Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Thailand: Koh Samui

Kho Samui Scrapbook:
6 ft 7 inch ladyboy in full length fushcia gown with big hair
British men in their 60s and 70s with petite thai girls in their 30s – but you knew that anyway didn’t you?
Pink water buffalo
Pool cleaners, gardeners and wardens who are all supposedly part of the local Samui mafia. Apparently it makes for safe and secure properties.
Dr Frog, the maker of brilliant wood-fired pizzas.
Tesco Lotus; it’s green and sells Jack fruit and many hair thickening and teeth whitening products.
Everyone: waiting for the monsoon.

Pokhara: Primary School Visit

Dhara Primary School, near Pokhara

Our contact, Padam, picked us up with the Chair of Goverenors in tow and we drove out into some of the best rice paddies in Nepal. About 5 minutes before we arrived, Padam got the driver to pull over and he made a call. They weren't ready for us yet! We got out of the car and mulled around on the edge of the paddies, while Padam waited for his signal to get back in the car.
We didn't really know what to expect at the shool. In Britain if you do a school visit, you'd probably get a cup of PG or Fair Trade instant coffee and maybe a custard cream in the staff room. The there would be a tour around the school by the head or deputy. It was clear from the amount of people surrounding the entrance to this small school that they'd prepared dinner and a show.
We arrived to find an avenue of people – parents, governors, local and regional education buffs, that formed a corridor for us ,and then placed mountains of garlands over our heads. The head of the school did his speech straight out of the school's 2068 brochure. It became clear when he said that the school had clean drinking water and mentioned the start of the school day and uniform etc. verbatim as in the brochure.
It's so clear that their idea of a school link has nothing to do with some kind of intellectual cultural echange and educational enlightment – they so need the basics.

An unbelievable amount of garlands and a giant red tikka (bindi).

A classroom: a few wooden benches,a low table and bare walls.

There were 2 wall posters in this one: of fruit and veg.

Lunch of Dahl Baht in the classroom. Magi tried out her finger forks today.

The obligatory end of ceremony boogie. I'm not sure if it's a major faux pas to swing your garland like Bear did, but the Nepalse just kept on smiling.

Pokhara: Haircuts

The cut on offer was a layered one right up to the crown. They are looking a bit like fluffy pom pom twins as they grow out.

Monday, 14 November 2011

5 Go to ABC: Day 12

Day 12: Gorepani to Hile:

Raz and Digs got up at 5am to walk up to Poon Hil and get their final stonking view of the whole Annapurna range. I think Dal was hoping to get a lie-in, but Raz was really keen.

I had been hoping to get some portraits of Nepalese people like in Eric Valli’sbeautiful coffee table book, Himalaya. It is unfortunatel that they wear Man U shirts and mock crocs these days.

Raz and Magi got a go on a giant bamboo swing that had been put up for Diwali.

5 Go to ABC: Day 11

Day 11 Tadapani – Gorepani: Becoming Justin Beiber

All the young girls at the guesthouse started calling Raz, Justin Beiber. They know more about American teen pop culture then us. It was only recently that Bear came home from school talking about “Justin Beaver”.

Another climb through a monkey jungle; this time up to the Deuralli Pass. Raz took Dal’s rucksack all the way grom the Pass to Gorepani

You want Pony...

...you get Yak.

5 Go to ABC: Day 10

Day 10: Chhromrung – Tadapani: Buffalo bling.

Today on the trail was an old man collecting marigolds for the buffalo garlands that are made for the beasts on the 2nd day of Diwali. Yesterday, on the day of the dog, they got their bling.

Climb up through terraces of millet and at the top is a jungle dripping with vines, ferns and black faced monkeys.

5 Go to ABC: Day 9

Day 9: Bamboo – Chhomrung

Early in the morning, when Raz, Bear and me were walking together, we saw a golden eagle that flew so low over us we could see the gold on its head and its deep dark eyes.

A man from Boston stopped us in Chhomrung and was interested to hear about the children’s adventure up to ABC. He said he hadn’t been further than the subway at their age!

Magi got caught on my green walking pole, grazed her underarm and was propelled off the edge of some steps. Dal saw it all happen, pulled her back and stopped her falling down a big drop.

5 Go to ABC: Day 8

Day 8: ABC – Bamboo
Up at 6am to see the sunrise over the Annapurna Sanctuary; the amphitheatre of mountains that surrounds us: Annapurna South, Annapurna 1, A. 2, Tent Peak and Hiunchuli.
A snowman that had been made yesterday by a family from Kathmandu stood outside base camp.
The children lost one of their playing cards last night, but this morning over breakfast, Magi saw it frozen to the inside of common room window. It was warmed up with the side of a tin mug of hot chocolate to peel it away.
All down today. Raz and Bear played with ice shards in the stream that runs down from the sanctuary, like they would on Dartmoor.
ABC at 6am.

Annapurna South.