Katmandu living

the van de Wiel/Schou Hansen family blog

I can't imagine that many are still checking this blog as we have not made any updates in ages. However, in case some still do this is to let you know that we are now moving over to wordpress. I am not sure we will be any better at keeping things updated but there is always hope. The advantage with Wordpress is that I will be able to update the blog "on the go" as it is possible to upload new posts and pictures from my mobile phone. As I will soon be off to Denmark to renovate our new summerhouse I found that this would be the best way to keep the family updated. So I hope that you will follow us over to wordpress where you will find our blog at:

For some of you who are not able to come out and visit us and see our house for yourselves I have published a short YouTube movie where you get a walk-through of most of our house. As you can see it is on a clear day and you are able to see the mountains if you look carefully.

Whenever summer comes around I always start to think about my mother. She passed away in August four years ago. My sister Dorthe has for a while had a photo in her kitchen that was taken in the summer when we had just found out my mother was sick. I have wanted to have a copy of that photo for ages and when my friend Ann heard that she took it down to the photo lab right away and had both a hard- as well as an electronic copy made. As the photo was rather dirty from all the cooking in the kitchen I have now photoshopped it somewhat and it almost as good as new.

We are now back after a long holiday in Europe. Since returning home to Nepal the rain has been relentless – however, we should of course not complain – at least we are safe here in Nepal whereas hundreds of thousands have been relocated in Pakistan due to floods. Lieke has stated a long program of extensive travels. With her new job as Regional Advisor for the whole of South Asia she has to visit all the countries. On the top of that she has some trips to Europe and the US so the kids and I will not get to see her much the next couple of months.

We had a nice although quite long holiday back in Europe over the summer. The kids and me left a month before Lieke so we got extra time with Oma and Opa and also with the family in Denmark. We managed to see many of our friends but as we held our holiday earlier this year many of you also had left on holiday yourselves. So if we didn’t manage to see you we hope to manage next year. One of the reasons that we were in Europe earlier this year was that we had to fit the holiday with the kids’ school holiday. On the top of that we also wanted to be in the Netherlands for Oma’s 70s birthday. All in all we had a very nice time.

We are now gearing up for what will hopefully be a nice autumn. We already now know that we will have visitors over Christmas which we of course look forward to, and that we will probably also have to go back to India for a wedding. So all in all we are looking forward to a nice time.

Below you find a few photos from our holiday – please also check our flickr account for more

It was a tough choice - should we stay in Napal during what by all indications would be an uncertain beginning of May or should we go to Thailand for what might not be a more stable situation with Red Shirts on the streets - In the end we decided to go to Thailand - a good choice as Nepal we totally paralyzed for a week with tens of thousands of demonstrators on the street - Thailand on the other hand was OK although we did not manage to do as much shopping as usual as all major shopping malls were closed.

However, we did manage to spend some nice days by the pool and even manage to go to Hua Hin two and half hours drive South of Bangkok. So we have now returned (Lieke has already left again - this time for Bangladesh) with a very health color and renewed energy - As it turned out the kids didn't miss any school as it was closed for all the time we were away.

We of course had to put the van de Wiels through the same as the other guests had gone through. As Liva had a performance she had to be dressed as a teacher (therefore the matching jacket and skirt
That the kids enjoyed most in Pokhara was the pool at the Shangri La hotel, in which they are about to jump in this picture.
All of us together with out guide and porters
Keeping on eye on the Ingelse part of the family.

We had special T-shirts made for the birthday/easter party
Lilly and Rame gave all the girls new beautiful shoes

The Easter Brunch - Liva's Birthday B-fast

With so many visitors over we know the drill by now. One of the stops that all have had to go through has been to visit the Lincoln School in connection with "fabulous Friday" and get presented to the rest of the school. As Joop had a performance we rationalized the procedure a bit and presented both the Millers and the Frederikke and Simone at the same time and they all got the hear the "Hallo" song.
Another part of our concept is to take all visitors to the traditional Nepali Newari restaurant at Dwarika's Hotel called Krishnarpan Restaurant for a nine course Newari meal
For some reason you have to wear aprons to eat at this restaurant. However, if Hillary Clinton, President Carter and many other famous people can do it, so can we ....... YES WE CAN

I am loosing track of time here so I just went to the calendar and checked and it is true - We have now had guests for 7 weeks in a row - that must be a new record for us. When Margje, Chris, Philip and Ilias are leaving on Tuesday (knock on wood and sacrifice an virgin to the Ejafjalljökull volcano on Iceland) we have had guests for 54 days in a row - It is true - my fancy Ical calendar on my Imac says so. However I am getting a bit ahead of myself here and should really go 7 weeks back.

