Trip to Nepal and India
When Allison finished her senior year of high school, she decided to take off a year and do some volunteer work and world traveling. She wanted to return to Nepal and India where she had traveled with the family nine years earlier. Of course, David couldn't pass up an opportunity to return to Nepal either. So we planned a trip together that included doing a project to install a solar electric power system in a school in the Mustang region of Nepal, and some open-ended time for Allison to explore the volunteer work opportunities in India.
We left Seattle on September 14 en route to Kathmandu via Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The flight from LA to Hong Kong took about 14 hours. During an 8-hour layover, we went to visit the Big Buddha in Hong Kong. Jomsom is a town in central Nepal with an airfield. it was our starting point for a hike to our destination: a school in the village of Lo Manthang, Mustang.
Just an hour walk south of Jomsom, Marpha bills itself as "The Delightful Apple Capital of Nepal." Check out the following Web site that has a fun video of popular Nepali music and dance in celebration of the Himalayan Village of Marpha: www.pokharacity.com/marpha/
Ekai Kawaguchi was a Japanese Zen monk who stayed here in 1900 for three months while on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. For more information about Ekai Kawaguchi, visit the Web site of the Embassy of Japan in Nepal at www.np.emb-japan.go.jp/history/ekai.html
Accompanied by a staff member of the Himalayan Light Foundation (HLF) of Kathmandu and a solar energy technician, Allison and David hiked for four days up the Kali Gandaki river, initially along the riverbed, then up and down steep trails at elevations between 10,000 and 13,000 feet.
Lo Kunphen School opened in 1999 and has about 25 students ranging in age from 10 to 18. They study classical Tibetan, English, Nepali, math and medicine. The school has a special mission of training students to become practitioners of traditional Tibetan herbal medicine. With assistance from students and teachers in the school and staff from HLF, we installed three 75-watt solar panels, three 12-volt batteries and 24 fluorescent lamps in the classrooms, dormitory rooms, kitchen and living areas.
The trip back to Jomsom gave us a chance to see people's work during autumn harvest and to marvel at snow covered Himalayan peaks.
With Allison busy volunteering in an orphanage and hospital in Darjeeling, David went trekking in western Sikkim where he experienced an entirely different climate-- abundant rainfall, waterfalls everywhere and lush forests.
What better way is there to spend a final week in India than a meditation retreat in Bodhgaya?