Hello everyone! My name is Agi Kolettas and I am from UK. Having enjoyed the last three months in this beautiful country, I was surprised and disappointed to see how badly the media has portrayed the situation here since the April’s earthquake. It’s true that many people in affected regions are still in desperate need of shelter, medical supplies and food.
However no one seems to report that out of Nepal’s total of 75 districts, 60 are safe to visit and enjoy. Even in Kathmandu valley, where the world has watched in horror all the pictures and videos of the aftermath, I was pleasantly surprised to return and see with my own eyes that only a small number of buildings have collapsed or seriously damaged. Similarly, the majority of the capital’s must-see World Heritage Sites like Swyambhunath (“The Monkey Temple”), Bhuddanath, Patan and Bhakthapur are only partly damaged, already re-opened for visitors and steadily being restored. Remarkably, other significant sights like the Golden Temple, Pashupatinath Temple and the House of Kumari Devi (“The Living Goddess”) are completely unaffected and still in their original glory.
Of course, most positive facts like these tend to fail to make headline news. What we have seen so far on both international and local media are reports of a broken city that is in chaos. This may have been the case in the first few weeks, yet what I observe now is that everything seems to steadily go back to normal. Electricity and running water are restored; the majority of city hospitals are in regular operation and most Kathmandu valley schools are either fully or partly re-opening. Click here for more information.
By the time it’s high season again between September and November, every single business in the country, directly or indirectly relies on tourism and completely depends on visitors from all over the world to make the choice to come and enjoy their stay in this holy land. With the Monsoon arriving in only a matter of days from now, the upcoming dry season that follows it and the number of tourists that arrive will be of critical importance in contributing to restore Nepal’s economy.
I watched many foreign tourists leave the country within days of April 25’s earthquake, following their embassies’ travel advice. I was in Pokhara at the time, having just returned from an unforgettable 6-day trek to Panchase. I had the choice to jump on the first available free flight back to the UK. But I couldn’t abandon the Nepali people, who had welcomed me with open hearts, warm smiles and genuine hospitality. Instead, I immediately joined a group of both Nepalis and foreigners who either already live in the country or happened to be travelling here at the time. We joined together, collecting donations from our friends and families, organizing and delivering supplies and building emergency shelters in two of the most devastated districts, Gorkha and Dhading. Click here for a full update and pictures from our last two visits to Muchok Village in Gorkha.
With my visa expiring in a few days, I will be returning to the UK for the summer as previously scheduled. But I am looking forward to return to Nepal in September and continue the relief work I feel so privileged to have been part of. If you were planning to visit this amazing country this autumn for the first time and you are concerned about your safety, don’t just rely on information you hear on the news. Do your own research and join blogs to contact Nepalis and foreigners who are still here. Information direct from the source is far more reliable and up-to-date than “official” facts and figures. Perhaps you’ve been here before and wondering if it’s a good idea to return. I urge you to do it. Volunteering in relief missions is in continuous need. But you don’t have to be in the front line to make a difference. You can simply enjoy an unforgettable holiday in the land of the mighty Himalayas. Just being here will make a difference. Nepal needs you more than ever!