Monday, July 25, 2011

Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge!

Ride Statistics

Amounts Pledged:

1. For Max - GBP 4,095 (on
2. For Shisang - GBP 225 + NRs. 40,400 (on & in Nepal)

Total distance of the Kora - around 50 kilometers
Time Taken - a little over six hours, with five punctures, a tea break and a lunch break
Total riders who started - 43
Total riders who completed - 34

Total distance covered by the riders - 34 x 50 = 1700 kms

Organisers: socialtours & Chain


Photo Gallery

Team Crank with the Challengers!

Riders on an uphill

The team from the British Gurkhas

Riding towards Kirtipur

A little downhill in Kirtipur

Waiting for the group

Lunch break at Boudha

Riders who completed the Challenge!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Press Release: Kathmandu Kora Bicycle Challenge

60 K | 23.07.2011

In Buddhism and Hinduism a ‘Kora’ is a circumbulation, done clockwise, usually around a religious structure. It is said that a single Kora around Mt. Kailash in Tibet for example is enough for one lifetime. Kathmandu, with its myriad religious structures is a perfect location to do a circumbulation. It boasts two of the most revered Buddhist Stupas of Boudhha & Swoyambhu, and one of the top eight... temples for Hindus worldwide, Pashupatinath. This Challenge circumbulated the valley, clockwise, right at the edge of the valley, away from the hustle of the city, passing by picturesque rural settings, raising money per kilometre biked for a worthy cause.

Maxim Hooper and Shishang Khyungba Lama, both 16 years of age but from two different parts of the world, will be taking up the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge on July 23 to raise funds for the OCCED (Organization for Community Child and Environment) Orphanage at Naxal and Samata School at Jorpati.
The charity cycling event is similar to the fund run events organized in Germany and other parts of the world.

About Max
16 year old Max came to Nepal with his mother Susan (who is CEO of SAGA holidays in the UK) about a year ago, and had a great time playing with the students at the SAMATA School and the OCCED Orphanage. On going back to the UK, his commitment to come back to Nepal and give something back was huge.

About Shisang
Also 16 year old, Shisang is a Nepalese who will be also accepting the challenge and will ride with Max. He has just completed his school leaving exams and has started his A levels in Kathmandu. He is a cycling enthusiast and a music buff. This is his first foray into Charity, and he is keen to see the results!

The ride is expected to bring in biking enthusiasts from all over Kathmandu on a first ever organized cycling Kora of Kathmandu.

Pledges can be made at 4412508 or 5000547 or by emailing until Sunday 24th July 2011. Donating from abroad can be done via the just giving page at

Chain Bikes is Nepal’s first Cycle company who has designed bikes for Nepalis. It conducts several events through its charity arm, Chain Inc to promote cycling as a pure sport in Nepal.

Socialtours is a five time responsible tourism award nominated company specializing in soft adventure. It has also mentions in National Geographic Adventure and Lonely Planet.

Participation is free for this event. Cyclist should come to Chain Bikes in Bhanimandal, Ekantakun at 0630 am on Saturday, 23rd July, get registered, and the ride starts at 0700 hours. It is expected to take about six hours in total. It’s a fun ride and there are no winners. The idea is to help Max and Shisang to complete the challenge and raise the funds for charity. Donating to this cause is completely voluntary!

We request all to support this event through participation, spreading the news, coverage of the event, and donating to the cause.

INFORMATION / PLEDGES : 4412508, 5000547

Friday, July 8, 2011

I know where your rice comes from....

Danielle Shapiro (

How do I know? Because I planted it! Well, some of it. And just that part that you might get from Nepal, which, in all likelihood, is not very much. But let’s not get stuck on the particulars. The point here is that Ilaria, Isabella and I spent a lovely, messy, fascinating day this past Wednesday wading through muddy rice paddies planting with locals in a village called Chapagaun about 10 km outside of Kathmandu. The farmers we met are ethnic Newari, Kathmandu’s native population.

The Rotaract Club of Mt. Everest and a social event management company called Life Entertainment planned our venture. We were there because Ila is friendly with a wonderful guy named Raj Gyawali who owns Social Tours (, a travel agency based in Kathmandu. He worked with the other organizations to get the word out about the rice planting trip. He and his daughter Tara joined us too.

Turns out, that June 29, is the 15th day of the Nepali month and the first official day of the rice-planting season. However, because the rains have been so good this year – and we have seen a few good downpours during my visit – farmers actually started planting earlier. Nonetheless, the day is one of celebration.

We started our journey with a short trip to a Buddhist stupa dedicated to Shiva near Chapagaun and then made our way to the rice paddies. When we arrived, the fields were already full of brightly-dressed women (and a few girls) bent over at the waist, water up to mid-calf and hands full of long, thin, green stalks of rice. Men also waded through digging up mud and, it seemed, thus prepping the earth for the planting.

Dressed as we were to get filthy, we shed our shoes and cautiously descended into the paddy. Isabella was a bit scared and wanted to be held the entire time, but Ila and I got to experience that weirdly unsettling yet simultaneously pleasant squish of the mud between our toes and under our feet. Our walking was unsteady until later in the day when Raj gave us the all-important tip that we needed to lift our feet out of the water with each step forward.

Once we were in the fields, the local Nepali women approached with a bunch of rice seeds and showed us how to plant them. Take two at a time, at least, and place them deep into the mud, standing upright so the greens stick out. Ila went first, while Isabella and I watched. I followed. With the Nepali women planting next to me, it was clear what a novice I was. For every row of rice I managed to plant, I think they probably completed five, at least. They move quick! The result, as we saw throughout the day, are the delicately beautiful paddies full of bright green slivers bending gently in the wind.

In truth, Ila, Isabella and I spent most of the day watching, quite happily so, and I taking pictures. But the others on our trip – we were a group of about 20 – got so into the spirit of the day that they ended up utterly doused in mud, tossing each other in, wrestling and playing a game that sort of looked like tag. Isabella and Tara, Raj’s daughter who is just about Isabella’s age, loved that I started calling them “mud monsters” and ran from them each time one approached.

After the planting was done, we boarded our bus and headed to lunch. We ate a traditional celebratory meal with our hands, much to Isabella’s delight. The food started with beaten rice – pieces of rice that are flat and crunchy, and sort of look like cereal. To mix with this was an assortment of vegetable and potato curries, buff and chicken and as a dessert, fresh yogurt. With a touch of honey, that and the beaten rice was a surprising treat.

Thus muddied, fully-fed and exhausted, we made our way home. It was a wonderful sneak peak into the daily lives of Nepalis, especially now during the Monsoon. Raj told us they will spend most of the next few months in their fields. We saw how the farmers remained in the fields even when the rain pummeled down, with ponchos perched on their heads and covering their backs. Undaunted, unperturbed. Impressive indeed. A really special day.


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