Monday, 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas Everybody

"Joy to the World the Lord is come,

the earth receives her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

and Heaven and nature sing"

Well ‘Tis the season and all that. Although this Christmas is certainly slightly different to those back in the UK. However the international community out here in Kathmandu certainly makes plenty of effort to help it feel more like Christmas.

Over the last 2 weeks there have been plenty of Christmas events going on to keep us busy and in the festive spirit. Which is quite difficult at times with the enforced power cuts now up to 63 hours per week (that’s 10 hours for 6 days and 3 hours on our good day).

At school our main Christmas celebration was a Carol Concert on the penultimate evening of term. About 300 people came to an excellent service which featured many kids showing of their talents again. We had a number of dramas focused on the first Christmas from the perspective of those involved on the outskirts of the tale, such as the innkeeper’s wife and one of the Shepherd’s. We finished school on the 12th December which was an emotional day as we said goodbye to a teacher who’d been at the school for 6 years (she was the second longest serving member of the international staff).

The next day saw the Winter Concert of the Kathmandu Chorale. This is a group of mostly foreigners who put on concerts in the summer and the winter. The Winter Concert is obviously the one to attend as there was standing room only in a hall that fits well over 300 people for the afternoon showing and the evening was still full. The attendees included ambassadors and diplomats! A number of our friends were involved in the Chorale which involved giving over one evening a week since September, and singing Christmas songs for 3 months!

The British Embassy has also hosted two events in the run up to Christmas. Last week saw the Christmas Lunch which was a slightly surreal event as about 60 people sat in sun in the garden of the Embassy Club, and enjoyed Roast Turkey and most of the trimmings. Then Santa turned up in a Rickshaw! The weather at the minute means if the sun is out you can sit in it quite comfortably in only a t-shirt, but the minute you go in the shade or it starts to get dark you need quite a number of layers.

The second event was a traditional Nine Lessons and Carols service last Wednesday evening. It was hosted by the British Ambassador himself and after the service we were even allowed into his own garden to enjoy hot Rum Punch and Mince Pies. It enabled us to see just how the other half live as the Ambassador kindly left all his lights on and curtains open so we could see how nice his house was.

This year is a special year for Nepal, and in particular Nepali Christians as it is the first year that Christmas has been declared a public holiday. Many churches are putting on special events to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. We shall be involved in one such service at our church this week.

So to close, Merry Christmas to all our readers and a Happy New Year, we hope you have had a good one and that as we remember God giving us His Son you will be able to look forward to a good 2009.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

We passed!

This last week saw the visit of the inspection team from America who came to accredit KISC. The 2 inspectors were both American ladies who live & work in the middle east. Unfortunately for them the weather turned last weekend and this week has been a case of getting the jumpers and fleeces out of the cupboards ready for our winter.

They spent most of their time at KISC in meetings discussing everything that goes on with staff and students and proved to be very perceptive and asked questions that really challenged and hopefully will help us in the future. Their conclusion was that we more than deserved to pass. In fact one of the inspectors said it was one of the best schools she'd ever visited. She couldn't believe that we do all we do on the budget we have, as we are the poor neighbours compared to the other two international schools in the valley.

One big benefit of winter drawing in here is the views. For most of the year since we've arrived the mountains have been hiding away behind smog and clouds. But with the cooler weather they are really showing their beauty. So we are enjoying the ride to and from school at the moment with the spectacular views.

Life otherwise is carrying on as usual here. Just 3 weeks left until the Christmas holidays, hard to believe that here when there is no sign of anything Christmassy anywhere. I imagine those of you in England are sick of the Christmas songs already! Becky is now into her second trimester and is feeling a lot better. She wasn't getting sick, but was getting very tired, so is relieved to see the end of that.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Riding the Elephants x 2

Well it's been a little while since we've written an update and in that time we've managed to make it down to Chitwan twice.

The Royal Chitwan National Park takes up nearly a 1,000 square miles in the southern part of Nepal and is quite a popular tourist destination. It's about 100km south of Kathmandu and in a part of Nepal known as the Terai. The landscape here is so different to the rest of Nepal it really has to be seen to be believed. We've spent the last nine months here surrounded by hills, never being able to see the horizon, but down on the Terai the flat stretches as far as the eye can see in 3 directions, and the hills to the north are often hidden in the haze (although we did get one day where the hills and mountains, nearly 200km to the north came out for sunset).

The first time we went there was with Dan's Mum & Dad. They were here for just over two weeks in all and had a great time. We've uploaded a load of photos from their stay with us onto facebook, so you can view them there. The place we stayed with them was deep inside the national park and to get there from the main road you had to drive for 45 mins down a dirt track, then get a canoe across a river that was probably close to 200 metres wide, then ride a jeep through jungle for 20 minutes, before climbing atop an elephant for the last 20 minutes into the resort. If you look through the photos you will see that we managed to see a group of rhinos one morning, up close and personal, along with many other animals, but unfortunately the big one, a tiger, escaped us. However we did come across a set of tiger prints no more than 5 minutes walk from our resort that were only a couple of days old.

