I am back at home since more than a month now and slowly coming back to "normal life". Often, I remember the good time that I had in Nepal, this beautiful country and its nice people. I have so many nice memories and I really enjoyed the different rhytm of life.
Still, there are so many places that I couldn't visit. But this is just a reason to come again!
Travelling by bus, even by Tourist bus can really be exhausting. Due to differenet reasons or sometimes even without, all the buses on my small round trip were late for hours! Within 4 days I was visiting Lumbini and Chitwan National Park and spent more than 30 hours in buses. Arriving late in Chitwan National Park meant the only possible way for me to visit the Park was a Jeep Safari in the afternoon.
The air was misty and therefore it was not so easy to recognise the animals and it was even more difficult to take pictures. I saw lots of deer and kingfishers, some monkeys, crocodiles and peacocks. And finally I was lucky to see a Rhino!
With its armoured shields it looks like a relict of primeval times!
Lumbini is the place where Mayadevi gave birth to Prince Siddharta Gautama in 563 BCE, when there were many small kingdoms in the area of Nepal and India. The story tells that he did seven steps after he was born, which are symbolised by seven Lotus flowers.
Instead of living in wealth and protection he decided to leave his father's palace at the age of 29 to live an ascetic life. He became a religious teacher and finally reached enlightenment and thus became Buddha - the Awakend.
Today, Lumbini is an important Pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Besides the Mayadevi Temple, which was built to protect the exact location of Buddha's birth, there are numerous other temples of Buddhist countries but also of Buddhist communties in western countries.
It's a huge, but very peaceful and quiet areal whith lots of nature between the temples and in the surrounding.
... besides the common species that can be found worldwide, there are of course also different organisms than we have it in Austria. There are really interesting Taxa like the Family of Psephenidae - beetles with the shape of a shield. Other typical Taxa are Indonemoura sp., Kamimuria sp. or Baetiella sp., which have spines on their back that makes them look like tiny dragons!
Most differences I can find in the group of Trichoptera (Caddisfly). There are the huge Stenopsyche sp. with its elongated head capsule, the Family of Hydroptilidae which build strange and fancy looking cases or in higher regions there are different types of Himalopsyche. So far, this is a tiny insight to the Nepalese world of Benthic Invertebrates.
Here, the only free day is on Saturday. Then I have to buy my food, wash my clothes and sometimes I find some time to enjoy!
Last Saturday I went to Swayambunath, a famous place on the top of a hill close to Kathmandu. The place is also called Monkey temple as there a lots of macaques roam around. It's a beautiful mixture of hindusitic and buddhistic temples and monuments.
Unfortunately, many buildings have been damaged or destroyed during the big 2015 Earthquake and still it is obvious that it was a serious incident for the country!
Nevertheless, Swayambunath is still a beautiful, peaceful and fascinating place and didn't lose anything of its flair.
After sorting, each and every individual of the organisms need to be identified. It's a precise work that requires lots of patience. As there are different species occuring that I am used from Austria it was confusing in the beginning to get some experience with the local ones. Many of our sampled invertebrates are really small according to the sampling season and sometimes it's really hard to see the identification signs like tiny sclerites, bristles or counting the number of segments of the antenna.
Weeks and weeks I was busy now with sorting the organisms in the samples. Out of the mixture of sediments, debris and other organic matter I pick the benthic invertebrates that I have to identify later on. It's lots of manual labour!
Benthic invertebrates are bioindicators. So they give us lots of information about the rivers. They can tell us about water temperature or flow velocity, altitude or river zonations and even about disturbances like water pollution or flow alterations.
In our case, we are looking for changes in the communities caused by water abstraction.
So, let's see what they will let us know...
Here, in Nepal there is no christmas of course, but there is something else...
It's Lalu Pate (Euphorbia pulcherrima), the famous plant that we at home call winter rose or "Weihnachtsstern". It's growing wild here and it becomes big like trees.
Therewith, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas from the other end of the world!
While I am busy with sorting my samples, I have all the memories to West Nepal in mind, which I want to share with you...
The aim of our field trip was to find water abstractions at small tributaries in the catchments of Mahakali, Karnali and Mohana in order to learn about the effects to the benthic invertebrate community and for setting levels for environmental flow in these regions. Numerous hydro power plants are planned to be built in Nepal and therefore environmental flow becomes more and more relevant.
During sampling, we were able to find water abstractions mainly for irrigation purposes. In some areas only few percents of the total discharge is remaining in the riverbeds or even river that were completely abstracted.
