Zhiyu Chua was a veterinary technician that supported our dog sterilisation and canine distemper study in the Himalaya. This was her first visit to Nepal and the Himalaya, and shares this delightful and intimate story of her experience.
We begin our journey in Besisahar. We stopped over for a day before our transition into the mountains. I had my first taste of Nepal's famous momos (above, right), which are handmade dumplings served with a homemade tomato and chilli chutney.
It was Mothers' Day and watching this mother and daughter making momos in the kitchen added to the warmth that these modest dumplings brought to me, both literally and figuratively.
My first arduous stop and favourite place throughout the journey was Bhraka. It boasted a perfectly Insta-worthy mountain landscape that could not be represented with just one photo. Even the details in the landscape were beautiful - its flowers and the butterflies. I was very dispirited when I saw the housing conditions of some of the residents and the animals. It was a real contrast to my own daily life. This made me grateful and appreciative of my privileges even when I'm in an ugly situation, which for some of the kids and animals here, would just be an ordinary day.
Dogs we neutered in Bhraka - a mommy dog (middle) with her two black sons. The little pup just wanted to cuddle with his mommy as soon as she got off our operating table. He was too young to be sterilised.
Mukhiya ensured that our stomachs were always full and that we had all the health and energy to take on the day!
Debby is seen here carrying a sedated dog down the mountain in a basket mounted on her head and back! She was the person that made this trip possible.
Studying canine distemper and supporting the ongoing sterilisation efforts of the Himalayan Mutt Project were the main purposes for my trip.
I learned a lot from this experience. It was a real challenge to prevent Murphy's Law - stopping anything that could go wrong from actually going wrong. I had not expected a scene that would be similar to the privileged one back in the clinics I worked in in Singapore. Yet, I was still kept on my toes. From trying to keep our working environment sterile, to managing animal behaviours and conditions. Things did not always go according to plan but we always tried to make the best out of every situation. We had to put aside our personal challenges and come back to work together as a team. These pictures show how each individual played a part in the team.
My travel partner, Dr. Tharm (above), had to tolerate all my quirks and nonsense.
Our team (above) stopped to speak with a shepherd who was with his goats (below).
The side trek
Trekking is an activity to do when you are in Nepal. To have an experience of it, we walked down instead of taking the off-road vehicle. It was a nice way to wrap up our work in the mountains. We all had a different pace, but we always started and finished together. As for myself, my preference was to take a leisurely pace far behind. Even though I would trail far at the back from time to time, we always managed to catch up with each other for short chats. We would then return to floating behind or speeding up to the front. This made me reflect about how people come and go in our daily lives, and of the choices that we make. But yet, there is hope, because at the end of the day, no one is ever alone.
The trek gave me an opportunity to reflect on the parts and parcels of life - this may seem cliched. I had to forego the comfort and cleanliness of not being able to shower for days, undertake tough and tiring treks, but I got in return the memories of walking in an infinite landscape, with its wild animals passing through, or the mountain dogs following.