Our second trip came this last week as we headed down to Chitwan again with a group of children from school. Every year about this time the Secondary school disperses around the country for Activity Week. The different grades do different activities, trekking, community work, outward bound resort, work experience and for the oldest group a holiday (usually abroad). Becky's form group went to Chitwan, and as Dan's were split amongst the other trips as helpers he managed to go with Becky. The resort we stayed at this time was in a very different part of the park, in fact it was just outside which did mean we had a few more mod-cons, like electricity. The kids had a fantastic time, without any major incidents. We did have a baby elephant sit on one of the student helpers, but apart from a bit of shock they were fine.

This coming week is just a normal week in school, but in 2 weeks we have a big inspection of the school, a bit like ofsted, taking place. It's by a group called MSA (Middle States of America) and it gives us accreditation in the US. If we pass it means that American colleges and schools recognise the education that we give as being up to standard. We were accredited 5 years ago, without problems and we have had to do a lot of work as a school to prepare for this inspection. We're expecting it to go off smoothly, but there is a lot of pressure on a number of key staff, particularly Judith the CEO of the whole school. If you pray, then please do so for this important event.

As usual, I've written another long update, so well done for reading it all! If you scroll down a bit further (or click to look at older posts) you should see some school photos we uploaded to the blog last week.

Friday, 24 October 2008

School Photos

This week was school photo week, so we thought we'd show you some of our school.

This is Becky's grade 7 class (that's the equivalent of Year 8 in the UK, 12 &13 year olds)

This is Dan's homeroom. They are Grade 11 (lower sixth in UK)

This is the whole school, from the Reception class at the front to the 18 year olds at the back, and everything in between

And finally the Secondary school, doing their silly pose. They also did a sensible one but we thought this one looked good.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Go Go Go Joseph

This weekend just passed saw the culmination of 8 weeks of term for our students and for most of them it was an extremely busy term. We mentioned in our last blog about the students preparing for Joseph and the end of term also saw the production being put on.
The production was a joint venture between Lincoln, the American School, and KISC. While the majority of the students, the director, producer and musical director were all from KISC a number of Lincoln students were involved, including Joseph, and their venue was used to show the production. Unsurprisingly the American school is certainly not short of a few quid and their school theatre was up there with professional theatres. The backstage area had to be seen to be believed. Mind you no penny was spared by either school in putting on the show, and the quality of scenery, props and costumes was very impressive and most importantly everyone who came to see it was blown away with how good it looked. 

We contributed by giving less homework for a term, and helping out backstage on 3 of the 4 nights. As you should be able to see from some of the photos the sets were quite large and
 so it needed a few people to shift them. However most of the backstage work was done by students not in the cast and they lived up to the same professional standard as those students who gave a great performance on stage. A DVD of the show will be avalibe for the rough equivalent of £2.50 so if you'd like a copy then let us know (although postage will probably be the same again). The funds should help cover costs and raise money for KISC and Lincoln.

As mentioned above it is now the end of term and we have a 3 week break for the festival of Dhosai. This is the biggest Hindu festival here in Nepal and next week pretty much the whole country shuts down. It's a bit like Christmas. We have Dan's parents arriving this Wednesday and they are staying for nearly 2 weeks. We're really looking forward to seeing them and showing them some of the country, including parts we've not made it to yet. Our next blog will probably include some photos and details of the fun we got up too.

While Dhosai is a great time for Nepalis who get to spend time with their families it is also a difficult time for many here. The main reason is the cost. We all know how much extra Christmas costs, but here in a country where most people are poor and survive day to day, with no concept of saving, the extra expense of this festival must hurt. Unfortunately these expenses have to be met as if you don't meet them then you may well be shunned by your relatives or viewed to have bought bad luck on your family. One way to help this is that most organisations pay double for this month to enable employees to be able to afford things. We've done this with our Didi and milkman, but there are many people who live of the land and their own produce, for them this isn't an option.

The other people for whom this time of year is difficult are the Nepali Christians, particularly those who have recently become Christians or those whose family are all Hindu. While it will still be a great time to holiday and spend time with families, a lot of pressure will be put on them by family and friends to take part in all the rituals and sacrifices that they no longer wish to be part off. As such our church has spent a lot of time helping those new Christians prepare for this festival time and we would ask you to remember them at this difficult, but potentially enjoyable time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


You may have heard about some serious news that has affected this part of the world recently. The terrible flooding in India and Nepal which has happened as a result of monsoon and poor maintenance. The number of people stranded and affected by the floods is well into the millions, mostly in India but plenty here in Nepal. There are still apparently people stranded on top of buildings where the boats haven’t got to them yet and even those rescued will face about a nine month wait until they are able to have somewhere to live again. Most of the houses will have just been washed away as they’re made of little more than mud and straw.

