Travel Theme: Autumn


Its been quite a few years since I’ve experienced crisp Autumn days,crunchy leaves, and walks where you can see you breath as you tread on frosty grass. Manila had no cold season at all, and here in Kathmandu its getting a little crisp at night, but the days are still very warm and sunny. It doesn’t feel like Autumn at all.

But we do have chrysanthemums, pumpkins, squash and crows. Lots and lots of crows. And as they swoop around over our heads and caw and poop and crash into one another in the treetops at twilight, it not only reminds me of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, it also feels as close I can remember to Fall. Maybe its the spooky Halloween connection….! Happy Halloween!

Sign Language: What’s an ODF?


In ODF is an Open Defecation Free zone.  And before you run screaming from anything with the word “defecate” in it, or switch off entirely…please bear with me, as this is reality here.  It’s an awful topic I know.  And I know that many people who read my blog might prefer cute pictures of animals over the reality of sanitation problems, but sometimes I have to add a little reality into the mix.

Open defecation is a major problem in Nepal with proper toilets in rural areas severely lacking.    According to UNICEF only about 46 percent of Nepalis have toilets in their homes and in the far west of the country the percent drops to half.  NGOs are helping to try and create awareness of the health problems and contamination issues caused by raw sewage to water and soil, and the resulting gastrointestinal diseases.

Communities declare themselves as ODFs to try and solidify local support for proper sanitation.  However, often existing toilets are so dirty that many people prefer to go “au naturel” to avoid them.  Its a vicious circle.  This rusting sign stands testimony to the ongoing battle to try and improve conditions.  The Nepali government says its aiming to provide adequate water and sanitation conditions for all by 2017.  Unfortunately, that sounds more than a little ambitious to me.

Travel Theme: Numbers

I struggled with this week’s travel theme on “numbers”.  I didn’t have photographs or stories that I could recall.  However, I do love being impressed by the sheer number of things like sheep, or horses or monkeys.  So here are some crowd photos of  new animals friends met along the way:

Fluffy clouds with fluffy sheep taken during the lambing season on the Ridgeway in the South of England.

A field full of horses came over to greet us

A field full of horses came over to greet us!

..and as bucolic as the sheep country is, horses are so much more fascinating with their welcoming curiosity.

And finally, feeding time at the Swayambhuneth Temple, Kathmandu. Its called monkey temple for a reason, and you really don’t want to get in their way!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art



For this week’s Photo Challenge, we were asked to imagine images we would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine. What image would we choose to  inspire others to take a peek through the pages, listen to the music, or buy a ticket to the show?

I chose an image for a coffee table book “Temples of Nepal” from a photo I recently took of the Namobuddha Stupa.  Now to start working on the content…!


Lick-a Paint….Lick-a Paint…!


In the episode “The Builders” The hapless, sloppy painter, O’Reilly, tries to  impress and appease Sybil with the promise of “a lick-a paint, a lick-a paint”…

You have to be a fan of Fawlty Towers to understand this reference. I am, and I could hear O’Reilly’s voice this week as we drove around Kathmandu.  Everywhere you look there was fresh paint on walls (and dripped over sidewalks) as the city starts to smarten up its a act in preparation for hosting the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) conference next month.  The organization has eight member countries (Nepal, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and basically all the new paint is about impressing the neighbours when they come to visit.  The press has promised a government sprucing up of main arteries that foreign dignitaries are likely to travel.  The budget seems to be for paint and flowers…not much else.

Work is well underway in our neighbourhood, with mixed results.  I am noticing how much cleaner and fresher the city is, but at the same time, they are also painting over impressive artist murals, and slapping the stuff around over old brick walls that looked better with an old patina than a badly applied coat of paint.  At least the paint companies are happy!  Here are a few photos from the efforts around town near us.  It should be noted that all the photos were taken within a five minute period…there are that many people all painting at the same time:


This community water source looked pretty good in old brick. Now it has sloppy white paint all over it. This one’s a fail.


Painting with a buddy


The end of a massive brick wall. Painting between the bricks takes a long time.


This half-painted wall technique is one that I’m seeing a lot. Its either a way of using less paint, or the philosophy could be “why paint the bottom bit that’s going to get dirty anyway?”


One of the smarter efforts




Whoa! What was that?!

I’m not really squeamish about bugs with the exception of cockroaches, perhaps?  But even then I will take them on armed with a shoe if I have to…But take a look at these critters…!


Dozens of them, crawling around on trees in Chiwan


Crawling on the exterior wall of our house. WTF?! What are the yellow things on its back? Something like pollen appears to be stuck to the antena? Stepping back…..!


Stepping back is definitely what was needed with this one. I never saw it. A young kid in Chitwan fished it out from the grass with a stick. I’ve long forgotten the name he told me, but apparently its a really poisonous one.

Travel Theme: Broken


This tractor is wearing a flower garland for the Dashian holiday, Nawami.  On this day income-generating vehicles and machinery are worshiped, and sacrifices are made to gain a blessing from the goddess Durga for protection against accidents. (Perhaps, a few road rules around here might go a long way too….)  But even this sad, abandoned tractor with flat, moss-covered tyres was being blessed. I’d like to think that someone remembered the importance of this piece of machinery in years gone by and decided to honour it as an old friend. Maybe a bit too romantic for a tractor?….but it was charming nonetheless.

See here for other travel  insights on Broken.