Seven weeks ago, Frederikke and Simone arrived to Nepal. They were backpacking around East and South East Asia as you do when you are 18/19 year old Danes, and had arrived in South Korea only to find out that the family they were to visit had gone to the US. So with some support from Frederikke's mom and I they managed to get a return ticket Seoul-Kathmandu with some Chinese airlines - After being turned back three days earlier due to lack of visa for China, they finally arrived on the 5 March, starting our long period of visits.

The good thing about having visits from backpackers is that they are grateful for the small things. I can remember it from myself and my backpack trip back in 87 - you start to appreciate things like quality plumbing and hot water and the lack of stress and that you are able to leave your backpack behind without things getting stolen out of it..... And it is nice to have some days where you do not have to visit a train station to get those third class hard sleeper non-AC tickets to next destination that you just have to visit because they have such a cool and enormous Buddha there. You really get to appreciate just staying put in one place for a while.

So it was very easy to have Frederikke and Simone over - they would hang around and play Wii with the kids and sleep endlessly and once in a while also do a bit of traveling and sightseeing.

In the middle of March, my sister Henriette and her family arrived for a full month in Nepal. I still do not quite understand the Danish rule for parent leave but their trip for one and half month to Nepal and Goa-India was planned to utilize parent leave for one of their three children (don't ask me which one but I actually think it was Ebbe that was born before our wedding back in 2001!??).

With the Millers (the last name of Flemming is Møller which is Danish for Miller, and this was the name that Flemming gave every time they ordered tickets & hotels ) we managed to go for four days to the National Park in Chitwan. Last time we we went to Chitwan we stayed inside the park and though it was an amazing experience and the kids really loved it, it was also a bit gloomy because of all the trees. This time we opted for staying outside the park which was very nice as it was much more airy and light. It however, was very hot in the Tarai this time of the year - every day it came up to around 37c. Whenever in Chitwan a full program is always provided for you and this time was no difference. However, due to the extreme heat we had most activities in the mornings and afternoon. We went on elephant safari, sailed in canoes down the river, went on jeep safari, bathed with the elephants and went on walks in the local village etc.

Two weeks after Henriette & Flemming had arrived, Lieke's sister and family arrived just in time for Liva's birthday. After being out traveling around a bit Henriette and Family also came back so we were all gathered her to celebrate Liva. She had a great birthday in company with 5 cousins, four aunts and uncles and the three of us - all in all 7 kids and 6 adult incl. herself.

With Margje, Chris, Philip and Ilias we went to Pokhara to hike. Before going to Pokhara Margje and Chris and kids went to Chitwan National Park where Margje unfortunately contracted a stomach bug. So we had to postpone our hike. Unfortunately when Margje got better Ilias had also gotten a bit of stomach trouble so in the end we had to limit our hiking to short one day walks.

We all returned to kathmandu in time for both families to get ready for their trip on (to Goa for the Millers) and home (for the Ingelse/van de Wiels) and this is when it started to get interesting. With the volcanic eruption over Iceland the airspace over Europe started to get effected, so each day was started with a thorough examination of the internet to follow wind pattern etc. In the end the van de Wiel/Ingelse family had to give up going home on time but it still came as a surprise to all that it would take so long to get another flight.

Anyway, hopefully (knock on wood again) they will be on the Etihad plane out of here in Tuesday ending up in Frankfurt some time Wednesday morning - this is just in time as the Hotel Kupondole Height will close down indefinitely so we can take a well-derserved holiday in Thailand from next Friday onwards. Judging the newspapers right now the saga can continue with us being unable to leave Thailand due to the fighting between yellow and red shirts.

We will publish pictures from all our visits separately in other blog posts.

With the arrival of spring and the better and much warmer (around 33c these days) weather, the guests have started to arrive. First it was Frederikke and Simone who managed to make a detour on their trip around East and South East Asia to come and see us here in Nepal. A week ago my younger sister Henriette and her family arrived and in just over a weeks time Lieke's sister and her family will arrive. The kids are off on Spring break but we managed to take all the guests to school just before the holiday started so they could be presented to all the friends of Liva and Joop. We have until now taken it easy but Henriette, Flemming and I did manage to go on a Everest Mountain flight yesterday where we saw Everest and we have until now made some small trips into the city. Tomorrow we will go to Chitwan National Park where the kids can ride on Elephants and where we will hopefully see a couple of Rhinos.

