Friday, January 18, 2019

Trek To Langtang

Langtang Trek: April 28 2018 - May 4 2018 

Kathmandu-Syafrubesi-Kyanjing Gompa-Rasuwagadhi-RiversideResort @Kurintar-Kathmandu

Day 1: Kathmandu - Syafrubesi

Four of us headed early in the morning from Kathmandu for our trek to Langtang. The bus left early at 7 am in the morning. We went via Galchi route. The route was being expanded so the roads we blocked for 2 hours. 
Dozer working on road expansion

Hence, we chose to pass our time watching the bulldozer pushing away soil and playing cards. Later that day, we decided to stay at Syafrubesi as we were told there isn't any settlement in 2 hours distance (There is though, not fancy but we can opt to stay at Tiwar about 45 minutes away in distance).  We strolled around the city and spent the evening in a gumba. Later in the hotel, we played ludo and TND.

Ashmita overlooking the town from the gumba

Day 2: Syafrubesi - Lamahotel

The next day, we packed our bags, had breakfast and started at 8 am in the morning. After about half an hour, my friend Ashmita told me that she is having a hard time walking. This was her first trek ever and I had warned her to not bring too many items but she told me she can carry the weight and given she is an athlete I trusted her. Nevertheless, I tried encouraging her and we continued our walk through the trails, damaged by the earthquake 2015. The trail was walkable regardless of the damage.  

About to cross the bridge from Syafrubesi
Landslide due to earthquake 2015

After crossing the Tibetan Camp hotel, and Bob Marley hotel  at Tiwari , we reached Dovan. Here we rested for while and hydrated ourselves. We also came across the most friendliest kitty here. Our next stop was Pairo. The locals then told us that the trail up  is only steep. So we started our ascend.
Then there was a point with trail dividing to two different route. One leaded straight following the path across langtang river and the other lead to the hill, the trail being very steep.  There was no sign post there so considering what the locals told us we chose the steep trail. It was very very very steep. Ashmita was having a really hard time climbing so she had asked me to catch her hands and help her. Doing this had drained my energy as well. Overcoming the hardship, and climbing for 30-40 mins, we reached the top where there was a small hut/chiya pasal of an aama. She told us the route leads to thulo syafru, and the trail is for Gosaikunda Trek instead. We were so exhausted and in unsettled by the news that we chose to rest there for a while. We ordered chauchau and soup. We also decided to hire a porter for ashmita so we asked aama to call someone for her. She called someone from Pairo and we waited for the porter to come. We also bought headbands from her shop. After waiting for more than an hour, there was no sign of anyone coming. Not wanting to waste time, we decided we should start making the move, and possibly meet the porter on our way to pairo. We did meet two young boys but they denied to assist us for just a single day so things did not work out for us. They told  us we might find some one willing when we reach pairo so we headed for pairo. As we reached pairo, we rested and dipped our legs in the cold langtang river. Then we asked around for a porter but we could not find one who was willing to stay with us for one day so we decided the 3 of us would carry some items off of Ashmita's bag. It seemed to help her as her bag must have lost about 3-4 kg of item. Then we headed next for Bamboo. En route to bamboo we came across buffer zones and zones with signs that said "Falling Rocks, Keep Away".

We ate our lunch at Babmoo. Ashmita seemed to fancy too much on Fanta. Fancily, one small fanta cost Nrs 500 there and the daal bhat was at a price of NRs 250. We originally planned to stay at Riverside or Ghodatabela on first day but since we had lost around 2 hours due to detour and given ashmita was struggling we decided to stay the night at Lama Hotel.
On our next stop Rimche,  we rested for 30 minutes as our final stop for the day was Lama hotel which was only half an hour away. We reached Rimche at 4 and cooled off the heat. There are only 3 hotels at Rimche. At 4:30 we left for Lama Hotel and at 5 we were there at Lama Hotel. There are about 6-7 hotels in the area.
Resting at Rimche and having tea

Day 3: Lama Hotel - