Friends of the road – Nepal

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English, Friends of the road, Friends of the road - Nepal, Nederlands, Nepal

In each and every country it’s the same old story… I actually do not want to repeat myself, but I can’t help it that I meet so many nice people. People who I want to thank for their generosity, people who I want to introduce to you, people who made my experience in Nepal so much more intense and unforgettable. Thanks a lot – dhanjevad!

December 6th 2017. Leaving early in the morning is actually something I like but not manage to do often. December 6th I did. But then I met this guy who speaks English fluently and offered me some help while I was looking for a toilet. He introduced me to his sister, a volunteer for WWF as well. I was happily surprised to encounter a Nepali volunteer. Thanks for the nice chat dear strangers #nepal

December 7th 2017. Election Day in Nepal is a holiday for everyone. No motorbikes, cars or trucks in the streets are allowed. Heaven! The downside of it is that men hang out in Dhaba’s (roadside restaurants) where alcohol is secretly sold. Conclusion: many drunks in the streets. Without alcohol Nepali men already like a foreign woman on a bike, with alcohol, they see two women instead of one, meaning double fun! Words like ‘I love you’, hand gestures that symbolise the ‘taking off’ of their imaginary ‘rocket’ or tongues that pleasantly slip their mouth didn’t make me feel comfortable to set up camp. Without money to spend to stay in a hotel, I thought the police (our safety guards, right?) would help me. I had to wait for an hour till the inspector was reached and said ‘no’ without hesitation to my question of camping next to the police station. After me getting upset about this whole situation the police officer (on the left side of the picture above) I was in contact with tried to find another solution. This room is the room of the police officer in front. He rents the place but he let me use it for free for one night. I was super glad about this kind gesture. A safe place for the night thanks to these two policemen #nepal

December 13th 2017. In Butwal I realised I didn’t have enough time to make it to Pokhara. That’s why I tried hitchhiking. Soon another guy helped me by asking this guy (pictured above, with my helmet on) if he would give me a lift to Pokhara. It would take them three hours (for 150 km) on a mountain road, they said. After two hours we still weren’t 50 kilometres further. That’s why I had to leave the truck driver and his assistant, this funny fellow. We had a good time on the road. Laughing, singing, chatting and swapping caps/helmet. Thanks a lot for these very entertaining 50 kilometres #nepal

December 13th 2017. What can I say about Garrett? To start with he’s a US peace corps volunteer based in Pokhara (the Mecca for exploring Annapurna region), he’s a cyclist and a Warmshowers host, meaning his apartment is open for all kinds of cyclists in the world. Not only offering a free bed for the night, a hot shower, and wifi but also a nice meal. He’s a terrific cook. Not only the best of Nepal but the best of the States I guess. His pumpkin risotto was extremely tasty. When I think about it I still feel this creamy comfort food melting in my mouth. A nice treat after my daily samosas. He’s a super easy going guy, very hospitable and extremely helpful. He didn’t mind that I arrived at 11 pm neither that I stayed one or two nights more. And was even checking another place where I could stay when he wasn’t around. On top of that, I could store my bicycle for one month at his place while exploring the Everest region. Thanks a lot, Garrett! Hope one day I can help you as much as you helped me #nepal

December 19th 2017. This is Indira. I know her thanks to Rik Van Belle. I know Rik thanks to my ex-colleague Piet. I was looking for somebody who could bring some stuff to Nepal. Piet saw my request on Facebook and tagged his former classmate. ‘Some’ stuff soon became more stuff. I was super grateful Rik brought everything safe and sound to Kathmandu. He runs Himalayan Dream Team Treks & Tours which organises trekking trips to Nepal and also yoga holidays. In Kathmandu, my stuff was stocked in Indira’s office. She’s part of the same company and also runs an NGO named Himalayan Care Hands Nepal. Thanks a million, Piet, Rik and Indira! #nepal

