Happy April! At this point, I’m almost half way done my placement, which is so hard to believe. It’s even more difficult to fathom that I graduated from Colgate almost a year ago. This time last year my mind was consumed with papers, exams and graduation. I had no idea that I would be in Nepal working for the United Nations in a year’s time. It’s funny how things work out.
A lot has happened in the last few weeks – I’m sorry about my lack of blog posts, things have just been hectic as I’ve been moving apartments/offices and been busy at work. A few weeks ago I went on a picnic with UNDP, UN Women, and UNFPA staff. The picnic was on a Saturday from 8 30 to 5 outside Kathmandu. I was really excited to travel outside Kathmandu for the first time and see the countryside. I definitely noticed a difference in air quality – it was much fresher and I gladly took many deep breaths. The picnic consisted of games and activities. But my favourite part of the day was the activity that wasn’t planned – that is, when we hiked up a hill beside the picnic site. It was no Himalayan trek, but it was nice to finally be hiking again. I went with a group of colleagues and we literally created our own trail up the steep hill side, scaling dust, pinecones and thorns. On the way down, though, we seemed to find the proper trail that made it much easier to descend.
Another great part of the day was the home-cooked lunch of Dhal Bhat. My favourite Nepali food (along with momos). I talked about it in a previous post, but it is seriously so delicious. I’ve actually looked at the (3) Nepali restaurants in Vancouver to see if they have the popular dish on their menus. So far, I found one restaurant that has it (Café Kathmandu) but it is $15 compared to the $2 you can get it in Nepal for.
I’m also very happy this week because I have a visitor! My boyfriend, Tanner, flew halfway across the world to visit. He arrived on Sunday and I think I’ve done more sightseeing since he’s been here than the entire time I’ve been in Kathmandu. We went to a city called Bhaktapur earlier this week. Kathmandu valley is made up of three cities: Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur. Lalitpur is the city I live in, which is separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River. Lalitpur means ‘City of Beauty’ and it has some of the most amazing temples in its Patan Durbar Square. I’ve been to the square twice already and I hope to go back soon with a sketch book to join the many artists drawing on the temple steps. Bhaktapur is the third of the three medieval city-states and is very well preserved. Bhaktapur takes you back in time as you see locals spinning pottery, playing chess, and you glimpse towering temples and narrow cobblestone streets. It’s about a 40 minute tax ride outside Kathmandu (with traffic) at a whopping Rs 800 (USD $8) fare.
Bhaktapur is also known for its Juju Dhau (king curd) – a.k.a. yoghurt. Trying Bhaktapur’s famed curd was one of my main incentives for going to the city. I was not disappointed. If you’re a yoghurt fanatic like me you’d love this sweetened treat. I’m going to definitely try and revisit Bhaktapur again before I leave – if just for the yoghurt.
Tanner and I also had possibly the best momos in Kathmandu. Momos are steamed dumplings filled with vegetables or meat (depending on how you’d like it). They can also come fried if you order them Tibetan style. They are the quintessential
Nepali food – a true staple. You can get them at any of the Nepali restaurants in Vancouver. We found a restaurant in my Lonely Planet called Yangling that claimed to have the best momos in Kathmandu and they did not disappoint. We also got a delicious Tibetan soup with vegetables and noodles.
I leave for Malaysia with Tanner on Sunday at 10 p.m. I excited to see another party of Asia! I love Nepal, but it will be nice to travel around a bit. The resort we’re staying at near the beach is also a sea turtle sanctuary so expect some cute critters soon!