While there are organisations here that are trying to help, the concern is that
the aid just won’t get to these people, because of various people/organisations incompetence. It was incompetence that saw the flooding start and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that incompetence affects these people. To read a news article on the BMS World Mission click here

Without wanting to sound self-centred the knock-on effect for us is that the power cuts, which had gone down to 4 hours per week, are now up to 30 hours and already high food p
rices are expected to rocket soon as supply disappears from this region. The reason for the power cut change is because the floods have taken out one of the cables that brings 70Mwatts up from India. As all of Nepal’s internal electricity supply is hydroelectric normally the power cuts disappear in the summer and only reach 30 hours in the late winter, just before the snow starts to melt. We could be in for a long winter.

On a more positive note the students at our school have been very involved in extra curricular activities recently. This term the school is putting on a production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. The rehearsals are 3 nights a week for 3 hours after school and about 60 of the 80 secondary students are involved. Alongside this we’ve recently had 2 big sporting events. About 3 weeks back we had a Triathlon to raise money for the victims of the Chinese earthquake earlier this year. Each year group entered a few pupils for each of the 3 events, running, swimming and biking, in a relay effort. As well as this we recently had a school Interhouse Swimming Gala and many students were also involved in an Interschool Swimming competition. This involved training for several weeks on the 2 nights per week they aren’t doing Joseph rehearsals. And they still find time for school work!

Sunday, 17 August 2008


The weather in the UK is never predictable, as I'm sure you don't need me to tell you; so living in a country where you can predict almost to the day that the rains will stop is slightly odd for those of us of British origin. However that is the case with Monsoon here. We were told this week that the 30th September is the official date for the end of the rains, but that sometimes it goes on for a few extra days.

Once it does finish, that's it for rain till the winter rains which are supposed to be around January time, although they were much later this year. It's weird to think that we won't have any rain for 3 months or so given the situation now. Everyday it rains, not all day of course, but if we go 24 hours without it it's unusual. Often it's been quite good and just rained at night, which has the added bonus of keeping all the street dogs quiet as they seek shelter, enabling a better nights sleep for us.

While the rain does vary from British style drizzle to tropical style torrents we've learnt one key thing; if you go out without an umbrella or raincoat you can guarantee what it will do. Last Saturday evening saw the biggest downpour we've had since being here. Our house fills most of the compound it's on, but there is a paved area which goes all the way around the house. Well as a result of the huge deluge in such a short period this paved area was turned into a moat, trapping us in our house.

Thankfully our flat is up two small steps and the flood waters only made it to the top of the first step, so our flat stayed dry. However we knew of two houses that weren't so lucky and our friends living in those houses saw quite a bit of flood damage. One friend said she was sat on her bed reading when she noticed her bin was starting to move across the room. In another house the flooding was so bad the dog had to actually swim through it to get to dry land. We've been reassured since that downpours like that only happen about once every year, so hopefully we won't see another one like that this Monsoon.

We've now been back at school two weeks and have really enjoyed it. Actually being on full timetables, having a form and being one of the slightly experienced members of staff, showing the new guys the way has been really good. It has been busier though, particularly for Dan who spent quite a bit of the summer organising the timetable; then mistakenly assumed that after the first day of term that would be it and no changes would need to be made.

We hope you are all having a good summer and enjoying the unpredictable English weather. Thanks for all of you who've been in touch, we do enjoy hearing news from England (or Ecuador as we did this week), apologies if we're sometimes slow to respond but we do appreciate the updates.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Jomson Trek

Well our summer is now nearly over and we are starting to get ready for the new school year.We broke up just before the end of June, and start back on monday.

We had a very lazy first week here in Kathmandu, before heading down to Pokhara in the second week. We spent a good few days there before we attempted to fly to Jomson. We were heading to Jomson because it is on the north side of the Annurpurna mountains and so in a rainshadow. However, we were told that due to the bad weather caused by the monsoon at this time of year flights are often delayed or cancelled. We were booked on the second flight of the morning and so got up at 4 in the morning to go to the airport for five where we found the gates still locked. This set the trend for the morning as we waited, usually patiently, for things to happen.

When we did get inside there was no-one to check us in, and when someone did arrive we were not allowed to check in as the first flight still hadn't checked in - even though there flight was due to leave 20 mins previously, not a good sign! Once we had finally checked in we were directed to the airport cafe for breakfast and a couple of hours later a plane arrived. However, we quickly realised it was not ours. It took off again after a very quick turn around, headed for Jomson. A short while later when it returned with the same passengers as it had not been able to land and so all planes were cancelled and we were sent home about 9.30. So we all headed back to our hotel beds for a nap hoping that we'd be able to do it all again tomorrow! So we learnt our lesson and went a bit later the next day - we were now booked onto a different airline as ours had no space. However to cut a long morning short we did finally get to Jomson! Yay!

Jomson and the surrounding area has some stunnning scenery. As I said earlier it is in a rainshadow and so the landscape is very barren, but around the villages there is a lot of green where the locals are using irrigation for farming. We were with a family of 4 and two single girls. We took it at a very leisurely pace, walking to our next stop in the mornings and then exploring the village and surrounding area in the afternoons, if we wanted to.