January 8th 2018. What a girl! I met her in the dormitory of a hostel in Delhi, India. In the evening, we actually chatted only a couple of hours, but instantly there was a good vibe, lots of similar interests and a sense of synergy. The next day she left. Later on Instagram, I saw she was in Kathmandu, Nepal. I contacted her and was hoping we could meet. We did, she also invited me to stay at her place. That’s the way she is, very welcoming, very easy going, and one of the most wonderful people I met so far on my journey. Instead of staying one or two nights at her place, I ended up staying 17, yes really, 17 days… can you imagine? Oh, ‘she’ is Talie or Natalia for passport control. An amazing British girl full of positive energy and always in for a good laugh. An incredible inspirational gal, a bit crazy in the coconut but that’s how we like it. On top of that, she’s a great photographer and documentary maker. Check out her website or Instagram page #nepal

January 9th 2018. Look at these angels… yes, they truly are! On your right, you see Talie, whom you’ve already met (see January 8th). On your left, I’ll introduce you to Aimée, a British girl as well. Her parents found the inspiration for her name in the French word ‘aimer’ which means ‘beloved’. But ‘aimer’ is also ‘love’ like in ‘adorable’ and that’s what she is. You really have to love her. I met her on my trek in the Himalayas. We both hiked the ‘three passes’. She’s one of those girls who is always full of positive energy, always smiling, willing to help and having her heart on the extreme right spot. I was quite unlucky. My trekking guide didn’t reach a professional level -at all. So it felt really good that Aimée often was around. She was there for a chat, a hug or a laugh. Because of her, my Himalayan adventure got another dimension. That’s really something I’ll never ever forget. I was glad that once back in Kathmandu we saw each other again and a couple of weeks later again. It was meant to be that our paths crossed… truly happy I met her. Oh, and did I mention that she’s also helped with editing some of my English blog posts? Super sweet, isn’t it? So grateful! By the way, meanwhile, she started her own business. If you’re a yoga and/or meditation lover, you might be interested. If you’re looking for ways to regain your natural balance – mind, body, soul – check out her website. Oh, and don’t hesitate to spread the word 😉 #nepal

January 19th 2018. I spent some time with Talie (see January 8th) in Pokhara as well. Pokhara is a tourist spot, the starting point for all the people who are willing to hike the famous Annapurna Circuit. One evening we went out to have a budget-friendly dinner. When we entered a local restaurant there no table was available. Unless we shared one with Berta (from Spain) and Marco (from Italy). They were almost finishing their meal. Berta and Marco were very glad not only to share the table but also some of the lovely food they ordered. This couple is so amazing! They are people who make you feel at home like you’ve known them already for years. They asked us what we did in Nepal and if we knew any charity organisation where they could donate money to. Money Marco’s parents gave to help a good cause. Talie pointed at me, at me with the WWF, UNICEF, the KDM Girls’ Hostel or Himalayan Life where I was volunteering at that time. When I explained my whole project, they offered me without hesitation €200. “You know who needs it the most Trien, you can spend it on a project you want”. I really, really couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. This was insane! So generous, so amazing and so welcome! I can not describe how I felt, how overwhelmed I was that a complete stranger wanted to donate just like that. Thanks a million, Marco, your parents and of course Berta as well #nepal

January 30th 2018. “You are mum, I am son, you my mum”. Rahul, 14 years old, a good-looking teenager with pearly white teeth and clear brown eyes. That handsome teen just called me ‘mum’. I got to know Rahul via Himalayan Life, an organisation that helps street children who are living under Pokhara’s bridge and are sniffing glue to soften their pain. Kids from broken families, abused kids, abandoned kids. Children who run away from traumas that they’d experienced at home. Rahul is one of them. Although he doesn’t sleep under the bridge anymore (but in the ‘shelter’), he’s still sniffing glue during the daytime. I know that kids like Rahul know the tricks of the trade and know what to say to touch your heart. And yes, he succeeded, his words moved me. When he’s sixteen he wants to become hockey trainer or cycle champion. But first, he needs to be integrated again in the normal school system. To be able to do that, he needs to be sober and that will acquire a lot of effort. I helped him with English. He was a very good student and learned extremely fast. He has so much potential but I don’t know if his glue addiction will prevent him from reaching his goals. I felt sad to leave because giving him that special attention helped him being motivated to learn and go to school and to try stopping the glue sniffing. Dear Rahul, from the bottom of my heart I hope one day you can be the hockey trainer or bicycle champ you want. Or maybe just truly happy #nepal

