We had special days too! Sports Day, a Christmas party, and an outing to the nearby town of Lava!
Outing to Lava
Initially, we planned to trek all the way to Lava. In fact, this would be the same route that the children of Kolakham Village would have to take if they choose to continue their education after Year 4.
Then we found out - the trek would take AT LEAST 3 hours one way!
Uhrm... Not much of a holiday for the youths!
So the volunteers discussed, and some of the volunteers felt so sorry for the youths, they offered to put up the cost of hiring jeeps just so the youths would not have to make a 6 hour trek on their supposedly-day off!
Luckily we had enough INR left over that the volunteers didn't have to cough up from their own pockets!
So come the day of the outing, the youths and adult volunteers piled into jeeps and began .... a slow, winding, very, very TURBULENT ride up the mountains... to Lava village!
Along the way, we passed the forests where we were told the red panda and barking deer lived. But we were warned not to venture in alone as big, black, fierce and hungry bears also lived in the forests!
The temperature dropped even further as we slowly climbed to the very peak of the mountain.
Our first stop was a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The view was breathtaking, as the monastery overlooked the mountain peaks in the distance.
We went inside, and the youths hammed it up with the statues and took lots and lots of pictures :>.
And.... LOST OUR EA BANNER!!!
[Blame for the loss was eventually narrowed down to the B&T Law Firm, and is pending investigation of all video and photographic evidence.... The case is still ongoing at press time...]
An elderly man came into the monastery and showed us a delicious snack - honeycomb covered with sesame seeds - for just 5 rupees. One taste, and he was surrounded by team members clamouring for more!
We walked further into town where the youths were shown the weekly bazaar, and after being told precisely the time of lunch and where to meet, the youths (and adults!) were set loose to shop, shop, shop!
The weekly bazaar was filled with people haggling over clothes, shoes, bags, vegetables, fish, meat... anything you could want to buy at very cheap prices! The area where the bazaar was held was so tightly packed, it was hard to move in groups... most of the time we had to squeeze sideways through packed alleyways with market sellers' tarps spread on the ground on our left and right... the din of busy shoppers and sellers calling us to buy from them filling our ears.
Some of the adults were busy finding gloves, socks and foodstuffs for the children of Kolakham Village. The youths were busy finding bargains!
The boys came back with headgear that had cost them about SGD$1!
But Nina was eventually crowned Queen of Bargains when she came back and proudly displayed bags full of her wares... shoes that she had bargained down from SGD$15 to for SGD$10, for example!
Until, that is, Bhaskar, our guide, casually picked up the shoes and pointed out the actual price on the price tag... which was about 60 rupees cheaper... :>
We had a lunch of noodles and dumplings, but the youths declared the food at the chalet much more yummy-licious than the food at the restaurant up in Lava and we had to have a competition to finish up the dumplings.
After lunch everyone quickly bought snacks like chocolate and biscuits from the restaurant's counter and then climbed back into the jeep. Tired and happy, most of us dozed off on the ride back... it had been a wonderful day!