Week one and it feels like a lifetime.

I have been Half a Planet from home now for a little over a week. That is truly no time at all, but for some reason, which is a feeling I am not used to, it feels like I've been gone forever. I haven't placed my finger on it yet: I don't know if it is a good feeling or a bad one. I've never been travelling and thought that time was passing slowly before - like it always does when you explore a new place.
Perhaps it is because I'm still on 'UK time'; where hours of the day are almost always filled with this or that and I feel I rarely have time to sit and breathe. Here, pace is slow, the sun is hot, the storms are wild and days seem to last forever.

The view from Kathmandu Peace Guesthouse

Perhaps I've not started so positively.
This country, and its people, are truly incredible. The friendliness, resilience, and their real desire to help, combined with breathtaking views and mountains galore make it the kind of place that I imagine people get totally lost in and find it hard to leave.

Right now, I am in Pokhara. I came to get out of the city, see the mountains and chill out a little. That has certainly happened, but maybe a little too much! As it is still considered to be out of season here until October/ November when trekking properly begins, Pokhara is pretty sleepy. The locals are desperate to sell to you after the long monsoon and Tibetan refugees line the streets selling jewellery. I have been surprised by the other foreigners I have met here. There is an interesting mix of older couples staying in the upmarket areas (what are they doing with their days??), a handful of couples who look to have been travelling for a long time, and a collection of middle aged Russian men smoking what can only be described as just about everything under the sun.

Prayer flags at Swayambunath Buddhist temple

The trip started fantastically. The chaos of Kathmandu: new faces, places and food. Oh, the food. Back in the days when Dhal Baat was an intriguing mix of pickles, lentils, potatoes and rice. Fast forward to now: I was warned that I would get a little sick of the same thing everyday and I am sad to say I have, in such a short time. I long for sushi, and my wait won't be long!
Perhaps I can describe how I feel as being in a bit of a rut. I've been doing the same thing for about a week and slowly, the other people on my volunteering programme are heading home. I still have 2 weeks in this spectacular place to explore, but I'm ready to get on with it now. The mountains beckon me and I think it is really going to help to clear my head, be alone with my thoughts, and see the sunrise over the Annapurna mountain range. I have just 2 days left of volunteering at a school for children who work and can't go to regular school. Progress is slow, but I feel like my presence and persistence is beneficial. Even if they come just to get some lunch before going back to their day jobs, (these children are between 7 and 14) I am glad I can be there to play with them and teach as best I can.

Poon Hill 5 day trek starts on friday. After climbing the highest mountain in the Atlas range of Morocco, I feel relatively prepared, but all I've done since I got here is eat so perhaps the first day or two will be a little challenging! I will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the last wondrous week in this glorious country.


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