final fling 2!

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July 5th 2009
Published: July 5th 2009
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Dont know why all the text didnt get published! Better luck this time! Due to power cuts and slow internett this had been a whole Sundays work!!!!!!!!!!
Final Fling Blog 5th July 2009

3 weeks and we will be back in England—it seems so close yet so far away!
We are busy in these last weeks writing the modules for the teacher training that will take place in the last week we are here-I am getting quite quick on the key board The lap top is one of the most useful items that we brought with us -infact we should have brought 2. Much of the training is based on making the lessons in the official Punjab texts books more interesting and inter-active but I am also working on sessions about reading/book corners and making books, bullying and Early Childhood Education! It is going to be an intensive week!
We have had cupboards made—not quite as we designed but the carpenter is used to making the one type of cupboard! We visited wood shops and hardware stores and it was nearly as exciting as buying the computers!!!! We have found a couple of good book shops in Lahore and will take a trip there again soon to buy books, flash cards and some wall charts. We can get rulers, compasses and other stationary items from smaller shops in Kot Rahda Kishen and I think it will be good to support local traders. I am looking for rectangular plastic containers to store the items but haven’t seen any yet—just round ones—but I am sure we will find something suitable. We will put some small pots of paint and brushes in the cupboards so that the students can paint them—it is a shame that we won’t be here to see the results but school doesn’t start again until the end of August—perhaps someone will send us photos? I am looking forward to the training session when we can present the cupboards and explain to the teachers how generous our friends and colleagues have been in England.

Geoff and I took some leave recently and spent some time in Islamabad and Murree and crossed the Wagga boarder again to visit Shimla in India to get away from the intense heat here in the Punjab plains.
VSO organised the Murree trip as there are only 9 volunteers here in Pakistan now and as the office is also going to have to lose staff they thought it would be good to have a get together before we all go our separate ways. They hired a coaster and we drove up into the mountains to the hill station of Murree—it was a jolly trip just lacking the crates of Guinness and larger! Murree was very busy and rather like Blackpool! However the weather was cool and there were some beautiful views. They had asked us to provide some entertainment for the evening but after the incident with the ‘Inshala’ song in February I stuck to a game of pass the parcel with forfeits! It took a long time for the ‘go out of the room with 2 legs and come back with 6 legs’ forfeit to be realised!!!
It was good to see the other volunteers and people who have become important to us over the months we have been here and quite sad to realise that it is all going to end soon.

Our India trip had its ups and downs, and not just due to the amazing mountain roads! We are ‘regulars’ at Wagga now and I wonder how many other westerners have as many Wagga stamps as us!! Once in India we got a good air conditioned coach to Chandigah at £3 a ticket each . Our accommodation in Chandigah was not such a bargain and even though we had the ‘honeymoon’ room I will not be recommending the hotel to my friends!! If Geoff had taken me there for our honeymoon there I don’t think our marriage would have lasted 3 minutes not 32 years!
Our journey continued on a local bus up and up wonderful roads into the hills at £2 each—a good choice until it broke down!!! The driver was very kind and bought us mangoes to eat and waved down a suitable bus for us to continue our journey. The suitable bus was one that DIDN’T have twice as many passengers as seats!
We arrived in Shimla -not quite the gentile British hill station I had imagined but again more like Blackpool and a big holiday destination for India families. We decided to find a hotel outside the town but it proved difficult as it was high season, however as white westerners we obviously had lots of money so people were helpful!!! We got a room in a sort of time-share resort -it was OK but rather run down and grubby and the manager was a great guy who helped us book into a WONDERFUL hotel and book tickets for the narrow gauge train back to Kalka. Wildflower Hall was all I could wish for—the best part was the Jacuzzi on the roof over looking a lovely view with a bar where you could get WINE!!!! We were completely spoiled for a couple of days eating PASTA and CORNFLAKES and other western delights and sleeping in a room with silent AC and no dust and a washroom with a bath that also had a PLUG!
We went for some beautiful drives through steep valleys where apple and cherry trees are grown on terraces cut out from the hill side—it was cherry season and very sweet and juicy they were.
We did a bit of walking, fine on a level path but as soon as any slope was involved the thinner air made it quite hard. We reached a height of 11152 feet at Hattu Peak and watched the vultures gliding and swirling in the thermals below us.
I was disappointed not to see any snowy peaks but I should have done more research and realised that we needed to travel further into the Himalayas to see the really big mountains.
We travelled back to Kalka on the toy train—a 6 hour trip on rather uncomfortable seats but had the company of a delightful Indian family who had been on a trip of a lifetime to Shimla and who plied us with snacks at each station! They were fascinated by the digital camera and kept wanting us to take pictures and then show them!!!
We took the easy option and got a car from Kalka back to Amristar and stayed in an interesting building that is a cross between the Raj and 1960/70 hippie culture! The spa was great and I had a very thorough whole body massage!!
It rained in Amristar and everyone was very happy but as in Pakistan any rain turns the roads into rivers of mud so going out was not a good idea.
Now we are back in Sydenwalla and the rain clouds have moved on and the weather is quite pleasant. The real monsoon is still a few days away we are told then the horrid humid weather will return. The last rain blew out the local transformer so we were again without power for hours and it is not nice!! Constant electricity is something to be grateful for!

I think you have had a ‘heat wave’!!!! 30 degrees pah!!! Still no rain at Wimbledon! I expect when we get back August will be wet and cold—I almost hope so!!

Take care and we are looking forward to lots of evenings with chats, photos and possibly a glass or two of wine!!


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