got back in our landcruiser after having fun on the top of the bus with Nepalese guys. We travelled back to Kathmandu, stopping in the same place for curry and lentils as we did on the way up. We arrived back at Hotel Samsara just after 3pm. We had a quick shower and then went around the shops.
We then went to the Everest steakhouse to meet Mohan and his family for dinner. We bought them dinner and gave them all a tip. We left and went to the Shiesha bar, but no Shiesha, so that was disappointing! We had a fair few beers. It was great to get into a bed and have airconditioning for a change.
We all got up fairly early and left the hotel about 8:15am to go and continue our shopping. i got a few presents for people and got a silver chain and pendant and a little jacket. We had a breakfast in a nice little cafe and then stopped for a drink and a cake. I had an apple iced tea...it was sooo good. We went back to the hotel where Mohan was waiting to take us back to the airport. He gave us each a Buddha and some Nepalese tea. He also gave me some little booties and mittens for Eva. The plane back to Dhaka was delayed by an hour, but we had a lovely piece of pizza while we waited. We also waited with some people from Bhurma that were migrating to the USA, it was crazy they all had their documents in plastic bags, many of them refugees.
We got back to Maeves after being offered an upgrade to business class on the 45minute flight, by an air host called 'Happy'. We went straight out to the glasses shop to get Kenny's glasses and to the pearl and antique shops.
After there we went back, got changed and went out for a Thai meal. It was so delicious, but I got so full so quick.
We were up early for Maeve's wateraid car to take us to the slums. We got the car across town which took over an hour and Rose wasn't feeling too well. We stopped at the NGO office to get some people to take us around the slums. We were greeted by lots of dwellers, wanting to see us. The president of the slums showed us around and showed us the plans and improvements that have been made with sanitation in the past few years. They were so kind to us, making us feel really welcome and an old lady fanned us, which was terribly embrarassing. This particular slum was built over water, so whenever it rained heavy, people are living in sewerage.
We moved onto another, a project by the PSTC. We went to their office and had tea with the director. He was explaining some of the work they've been doing. Kanise then took us around the second slum, built along a railway line. Most were welcoming and again we saw the plans and Maeve showed us the water pumps and the privacy rooms, of which are shared between 25 families. One lady said in Bangla 'You come here, you look and you do nothing', that was very sad to hear. It's the corupt government of Bangladesh which means NGO's work is made more difficult.
We left the slums and then stopped at Nando's like true westerners! Had chicken burger and chips, it was fantastic!! We headed to the beautitians and we all had a body scrub and massage which lasted 2 hours, it was absolutely awesome.... We went to the International Club for dinner, the Wednesday night BBQ. Caz and I enjoyed some fish. Then it was time to go back to Maeves and pack. Went to bed about 1am for a few hours.
Up at 5am to get to the airport for just after 6am. we got checked in. Flight on time. 10 hours to get home listening to screaming kids and kids running up and down the isles banging into me. Arrived in Heathrow at 2pm, greeted by Justin and then a surprise of Charlie for Miss Hall.