The following was written by a previous Hands on Development tour participant
We left our hotel for Bhaktapur, Nepal early this morning, so that we could catch a glimpse of the sunrise over the magnificent Himalayan mountain range.
On our way we stopped at the rural farming village of Sudal. The village was surrounded by views of the stunning Himalayas. The pace here was a lot slower than in Kathmandu and we got to experience what rural life is like for most Nepalese people. Whilst in Sudal we popped into a local school to say hello, the gorgeous children enthusiastically ran to their classroom door and greeted us with big smiles and waves. After a quick hello we went for a stroll around the village, a little boy wandered up to our group and started chatting to us in English. Ana, a friend from our tour asked him what he would like to be when he grew up; eagerly he replied, ‘a singer!’ before breaking out into Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby, baby, baby ohhh!’ He had a long chat to Ana and we found out he was eight years old and his mother was a teacher at the school here in the village - but he attended a different school in Kathmandu and was currently on holidays.
After spending time in Sudal I gained a real sense of how connected our world is becoming - I did not expect a young Nepali boy from rural farming village to know all the words to a Justin Bieber song! I learned that the people here live so simply but are happy and I became aware of all the unnecessary excess I live with back at home. I felt the personal urge to clear my life of clutter and to live a more peaceful existence - where I am thankful and happy for what I have and where I am right now in my life.
As we continued the tour into the afternoon, we arrived in the ancient village of Bhaktapur. We went for a walk around town where we got to experience local artisans making pottery. We watched a man expertly form a piggy-bank on his hand spun pottery wheel, before making our way to the hilarious Karma Sutra temple – where the sculptures left very little to the imagination.
Before making our way to our accommodation we stopped at a Napali Tanka painting workshop. We made our way to the back of the shop, where we sat together around a table covered in rolled up paintings. There we were told a little bit about Tanka paintings and shown how to tell the difference between high quality ones made by masters and lower quality versions made by students. The tourism experience was both visually and mentally stimulating, with both the detailed design and workmanship - as well as the meanings behind the paintings being alluringly intricate and beautiful.
The artistic village of Bhaktapur was a fascinating place to visit as part of the Hands on Development tour, and I hope one day to come back again and immerse myself again in the Nepalese culture.
Written by Miranda Osman