This year I decided quite impulsively to go on another adventure, to close of my years as a student. I always wanted to work as a volunteer and now that I officially graduated, I had the chance to dedicate my time to others. After working the whole summer, I left for Kathmandu, where I lived for two and a half months. I volunteered at Shangrila Home, a shelter for street kids. The last days in Nepal made me realise how much I’m going to miss.
My last days in Kathmandu went by like a dream. I tried to be as present as possible and enjoyed them very much. They are so clear in my head but also contain a whiff of melancholy. I went to Thamel a few times, I made sure to look around more carefully and to let everything sink in very consciously. When I came back from the trekking, the first thing I did (after dropping my luggage at the appartment), was visiting the kids. And did I have a great time. I was so happy to see them again! I smiled the whole time I was there. The day after, I went to see them again and I enjoyed their company so much. This time my visit was a bit more sad, since it would be goodbye. It was very hard on me, I bonded very well with some kids and saying goodbye was painful. These kids stole my heart.
What I’m going to miss
What I’m going to miss the most, is definitely the children. I will never forget their positivity, their gratefulness, their love. There is so much that they thaught me (I’ll write another blogpost about this)… How to be grateful for the small things, how to be happy with what you have, how it’s not necessary to complain, how to take care of each other, how to share… I’ve never been received somewhere with so much love and warmth.
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One of the kids took this photo of me (when he was playing with the phone of @bartdelpiero) without me knowing it. I love it because I was just so happy, playing with the kids. I saw them again after coming back from the trekking and I loved it! Today I said goodbye and it was quite emotional but also very beautiful and filled with love. These kids will forever stay with me and I hope to visit them again soon. I’ll miss them so much. PS: don’t mind my hair – I know I’m in desperate need of a haircut! #Goodbye #Kids #Happy #Love #Nepal #Kathmandu
The friendliness of the Nepalese people
The people of Nepal are one of the friendliest I’ve met. They are so open, warm and welcoming. There is more physical contact, something I’ll miss in Belgium. It can be so awkward to hug people sometime. I used to be like this myself, but that changed a few years ago. I believe that in the end, we all benefit from more physical contact. But not only that – people are simply more open to each other. In Belgium we can all be quite cold – not necessarily on purpose, but we were brought up learning to keep to ourselves. Nepal might be poor, but the people are so colourful, open and warm. And most people seem to be happier and more grateful… even though they own so little.
The small chaos
There are things I won’t miss about the chaos, like the traffic, the dust and all the dirt. But I will miss all these little shops spread around, I’ll miss the fact that every corner brings a new sight or surprise, I’ll miss the many colours all around. Life in Kathmandu is never boring.
Life in the streets
The streets of Kathmand are alive. Not only because it’s the capital, but also because life is lived outside. It’s a side effect of poverty, but it is also because the people are so social! Most of the houses are quite small and dark and don’t have heating (as I mentioned before) – the sun in Nepal is very strong, so during the day, the best place to be is outside. So people spend their day outside. The shops are open, people fix bikes and motors on the street, fruit stalls are out in the open. Life is on the street and that is so lovely. It makes you feel more connected to everyone around you.
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Yesterday was my last shift and it was really weird to close this chapter of this journey… I got a bit emotional saying, but the real goodbye will be in December. Right now I’m in Thamel and tomorrow I’ll be leaving this wonderful (just look at this image! I will miss the colours of Kathmandu when I get home) and chaotic city. I’m happy to go to nature, because I really need my ‘green’ break. It was a good thing the home was in the outskirts of Kathmandu, so there was some more peace and quiet. Looking forward to the mountains now! Tomorrow I take the bus to Pokhara, from there I’ll hike to Annapurna Base Camp, with a stop at Poonhill along the way. #Trekking #Nepal #Solotravel #Kathmandu #Pokhara #ABCtrek #Annapurna #Poonhill #Travelling #City
There is so much sun in Nepal! Even in winter, the sun was out from 8 o’ clock in the morning until 5 in the evening. I’ll miss that so much when I go back to the grey winter of Belgium.
The simplicity of life
If I’m honest, I’m also going to miss how simple my life in Kathmandu was. Everything went slower, because I had to go everywhere on foot. I was more aware of my presence online because I didn’t have wifi, so I had to balance my internet use. I didn’t have to do anything, expect for my shifts at the home (which I loved anyway). I went to shop for groceries, I did my laundry by hand, I watched some series, I spent time writing and time reading. Otherwise, there were no obligations.
I enjoyed it very much because there was time and calmth and not a lot of stress. I don’t know yet which lessons I can get out of this. How can I take parts of this simple life home? Is there a way to make everything less stressful? Is it even possible? So I’m still searching for that answer.
There is a lot I’m going to miss, but I was very happy to come home. There is a lot I have here – something I realised even more by being apart from it – and I looked forward to what was awaiting me. However, it’s been difficult to adjust as well. Everything seems so luxurious here! Hot showers, everything is so clean,… When I went to the supermarket, I was simply overwhelmed by the variety of products! I still am, I wonder how long it will last. The supermarket is a luxury! The houses are way to warm for me inside, since I was used to the unheated appartment in Kathmandu. I walk around barefooted, in T-shirt – and it’s winter! It’s simply to warm for me!
Complaining & gratefulness
And I have encountered the Belgium way of complaining already. I have difficulties to empathise after coming back from a third world country. I guess this will change after some time, but I do hope that this impact stays for the bigger part. It is true that we complain a lot here in Belgium – and even though we have our own problems and it’s good to get things of your chest – we should also learn to be more grateful for what we have. That is what I love so much about travelling, it really broadens the mind and I’m so grateful for this experience. I know that it has changed me for the better and I’ve grown again. I loved my time in Nepal and it’s another chapter in my life that I can close, but I do it with a big smile, a heart filled of love and a lot of gratefulness. Nepal might be a poor country, but that is only one side of it and it has given me so much.
I’m home now for four days and I still am very tired. I feel that I’m getting back on the Belgian time schedule (the jetlag is slowly dissipating) but I have to keep a tight sleep schedule since I’m not that well rested yet. It feels as if I have a reverse culture shock, everything here is quite overwhelming, even though I have taken it easy the last few days.
I guess it takes some time to get used to it all. I’m very grateful that I have the time to take it easy and to get used to life in Belgium again.
Lots of love,