I had exactly two months to prepare my volunteering mission in Nepal. First of, I have to admit that it wasn’t easy. Although I’ve got some useful tips from my receiving organization as well as from my partner in crime – the other Polish volunteer – it took me a lot of time to gather all necessary items. What’s worth mentioning, IT ALL had to fit into one backpack. Let’s start counting: medicine – mountains of medicine – sleeping bag and sleeping mat, mosquito net, pillow, multiplugs and adapters, flashlight, Swiss knife, water bottle plus water purification tablets and toiletries that will last for 5 months. Add to that, summer and mountain clothes that were carefully wrapping all my “essential” electronics: laptop, E-book, powerbank, solar battery, extra phone, mp3 player and all necessary cables and chargers. With a few pairs of shoes my luggage summed up to 23 kgs of a well-wrapped and difficult to close traveller’s backpack. Thank God it did not pop open during my 24-hour trip. After a 10-hour flight and one very long layover I finally arrived in Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport. Now, I have to confess my slight ignorance when on the way to my hotel a very friendly and extremely skilled driver drove on the left side of the road. Though never colonized or conquered, Nepal inherited some cultural patterns from its two great neighbors: India and China. My driver’s calmness in spite of the great traffic chaos and his ability to flawlessly feel centimeter-based distances while passing other vehicles made me believe that Nepal is home to the best drivers in the world.
The first 24 hours I spent in the capital were exciting and a bit frightening. The crowded, small streets of Thamel, with its narrow and secret passages, were overwhelming. Moreover, the beautiful Nepali alphabet wasn’t easy on me. As I couldn’t read a single word finding the right shop or post office took me ages. Despite of those difficulties, I had the biggest trouble with the way Nepali people shop. Buying a banana is an exciting experience for anyone who comes from the old continent. Do you want to learn how to bargain? If yes, please stop by any Nepali shop and get your first, hard lesson. But be careful, it might cost you a lot! But if you won’t study this precious skill hard enough you might end up paying 5 dollars for a single muffin.