Update from Mr Armstrong in Nepal

UPDATE: see the gallery of photographs here

Dear children of Castle Carrock

My first few days in Nepal have been very enjoyable and I have been made to feel extremely welcome by all of the people I have met.
My journey to Nepal was long, tiring and fairly sleepless which wasn’t great. I spent my first night in Kathmandu where I was greeted by kind people at the hotel. Here, I also didn’t get much sleep because of the tremendous volume and frequency of the horns where there are not many rules on the roads.

My flight to Dhangadhi was very short. The airport in Kathmandu was tiny and the plane was very small too with only about 30 people seated. At the even smaller airport in Dhangadhi, Deepak kindly greeted me off the plane with numerous gifts, such as a flower necklace.

Since arrival, I have visited many places and experienced many traditional foods, mainly eating with my right hand, as is the custom in Nepal. The food is very tasty and spicy so it’s a good job that I like spicy food.
Additionally, I have been driven around a lot on motorbikes and scooters, which has been very scary at times due to the lawless roads, crazy drivers, potholes as well as stray cows. But, I do feel safe because Deepak is a very good driver. About these cows. They’re everywhere. If they are not tied up to a pillar, they are either roaming freely along the roads or ploughing the fields. In the town, each family has a pet cow which they milk and use for transportation to pull carts. They also live in the family garden. There are very few cars, people use cow and cart, bicycles, rickshaws, scooters or bus.

I have also attended an international karate competition, a wedding procession, the Indian border and journeyed into the countryside where I had a traditional meal, watched a Nepali dance and ventured briefly into the jungle on cow/cart. On this journey we spotted some monkeys that were playing in the trees. I was very excited, but they wanted to play hide and seek, or so it felt, because I couldn’t really see them.

I have also spent my first day in school on Sunday. Yes, Sunday. The children come to school everyday then when they finish they go home to work in their house. At the beginning of the day, the children welcomed me to their school with dance and a song during outside assembly. They sang their national anthem then had a health and hygiene check.

I then have had the opportunity to work with children in classes, where firstly I was thrust in the deep end by having to teach a lesson on factorising and simplifying equations to a class of 14 year olds. I was scared! After sweating my way through that lesson, we had a lovely chat about Castle Carrock, Carlisle and UK. All of the children I have met have been very welcoming and keen to learn about our culture. They have been interested in the work that I shared from everyone, being extremely interested in the hedgehogs. But, I wish I brought ‘hedgehog obsessed’ George here with me to answer their questions, because they were quite tricky and I think
George would know all of the answers.

The school is completely different to Castle Carrock, but the children are very similar. They are kind, funny, hardworking and eager to learn. Education is extremely important here in Dhangadhi, in order to have the chance to leave the poverty that they live. The school doesn’t have any lights, technology or regular tables, often just sitting on mats on the floor. There are no real displays on the walls, just paint and some work on the wall. But, even though they live in completely different houses and have less possessions, the Nepali people seem to be extremely happy.

I am here for another week and I will keep you all up-to-date with life in school and Dhangadhi.

I hope you are all well.

Mr. Armstrong