Bede's Pupils Head To Nepal For The Adventure Of A Lifetime
Our long awaited Nepal trip lived up to and beyond all expectations.
Nepal is a country like no other and offers a wealth of excitement, adventure and culture: the hustle and bustle of the narrow crowded streets of Kathmandu at 1000m, the clear blue skies sweeping the Himalayas, gorges with amazing views down to paddy fields, a merger of Buddhism and Hinduism with Stupas adorned with prayer flags, laden mule trains weaving along the trekking routes, cheeky monkeys ready to grab a camera, but above all friendly, caring people who make you feel so very welcome and incredibly humble. Nepal does not let you down!
After 18 months of furious fundraising, attending regular team building meetings, learning about the culture of Nepal, completing trekking exercises, kit checks and forging links with Pestalozzi, our intrepid group of 22 eager pupils set off on the adventure of a life time.
A change of plane at Delhi, then a two hour flight to Kathmandu and we landed to be greeted by garlands of flowers and Kathas placed around our necks. As we made our way to the hotel, new smells, some welcome some not, reached our nostrils; incense wafted from the temples and mixed in with traffic fumes. Our eyes alighted on a rainbow of coloured clothes worn by the delicately framed Nepali people and the saffron robed Tibetan monks as they chanted in their ornately painted monasteries.
Pupils experienced a wide flavour of Nepal. Incredible guides led us on walks around Kathmandu, Durbar Square, temples, talks with DFID, we met Gurkha veterans where we chatted and played the traditional game of ‘Tigers and Goats’ and visited Kopan Monastery for a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Buddhist.
We went white water rafting and experienced the river Seti in full flood from monsoon rains, trekking for five days around the Annapurna range and learned about the important role of its conservation, and of course completed our very important charity project in a Tibetan refugee camp, Tashi Ling, just outside Pokhara.
Our role was to dig a monstrous hole at least 4m by 2.5m deep to house two water tanks which would create a regular supply of water to elderly local residents and support restaurants (to aid the Tibetan’s income.) They only had running water two days a week! We dug in temperatures of 30C+ in competitive teams working alongside Nepalis and Tibetans who were simply amazed at our level of enthusiasm, commitment and fun: and we did have fun. The pupils played a close exciting football match on a rough cow pat pitch, but were fairly beaten. We gave them Bede’s 1st strip and donated lots of other charitable goods that we had fundraised for.
Lower Sixth pupil, Freddie Clemo reports on the trek
After we had finished the community project we set off on our trek, a challenging and new prospect for most of us/a part of the trip that we were excited for but somewhat dreading. We set off in the foothills of the Himalayas in trepidation. Personally I was unsure of my ability to walk all day for five days, both uphill and in sweltering heat whilst carrying a heavy backpack.
Led by our wonderful guide Raja, the trek was a fantastic opportunity to get to know other members of the group as well as Raja and the porters and experience a lifestyle far removed from our own. It was very humbling to observe the life of the Nepalese people living in the mountains and highlighted just how privileged we are. We became ever closer, working as a team to overcome the physical challenges and support each other throughout such an arduous trek. This was sometimes via the medium of music, belting out a rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!
We all felt a huge sense of accomplishment when we reached the highest point of the trek at 3000m, and the views of the snow-capped Annapurna Mountains around us were truly breath-taking.
Lower Sixth pupil, Imogen Lock reports on exploring Kathmandu
Our first few days in Nepal were spent in the capital, Kathmandu, doing some sightseeing and learning about the Nepali culture.
I think that the cultural differences between Nepal and home really shocked us all. Kathmandu was the busiest, loudest and most colourful place I have ever been. There was traffic everywhere and cows wandered in the road. Everyone we met was extremely kind to us, and seemed to have a positive approach to life, despite the many tragedies the country has suffered, most recently the 2015 earthquake.
We were given lectures on this by various charities such as the UK Aid Department for International Development and the Ghurkha Welfare Scheme, who told us about the work that they do to help with rebuilding safer, more stable buildings in Nepal, as well as improving infrastructure and other services.
We returned to Kathmandu for the last few days of our trip. We visited the Kopan Monastery, a Buddhist monastery where we had a talk on Buddhism and the opportunity to see how monks work and live. A very insightful experience into the Buddhist way of life. Our final dinner of pizza was an exciting prospect after two and a half weeks of rice and dahl baht!
I am proud to say that Bede’s started this and other schools have since followed. They were so very grateful and it made us feel incredibly humble and our expedition thoroughly worthwhile. We were treated to an evening of Tibetan entertainment and returned the honour with our own home grown musical skills, a truly heart-warming, noisy evening. The pupils loved this aspect of the trip and for many it was the highlight: giving of their time, energy and warmth whilst learning and working closely with the community.
Wherever we went we were made to feel welcome. What can I say but what an amazing group of people they are, who showed respect, team work, supported each other, had to dig in deep, faced and rose to many challenges. Their excitement didn’t dwindle but grew with each new experience. I am proud of every one of their achievements. My grateful thanks go to Jamie Muirhead for his sanity and support throughout. Well done team.