The lodges where we stayed were all very Tibetan in style and did very good food, alot more homely then the places we stayed on the ABC trek, as many of them were actually people's homes not just lodges which were only open in tourist season as before. Have a look at our photos on facebook to see more of the scenery and our trip.

Since being back we have both been in and out of school a bit preparing for the new school year. We have also been relaxing too. We are off to a nice hotel for the weekend now to enjoy the end of the holidays and to celebrate our wedding anniversary which is next week. Dan planned it as a surprise and told me last night!

Hope you are all enjoying your summers and have a good break at some point too.
Dan and Becky.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Good Life

I'm sure most of you will have seen one of the countless repeats of "The Good Life" on BBC2 in recent years, that's if you can't remember the original broadcasts. Tom and Barbara would not be considered so strange here in Nepal.

Most of the country is relatively self sufficient and even here in the Kathmandu valley this lifestyle is in evidence. This time of the year is planting season for rice and most of Nepal is planting the crops that will sustain them for the next year. Two weeks ago our reprographics man at school took the week off to plant and this appears to be a common action for many people who have jobs in Kathmandu.

Many people that live in Kathmandu still have family who live out in the villages somewhere. The photocopier guy at school travels in everyday from his village on the rim of the valley, but many more people come from all over Nepal for work. My Barber who has a shop at the top of our street has a wife and eighteen-month old son who live in a village down in the Southern Flat area of Nepal, an area known as the Terai. Every now and then the shop is closed for a week or so at at time as he goes to visit them.

Our "Didi" (maid) who does a little cleaning and cooking for us lives with her husband in Kathmandu, but they have two children (nearly of adult age) who live back in their village several hours drive from Kathmandu. She heads back there regularly to visit them and other members of their family.

One of the shops at the end of our road, where we purchase most of our vegetables, is run by a young couple who have recently had a baby. Their shop is open everyday from early in the morning to late at night. Like Tescos 24 hour stores this is to enable them to make as much money as possible, but for very different reasons. The baby has a basket just behind the counter and both the husband and wife are nearly always there.

Doing what is needed to earn enough money or grow enough food to survive is the first priority for the vast majority of Nepalis. Most shops are open 365 days, the average person doesn't appear to take holidays, except to plant crops or visit family far away. Describing it as "The Good Life" though seems incredibly inaccurate.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A normal week in Kathmandu?

We thought we'd regale you with a few tales of life here in Kathmandu this week.

On Friday some good friends of ours had their third child. The husband, Ryan, runs the ICT department with Dan and his wife Chandra has been the Primary PA until a couple of weeks ago. Chandra had quite long labours with her first two children, born in the states, but this one was so quick that she delivered in the corridor while they waited for a bed to become available in the delivery room. This turned out to be quite a blessing as it meant Ryan could be there for the delivery as men aren't normally allowed into the delivery room. We went and visited them on Friday evening with Pizza (as the hospitals here don't provide food)and were able to have a hold, we're fairly sure it was the first time either of us had seen a baby less than a day old since our little sisters were born!

The last couple of weeks have seen several bunda's (strikes) by various groups which have a big effect on the day to day life of the average Nepali.

Last week we had a bunda in the whole of Patan (the part of Kathmandu we live in) which means no traffic was allowed on the roads. Often informal road blocks are put up by the people who have called the strike and vehicles caught on the roads are attacked. Anyway this is not unusual and happens reasonably regularly. So we carried on as normal and thought nothing of it, until we found out the reason for the strike. The government minister for forestry had locked a local official from Patan in a toilet for an hour and a half! His reasoning was because he thought the official was involved in corruption of some sort. So beware if you are ever tempted to get involved in some kind of corruption we now know what to do with you!

Most of the recent Bunda's have been to do with the rise in fuel prices and we're currently in the middle of one that's been ongoing for the last 4 days. With tomorrow being the last day of school we have a big graduation ceremony at a Radisson Hotel on the opposite side of Kathmandu. We're praying that we will be able to all get there, along with all the stuff we need so that we can end the year on a high note.

The second thing that has happened is that we heard last Wednesday that a group of students at a university here in Nepal were protesting. The reason being... they had not been allowed to cheat in their final exams (as is normally the case). We were told that a few years ago there was a photo taken of the students in these exams hanging out the windows of the exam hall copying their answers out of a text book which someone outside was holding up for them. Apparently cheating in many exams is extremely common and widespread.

Finally, since I last wrote about the one laptop per child school I've had loads of people write about how interesting they found it. I have now found a page on wikipedia which the people running the project at Bashuki school are keeping updated. So if you want to read more about this individual school look at the following link.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

One Laptop per child

Some of you may have heard of the one laptop per child scheme which was set up by Mary Lou Jepson. Her aim was to build a laptop that could be used in the most extreme environments, run on solar power, have Internet access and all for $100 or less. The first version she built cost $180 and is being pioneered around the world. They have also recently developed a new one for about $70.

