So far I have had a couple of opportunities to leave the orphanage for some exploring.Â I went with Raju for an evening with his friends and a few drinks.Â It was very enjoyable and everyone was extremely nice to me.Â I was more than happy to ignore the fact they all called me Brian!Â At closing time (8pm) we went for a walk to a beautiful temple, known as the snake temple, by a lake.Â The moon reflected across the water illuminating the small temple and the fireflies provided the pyrotechnic display.
I was also fortunate enough to visit Kathmandu on the birthday of Buddha.Â There was a large procession through the streets of the city and many people came out to witness the festivities.Â Binod and I also visited the holiest shrine in Nepal.Â We got a great vantage point over many temples and the river and I honestly didn't know where to look.Â There were men with long beards and painted faces sitting in the lotus position beside shrines.Â Many people were worshipping at the temples and others were attempting to ascend roofs to get a better view of the action.Â Monkeys were playing by the river and elders offered to read peoples palms.Â By the river bodies were being cremated in full view of the crowds and a dead bodyÂ was being embalmed whilst mourners danced around the corpse and chanted.Â This was the first time I have seen a dead body but its affect was dilluted by its unextraordinariness alongside the myriad of other sights, sounds and smells.Â It really was sensory overload like I have never experienced before.
Having departed we were then treated to a rainstorm of incredible ferocity.Â It was hailing for around half an hour and the constantly changing wind direction made it difficult to remain sheltered.
This was not the only time I was to experience a crazy rainstorm in the last few weeks.Â Binod and I attended a football match between the national league champions and a Nepali all-star XI.Â We were half an hour into a pretty dire game when the torrential downpour began.Â We were in the sheltered seating area but this did not save us as the rain was coming at us at right angles!Â The sight of riot police using their shields to keep dry by an empty, waterlogged pitch with the Himalayas in the background seemed to symbolise a part of Nepal for me.Â Once the rain stopped they decided to play the second half.Â The pitch was so waterlogged in some places you could practically paddle in the water and what was at first a dull game suddenly became very entertaining!Â The All-Stars completed their comeback with a comical late own goal!
Kathmandu is an incredibly lively and hectic place.Â It is also extremely polluted and smelly and when I first arrived I didn't like it at all.Â Although I wouldn't like to spend a prolonged period of time in the city it has inexplicably grown on me.
I have also enjoyed many interesting conversations with Nepali people about the politics in Nepal.Â There is a state of peace at the moment but the Maoists and Young Communist League are still engaged in mindless acts of violence.Â There is little support for these groups but communism in general has a large following here.Â I can't help but feel slightly concerned when one casts an historical eye over states which have been lured byÂ a communist doctrine.
I also find it strange to see bus-loads of young Maoists driving through Kathmandu waving flags and chanting.Â There is also a large police and military presence and many armed sentries at entry points into the centre of the city.Â Having said all this, I do not feel at all unsafe in Kathmandu.
In the coming days I will be taking a bit of time off from the project to go rafting and trekking in the Himalayas so stay tuned to hear more about it.