February 4th 2018. Meet very nice and welcoming Katalin and Matthias. They’re both working for Himalayan Life Nepal, the organisation to which I donated my tent and volunteered for. I met Matthias while he was giving me an introduction to the plastic factory and was showing me around. When I mentioned I was looking for a cheap (or free) place to stay in Pokhara (because of the volunteering work), he told me that his wife and himself are living in a place they call a ‘community house’. A home which they like to share with other people, people who can pay the amount they want to. Wow, that’s sweet! I didn’t only stay there the planned one week, no, I ended up staying there 15 days – ouch! The first days Katalin wasn’t around, she was in Kathmandu for work. I was looking forward to meeting her. Just like Matthias, she is also a wonderful and interesting person. Oh, and did I mention they live in a beautiful house? A house where I immediately felt at home. Of course not only because of the house or decorations but also because of this very sympathetic couple. Thanks a million, guys! For being so easygoing, for giving me the luxury of having my own room for a while, to giving me good company, people to have interesting conversations with, and last but not least, to taste your yummy (especially for me partially vegan) pizza #nepal

February 22nd 2018. Not finding a river, nor a fountain leads to running out of water. In front of this family’s house there was a fountain but unfortunately, not one drop of water was coming out of it. The girl with the baby on her arm saw me checking the fountain and instantly came over to help me by filling my bottles with water. We had some basic but very nice conversation. A wee bit later some neighbours showed up as well. Suddenly my bike fell down. Straight onto the leg of one of the neighbours. The woman instantly had bruises. I saw she was in pain but she kept strong and didn’t want to show her pain. I felt extremely guilty for what my ‘buddy’ caused but I couldn’t do anything except keeping apologising for ‘his’ mistakes. Sorry sorry sorry #nepal

February 22nd 2018. I never realised what effect kids can have on me. For sure not every day is the most wonderful day. Not in Belgium, nor on this trip. This morning was one of the minor ones, my motivation and energy levels reached rock bottom. Until I met this bunch of cheerful girls, heading towards school, and having a break outside a sweets shop in a tiny village. I was fascinated by their hairdos, the way it is mandatory in school. They were fascinated by my bike and especially by me being a foreigner. Time for them to practice their English because that’s what they liked and wanted to do. Although being young, they spoke very well English. One of the girls had to walk two hours to reach school. So every day she has a workout of four hours. And yes, they also get sports at school. Speaking of being fit! They were crazy enthusiastic and laughing the whole time, so my mood instantly changed 180 degrees. Suddenly they had to run (uphill) to be on time in class. I continued further, on my bike. Meanwhile hearing in the background “Goodbye, goodbye-ye!”. Thanks a lot, sweet girls, you made my day! #nepal

February 23th 2018. The evening set, I tried to find a camping spot. I saw a beautiful abandoned house and behind it a super big garden with some space to set camp. I pushed my bike through purple flowers, bushes and demolished branches. Samir, a thirteen-years-old young schoolboy, who I passed a couple of minutes before in the streets, came to me. “What are you looking for ma’am?” I asked if this terrain belongs to him and if so if I could pitch my tent and sleep there for the night. “Sure, no problem!” he instantly said. A bit later his mom, Saroga, came over. “A guest in our culture is like a god. Do you want rice?” she asked me several times. She told me the beautiful abandoned house was damaged by the earthquake (of 2015). Now they are building a new one, next to the old one. Everything that needs to be done, she has to take care of herself. “You don’t have a husband?”, I asked. “Yes, but he only drinks and sleeps.” Building the house costs money and because her husband is not earning it, she has to ask her siblings by promising once Samir earns the money he will repay everything. I felt so sorry for her. Offered my help with cutting greens for the cow, washing dishes or cooking, but she refused. The next morning Samir brought me tea. A bit later he said: “It’s a holiday today so you can eat rice, isn’t it?”. Also, Saroga came over to invite me for rice. It felt I couldn’t resist. She made me an extremely tasty dhal bat with gundruk and sweet and sour pickles. On top of that, she showed me how they prepare the gundruk, the typical Nepalese vegetable. When I said goodbye I felt sorry. I wanted to help her but I couldn’t. She also didn’t want to accept the money I offered. She had sadness in her eyes but also a determination. I hope all the best for both of them, this lovely mother and son which I’m so grateful to have encountered them #nepal

