Nepal - Ben

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    1/28 - Here I am standing on an ancient staircase, over 500 years old, in the ancient city of Bhaktapur. 12 kilometers east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is renowned for its stunning architecture and rich history. To reach the village, I rented a motorcycle for the day for less than US$10. Riding around the Kathmandu Valley made for a truly unforgettable adventure.
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    2/28 - This is my room at the volunteer house in Nayabazar, just a short walk from the tourist district of Thamel. I love to sit on the windowsill and watch the surrounding neighbors and the streets below. There is always something going on: children playing games, large cows roaming the streets, stray dogs fighting, a saleswoman yelling in attempt to sell her vegetables.
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    3/28 - One day I walked into the volunteer house and looked up, and was greeted by this interesting perspective of the staircase. When I first landed in Kathmandu and saw what the houses were like, I was afraid I would be living in a shack for 6 weeks. Fortunately, the house is actually very nice and comfortable.
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    4/28 - Ramdai, Prazu, and Pratik, from left to right, standing near the sacred Bagmati River at Pashupatinath, the most important Hindu temple in Nepal. Ramdai is a cheerful and funny man that lives at the volunteer house with us, and Prazu and Pratik are volunteer assistants.
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    5/28 - Shree Binayak Hospital from across the Ring Road in Gongabu, Kathmandu. I spent the majority of my time observing at this hospital, which focused primarily on treating women. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it shows in Kathmandu - it is an extremely dirty, as is evidenced by this picture.
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    6/28 - Vinayak Hospital, across the street from Shree Binayak Hospital. I also spent time at this larger hospital, which had everything a major hospital needs, from an Emergency Room to a Surgical Ward to a Radiology Department.
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    7/28 - This is the view from the roof of Vinayak Hospital. The building has many stories, and it is a thrill to walk up the stairs to the roof and get a 360 degree view of surrounding Kathmandu on a clear day. Scrubs and surgical sheets can be seen drying on a clothesline, but sometimes daily monsoonal rains lead to linen shortages.
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    8/28 - Here I am with fellow medical intern Amanda, posing with the some of the nursing staff at Shree Binayak Hospital. We are dressed in scrubs because we are going to observe a total abdominal hysterectomy surgery. During the surgery, the power went out as a result of "load shedding" and the back-up generator failed!
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    9/28 - This is the view from a bench in the Post-Op Room. As interns, we spent many hours on this bench, observing, talking with the nursing staff, and helping in any way we could. Patients can be seen in the background, recovering from surgery.
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    10/28 - Close to the volunteer house, I passed Mhepi Temple every day on my way to the hopsital. It is a classic Hindu temple, with prayer bells, stone carvings of gods, and prayer flags. One day I decided to climb to the top for an excellent view of the surrounding city.
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    11/28 - I visited Aroni Secondary Boarding School, as well as a number of other local schools, to give basic health and hygiene presentations to the students. When I asked classes how many times they should bathe per week, most of them responded by saying once! I did my best to improve their habits.
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    12/28 - Walking along the dusty streets of Kathmandu near the hospital. A marketplace lines the street. It is a good place to pick up inexpensive necessities.
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    13/28 - Wandering near Durbar Square in Old Kathmandu, I came across this Ayurvedic Pharmacy, which carries only traditional Ayurvedic medicines based on thousands of years of ancient knowledge. Ayurveda is still an extremely popular form of medicine in Nepal and India.
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    14/28 - A classic, delicious Tibetan dish found all over Nepal, vegetable momos are one of my favorite snacks. Of course, a cup of masala milk tea (dudh chiya) is necessary to wash them down. This restaurant is right down the street from the volunteer house, and a plate of momos here costs less than US$1!
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    15/28 - Here I am with my good Nepali friend Yogesh. He has a shop right next to the volunteer house, and makes great, cheap snacks, including buffalo momos, fried chicken, and the volunteer favorite, chawalehs. This snack was a buffalo meat empanada (hot pocket) deep fried and covered in two mouth-watering sauces.
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    16/28 - OR2K Restaurant in Thamel. This establishment was a favorite among the volunteers, for its great food, especially the falafel and hummus, as well as its comforting ambience. With Thamel so close to the volunteer house, many volunteers come here after a day of work and hang out, talk, read, and relax.
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    17/28 - A Nepali woman considers me as I consider her large supply of items for sale, attempting to figure out what some of them are. In Nepal, the supermarket is replaced by street side merchants like this one.
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    18/28 - Durbar Square, Patan. On a Saturday, the only day off in Nepal, a group of old Nepalis sit back, relax, and have a good laugh. Nepalis love leisure and good conversation, and live with a relaxed sense of time.
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    19/28 - Fellow volunteer Camille using her photography skills to capture an image in a palace in Patan. The architecture here is absolutely stunning. I found Patan to be a photographer's paradise, with endless photo possibilities, from memorable portraits to ancient alleyways.
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    20/28 - The breathtaking, almost eerie Kumari Palace in Kathmandu's Durbar Square. The Kumari, also known as the Living Goddess, is a young girl who is selected after a rigorous set of initiations. If you are lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Kumari during one of her few annual appearances.
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    21/28 - Wandering through Patan, I came across these three people engaged in a transaction. Nepal is a trip for the senses. There are colors everywhere: bright saris worn by women, old blue doors, red and yellow tomatoes, and terra cotta bricks.
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    22/28 - Boudhanath Stupa, also called Boudha, with strings of colorful prayer flags stretching from its tall golden spire. This Buddhist Stupa is an important religious site for Buddhists and tourists alike, and is one of the largest stupas in the world. The iconic Buddha Eyes symbol can be seen on the four faces of the golden tower.
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    23/28 - A Buddhist woman lighting butter lamps in a monastery next to Boudhanath. One evening I visited the stupa and explored the surrounding shops and monasteries, finding many interesting scenes like this one.
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    24/28 - Mountain biking with my guide Milan one Sunday morning to Nagarkot. There are many mountain biking trails around Kathmandu, but I found the climb to the scenic Nagarkot rewarding and exhilarating. By the end of the ride, we had experienced everything including scorching heat, choking dust, monsoonal downpours, lung-busting climbs, and teeth-chattering descents.
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    25/28 - On a weekend trip to Chitwan National Park in the southern Terai plains of Nepal. Bathing with an elephant in the river is a humbling experience, not to mention extremely refreshing on a hot day. There is nothing like riding an elephant after a long week in the hospital!
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    26/28 - Beautiful Phewa Tal, the picturesque lake next to the tourist district in Pokhara. Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal, a long seven hour bus ride from Kathmandu. We rented a canoe and rowed into the middle of the lake at dusk.
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    27/28 - Cliffs towering above on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. I spent my last week in Nepal trekking in the unforgettable Annapurna Region. My guide, Milan, always joked that we were walking through Pandora. Eventually, I got it...He wasn't joking.
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    28/28 - A blissful moment and appropriate conclusion to my experience in Nepal, here I am taking in the surrounding mountains at Annapurna Base Camp. In early September, it is still monsoon season and mostly cloudy, but the clouds dramatically clear for fifteen minutes and reveal a ring of giant Himalayan peaks.

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