Cheadle Hulme School Group Nepal Tour
A group of 14 students and 4 teachers from Cheadle Hulme School, UK completed their Nepal tour. The group led by Mr.Lee Richardson, an Economics teacher, had initially planned to visit Tibet but due to disturbances in the highland they had to cancel their trip. They started their tour with a cultural tour to the medieval city of Kathmandu .They then visited Pokhara and trekked to Ghandruk and then to Ghorepani, Poon Hill, Hille and Naya Pool.After their trekking adventure, the group cooled down by rafting down the Trishuli river. They had some more of the jungle adventure and excitement in the deep jungles of Chitwan – jungle safari in Chitwan National Park, with elephant rides, canoeing, educational slide shows on rhinos and elephants and cultural programs thrown in.
After their jungle adventure in Chitwan the group was driven to Nuwakot a small village, 75kms North West of Kathmandu. Explore Himalaya runs many community service programs and voluntary projects in this ancient but impoverished village. While in Nuwakot, the Cheadle Hulme School group got the opportunity to visit a real Nepali school, to interact with the students and get an insight on how their Nepalese peers learn in Nepal.An insightful tour for the young learners and their teachers from the distant British shores.
Cheadle Hulme School Group in Nuwakot Village A few of us from the office joined the Cheadle Hulme School group in Nuwakot. The group arrived from Chitwan (on 31st March) while we drove from Kathmandu. The group of fourteen students and four teachers were to stay in the homes of local families. The host families received two guests each. Since this was a school group, Explore Himalaya took care to assign families with school going kids (of about the same age) as hosts. We wanted this trip to work as a cultural exchange tour for the kids. Cheadle Hulme School (CHS) is an Independent day school in Cheadle Hulme, in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, Greater Manchester in the North-West of England.
A warm welcome being given to Cheadle hulme school Group by the residents of Nuwakot
The next day (1st April), we toured the village. We headed up a hill and went to visit a sukul weaver.
The basket maker (above) & the sukul weaver
Sukul is the traditional straw mat used widely in Nepali homes, especially in the villages. It is made from straw and comes in all sizes. After visiting the sukul weaver, we climbed up to the house of the basket maker. He was busy weaving strips of bamboo. The end product is the conical basket or ‘dokko’ which the villagers and porters use to carry heavy loads. There are two varieties of ‘dokko’ one with holes and one without. The one without the holes is used for carrying grains and rice.
We headed down and came to a place called ‘Viewpoint’.True to its name the place offered excellent views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below.We could see the Trishuli river meandering lazily.We were told that the treks for Langtang and Helambu started from the hill beyond the Trishuli. Mr.Shrestha, the headmaster of the local school, pointing at the foot of the hill said that it was the place from where the armies of Prithvi Naryan Shah entered Nuwakot.We could see a blue roof which he told was the temple of a roof built by Shah’s armies.The place was named ‘Subh (auspicious) Ghat’ because after the conquest of Nuwakot the Shah king successfully went on to win more battles, till he unified Nepal under his rule. Nuwakot was the capital of the Shah kings before Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded Kathmandu.
The picturesque view from Viewpoint
We ventured downwards to visit more homes. As we headed down, we stopped by a mud walled home with a buffalo sitting outside. The owner of the house greeted us with a namaste and as we were a large group, we were ushered inside in groups of four or five.Inside a man was grinding maize on a traditional stone grinder.
The flour from the maize is used to make ‘dhendo’ the staple diet of the people in the villages.Outside a lady was busy pounding something with a long wooden staff. She explained that this was a ‘dhikki’ and she was dehusking the millets by pounding with it.After the husk is removed the millet is grounded to make flour, which is used to make pancakes.The millet is also used for brew beer too.
Our next stop was at the whey and butter maker’s place.As we approached the house , the lady of the house was busy churning milk on a large wooden pot with a long staff attched to it .We were offered some whey. The students remarked that it had a ‘cheesy’ taste.
Grinding maize on the ‘jantho’
We headed down a narrow dirt tract, until we came to another red adobe house.This was the house of the ‘madal'(an oblong drum) maker.Madal is the traditional Nepali drum.It is made from hollow wood.The two hollow ends are covered with goat skin which is darkened with a dark paste made from straw, boiled rice and ferric oxide to make the sound of the drumbeats more resonant.Strings made from buffalo hide is tied around the madal.
As we proceeded down we came to a shady grove. Beneath the grove, water spouted from the mouths of carved elephant heads. There were some girls washing clothes.Known as Tikhe dhara this is where the villagers come to bathe and wash their clothes. There is no running water system in this village.
‘Tikhe Dhara’, where the villagers come to wash their clothes and take bathe
Although there is a village community tap, the water comes just for a few hours each day.
After touring the village, we headed to our respective ‘homes’have lunch.After lunch and a brief rest we decided to meet at Tundikhel in the afternoon.There was to be a football match between the visitors and the home boys.Tundikhel turned out to be a wide open field in front of the local school.But by now the previous clear weather had turned murky and by the time the match began, a light drizzle had started.But the players decided to go ahead with the soccer match.
An Interesting Football Match: The match was an enjoyable affair . Nearly half of the village turned out to watch the match.The linesman found a red flag with stars handy to do his duty (the flag of a political party tucked on a tree).While we were there the election campaigning was going on in full swing. On one side were the visitors, Manchester United in Blue and on the other were the Nuwakoti team in red and black. The visitors put up a brave fight but the homeboys emerged victorius .The game ended at a close score of 5-4.The winning team recieved a cash prize of Rs.1500/- from Mr.Suman Pandey.
Traditional Farewell :The next morning the group was given a traditional farewell by the families they were staying with. With bright ‘tikas’ and floral garlands they assembled at the local school, Bhairabi Madhyamik Vidyalaya. The school headmaster showed them around and later the students and teachers, in two groups, sat in the Accounts and English class. After their class the former headmaster of the school offered a farewell gift, a small statue of Saraswati , the goddess of learning, encased in a glass case, from the school’s side to the leader Mr.Lee Richardson. We would like to add that Cheadle Hulme School has pledged to donate a sum of US$3000 for a new building that would serve as a hostel and auditorium for the school.The hostel would be for those students who come from remote villages.
Taking an English Class
An interesting moment during the game
The players pose for a group photo before the start of the match
More Adventures in store: After the school group returned to Kathmandu , they toured Bhaktapur and went on an exciting biking trip from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel.Two teachers ,Mrs.Susan Mary Matthews & Mrs.Annette Kathleen Badger chose to visit Kirtipur and Bungamati village instead of taking the biking tour.
On April 4, the Cheadle Hulme school Group bade goodbye to Kathmandu. The group leader Mr. Lee Richardson, expressed his, as well the groups delight and satisfaction over the completion of an interesting, enjoyable and well planned tour.
A very grateful parent, Mr. Alistair Macdonald, in an email sent to Mr. Suman Pandey on 10th April had this to say:
A very warm thank-you to yourself and Bimal for organising such an excellent trip for my daughter Hannah and the Cheadle Hulme School party.
They had a fabulous time despite the disappointment of not going to Tibet. Please thank all your team who were involved in reorganising things at such short notice.
The whole trip had a very profound effect on everyone and Hannah just loved Nepal and all the wonderful people she met. I do hope the elections go well today and that greater stability returns to the country. I feel sure this will be good for Nepal and for tourism.
Trekking in Mustang from Jomsom to Lo Manthang and back was exceptional. We stayed at Fishtail Lodge in Pokhara .It was very good. We can only recommend a stay there. Likewise for Soaltee in Kathmandu.