Travelling Nepal After the Earthquake

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While preparing for our trip to Nepal, there was plenty of confusion about what to expect. The media coverage concerning the earthquake was shocking, so there were some mixed feelings within our group; especially questions about health conditions, patient transport or simply the supply of everyday goods like drinking water popped up in our minds. When the ground shook on April 25th 2015, the whole country of Nepal was unprepared. The 8.1 magnitude quake and its aftershocks alongside another earthquake on May 12th 2015 killed nearly 9000 people and injured around 22000 people.

Many people lost their homes or felt unsafe in their houses and as the result of the earthquake, they chose to live in tents and temporary shelters for many months. Many UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Boudhanath stupa and ancient palaces in the Kathmandu and Bhaktapur Durbar Square could not stand the strength of the earthquake.

As the aftermath of this natural disaster, the tourism flow decreased by 72% in the following months. Especially for a country in which tourism plays such an important role in the economics, the decrease in the influx of tourists proved to be fatal in the economy.

At the day of our arrival, despite of our preparations, we actually could not prepare well for what was waiting for us outside the airport: dust and bricks everywhere. Many houses were destroyed or had cracks running down the walls. Soon we got used to the signs, which warned us from entering any buildings or simply looked like we better keep away from certain buildings.We also realized that the Nepali people work all day long to take care of their own situations and to build up their houses again. However, it did not take us long to see that there were missing essential things like man-power, resources and money.

During our stay in Nepal, we visited several impressive cities and places which showcased the struggle and consequences of the earthquake. Our trip to Bhaktapur showed us quite plainly the dimension of destruction, which was the result from the earthquake. Bhaktapur is one of the three former kingdom cities, which was once the most beautiful one, as per several tourist guides. It is home to an impressively built Nyatapola-Temple and several other interesting buildings and temples. Locals of this ancient city, are used to welcome many tourists and sell souvenirs to them.

We were prepared to see the once breath-taking city to have been destroyed by the earthquake.However, it was still surprising to see plenty of constructions in Bhaktapur, which was similar to a construction side. Bricks and dust were everywhere around the Durbar Square. Temples were marked by signs which warned people from entering them. Men and women were carrying the bricks away and worked on the rebuilding of the temples again. Moving carefully through all the destruction, we tried to imagine the beauty we would have witnessed had we came to Bhaktapur two years earlier.

The entrance to Bhaktapur costs about 15 Euros but we did not regret paying that sum as the money will be used for building up the city quickly again. We would like to see the small cute alleys full of life and tourist shops melting together to one of the most beautiful former kingdom cities of Nepal again.

Alexandra Bartau, Denise Dassler

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