Where in the holy bleep am I?

I had a friend message me yesterday saying she had no idea where I was, what I was doing, or who I was with. Which got me to thinking…

perhaps it’s time for an update on my whereabouts and my goings on!

 

Excuses excuses…

First things first let me just put it out there that my whereabouts has pretty much been the key factor for my lack of communication with the outside world… Nowadays we live in a day of internet and wifi as a means of communication (yes I realise I’ve used the same word twice in the same sentence!) and without said internet or wifi, communication (oh go on…let’s go for a hat-trick) becomes near on impossible! Having spent the last month staying on and off in the mountains of Nepal and India, and wifi connection being slim to nil throughout, this would be the reason why yesterday I had a message from my friend asking me where in the hell (or the world) I was.

So where actually am I?? 

England!!

Haha that’s right, I’m back home! (I know right, I can barely keep up with myself as well!)

I actually arrived back early yesterday morning, and as usual it feels as though I never left.

 

Brother vs Sister Update!

So now that I’ve given you a quick explanation for being an absent friend, daughter, sister, aunt, you name it, let me just quickly take the time to update our little ‘Brother vs Sister’ competition. Yup, as my previous post hopefully explained, before flying to Nepal I spent four days roaming around Bruge, Nijmegan and Cologne. Three cities I had never previously visited, located in three countries I had never previously visited. Therefore three new countries for me to add on to my list! Happy Days! 🙂

So check it out, an updated version of…

 ‘Brother vs Sister’.

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What’s going on with the build?

My trip away this time was predominantly about visiting my friends Sita, Arjun, Ambir and Akash in their mountain village in Nepal to see the rebuild of their new home. The trip was a success in the sense that I got to spend time with Sita and the boys, which is always a special time. However, unfortunately because we have hit rainy season, which also means harvesting season in the mountains, the build has not yet been completed and work has now be delayed until harvesting is over. It’s not the end of the world, the foundations, walls and roof have been built, so we have a good solid base and with the roof up the bricks are protected from the rains whilst we wait for the remainder of the build to commence again, hopefully in the next month or so. We have the ceiling and the inside walls still to be done, and then aesthetics to be completed as and when.

I guess some things are just the same all around the world when it comes to building and labour projects….you might as well just throw those timescales out the window!

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View of the front of the house.

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The roof has been installed, now waiting for the ceiling floor to be added.

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Slowly slowly, but getting there.

 

When in Rome…

‘When in Rome’ has become a widely used phrase for joining in with local activities. Be it dining, drinking, partaking in a sport, or just generally any new venture you have found yourself at the mercy of, once these words have been uttered we are then expected to throw ourselves in feet first, no looking back. So whilst staying with Sita in her home during the rains and the harvesting of their rice and corn crops, really this had become a ‘when in Rome’ opportunity.

And so feet first I jumped.

Or at least, so I attempted!

Harvesting up in the mountains in the scorching heat working back breaking hours…is hard folks! Okay! Really really hard! But hell…I tried!

I spent a few days doing as they do. One day I was shown how to cut grass, old school style (ie. NOT with a lawnmower). I was shown how to cut down the corn and to carry it back up the steep mountain side to home. Finally I was taken to the rice terraces, ya know like those iconic images you see, men and women working hard in the distance. Well I got to get up close and personal to see firsthand how hard these men and women of those iconic rice terrace images are actually work. And let me just say…incredible! Superhuman! If put up against any hardened and experienced manual laborer over here, they would knock the socks off them. Which basically means…they knocked the socks off me times fifty! Toodlers, teenagers, the eldery, all of them… pretty much completely kicked my arse!

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“Starting to hurt yet?”  I would ask Pooja, a young 16 year old girl who was always laughing and smiling. A happy girl who would always come to the house and call my name in excitement whenever she learnt I was in the village. A face I had familiarised as a friend.

Looking at me as I asked the question she would start to giggle and just as quickly reply “no” in a way that implied, ‘not even remotely!’

Ah. 

I tried to hide my sheer panic at this and of course by now my utter exhaustion.

Perhaps sensing this, Pooja swiftly followed her reply with some kindly reassurance… “but this is our tradition.”

I took this to mean that they are accustomed to this hard work having spent many an hour, day, week, month and year working in this style. Where as I, had not.

I appreciated her words.

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Sita on the left and Pooja in the middle

About half way through the day the pathetic choice of clothes, and the naive lack of sunscreen I had applied, meant that Sita and some of the other ladies started to notice my rapidly burning skin and so ordered me out of the terraces and into the shade. Giggling fondly at their silly western friend as they did so.

Oh Mountain Life.

As the rains grew stronger, so the roads grew sludgier and subsequently impassable. No buses to be found until the district headquarters. In short, we were stuck in the mountains, myself and Arjun would have to hike ourselves out. A day and a half of walking. A day and a half of clambering through jungle cladding, up and down steep mountain paths, and under the midday sun.

Oh Mountain Life.

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When you’re hiking up and you stop to catch your breath, and you turn around to see something like this…suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

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We did manage to hitch a ride on the back of this truck…for about ten minutes and then we got stuck at some road works. Back to walking it is!

 

From Nepal to India…

…by bus, I might add!!

Thirty long hours after moseying in on out of Kathmandu on a government bus, I arrived into Delhi. And so would begin my overland journey north.

Shimla.

Manali.

Leh.

Passing over alpine mountains and into the lands of high plateaus and thin air. Across mountain roads of altitudes over 5300 meters, and scenery not made from this world. I gasped for breath as I trekked over mountain passes above the clouds, my legs carrying my screaming lungs. Once again, I got to live where the Gods go to play.

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One of the highest motorable roads in the world, over 5300m high.

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Stopping to catch my breath, and to take in a view, on the Leh – Stok trek. I was on my way up a 4900m mountain pass.

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Sitting high up in the Indian Himalayas this tiny mountain village, Rumbak, was our home for the night.

 

Until next time

It wasn’t a long trip. Two weeks after I arrived into India, I was leaving India. The big metal bird bringing me back home to England.

By this point I had been away from home for nearly five weeks. Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Nepal and India. An incredible 5 weeks spent really. However…I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel slightly odd about leaving India. My return home this time feels different. More final. No return on the horizon. And I can’t figure out if I feel good about this, or slightly sad.

I’m choosing not to over analyze on that thought right now. If I can take one lesson from my year travelling back and forth, is that we can change out lives at any one moment. Nothing is final. Anything can be changed. Before making my decision to leave last year, I had got to a point where I had felt unbelievably trapped. Obliged to live my life in a certain way. It made me miserable. But now all those feelings have gone and I now know that we can make our lives open to anything we want (well, most things….within reason lol).

For now, this is good enough for me.

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Live, Laugh, Travel

2 thoughts on “Where in the holy bleep am I?

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