Hope you're all well and not finding the clocks going back too difficult to cope with.
I'm sorry I haven't blogged for a while, but the internet wasn't working in Nagarkot, and I didn't have time when I got to Kathmandu. But I do now!
I'm currently in Sauraha, which is where ths vast majority of the hotels and lodges are for people who want to do elephant safaris, canoe rides, birdwatching etc etc So naturally it's very touristy and busy, and it's quite weird to be sitting in an internet place watching elephants wander past up the street. There are also camels, but they look really out of place here.
So what am I doing here you might wonder. Well, it's all to do with the wildlife lodge that some friends and I are building, except it's not being built in Sauraha, it's being built near Jagatpur which isn't touristy at all and will be a nice retreat for people. So I've been visiting the site and seeing how the work is going, but as there isn't much I can do there at the moment, I'm in Sauraha whilst Bhakta and Prakash and Krishna (three of my business partners) are at the site discussing various things. One of these days I really will have to learn Nepali so that I can understand what everyone is talking about!
Anyway, at the moment there are 10 rooms being built, and the dining room and kitchen, with another 4 rooms to be built before we open. Plus a meeting hall (for slide shows), an elephant platform (for getting on the elephants), an elephant stable and miscellaneous other things. There will eventually be a swimming pool, but not just yet. As you may be able to see from the picture, everything is being hand built, which is partly why it takes so much time! Anyway, these are the rooms being built, but they won't look like this when finished - they'll be plastered and painted inside and outside and have verandahs so you can sit in the sun (or the shade) and look at the view.
The first picture is the view looking towards the jungle, whilst the one below is looking towards the Himalayas. The view of the community forest won't be quite like that however, as there's a lot of land clearing to do before opening. In fact there's a whole shedload of stuff to do (including buying two elephants which will cost around 2 million NRS each), but the current plan is to open on January 1st 2010. That may be optimistic, but we'll see.
So that's what I've been doing for the past few days - site visits, discussing various things, and coming up with ideas of where to put various things, how to decorate the rooms etc etc. There isn't anything much I can do to help there at the moment, but there is a website to design and leaflets to design and a logo to design etc etc, so I can at least make a start on them, and once the rooms are finished I can help with the painting and decorating and fitting out.
So Eco Wildlife Lodge is going to be good (remember the name for future reference) and I'm really looking forward to seeing it finished and up and running. There will be more rooms built in future (we're aiming for 24 altogether), and, as I said, there will also be a swimming pool at some point. It's a really lovely site - lots of birds (I saw a White Fronted Kingfisher yesterday), bullock carts wandering past, people herding goats or cows or buffalo, and it's only a 10 minute walk to the river (canoe safaris), and about half an hour's walk to the entrance to the National Park at Kasuri where there's a Gharial (strange looking crocodile) breeding programme, and from where you can go on elephant safaris, or go for a nature walk.
Well, I'll be returning to Kathmandu at the weekend, so I'll probably write more then.
Take care of yourselves,
Lots of love,