Currently in Nepal there are two schools pioneering the project. The teacher training programme attached to KISC has been working closely with the scheme in developing Nepali resources for the laptops and helping in the training of the teachers in one of these schools. Nepal is the first country to start developing resources for the laptops based on their own curriculum.

Last Wednesday (4th June) I had the privilege of visiting this school with 2 other BMS workers, David Browell one of the teacher trainers, and Andrew Kohn the other Geography teacher and Secondary Principle at KISC, as well as our Grade 6 class (year 7) who will be my homeroom next year.

The school is on the edge of Kathmandu valley on a ridge with only a very rough road up along cliff edges most of the way. So after a fairly hairy ride up there we went into the school and spent some time playing games to help the two groups of children mix. We had 12 children while they have about 30 in their year 7, and a lot of other children from years 8 and 9 too as they were curious to meet these foreign children.

It is a very poor community with many of the children missing large parts of the school year as they have to help with the planting and at harvest time. Many walk over an hour to get to school, including most of the teachers who walk an hour and a half up the hill after the bus journey to get to the end of the main road.

It was great to see our very privileged children who are from 8 different countries themselves getting alongside the Nepali children and learning from them. I think it was a great opportunity for both groups of children to learn from each other culturally, and a great opportunity for us all to see such an exciting programme taking place and working effectively to improve the education and opportunities of a very poor community under the dedicated hard work of their teachers.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Big News

Today is a surreal day. Nepal is all over the news, world wide. We have a special day off from school and the streets are quiet but happy.

It is the first day of the new Constituent Assembly which was voted in last month. Part of the agreement that led to the election was that the first item on the agenda of the Assembly would be the abolition of the monarchy.

As I write this I am listening to the BBC World Service with a reporter live from the building the assembly is meeting in. Typically for Nepal it has been delayed for a couple of hours as all the parties involved are trying to thrash out the last few details.

To commemorate this day it has been declared a national holiday, and while we don't normally observe those in school (as they have about 90 a year), it was felt that today would be a more significant day. Bund's (strikes) are called often and people block the roads and stop movement, today is nothing like that as the atmosphere is much more open and happy, some shops are open and there are also a few vehicles moving around.

By this evening Nepal should be the worlds newest Republic and could well have some sort of President. Whether this happens we shall have to wait and see.

On a more personal note we had Becky's Dad here to stay last weekend. He has work this week in Calcutta so decided to pop up and see us for a few days. It was great having him here and spending time with him. As he's been in Kathmandu more times than he can count we didn't do any of the touristy things we did with Dan's sister, but it was a great opportunity to catch up and spend time with him.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

May Madness

Sorry it has been a while, but we just weren’t quite sure how to follow our last update!

It has been quite a busy month since our last blog update at the end of our holidays. We are now fully involved in life at school. Becky has now taken on all the Geography teaching, and will continue to do all of it except for half the A’level which she will share with another teacher next academic year. Dan is still not doing a lot of teaching, but the list of other things he is doing keeps growing. He is currently very involved in the external and internal exam planning, as well as learning how to do the timetable for next year. He is also involved in writing some of the MSA report (which will give us accreditation in America) which we have to submit ASAP and then we will be inspected in November to renew our accreditation.

We have both been involved in electives on a Friday afternoons. Pupils don’t have lessons, but can opt to do one of various electives. Becky has been taking a group swimming and Dan has been taking some to play football. Some of the other options which other pupils are doing are American Football, Jazz Ensemble, Film Making, Screen Printing, Table tennis, Dance etc. So it is a great opportunity to get pupils doing something extra to the curriculum and to develop their talents and interests in new areas.

We have also found a church which we think we would like to settle in. It is a Nepali church and so the first few times we went along to the Saturday service all in Nepali! However, just a couple of weeks ago they have started an English service on a Sunday. So we have now also been to that a couple of times and really enjoyed it.

Last weekend we had Dan’s sister, Hannah here to visit. She “popped in” on her way past from England to Australia. So she was here from Friday till Wednesday just gone. It was nice to be able to show her around where we live, and also gave us the excuse to do some of Kathmandu’s touristy spots which we had not had a chance to do yet.

She also got the opportunity to experience some aspects of real Nepali life. So after braving the taxi journey from the airport we had to go and collect her bed which we had bought of someone leaving. Not many people here own cars or trucks so a lot of moving is done manually. See picture!

That evening we decided to take her out for dinner despite the rain, which later turned into a torrential downpour, we got an electric tuk tuk, the cheapest form of transport at about 6p per person, but it didn’t cope too well with all the rain and kept breaking down so we ended up walking part way. Thankfully the rain had died down a bit by that point.

The highlight of her stay, for her at least, was the chance to do a flight over Everest. We didn’t join her on this as we were hard at work in school, but judging by the photos it was an impressive experience.

Yesterday we attended a first birthday party, as a friend of ours baby turned 1. Today Becky is hosting her first ever baby shower for an American friend who is due in a couple of weeks and tonight Dan is off to watch the FA Cup Final, in the evening!

