Rural Life in Nepal
Sunday 15th January 2006.
Rural Life southern Nepal
This morning we were up earlier. We were woken at 7am but I was up and showered by then. I had a good nightâ€™s sleep. I examined my feet this morning and they are recovering from the trek but rather slowly. Two of my small toes are still badly bruised and quite sore to touch.
It was still very foggy this morning so I was not all that hopeful of adding many bird species to my list or even seeing any birds on our walk. Kamal took us on a short bird watching walk past where we had first had an elephant ride. Despite the fog I was able to see a few species.
Just past the National Park Information Centre we visited the elephants used for the rides in that part of the park. There was a baby elephant there and he wasnâ€™t tied up. He was very friendly and very inquisitive and explored us all over with his trunk. I came home with elephant slobber all over the sleeve of my rainproof jacket.
Ox Cart Ride
After that we went on a two hour ox-cart ride through the countryside. Even though it was very foggy it gave us a close up view of subsistence farming and living. The people here have very basic homes with no windows because they are afraid of ghosts. The houses are wattle and daub style using local bamboo and mud. The families were huddled around open fires to cook and to keep warm.
Rural Life in Nepal
Every humble hovel has a dirt courtyard out the front or between the house and sheds. This is swept clean daily using an elephant grass broom. Despite their humble means they are obviously very house proud. I guess it would quickly become messy without this attention. Numerous ducks, geese, chickens, goats, cows, and oxen wander through or just hang around all day. And there are dogs and puppies and cats and kittens everywhere. It is also common to see elephants trundling down the street. The local street sweeper specialises in elephant droppings; these no doubt are utilised in his garden.
Half way along the cart ride we stopped to visit a local museum dedicated to an understanding of the local people and their origins, culture and social structure. This was quite interesting.
School and Children’s Games
Along the way we saw many uniformed children heading off to a private school. Private schools are very expensive and only for the children of wealthy land owners. Only about 30% of children across Nepal go to school with a country wide literacy rate of about 27% according to our guide. I was amazed at how the children amused themselves with simple games. Some had spinning tops, some played simple games with a piece of string while others played more vigorous games kicking around a ball shaped bundle of grass. Shuttle cock also seemed quite popular.