Last week after successfully completing the Rickshaw Run with all my limbs intact, I decided to head up to Nepal for some peace and quiet. My plan was to grab a motorcycle and find a simple little cabin in the mountains that I could post up for a few weeks and begin sorting and editing the countless hours of footage I have from the Run.
When the first earthquake struck (magnitude 7.8) I was in my room near the top of Hotel Silver Home. Thinking I couldn’t run down that many flights of stairs, I opened my door and braced myself in the doorjamb as I watched the city skyline shake and crumble through the windows of my hotel room. Of course I did all of this after tweeting about the earthquake.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) April 25, 2015
Remember kids: In an emergency tweet first, react second.
(In my defense I had the iPad in my hands and was already having a conversation on Twitter, so it only took a second to fire off. Cell service went down about ten seconds into the quake, so it was a good thing I let the world know what was happening first. Somebody had to break the news, right? 😉 )
The Minutes After The Nepal Earthquake
I managed to help a few locals and shopkeepers, but nothing too extreme. (The military didn’t seem to want any assistance from foreigners.) One gentleman even gave me a really cool wooden bracelet for helping him, which I will cherish forever…or at least until it breaks and gets replaced.
In The Hours After The Nepal Quake…
The aftershocks continued, each time causing fresh panic, but the rescue options got underway. Military convoys arrived in town and a truckload of canines was brought in to help sniff out survivors buried beneath the rubble.
That First Night After The Nepal Quake
Although the hourly aftershocks had been getting progressively smaller, the entire town feared a second earthquake and was settling in for a night under the stars. People had flocked to parks and the open highways, anywhere without tall structures nearby. Hotels vacated. Most of the city was pitch black. And eerily silent.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) April 25, 2015
Convinced the worst was over, myself and my two new quake buddies in the floor below me (David Stone, two of whose photos are featured here, and his buddy Rick) decided to stay in our rooms. It was cold outside. Our beds were comfortable. And the aftershocks made them feel like 1950’s coin-operated massage beds. Quite soothing after a tense day.
Unwilling to trust us fine upstanding not-so-young travelers with the hotel keys, the staff actually locked the three of us inside and told us “message me on Facebook if you need to be released, I’ll be sleeping in the courtyard out front.” Yes, seriously. Just in case we moved a stool near the front glass wall in preparation for a hasty evacuation, should another quake strike in the night.
The Day After The Nepal Earthquake
The Chinese shop pictured above aggravated a lot of people over the following two days. Despite the fact they were open, they were selling expired food at inflated prices. I mean seriously now, yes it is crisis time, raise the prices or sell expired food but don’t do both at once — that’s just low!
But because the store also had an ample supply of alcohol, this quickly became a hangout spot for tourists whom had survived the quake to share their tales over a warm beer or five.
The Following Few Days…
The city began to rebound surprisingly fast. Small vendors began selling simple snacks and bottled water at normal pricing. (The only price gouging that occurred was in Thamel.) Electricity gradually began to be restored, block by block. Buses and taxis began operating again. There was a one hour queue for petrol, limited to 500 NRs (just under 5 litres). But people remain camped outside, still frightened after the second large earthquake.
With no refrigeration available, for three days the only food available was vegetable rice or chow mein and bread. Unless you knew someone who had a few chickens they didn’t mind killing, which is how I got this chicken curry here. With chickpeas and flattened rice.
The Nepalese, in addition to being very friendly and hospital, are also admirably strong. This earthquake will not break them. It will only make them stronger. I have spent many many hours over the last four days speaking with locals and have been greatly impressed by all I have witnessed and learn. My spirits remain high for Nepal.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) April 27, 2015
But The Country Still Needs Help
How You Can Help Victims Of The Nepal Earthquake
The areas hardest hit were mountainous regions with few roads of already dubious quality and towns with minimal infrastructure. People arriving here to help, even with the best of intentions, will only get in the way. So please, donate money instead of time.
Global Giving is the premiere relief fund for victims of the Nepal earthquake. Having surpassed their initial one million dollar goal, they are now striving for $2,500,000 and are nearly there.
I am still in Kathmandu and will continue to be for the next several weeks.
UPDATE: I am doing relief work in a few villages in the mountains that were hardest hit. Apologize if I am out of contact for a few days but I assure you, many more stories are coming. Stay tuned to @the_HoliDaze and @theHoliDaze for all the newest updates.