A Journey to the East (School), Malbase, Udayapur

As dusk approached over the hills surrounding Kathmandu, our bus boisterously waddled up to Baba’s gas station at Kalanki bus stop. RAMBO DELUXE was its name, and boy did it live up to expectations. A thousand rupees poorer and we were off to visit Maya’s faraway sister school near the town of Gaighat. The 11 hour ride through the night was anything but comfortable for Woo Jin, Adi, and myself, as dust and soot were ever a plenty. It was even worse for Woo Jin and I, both with some stomach ailment we caught sometime before.

Enjoying a tea time snack of roasted corn at our neighbours’ house.

We reach Gaighat the next day, at 6am, to find out we had just missed the first bus out to Gaughane, which meant another 5 hour wait for the next one. Ashish, the principal of the school was with us, hooked us up with some benches and breakfast to rest up for the next leg of our journey. What we went through next needed that extra bit of sleep. A five hour journey probably no longer than 30km long, on a rollercoaster ride of sorts, all on the bumpiest road we’ve ever experienced. Oh and did I mention being taller than 5’5 sentences you to what seems like an eternity in the foetal position on their seats. The 24 hour journey was not without entertainment. Woo Jin threw up on the way.

Closing in on our final destination, we had to walk another 40 minutes through a trail, commonly used by students attending school in the mornings. Some students even come from across the valley, 1.5 hours away. Nestled on a ridge in our view, the new school ground’s appeal immediately became apparent, it’s stunning beauty and tranquillity.

The Everest range visible from the school.

The Malbase schoolgrounds are drastically different to what we had grown accustomed to in the Central school. It was cool rather than blisteringly hot, and calmer compared to the bustle of 3 times as many students at Central. Volunteers made their own meals, and there were more toilets (yes, more toilets!) for volunteers to satisfy their frequent calls of nature. However, all of those pale in comparison to the grandeur of the gorgeous view of the Everest and Makalu ranges, which usually gave us a little peek in the mornings, before thick fog rolled in.

The school grounds, eerily quiet in the evenings.

After breakfast, the students began to trickle in and at the sound of a whistle from Ashish, they fell in line for morning assembly. Classrooms are more basic here, and in dire need of proper roofing to keep the rain out during the monsoon. Plans are also being made to establish a new volunteers quarters and a library to attract more prospective volunteers. Currently there are a maximum of 3 to 5 volunteers permanently lending their services and knowledge to the school as compared to around 15 at the central school. The arduous travel and remoteness of the school does not help the school in this aspect and we hope that the school receives more attention for the months and years to come as our experience there could only be described as positively enlightening.

The kitchen, where all the magic happens.

Alas our short but sweet excursion to Udayapur came to an end. 1 day in, 2 days at the school, 1 day out. If we could do it, anyone can. The East School is a paradise worth travelling to. Daniel Chan Co-President of Project Nepal

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