This weekend it was Holi and we went outside Kathmandu for a BBQ with some friends. Holi is the festival of color to honor the demoness Holika. Most Nepalis meet with friends and family and throw colored powder and water on each other.

We had a very civilized Holi where the kids stayed away from colored powder (this stuff is supposed to be quite toxic) and only had a massive water fight. Water pistols in all colors and shapes had been bought for the occasion and an abundant supply of water was there. The adults stayed away from the fight and enjoyed bbq'ed beef and sausages and a beer.

Today it was cowboy day at the school so the kids had to dress up as cowgirls to do the square dance. Due to our Mexican past they both went as Mexican Cowgirls

I know that there are two things I do way too much on this blog - I post too many photos of our view and I write too much about our struggles with lack of water and electricity. You will have to bear with me on both counts as they constitute so much of our everyday lives. However, I might now stop talking so much about our lack of electricity as we are having solar panels installed to help with our electricity needs.

It is not a massive system we are having installed but it should make us 70-80 pct energy independent. The last 20-30 pct is impossible for us to reach as we need boosts beyond the capacity of the solar system to run things like our treadmill, Lieke's hair dryer and some kitchen appliances (the refrigerator being the most important). However, we should now be able to deal with the long power cuts during the day easier as the solar system will charge as we are using the electricity. So with this we are doing pretty well with solar heated water and solar produced electricity - next step should be a windmill.

It is not as cold as it was a week or two ago but our favorite place is still on the roof-top where we can sit in the sun most of the day doing games and reading. The kids are up there right now making small animals out of play-doug.

Fastelavn - a Danish tradition where all evil is disbursed by hitting the !@#%^ out of a barrel with a black cat inside (we kept Smutti at home) or at least a drawing of a black cat - was held here in Kathmandu the other weekend. Some of the other Danes were nice enough to invite everyone over and had even managed to get three barrels made. Joop dressed up as a princess (surprise surprise) whereas Liva went as a ghost (a sheet with two holes to look through)

While in Hong Kong I bought myself a GPS - that is, I bought it on behalf of Lieke as it was a birthday present from her. We are of course planning to take a few hikes while we are Nepal as this country is made for hiking. However, what hooked me on the whole GPS thing was my friends in Denmark telling me about Geocashing - this modern version of a treasure hunt where you find boxes hidden by others through their coordinates. So...., after I got my GPS I used two mornings on hiking around discovery bay to get all the geocaches that was hidden there - I even managed to get "travel bug" (picture at the top) that I am planning to place in cache here in Nepal. The only bad thing is that we only have few caches here in Nepal and that they are all at places like the Everest Basecamp etc. So it will be hard to get my cache count up until we go on holiday again.

After just over a week in Hong Kong we are now back in Kathmandu. We had a very nice trip where we got to spend some time with Martijn, Maki and the kids and also got to meet up with Simone and Dominic again. Whenever we take holidays from Nepal a major part will be dedicated to shopping and this time was not different - We went to Ikea and brought home 40 kg of plates, bed linen and other things - I managed to buy a new lens to my camera and also the GPS that Lieke promised me for my birthday. As we had been to Hong Kong quite a few times by now we didn't use much time on sightseeing - we managed however to go to the peak of Hong Kong and the kids got a trip to Disneyland. All in all we had a very nice trip.

We spent out Christmas eve at Martin's and Karma's house where we had a traditional Danish Christmas meal with Duck (x3), caramel covered potatoes, normal potatoes, red cabbage and rice pudding. A very nice evening...

Although Sinterklaas is a week ago, we have had some problems with the internet that has made it impossible for us to publish the photos. This year was a bit of a stressful sinterklaas - Though the Sint arrived quite early he didn't seem quite right - actually, he looked allot like Mester Gerard, the teacher from the Dutch school. As it turned out, it was Mester Gerard that together with some fake Swarte Piets.

Luckily we found the real Sinterklaas and managed to get him and his flying carpet (Americo had stayed back in Spain) up on the top of one of the 4x4 of the Consulate.

And te kids got their presents and their chocolate letters and a talk with Sinterklaas and Swarte Piet

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