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9 july 2004

NEPAL
(by Paul & Esther Brussaard)

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On the 27th of June we reached Kathmandu.
Welcomed by the Tablers of Kathmandu, who had organized some refreshments and lunch in a beautiful hotel in Dhullikel. The warm temperature was the first thing that had changed. The food is also different, more spices and more vegetarian dishes. The difference between China and Nepal is more than that. Most of us have never been to Nepal before. Everything is new, the cows on the street, the way people drive (hectic traffic), the temples, the clothes of the women, the traffic signs, almost too much to mention here. The Summit Hotel in Kathmandu was our home for the days to come. There was a swimming pool, good food (even Dutch cheese!) and a friendly staff. The manager of the hotel offered us a BBQ at the pool site on our last night in Kathmandu. It was an oasis of rest in this beautiful city.

During our stay in Kathmandu several Tablers helped us around. We visited Bhaktapur (a world heritage city), Pashupatinath, where we saw the holy river and the burning of the death, and we were invited for dinner by the same Tablers. It would not be our last invitation, for we have experienced so much warmth and kindness by members of the Round Table in Nepal. Our friend Ajay Dinodia, former president of Round Table Nepal, convinced us to come to Nepal and do some projects there. This resulted in three Round Table Tour projects, of which two are related to the Nepalese Round Table.

The first project we visited on the 2nd  of July, in Birgunj. After a good dinner and a warm welcome by the Tablers, had the opportunity to be home hosted by the Tablers. Most of us did. A nice way to meet people from Nepal and being able to talk to them more privately about all the things we’ve seen in this country. The next day we saw the foundations of the school that is supported by the members of the tour. They are building more classrooms, giving the orphans that live in the school as well the opportunity to have their own dorm. The Tablers promised us to take care of the progress and invited us to come back again. Some of us will probably do, even to help a hand by constructing things for the school, like a playground.

The next project was in Siddhartanagar. It is a school for the deaf and dumb. Team 4, Family De Vries and friends, have supported this project. With their help a new dormitory is build enabling the children to go to this school. As this school has a regional function, not every child can travel all these miles everyday. Therefore the dorm is very important. The children were very delighted to see us and the teachers had prepared a warm welcome with singing and refreshments. Family De Vries will probably visit this project in the near future again and do their best to keep supporting this school. We were all touched by the children and wish them and the staff all the best!

In between these projects there was some time to relax. At Chitwan national park we discovered the wild life on the back of an elephant. Besides the beautiful nature we also saw crocodiles, apes and rhino’s. Some of us went to the Elephant breeding centre, others went for a bath with elephants. How many times in life can you experience that?

Because of the Maoist attacks in the region of Nepalganj we decided to cross the Indian border and change our plans. As we are travelling with a large group and small children we did not want to take any risks. A small group decided to drive to the place of the third project and meet us in India again. With pain in our heart and full of memories of this visit to Nepal, we left for India. Although we haven’t spend many days in this wonderful country, we all enjoyed it very much. Some of us have already announced to return to Nepal, some day.

As the Nepal and India coordinators Paul and I have had much help from our friend Ajay Dinodia, all the Nepalese Tablers and of course of Satya, a Indian Tabler from Hubli that has offered to travel with us and help us out wherever he can. As we can not rely on a travel agency for arrangements in Nepal and India, these people are really very important to us. They make this part of the tour one to remember!