Katmandu living

the van de Wiel/Schou Hansen family blog

Tonight was Laskmi Puja - the Nepali Diwali or festival of light. It is one of the most important festivals in Nepal where everyone put out candles to attract the god of money. We went to the Patan Durbar Square and had dinner and after that we walked around to look at all the decorations and the display of light
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Please click on the phote to see the Himalaya panorama

This morning it was slightly overcast, but that turned out to be an advantage as the clouds also came with some wind that cleaned the air of the vally. So today was the most amazing view. I think that it is only this time of the year that this view can be seen - during the rest of the year the clouds of the monsoom or the polution makes it impossible. So we are lucky to be here at a time where the skys are so deeply blue.

Liva and Joop are right now playing with Rama and Lilly, the two nannies. We are now starting our second week in Nepal, and Liva and Joop have been to school today. This week will be short as the school is off Wednesday to Friday due to Dashain Festival. Most Nepalis are starting to leave town already today as Danshain (which is kind of the Nepali Diwali) is the most important festival of the year. So there is hope that the weekend is going to be quite here in Kathmandu.

Hello Everyone,

Lieke here for a change. Henrik is cooking and feels the pressure of you all to post something daily so the honor is mine.

We finally had a relaxing weekend in weeks if not months. Yesterday was still a little hectic but today we just enjoyed ourselves: even had a nap!

As an outing we went to the money temple on a hilltop just on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The temples were nice and plenty and it is amazing to see the cultural heritage around. Monkey were plenty as well and all disgusting and ugly. Even the kids thought they were scary. Except they thought the baby monkeys were cute (schattig).

Liva thought the large Buddha’s statues were interesting and knows had to sit in yoga posture, with closed eyes and um hands included. Joop liked to burn some candles which we did especially in memory of Henrik’s parents and my grandma in particular and one candle extra for all the other people in our lives how died. Keeping up with our Mexican tradition, we made a nice altar with the three photos in the apartment, offering and candy, fruits.

Next week is Tihar (like Diwali) so we have tow days to celebrate: lights and candles are already everywhere.

As we now know that we have to wait at least 20 days more for our house we have moved to an Apartment Hotel just behind the Summit Hotel. The streets around here around here are totally incomprehensible. We can walk from our new hotel to our old hotel though the back gate and it will take us 2 minutes – however, should we drive from here to our old hotel it is a ride of at least 10 minutes that will take us past our future house. So I guess that we will still have to go though our old hotel when we have to bring the kids to school. Our new serviced hotel apartment is really nice. The Hotel is an old palace and our apartment has a small TV room, a dinning room, a palace room (as the kids call it), a kitchen, a big bath room and a bed room. So now we do not have to constantly be on the top of each other. Smutti has also gotten comfortable here. He has already caught a bird (his first ever, as far as we know) and as you can see on the picture he is enjoying laying on the steps in front of our bed room.

Our first week in Nepal is coming to an end and I am rather proud of what we have managed. The kids are now taking the school bus every morning from a street corner that is 4 minutes walk from the hotel. Liva is taking the bus at 7.30 whereas Joop can wait until 8.42. Both kids return at 2.45. Before we left Yemen we had already arranged with someone from Unicef that we would take her two nannies and they have really been gold. They are called Lilly and Rama and the idea is that they will work shifts when we are in the house. This week, they have spent all the time together with the kids so they can get to know each other and things are going well.

We have managed to find a house, that is unfortunately will not be vacated by the current tenants until the 15th of November. As we have until now been living the whole family, including our cat Smutti, in a 14 square meter (incl. bath room) hotel room at the Summit Hotel we have decided to move. So tomorrow we will move to a much bigger serviced apartment around the corner.

Lieke has gotten her ticket for her trip to Washington so she will leave us on next Saturday (the 2nd of November). It will be a bit tough without her around, but we will of course have to continue to get ready to move into the new House. The house is going to be fantastic. It has the most amazing view and wooden floors everywhere. The house has now been security cleared and we are allowed to move in as soon as it is possible. So tomorrow I will go over to the landlord with the lease so we can tie up the deal.

I have been exploring Thamel more today – on the picture above you see one of the many stupas you find around Kathmandu

You might wonder what the picture above has to do with the first day in school and to that I can only say nothing. However as I did not take any pictures today you will have to live with a picture from the lunch we had with Lieke's colleagues over the weekend.

Today was the first day in school for Liva and Joopie and it went very fine. We all went together in the morning to the school where the day started with an assembly for all primary school children where we were officially welcomed - Liva of course found this to be extremely embarrassing. However after the initial shyness both Liva and Joop felt quite comfortable in their classes. So already at 10.30 Liva asked if I had to hang around the class room and that it was OK if you went somewhere else. In Liva’s class there are three other kids that are half Danish and in Joopie’s class there is one of her friend from the Dutch school so the kids felt at home right away. Tomorrow we will have to find out about the school bus as Joop is going to school one hour later than Liva and it is quite a distance. Besides that nothing much to report from here. Lieke is supposed to have the security check of our houses today as the security department cancelled on her yesterday because they are preparing for Ban Ki Moon’s visit (that they take the visit of the UN SG more serious than us getting into a house is beyond me). Right now the kids are with their new nannies – it is going really well and the kids are very happy with them which is of course important.

Today Lieke has been at work the whole day, while the kids and I have been at the hotel. As the school of the kids have been off yesterday and today, Liva and Joop are only starting their full program from tomorrow.  Liva however, had her Dutch school today and have now met the others in her class. It looks like that there are fewer Dutch in Kathmandu than in Sanaa - Joop's class was only 5 kids with Joop and Liva's was 6 covering two grades.

