Updated on December 20, 2017
The power of laughter
Charities and volunteers come in many different forms. Teachers, doctors, builders, … All of them always needed and always welcome. And then there are those who come to share something more simple … A smile. Last month, the Blue Planet Lodge hosted a group of very special guests from the Netherlands; an organisation known as CliniClowns. The CliniClowns specialize in entertaining children who find themselves in lesser circumstances and share their expertise with schools, refugee camps, hospitals, … We were very happy to receive them and welcome them to our own NGO!
Through our project, Quality of Life Nepal, we built a school providing education to the poorest in the village of Sarangkot. Even though we make sure the children have uniforms, toys, notebooks and anything else they would need to complete their education, there are other important needs a child will have that go beyond the material ones. Games, creative play, laughter, … These are the parts of education that are easily forgotten and yet essential to the development of a well-rounded personality as well as intelligence. This is why we were very happy to invite the CliniClowns to our little school and offer the children a different kind of stimulation. One with a focus on joy.
The children were sitting in a long row at the end of the playground not being sure what they were waiting to happen. They had never started their day like this before and would surely have been in class by now. Slowly in the distance, the sound of giggling and the squeaking of small toys and horns came closer. Then appeared a group of seven clowns dressed in vivid colours and a joyful smile. Some children shared this smile immediately. Others were not yet sure how they were supposed to react.
Initially, the clowns eased into a familiar atmosphere and encouraged the children to join them by playing some simple games. Soon after, they were organised in a big circle in the middle of which each clown would take a moment to introduce themselves and their special skill. Some would juggle, some would play instruments and sing. Others introduced the concept of physical comedy and slapstick, which was one in which the children delighted enormously.
If some of the kids were still unsure of who these weird creatures were, all reservations fell away as soon as they were no longer observing, but participating. In one of the best games that could engage the whole school at once, one of the clowns would hold up a picture of an animal. The children, on mass, were then to mimic this animal by sound and movement. There were roaring lions, soaring birds, and trumpeting elephants. This activity created the relaxed atmosphere that would prove to be fertile ground for a wonderful time of playing and of course, laughing.
The visit was concluded with an exchange of songs. The clowns performed a Dutch song translated into Nepali and then asked if the children would sing a song for them as well. An activity in which they rejoiced. Even some teachers were called to the front of the group to perform some of their favourite songs.
This visit had proven one thing to us, which is that the language of comedy and happiness is a universal one. If you can’t make yourself understood through words, you will through body language. Even if this is difficult to convey, there is nothing as contagious as a smile. The clowns knew how to read the children and knew how to respond to their reactions in order to create the desired results. This is what makes their work so effective in many different cultures and what has brought these children another step closer to making constructive and creative activities part of their everyday lives.
Thank you CliniClowns, for all the joy!
Updated on November 7, 2017
Ready for a trek?
After a rather stubborn and persistent monsoon season, the first clear days have finally won out against the rain. Large groups of trekkers and thrill-seekers are finding their way to Pokhara to take advantage of the blue skies now willing to reveal Nepal’s natural beauty. Will you be one of them?
Whether you are a seasoned trekker or a novice, in Nepal you can find treks to cater to any level from the popular Poon Hill trek to the more strenuous ABC or Upper Mustang treks. If you would not like to commit to a longer trek, you can even choose from those taking only one to three days.
When people think of Annapurna trekking, they often think of the legendary ABC trek. Considered a classic amongst our list, this trek offers glorious, up-close mountain views as well as glaciers and traditional Nepali villages. The higher you get, the closer you will reach the nature of your own self as modern comforts slowly evaporate. After Chhomrong, lodges and restaurants are few and far between and even heating you can only acquire with an extra fee. Do not let that discourage you, though. A lot of visitors greatly appreciate this as part of the experience and note that fewer such luxuries, make for a greater appreciation of what is being presented all around them.
Trekkers who come to explore the Himalayas for the first time or desire a shorter visit, often select the Poon Hill trek. This 5 day trek offers a fine introduction to everything the Annapurna region has to offer yet doesn’t fail to deliver on a uniqueness of its own. This trek will take you by Ghorepani. A village offering many meal and lodging options as a connecting route for many travellers heading in different directions. Here you settle before taking those last steps up to the most famous Himalaya viewpoint and watch the sunrise break through from behind the mountain peaks.
I myself have done many of the most famous treks and one of the more glorious ones for me was Upper Mustang, which I have done several times. Where all treks can offer you a panoramic view of mountain ranges and a feel of seclusion and wonder, Mustang still has a “hidden gem” quality to it with a unique combination of culture and nature. With the Buddhist monasteries and nunneries built into the cliffs and mountain ledges, this trek will take you by one of the last bastions of undisturbed Tibetan culture in the world. This combined with the dark and rough rock formations as if taken from a western film, makes Upper Mustang truly an exceptional region to discover.
But what you decide to do, is all up to you. This trek was an amazing experience but the sheltered and unique quality of it, does mean it is one of the more expensive treks when it comes to the permits. Mustang is still restricted by a set of rules for cultural conservation and require a minimum US$500 permit fee for a ten-day trek. I would therefore recommend this trek to more experienced trekkers ready for something completely different.
Ready to go? We can organise your trek from beginning to end, from permit to lodgings. Visit our trekking website for more information on the various treks, what to bring, testimonials, …. Do you still have more questions? Do not hesitate to contact us directly and ask us anything!
– Ramchandra Sharma, managing director of Blue Planet Lodge.