Reflections from Nepal


It was 3pm in the afternoon and I found myself lying on my single wooden bed atop rough wooden floors in the hostel. I rarely lie down in the middle of the afternoon but I found that it is what you sometimes need when you are so emotionally challenged by your environment. Graham and I visited Nepal for the first time, there to hand out running shoes to the children and villagers living in Batase, some 35km outside of Kathmandu over imposing mountain foothills. This assortment of secondhand shoes had been collected by members of our Find Your Feet community and it was an honour to deliver them to the village.


On embarking on this trip I had a vision of mountains, monasteries, prayer flags and wild spaces. I guess that is the Nepal we see clearly in the photographs and yes, it is there for sure. In fact, we spent two nights living in a Buddhist monastery rarely visited by Western travellers. From here we ran into the national parks protected by the Nepalese army, ducked beneath prayer flags stretching across the trail, and even encountered a leopard. But the real Nepal, the one where most people live, is either in Kathmandu or in the outlying villages perched on the sides of the foothills. In Kathmandu the air pollution and dust rising off the congested untarmaced roads is so heavy that I found myself wrapping a scarf over my nose and mouth. It is so hard to think clearly about the imposing Stupa in front of you when you are finding it hard to breathe. Furthermore, the destruction of the earthquake that struck the region just two years previously is still hugely apparent, with cracks extending down buildings and rubble piled amongst the rubbish-strewn sidewalks. Further out into the countryside and the air becomes cleaner. However, the rubbish strewn through the beautiful national parks and farmlands hurt my heart. Added to this were buildings after buildings, and thus livelihoods after livelihoods, destroyed by the earthquake.

Find Your Feet in Nepal!   

Over the course of the week, we ran and hiked through national parks and villages, experiencing a side to Nepal mostly overlooked by most Western travellers to this country. Then at night we would return to Batase and eat with the local children living in this hostel, children who had left their homes as orphans or as ‘one-too-many’ in their families. Dinner was cooked on an open fire in a corrugated iron shed, built as a replacement to the original stone and thatch buildings that crumpled with the tremors of mighty earthquakes. We would eat standing outside under the stars or with a light mizzly rain falling, chatting to fellow travellers or volunteers working in the village whilst the children babbled away over their rice & dhal inside the tin shed.


The children and villagers of Batase are blessed. Whilst life is tough it could be a whole lot tougher. They have people like us with prosperity who care for them. They have shelter and livelihoods and prospects. They can receive some form of education. However, many in the surrounding villages and towns are not so lucky. That is the hardest part and why I closed my eyes at 3pm on my single bed to ‘comprehend’.


Whilst our trip to Nepal raised the question of ‘How can we do more?’, it also made me realise that we need to really, really appreciate and protect what we have here in Tasmania and Australia. We need to stand proud of our natural landscapes and make sure that we protect them with fierce determination. What we have here in Australia is unique but it will need all the help that we can provide to ensure it remains beautiful for our children, and their children and every living species that relies on it.


Here is a further reflection of what we travelled with to help you with packing for your own third-world travels. Please note, Graham and I were able to avoid all sickness despite not drinking one bottle of bottled water. Instead, we used the Cambelbak All Clear UV Purifier which lasted the entire time on one USB charge. We also took our jetboil and our own utensils so that we didn’t have to risk picking up germs from communal kitchen arrangements. Finally, we avoided eating anything fresh and all meat products. The only fresh food we had in our time in Nepal were bananas which are safer to eat due to their skins.


What I wouldn’t leave Australia without: 


What wasn’t essential but I was stoked to have with me:


Foods to avoid sickness:

  • All meat
  • All dairy
  • All fresh fruit unless they have a skin
  • All fresh veggies unless they are peeled or well cooked
  • Rice that has obviously stood around for some time
  • Bakery products that have obviously been sitting exposed for long periods of time
  • Any untreated water (please note, we didn't need to buy bottled water using the above methods and it definitely words out cheaper in the long run!)
  • Iced beverages including ice cubes


What we ate lots of:

  • Boiled rice
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Dhal
  • Boiled greens
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter
  • Hot tea
  • Energy bars brought from home
  • Jelly beans brought from home when exercising


Further tips for not getting sick

  • Wash your hands with soap and then also use sanitiser:
    • After bathrooms
    • After showers
    • Before dinner
    • During dinner
    • After dinner
    • After exercising
    • After shaking someone’s hand
    • After sharing communal spaces i.e. rooms, vehicles etc.
  • Don’t drink shared water
  • Don’t use tap water for washing utensils or brushing teeth - use your own purified water
  • Sleep in an inner sheet, even in hotel rooms
  • Don’t let your guard down in Western Hotels
  • Use UV purifier to wave over your toothbrushes and utensils randomly

Find Your Feet


  • Posted on by Larn Harvey

    Congratulations you beautiful people Hanny and Graham. So much suffering, so little time to make a difference, all we can hope is we all do our best to do ‘something’, following your great examples. Nepal had been on my Bucket List, until I saw a couple of docos. a number of years ago. I too was rocked with sadness over the images of rubbish left by visitors. It is my belief, if you are not capable of removing everything that you have arrived with, then don’t go! Can only image what you witnessed now after the devastation of the Earthquake. Souls left with no hope. We all need to do more for our fellow man, but we all need to do much, much more for our environment, or there will be no future for man, or the many animals we share this little planet called Earth with. Well done Hanny and Graham! Thank you for your humanity.

  • Posted on by Tim Stewart

    Really interesting notice, well done with the second hand shoes to the fore and your description of the pollution quite vivid and not something that we are aware of here in Tasmania.

  • Posted on by Adrienne

    Lovely blog Hanny. I spent some time hiking in Nepal back in 1999 – a wonderfully memorable experience coupled with some of the worst Nepali belly ever. I remember the kindness of the people and the majestic scenery. I hope to get back there some time so thank you for the updated tips to avoid a repeat of 1999!

  • Posted on by Michael Hubbert

    Sad to read about the strewn rubbish and earthquake destruction. I spent some weeks there in 1972. At that time Kathmandu was quite a clean place because the people there were mainly Nepalese who take pride in their surroundings. I travelled by bus from Raxaul on the Indian border and I noticed the country getting more clean and tidy the further over the border we travelled, particularly the roadside shops. In nearby Patan there was a large Tibetan community making their traditional craft wares. I guess that, earthquakes aside, one of the problems nowadays is simply too many tourists.

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