I have been using the day on getting more organized. I stated the day with going to Thamal (a part of town on the Kathmandu side where all the Tourist stay) to buy a Mountain bike. I had found a shop on the internet and went there as I knew that they had quality bikes. I bought a Gary Fisher bike and am very happy. After driving home from the center of Kathmandu (something that is quite an experience due to the traffic) I went around our part of town to explore. I went to our local (we are probably going to move to Patan so this is our local area) Durbar Square which was absolutely amazing and just as beautiful as the one on the Kathmandu side. It is really nice to have a bike so I can get around - I am slowly getting used to riding in the wrong side of the road.

Tomorrow will be Liva and Joop's first real day in school so we will have to get to bed a decent hour tonight. They are really exited and the school which we visited yesterday look really good.

One of the houses that is in the run for becoming our next house (it is in number two spot right now). Unfortunately I have not taken photos at number one, but if you look at the view from the hotel above you get a good idea about the view from that house.

Liva and Joop in Durbar Square in central Kathmandu - This square has one of the highest consentrations of temples I have ever seen, though the Durbar Square here in Patan where we are staying should be even more impressive

We have of course moved a couple of times and have by now become profesionals, but I don't think we have ever been this efficient before. It is now Monday and we have been here in Nepal for three days. In this time we have managed to see 15 houses or so and have already found a couple that we think will be good possibilities. Today Lieke has had the UN security down and checking two of the houses and we have been to the Lincoln School and talked to the teachers of the kids. This afternoon the kids have been to Dutch school for the first time and our two new nannies are with the kids for the first time - they seem to be hitting it off so that is good.

In the weekend we managed to see quite a few houses and on Sunday me and the kids went to the center of Kathmandu where we bought some things to put in the kids hair. In the early afternoon we met for the first time with Lieke's section. One of the women working in the section had cooked a Nepali meal and we met with most of the people working for Lieke. In the morning today we went to Lieke's office and tried to arrange much of the practical stuff. Unfortunately it does not seem that any of the diplomates of Kathmandu are leaving right now so no duty free cars are on sale. We might therefore have to import a new car from Japan as the duty on cars in Nepal is almost as high as in Denmark (around 200 pct.).

So all in all we are doing fine in Nepal - We have all settled down, including Smutti who after a scare the first day where we thought he would not find his way back to our room now seem to be quite content here.

The view from our hotel (hotel summit) in Kathmandu overlooking the Himalayas

The Himalayas seen from the plane

The connection in our hotel in Kathmandu has not been so good so it has been a bit tough to publish some photos from our trip to Nepal. We have now arrived well in Kathmandu and we are all fine. The trip went well - we enjoyed traveling on business class for a change and though the seven hour stop-over in Doha was a bit much we all managed. Smutti did the trip well and is not back to his old self. He seem to own the whole hotel and is at times taking his liberties (entering other people's rooms etc.). So all in all the trip went well. 

We are doing fine - the first couple of days have been used to looking at houses and we have already managed to find a couple of candidates - Tomorrow the kids will start at their new school.

Anyway - the connection seem to get worse and I will therefore try to publish this first and see what happens.

After using the last days on packing all our stuff the moving company arrived with the container today. Where we arrived to Yemen with a 40 foot container we had decieded that a 20 foot container should be enouth to move us out of here. However we should probably have opted for a 40 foot container as it can be seen from the pictures above. After stuffing the container there was no room for anything else and we still have our 3 bikes and four chairs . However, the container has now been sealed and we can start to concentrate on tomorrow where we will fly to Nepal.
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The packing of all our stuff is continuing on the second day and is expected to be finished in the middle of the day today. It is strandge that we will be leaving Yemen in four days time. I have been going around and cleaned up a bit and stumbled over the bottle above. In a couple of days time we will also have to find out where we are now going to buy our Al Abaya Shampoo - a washing liquid for washing the Abayas (the dress worn by the woman on the bottle).
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Just in case you were wondering what we would do until we receive our things again when our shipment arrrive in Kathmandu in two to thee (or maybe more) months time here is what we are planning to pack to take with us on the plane. This afternoon I will try to pack it and see if it is less than the 160 kg of luggage we are allowed to take.

This morning at 9.00 the moving people came and at 9.20 it looked like this. The official from the Ministry of Antiquities has been here to make sure that we are not trying to take half of the old city with us and he agreed that our small pieces was not more than 80 year old. The whole day today will be packing day with 10 people from the moving compay roaming around in our house - I will write more when we are finished.

We are busy here in Yemen with the last minute planning and so on. On Sunday the movers will come to our house and will start to pack all our things over a couple of days. And on next thursday we will set out on our trip to Nepal. Just in time for our arrival Nepal has gotten a new child god. The three year old girl, Matani Shakya, received approval from the priests and President Ram Baran Yadav in a centuries-old tradition with deep ties to Nepal’s monarchy, which was abolished in May. The new living goddess, was carried from her parents’ home to an ancient palatial temple in Katmandu, the capital, where she will live until she reaches puberty and loses her divine status. A panel of judges conducted a series of ancient ceremonies to select the goddess from several girls ages 2 to 4 who were members of the goldsmith caste.

As Afrah (Joop's best friend) and Annes (Liva's best friend) had to go on Eid Holiday to Aden and after that on holiday to India it was the last chance to meet up with them before we go to Nepal. So they had a couple of good days together playing at both our house as well as Afrah and Annes' place.

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