February 24th 2018. When I was pushing my bike in Mandredunga, a village of 500 people in Gorkha district, this man came towards me for a chat. A very kind, knowledgeable man who is going to start his own chicken farm. Proudly he told me it will have a capacity of 2500 chickens. His wife and three kids live in Kathmandu. The children are studying there, his wife accompanies them. The village was also damaged because of the earthquake in 2015. Lots of houses still have to be rebuilt. He doesn’t like that the government does not help the people. “Even with the new government, nothing will change”, he said. A woman joined the conversation, she was surprised to see me around. And earlier she proposed to give me a hand while pushing my bike through the sand. The man wasn’t only kind, he was more or less the local clown. When I asked his name, he answered: “I am mister Moustache”. When we were talking about ages he said the lady next to him was 65. A big lie, just to tease the lady. He was the clown of the village and in big need to brush up some of his compliment tactics 😉 #nepal

February 24th 2018. I think kids who are helping to push my bike deserve a special mention and a spot on my ‘Friends of the Road’ page. No idea why they like doing this, it’s tough labour but they do. Fortunately for me. Thanks a lot, crazy kiddos! #nepal

February 25th 2018. I knew my camp spot wasn’t 100% ideal but it was already late. Night time was starting and this place would have to do the job because I ran out of options. I realised the next morning people would see me. And so they did… Suddenly I heard kids voices. It was still early so I ignored it. But when I was peeping through my so-called tent’s ‘window’ I saw four kids a bit further sitting on the slope of a hill, keeping an eye on my tent. What a difference with Indian kids! How I love the Nepalese mentality! When I opened the zipper they came over. Being curious about which human being was inside and what he or she would do. They were funny and super sweet, laughing and giggling all the time. They also wanted to help to break up the tent. And when I offered them a bike ride they didn’t refuse. No, they loved it. They were also keen to get the WWF-tattoo. When I left, they ran with me down the road, their feet completely covered in the red sand. This encounter made me smile for the following hours #nepal

February 25th 2018. That same morning I arrived in another beautiful village where once again villagers were super kind. This lady saw me taking pictures of goats eating leaves in a basic stable across the street. She started talking to me in Nepalese. She wanted me to take a picture from her dog. And also one from her and the dog. Then she showed me her modest house. A house existing of two rooms. In the second room, she had created a kind of memorial for her son. She started crying, it was a very intense moment. I also felt tears coming but didn’t want her to see me crying. Instead, I held her hand and hugged her. And that’s how we said goodbye. A goodbye with a shared emotion #nepal

March 2nd 2018. My baggage arrived in Nepal but some of it had to return a month later to Belgium again. Thanks to Facebook and Lore Dhondt I contacted Lin Seminck and got to know Schooling Nepal, the organisation she’s already volunteering for eight years. The organisation works together with Lucca art school in Leuven. Most of the volunteers are Belgian architects or architecture students. Lin returned the next day to Belgium, too short notice to organise the handover of the baggage. She wrote I could contact Michael Rai, he could help me find other volunteers going back to Belgium. That’s how I got acquainted with Arati (left). She was amazingly sweet and helpful. She also explained what the organisation is about. Wart Thys was willing to bring all the packages to Belgium. Wow, amazing! Thanks a lot, Lore, Lin, Michael, Arati and Wart. Also into volunteering for Schooling Nepal? Or do you want to donate some money? Don’t hesitate to contact them #nepal

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5 thoughts on “Friends of the road – Nepal”

  1. Fantastic people aside, I really love their portraits! Being a very clumsy people photographer I really envy your talent. Thanks for the ride and for the (much needed) dose of good faith in people.
    Fabrizio

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  2. natalia says:

    oh you are such a wonderful lady!! I miss you terribly trien trien! you are such an inspiration! such lovely words, thank you! have so much love for you girl! exited to hear your next steps. sending lots of love from london xx

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  3. Bravo Trien ! C’est un vrai bonheur de pouvoir partager grâce à toi ces rencontres népalaises. Comme toujours on a les rencontres qu’on mérite et tu mérites les plus belles 🙂

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  4. Jessica says:

    This is such a beautiful post! I think travel can show up the best of humanity & how much kindness we can put into the world.

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