We four volunteers set off after class on Friday after agreeing we would go on strike and not return until Sunday evening, ie miss Sunday classes!
At the trusty hotel premium our new home away from home Jen collapsed on her bed and I decided to head out to look for dusters to avoid a repeat of the chalk nightmare. I found seven dusters which should clean the desks without covering the boys in chalk! I then spotted a place advertising Montessori based classes so decided to go in. I had the most delightful conversation with three men who took me into the preschool area which had all sorts of teacher made decorasies hanging from the low ceiling, child size chairs and tables and nothing else hinting at Montessori! Anyway they gathered some chairs offered me some tea or juice (which I declined as we've been warned to do in case tap water is used in the preparation) it was fascinating - once they heard I was from SA they immediately started talking about Nelson Mandela! And in fact told me to tell people who asked that I come from Nelson man delays country - and he was right - everyone we have mentioned Madiba's name to light up and tell us what a great man who was!! Instant connection! Anyway this guy knew a lot about SA - rattled off names of our cricket stars, listed our minerals.... Once again I was asked my age and got the usual shocked response - no one will believe that!!'they asked how old john is and then why he wasn't here - when I relied he was working , they gasped - as in he is still working at his age!!! John you didn't hear that!!! So I plan to pop in on the school this morning to meet the teachers while the children are there - watch this space. Friday evening saw a bunch of volunteers enjoying supper at the Delima gardens an outdoor restaurant set down an a passage way off the seven corners a street close to the hotel. Well I paid for my indulgence later that night!! I mean really - does one beer and chicken breast equal indulgence!! I laid low sat morning while Jen headed out for brekkies. After a few crackers and rehydration salts and the ever trusty coke we headed out for what turned out to be the best day we have had thus far,
We caught a taxi to the Monkey temple in Swayambhu which is on a raised area looking over the Kathmandu valley. We loved it - the taxi driver called Prem insisted he wait for us and we were amazed when he would not accept the 300 rupees ( R30) (for taking us there saying we could pay at the end- should've seen warning lights flashing! Anyway we explored the temple - fascinating and a feast of colours, animals - dogs and many very laid back monkeys happily feeding off the devotees offerings placed at the feet of the many statues- Jen is going to show me how to post pics to relieve my long screeds of text but in the meantime do look at Jen's blog to see her pics and version of our adventures.
The Nepalese are really friendly and many are into hugging. I got to hold my first Nepalese baby - adorable of course with kohl smeared around his eyes of course. His mum was beautiful in a stunning yellow sari as was his granny who started chatting to me - she was wearing as brilliant red and gold sari - so friendly . We bumped into the family as we were leaving and we exchanged another warm hug! Jen even took photos of one young couple and immediately blue toothed it to them!! I'm filled with admiration!!
From monkey temple we went on a hair raising ride - even more so than usual - just when one thinks it can't get any worse - to look for the white temple which our taxi man said we had to see. He was not waiting in the car park as arranged so we tried to call him but Jen's phone was out of battery so now a dilemma - we could take another taxi but we owed Prem NR300. Another driver asked us if he could help so we called our guy Prem on his phone. - no reply!
Finally Prem called the driver back to say he got hungry and was 5 minutes away! So off we went to find this not be missed monastery. It was in a stunning location - high above Kathmandu valley but sadly it had closed by the time we got there. In fact it is a nunnery called Druk Amitabha Mountain- open only on Saturdays - we might go back if we can face the ride again! When we finally got back to Hotel Premium in Thamel mister Prem informed us we owes him NR 4000!! Quite a hike from the original NR 600 which Akkal had got hi to agree to when we set off! Yes we had added a leg and yes he did stay with us( his choice!) Anyway we are learning and said NR 2000 - totally not on so I then said I was going to call Rossam from the hotel while Jen waited... At which point he hastily agreed to accept NR 2000 and pushed off!!! Hmmmm ... Neither of us is very good at this bartering thing - I always feel that ten rand more or less won't affect me but will make a big difference to the other guy!
Then we headed out to a delightful place for sups with a live Nepali band of five older men playing traditional instruments - we even spotted three stars over head - the big thing here is to eat out in the open all be it surrounded by buildings so one looks up through a narrow chimney of space, depending on the size of the outdoor area. El fresco Nepali style!!!