Saturday, 19 April 2008


Well we’re back from our adventure. We had an amazing and very tiring time trekking. We were away from Kathmandu for about 12 days in total. Kathmandu to Pokhara is an 8 hour bus journey, depending on how long it takes to get in and out of Kathmandu (we queued for 3 hours to get across one junction when getting back), although it’s probably only about 100 miles. So we spent the first day of our holiday sat on a bus.

Pokhara itself is a large town with a very touristy bit known as lakeside, unsurprisingly by the lake. It’s quite nice, as it’s much quieter and more relaxed than Kathmandu. We were able to chill out here for a day and a half before starting our trek, during which time we bumped into a large number of teachers and pupils from our school who had all escaped at the first opportunity.

Our trek involved a nine day walk, 5 and a half up and 3 and a half back down. Although separating the up and down so distinctly was certainly not our experience. We quickly learnt that going downhill in Nepal always involves some uphill, and vice versa. However after 5 days of mostly uphill walking, the seven of us who were aiming for Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), our 3 porters and our Nepali guide, Sam, arose at 5am to trek the last 400 metre accent to ABC.

Once we arrived at ABC the views were absolutely stunning. We’d all spent the preceding 5 days taking more and more photos as we grew closer to the mountains and the views improved, but they were all outdone by the pictures we were able to take that morning at ABC. The photo at the top is of our group there.

ABC is in a glacial valley and is surrounded by the peaks that make up the Annapurna range, including Machupucure, which is commonly known as Fish Tail (no prizes for guessing why). Even at 4,100 metres we were still only just half way up the tallest mountain, Annapurna One, which at 8,075 metres is the tenth highest peak in the world.

As we were returning back down-ish the mountain we started to hear news of the election. It had occurred on day 4 of our trek but as we were beyond the highest permanently inhabited town by that point we saw absolutely nothing. It had gone relatively peacefully and smoothly. The news that surprised us most was the initial results were suggesting a big victory for the Maoists. This is being confirmed as more and more results come in and it looks like when the final results are counted they could have a decent majority. If you’d like to know more about the election and what the results entail for the country check out the BBC’s very good coverage on their South Asia section.

So we’ve made it back alive, fitter than when we left and only half eaten by bugs and leeches! We survived despite avalanches (thankfully all at a safe distance) and the potential of falling of cliff edges (no mean feat, as any who know our respective sense of balances will appreciate) and altitude sickness (nobody in our group showed any significant signs although we did see a number of people being carried back down). Now it’s back to school on Monday.

back to school on Monday.body in our group showed any significant signs although we did see a number of people being carried bDan & Becky AKA Experienced Trekkers.

Dans Photos

Beckys Photos

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Please take a seat

I hope you are prepared for a shock as any of you who have ever sat next to us in church will appreciate this next piece of news is quite surprising. This Thursday morning the school is hosting its Inter-House Music Festival and both Becky and Dan are singing in it. We’re part of our houses (Go Black House!) set song. Basically all the pupils and some volunteer teachers in the house have to perform a set song and we turned up at the first rehearsal not really sure what was going on and expecting to supervise and were given the words. Before we could stop it, it had run out of control and we were officially part of the Black House Choir. Dan’s really enjoyed and even been practising at home, to Becky’s annoyance. Hopefully we won’t offend too many people’s ears on Thursday.

Friday is the last day of term in school and we have a two week break before the last term of the year. We’re taking this opportunity, along with a number of the other teaching staff to head up to Pokhara, the main tourist town outside of Kathmandu. Becky’s been there before, 4 years ago, but for Dan this will be the first time out of Kathmandu valley and we’re both glad of the chance to get out of the city, the valley and into the mountains. We’re going to do an 8 day trek with the aim of reaching Annapurna base camp. The Annapurna range includes some of the highest mountains in Nepal (although not Everest) and the trek should involve taking in some good views. How much of a rest it will provide us with before our first full term at school is as yet undecided.

While we’re away Nepal shall be hosting its first General Election for a number of years. They’ve had an interim government for a few years now, since power was handed back from the king and next Thursday (10th) the country has its chance to elect a new government. The build up has been quite uncertain and for a long time many people were unsure if the elections would definitely go ahead, however with only just over a week to go now it looks certain they will. There is obviously concern as to how they will go and how people will take the results. Please remember the country over the next few weeks. We shall be well out of the way, half way up the mountain when the elections happen so you won’t hear from us for at least the next 2 weeks.

The photo at the top is off a poster explaining the procedure for voting in the elections. It’s supposed to be clear even for the illiterate, but we couldn’t quite work it out either. We’ve added a load more photos to face book the link is below.

Dan & Becky

Dans Photos

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Getting down to work

We have now finished our language and orientation programme completely and are starting to get involved in school and finally get back to teaching, feels like a long time since we’ve done that!