The overall objective is to develop a environmental flow concept for the rivers to keep the balance of the ecosystems.
In 2 weeks sampling, we were able to get more than 300 samples at 33 sites. So I will be busy now with sorting the organisms in the samples and identifying them.
Tomorrow morning I will leave for my field trip to the far west of Nepal. For around 2 weeks we'll sample the river systems of West Nepal, namely the Karnali catchment, Mahakali catchment and als some tributaries of Mohan river.
During this time, I probably will not be able to provide you with news or photos. But as soon as I am back I will tell you about it.
Most of the time I am now staying at Kathmandu University in Dhulikhel, which is around 30 km outside of Kathmandu towards the tibetan boarder along Arniko Highway. It's a nice place, surrounded by fields, hills and the Central Himalaya range.
Air quality is much better here than in Kathmandu valley, where pollution has its highest values during winter. I can easily feel it in my lungs when I go down there.
After TCV Anniversary, we all left to Delhi. Wheras my friends went back to Vienna, I went further to Nepal to start my adventure. As there is Tihar Festival at the moment, University is closed and I had the opportunity to visit Kathmandu, Patan and some nice places nearby.
First I visited the big Stupa in Bodnath, which is a very famous buddhist monument - a quiet and calming place within noisy and hectic Kathmandu. During the 2015 earthquake the Stupa was damaged but the renovation work is almost completed here.
I also visited Pharping which is famous for its numerous meditation caves of Guru Rinpoche, that can be visited nowadays.
Another interesting place is Pashupathinath, Kathmandu's place of cremation at the shoreline of Bagmati river.
In Patan, another one of the three previous city states I visited the famous Durbar Square with its hinduistic temples. Some of them were damaged or even destroyed during last years earthquake. But still it's worth a visit!
On Sunday and Monday, we had the honour to be guests during the celebration of the 56th TCV Anniversary. Together with high-ranked politicians we could enjoy the manifold program that was presented by the students. Chief guest on Sunday, the official day of celebration, was His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.
On Monday we could join the Sports competition, which was very exciting this time, as it was a Inter TCV competition. So, all TCV schools at the state of Himachal Pradesh sent their teams to compete with each other.
It's so fascinating to watch!
We met lots of our partners of different organisations. Many of them became dear friends during the past years, wheras others were new.
Many things and various topics had to be discussed, be it about sponsorships or projects, problems or upcoming ideas, or simply exchange of our thoughts.
In order to have enough products for the SAVE TIBET markets in Austria, we have to do lots of shopping. Every single piece has to be checked, stand our critical view and the prices have to be discussed.
All in all, shopping is one of the most important things that we have to do here in Dharamsala and it needs lots of time!
This Sunday we enjoyed our one and only free day during the entire stay in India. So we went to meet our friends Jakob and Felizitas at their domicile high up in the hills of Dharamkot. The only way to reach there is a footpath right through the Jungle with a wonderful view to the Dhauladar mountain range.
The native Jungle is a Himalayan subtropical pine forest that consists mainly from Pine as well as Himalayan Oak and Rhododendron.
(Un)fortunately we didn't see those wild animals that are common in these areas, like Black Bear or Leopard for instance...
It's me, Kathi!
In Dharamsala I am leading the Team, I go to meetings with the representatives of our partner organisations. I try to arrange all the appointments and get them into our tight schedule.
Furthermore I am handling the donations, organise the logistics of our shopping, including packing and transportation, and much more...
He is the photographer in our Team and is therefore also responsible for the pictures of the sponsored persons. He is also the one who provides me most of the photos in this Site.
Thanks for that!
Here in Dharamsala, she is the one who controls the quality of the products that we buy for our markets. Each single piece has to be checked before we decide to take it!
He is the newcomer here, as it is his first trip to Dharamsala. He is our banker and together with Hardy, he is responsible for counting the money every evening.
At Patlikuhl we visited the Vocational Training Center. At the Thangka Painting Section we met many talented artists who get their professional training there. Thangkas are mostly religious pictures that can be rolled and therefore tibetan nomads can easily transport them when they move to another place. At the Tailoring Section these Thangkas get framed with brocade cloth. Further the students get trained in western and tibetan Tailoring.
In the TCV schools at Bir-Suja, Chauntra and Gopalpur we met our secretaries and friends to discuss open questions and visited past and future projects.
At the Old People's Home in Chauntra we distributed pocket money to the elders and had touching experiences with them.