Visit from Holland, wild safari and Goodbye

The World Cup comes to its end and when the Italians leave Kathmandu there is silence again in the valley. We only have a few weeks left in the Noble House.

We focus this time on the kids and try to give them a good time. We play, sing, draw and make nice things. I am still the ‘climbing tree’ and Marlous is a point of rest with her lap always ready to sit on for a child. It’s a strange time because the elder children begin to realize that we almost have to go. They start asking questions and tell us not to go. Sita and Utsab also show that they don’t like us to leave.

To make it a little bit easier for all of us Marlous and I move at the half of july to Kathmandu. My sister Maaike and her boyfriend Eric are coming over from the Netherlands to visit us. We arrange a room for them and welcome them on the day of arrival. They wanted some tour leaders so we act that way. It’s really nice to look each other in the eyes after more than a year. They haven’t changed a bit but to see each other is great!

My sister is treated with a ‘real’ monkey during the first cab drive in Kathmandu. The next days we spend in the city where we walk around together. It’s nice to see how they enjoy all the new impressions and it also makes us aware again of all those things. We had planned a trip by bicycle to Nagarkot, but we cancel this because Maaike and Eric both have stomach problems. The pizzas in our favorite Italian restaurant don’t fall well. A new record: After 3 days Kathmandu: a ‘Delhi Belly’.

Maaike en Eric soon are feeling better and we continue our travels. Spotting wild animals in Chitwan!!
With the very famous and hypermodern bus of ‘Sai Baba Tours’ we leave Kathmandu early in the morning to go to Chitwan. The airco windows are all open so when the bus moves everybody enjoys the fresh air. A lot of space for the legs, Indian music and beautiful scenery brings us to the road Lous and I cycled 5 months before. In Chitwan our new friend is waiting for us. His name is Mahendra and he loves bird watching, spotting crocodiles and rhinos and he doesn’t like the noisy Indian visitors. He takes us to the resort we booked where nice rooms are waiting for us.

My stomach is not feeling very well and I skip the first tour. Three very enthusiastic people show me their digital pictures. They spotted crocodiles at the river side. It’s a good beginning of our wild safari. Day 2 starts with a good breakfast and a nice trip by a longboat. This boat is cut out of a tree and brings us safely downstream in an extra wild river due to heavy rains. When we leave the boat we walk trough a field with grass as high as ourselves. We are heading to the elephant breeding centre where there are many elephants with their babies. The weight of a baby elephant is 80 kilos when they are born. The babies love to play with human beings and when we are feeding them special cookies we notice how strong they are. Marlous makes friends very fast and is seen as a great ball by the elephants.

After lunch we are ready for our next elephant number. This time we are going on the back of an elephant into the jungle. It’s a great experience which we enjoy for several days afterwards. With the four of us we are at the back of the animal and are looking for wild animals. We see pigs, birds, deers, sambas and a very beautiful rhino. Our elephant rider stops at a water pool in the jungle where the rhino is taking a swim. Slowly he goes out of the water into the fields. When we arrive here we don’t have our rhino for ourselves anymore, because from 4 directions there are other elephants with tourists coming.
A day afterwards we have another unique experience when we see a rhino walking accompanied by her baby. This time we are standing in a jeep looking for the animals. This time we see a lot of crocodiles. We enjoy our time a lot in Chitwan and it’s great to talk with Maaike and Eric again. Marlous and I leave after a couple of days back to Kathmandu to prepare our trip and Eric and Maaike are going to Lumbini, the birth place of Budha. From there they will go to Phokara and finally we will see them in Kathmandu again.

Just before we left for Chitwan Marlous and I decided to skip Tibet. It’s too difficult and too ecpensive to arrange the right permits and visa. It wasn’t sure if we could cycle all the way and after visiting almost every travel agency in Thamel we made the decision to fly. We’ve bought tickets to Shanghai and from there we will cycle through China into Laos. After a few days in Kathmandu Engely from the Noble House comes from the Netherlands to Nepal. It’s very nice to see her and we have a lot to talk about. We go with Engely to the Noble House and also into the mountains. We spend the evenings together talking about all the experiences with the children. In the story “With Engely in the mountains” Marlous writes about her day with Engely and Letty, a friend of Engely.

A week before we leave to Shanghai we go by bicycle to Nagarkot together with Maaike and Eric. Marlous and I have cycled this part many times before and it’s nice to do this together with Maaike and Eric. Unfortunately aren’t we up to this sportive couple and arrive as last. That we carry the entire luggage is a comforting thought. In Nagarkot we make a day trip to the village where Marlous has been with Engely. Some of the children who live in the Noble House are from this place in the mountains. After seeing the living standards it is clear enough why the Noble House is needed. The houses are in a bad state, there’s no school and there is always the change that a girl gets sold for money. In the Noble House they get a better change for a safe future.

Maaike gets ill on our last night in Nagarkot and Marlous and I cycle back to Kathmandu without them. While Maaike and Eric stay behind we start with a few hectic days. We have to pack all our gear and say goodbye to the kids, Utsab and Sita. Marlous and I have a picturealbum for everybody in the Noble House. It contains some pictures we’ve taken during our stay. The day before we leave we go to the Noble House for the last time. When we arrive we get coverred with kids and hugs. They all tell us we’re not allowed to leave, we have to stay with them. When we give the albums the children get delighted by seeing pictures of themselves in a real book. During the last couple of days 6 new children have arrived in the house. For them it’s an extra special occasion because they see pictures of themselves for the first time ever. Every time they open their book we see big eyes of surprise by seeing their own faces in a book. All in all a great gift.

After this present we bring the children to school for the last time. The eldest children know well what is happening and saying goodbye is very hard. When I am typing this I feel my troth getting soar again. Gita and Kumari are hanging on the arms of Marlous totally in tears. Anjana and Manisha are looking sad . Little Bibek, who always calls me “My big friend”, runs away in tears behind the school. It’s hard, hard, hard and with tears in our eyes we say goodbye to our little friends while they are comforting each other as one big family. This is the most difficult departure we ever had and we won’t forget it.

The day of departure is more hectic than we expected. Suddenly Engely has to go home because of family circumstances. So we have a quick cup of coffee together and wave her goodbye. After packing our stuff it’s time to go. Sohan from the reception gives us a Buddhist travel shawl and a big handshake. We give Maaike a big hug in her room and Eric brings us to the airport. We check in and our luggage is 31 kg to heavy! But we have a bit of luck and only have to pay for 20 kg up to Delhi. Now we have to hope that everything will arrive safely!!



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