We spent a week at the end of our language programme staying with a Nepali family with the aim of practicing our Nepali, and also learning about the culture. This was a really enjoyable week. We were staying with a relatively wealthy Nepali family. There was mum, dad and two sons. The eldest is 24 and in America at university so we didn’t meet him. The younger is 15 and at school. He spoke quite good English which helped us when we got really stuck with our Nepali! The mother decided to adopt Dan as her son to replace her eldest while he is in America.

We were still in school during the week, so we spent our evenings there, stayed overnight and then after breakfast each day went to school for the day. This was good as it meant we had a break during the day, I think it would have been hard work trying to talk in Nepali all day every day. As I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know our Nepali is still very limited even after 8 weeks of lessons! One evening they took us to see their Hindu temple. It turned out that the temple they visit regularly is called Pashupatinath, and one of the biggest and best known in Nepal, as it a well known cremation site. It was interesting, but also quite strange to watch people cremating their family members. They have big platforms alongside the river where the dead are put on large funeral pyres and burned while their family and friends watch, and across the river there are holy men who perform rituals by ringing bells, dancing and chanting to help the dead onto the next life.

We are now in school full time, and starting to take some lessons. We are both going to be working alongside current staff instead of taking over as they leave which we had thought was possible. This is good as it allows us to provide continuity for the children as we work alongside the current teachers and take over some classes when appropriate. Dan will be in charge of the ICT curriculum and doing a large bulk of the teaching in his department, as the other guy is more skilled at managing the school system. Dan will also be responsible for timetabling and exams and will therefore also be on the Senior Management Team. Becky will be running most of the Geography as the current Geography teacher will be taking on the secondary headship role from after the summer holiday. We are glad to be getting back to it, and enjoying teaching very well behaved and enthusiastic pupils.

Since writing the above this morning I have had an interesting experience, so thought I'd tell you about it. As you may know cows are considered holy in Hinduism, so are often allowed to wonder round the streets freely, often near the temples as they get fed there. Anyway this evening I was up in Kathmandu with two other girls from school doing a bit of shopping. We were walking down a narrow lane which was heaving with people, with busy shops down both sides when I heard people shouting behind me. I turned around to see the lane had cleared and running straight down the lane towards us was a huge bull! So as you expect we dived into a shop next to us with everyone else as it charged passed behind a man who had obviously antagonised it! Quite scary, but to all the Nepalis apparently quite amusing.

This Friday is a Hindu festival called Holi. You may have seen it on the TV as it is the one where they throw paint powder at each other all day. So this week the children have been practising their aims by throwing water balloons at passers by from their roof tops. Fortunately I haven't been got despite a few near misses, but Dan was got yesterday evening on his way home from the shop. Being Good Friday school is closed anyway so we are planning on staying indoors as apparently foreigners do get targeted. We will try and watch some of it from the relative safety of our roof top.

We shall be thinking of you all this weekend as we remember and celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us all. Happy Easter!

Dan & Becky

Sunday, 2 March 2008


A lot has happened since we last wrote. Life is moving along fast here and it already feels like we’ve been here ages. We’ve settled into our house really well, and have nearly finished our Nepali lessons, which means we can get back to teaching again!

One thing that has been really noticeable on the streets the last few weeks has been the petrol queues. Very little petrol and diesel has been getting into the city due to strikes in the Terai region. This is the strip of Nepal that runs between the border with India and the start of the hills. Most of Nepal’s natural produce comes from here and anything that doesn’t comes through here from India.

Last weekend the headline in the paper read “172 fuel trucks cross the border” which indicates how much of an issue this was. The fuel trucks needed armed escorts and the regions they drove through were put under curfew. The queues in Kathmandu have been miles long with people waiting over night, and even parking up their cars while the stations are shut, leaving them and coming back later to inch forward every now and then.

It’s not just petrol though; kerosene which most of the poorer Nepalese use for cooking creates queues almost as long. You pass a long line of petrol cans all tied together on a rope to stop others pushing in as people mill about waiting for the kerosene to arrive. There is also currently a three week wait for Gas canisters which are used for cooking and heating, although the weather is getting warmer now.

The shortage of fuel and problems in the Terai has meant that food prices have risen and shortages were predicted. The prices are still well below English prices, but for the poor this is little consolation as they are stretched even further. However there has been good news in the last few days as an agreement has been reached between the interim government and the parties representing those leading the strikes in the Terai.

Water and power are also in short supply. This has nothing to do with the problems in the Terai. It is partly to do with the lack of rain this winter (and last monsoon in the summer) as all of Nepal’s electricity comes from Hydroelectric dams. This means we currently have 8 hours of power cuts every day, 6 days a week. Wednesday is our best day as we have power all day. Our school survives using a diesel generator (although as the first part of this blog suggests this hasn’t been to reliable in the last few weeks) and our landlord uses an inverter (basically a big car battery) to supply us with a light or two when it gets dark. Again this is not an option for the poor.

The sad thing is that Nepal has one of the greatest potentials in the world for hydroelectric power, but just hasn’t got itself organised to tap that potential, mostly due to an inadequate infrastructure.

