Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Home Contrasts - The Final Blog

Contrasts

A mish-mash of wedding procession with their own brass band, cars, motorbikes and pedestrians in a small street in Kathmandu

  video

It was already dark at 5:50pm on this Friday near-winter evening in Kathmandu, as I dodged another motorbike that had parked directly in front of me.  Miri and I were mid conversation, which, was immediately halted & eventually given up on.  We were headed for the last time to our favourite local MoMo restaurant for our 50 rupee veg steamed momo’s with the super delicious mild chili sauce.
It is dusty.  Although the occasional muddy patch from the daily water truck residue squelches upwards around our sandals. 

There are no footpaths and it is rush hour, so we constantly weave in and out of cars and motorbikes and other pedestrians and small shops that overflow out onto the road edges, until we emerge into the tiny Fast Food restaurant.  In the corner, their son does his homework from the day.  The stainless steel Momo steamer tins squelch small bursts of escaping steam in the corner while the main cook works up another batch of egg-veg chowmein in his blackened Wok.  Namaste! Tik Cha? (Hello, Good?)

5 days later. 

It was very light on this Thursday evening, as we biked into the Hornby Mall carpark in Christchurch.  There was the smell of freshly cut grass in the air.  The roads are wide, very wide.  There are many, many large cars.  No scooters, no bikes, no motorbikes. It's really quiet.  The footpaths are empty.  Conversations between us are easy.  We grab our paniers bags and head inside to Pac N Save to get some dinner and breakfast supplies for the evening.  We stood for a long time in the Breakfast Cereal aisle.  Staring up & along it, faced with so many different options, brightly stacking the shelves.

Freaking out in the cereal aisle!

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Quick Summary:
- After Tansen we spent two weeks linking in with Reed Nepal & the Australian Himalayan Foundation in Kathmandu for the start of their teacher training programme
- Began the journey home on the 5th of December for Bangkok, where we picked up our bikes & other cycling luggage (Thanks Preteep!!!)
- Arrived home 11th of December for a few short days in CHCH before heading up to Nelson to see Andy’s family & then surprise Miri’s family for a Christmas holiday in the Sounds (they thought we were coming home mid Jan)
- Next challenge - to find somewhere to live for the year in CHCH :-)
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Bangkok airport - en route to home and reunited with the bikes

Here’s a few first impressions since we arrived back, challenges we’ve been left with from the journey and final pics from Nepal, Thailand and back in NZ.  We have so much to be thankful for, so this blog wouldn’t be complete without a moment to pause & be thankful….

First Impressions

• Clean water – something we often take for granted until we don’t have it anymore.  Clean drinking water is non-existent in most of the world, and, if we lag into complacency it could be for us here in NZ too.
• Abundance - perusing the supermarket shelves, we’ve had to adjust from just one type of muesli, the same across all of Nepal to about 50 different types across the shelves.  Pantry’s are filled with so much variety.  We have much.  Others often function off far less choice.
• Cars – We have a lot of cars in NZ compared to Asia
• Big, wide empty footpaths & wide streets – compared to a lot of walking on the streets in Asia
• Lots more glass around – In Europe they have great incentives to recycle glass bottles & perhaps better drinking habits in general.  Cycling in NZ – heaps of glass on the road!

Back to Christmas in Christchurch, NZ

Initial reflections the journey has left for us:

We don’t feel like we’ve had much of a chance to reflect, but here’s a few initial comments/challenges…

• Bike more – the first few days home we haven’t had a car, so it’s been a good incentive to set up our trusty steeds again, put on the paniers & navigate CHCH by bike.  Our vision is to bike wherever possible…
• Waste less – We were amazed at the lack of packaging people used in some places of India & Nepal – leaf. 
• Think outside the square – The NZ way of doing things isn’t always the only or best way of doing things

Anakiwa with the Wood fam

Thanks

We can’t say thankyou enough to the family & friends who have supported us, encouraged us and will continue to do so as we transition back to a more traditional working life back in NZ.

• Thanks to all our incredible official & unofficial Warm Showers hosts, some of whom took us in at a whim, some distant relatives, some friends of friends, others who responded to our online requests, old neighbours, friends of family.  So, so appreciated – you made our trip!
• To those who helped with logistics, transported packs to India & home from Nepal.
• To those who were amazingly encouraging, who read these blogs, who chose to comment, who emailed us.  You blew us away & gave us an incredible lift
• To those strangers who were exceedingly generous on the road, who gave with no expectation of ever getting anything in return.  Wow!  Bottles of water, raisins, milk, cheese
• To those people who inspired and shared their journeys with us - thank you

The sounds ... what a contrast!


So, now we continue our journey here in NZ, left with the lessons, enduring images and reflections that will linger in the background, often surpassed by pressing realities.  Our hope is that they will help to shape our life values, objectives and vision.  We feel like we haven’t really had a chance to process things in NZ so far, being consumed by immediate needs (mostly accommodation) and people/family time.


Na reira, kia ora mo tau tautoko ki a matou hikoi nui
(So, thankyou for your support during our long journey)

Arohanui from Te Kainga in Queen Charlotte Sound…

Andy and Miri



Photo Supplement

Making the most of an Outward Bound Christmas - letting go of our excuses on the high ropes course!

Nicky the Christmas legend sorting the tree

Enjoying a sail on Conquest

Summer! Slacklining, food, babies and family!!

Aotearoa - love it!!