Dan & Becky

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Nayaa Ghar

This means new house in Nepali and this weekend we got one! We moved into our new flat last Saturday. Up until now we’d been staying in a nice, but small, transit flat. So we had been looking for a new place and now we are there.

The new flat is much bigger and nicer than the transit flat. It is about 15-20 minutes walk from school which is a bit further than the previous one but we figure it will help us keep fit! It is the ground floor of a house belonging to a Nepali couple. The wife’s brother is the husband of our Nepali teacher which is how we found out about it.

It is a one bedroom flat, with a lounge, kitchen and separate dining room. The rooms are nice and big, and it has carpet throughout which helps it stay warm in the winter. We are really happy to have found it as it is very nice. It does have a warm shower, which is a bonus here.

We are now well settled in to our language training and feel like we are starting to make progress. We can talk a little about things we have done and will be doing, we also have enough to go buy fruit and veg and even barter if we feel up for it!

We are also starting to get involved in things at school. Becky is off on a field trip the week after next and Dan will be teaching the primary children ICT for a couple of weeks as their normal teacher is away. He is really looking forward to trying to teach 5 year olds!!

Photos are being added to the pages on facebook from time to time, Becky now also has a set of photos on there:

Dan's photos

Becky's photos

Dan & Becky

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Having been here 3 weeks now there are so many things that we could tell you about. To make life easier on us, and to keep some content for a few months when things seem normal we'll try and focus on certain things each time we add a post to our blog. It seems sensible to start with the reason we are here.

KISC (Kathmandu International Study Centre) is a school setup for the children of missionaries here in Nepal. The school has been going for about 20 years and has grown a lot in that time. It's also had to cope with many changes of site and a high turnover of staff and pupils.

If you click on the link below you can see on the photos that the hall is yet to be finished. The basic frame of it was dismantled and bought from the old site, so it is just a matter of filling in the gaps! The school now doesn't have much open space so the PE department are eager for it to be ready so they will have some more space.

The main teaching block was a carpet factory before, with each floor being open plan, so they have had to put in walls to create classrooms. We think the admin block must have been offices for the factory. It's amazing to see how they have adapted what they had into a fully functioning school with good facilities.

The school day runs from 8am to 3pm. We have 2 hours Nepali each morning and an hour in the afternoon, so quite an easy day at the moment. It has been good to be in school though, as we are getting to know staff and enjoying the school meals put on for staff each day!

To view photos of the school:

Schoool photos

I'm planning on uploading some more photos to the general Nepal album, so you can check it out regularly to see if we've added more.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Hello From Kathmandu.

Sorry for the delay in keeping in touch - we have had a bit of trouble getting onto our yahoo email at school and home as the network doesn't like it! We have been able to read some of the messages that people have sent - so thank you for those. We will hopefully get it sorted and reply next week sometime.

We've had a good first week here, settled in and enjoying ourselves. We are staying temporarily in a small flat, which is built as part of the KISC hostel which is used for boarding when needed. at the moment it has a lovely American family in it who are teachers at KISC too. The flat is directly behind the zoo, so we can hear Lions roaring regularly, and see the monkeys too - which are really noisy! They howl a lot!

We began our language lessons this week - we have 4 days a week, and one day cultural, so today we are off on a tour of Kathmandu. Should be interesting! There are 8 of us who are new at the school, two other couples - the husbands will both be teaching, and their wives doing other things, and 2 single ladies - both about our age.

Yesterday we spent about 4 or 5 hours at the airport and cargo building collecting our freight - in the end we got it without much hassle at all which was great - we were expecting it to be expensive and a lot of hassle - but it was just lots of waiting around!

Thanks again to those who have been in touch,

Dan and Becky.

P.S. If you'd like to see some photos, try this link:

Thursday, 10 January 2008

We've arrived

Just a quick one to say we are here. We had a good trip and arrived yesterday. We've settled in quickly to a small flat and are getting to know the area. We shall give a proper update with lots of news soon.

Dan & Becky

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Tonight we fly

Well this is it! After nearly 10 months of waiting the day is finally here. As Neil Hammond from the Divine Comedy put it:

"Tonight we fly
Over the houses, the streets and the trees -
Over the dogs down below;
They'll bark at our shadows
As we float by on the breeze.
Tonight we fly
Over the chimney tops, skylights and slates -
Over the hills and far away!
Tonight we fly
Over the mountains, the beach and the sea
Over the friends that we've known,
And those that we now know
And those who we've yet to meet."

We're all set now, our cases are packed, we had a good nights sleep, with dreams of arriving somewhere new and exotic. We are nervous and excited and many other emotions too. This evening we shall go to the airport with our families and say our final goodbyes.

It's been a great few weeks of seeing lots of friends and family and saying lots of goodbyes. Thanks for all your comments and well wishes. We know we'll be in your thoughts and you shall be in ours. We shall update this again once we arrive and let you know how we are settling in.

Keep in touch we want to hear all your news.


Dan and Becky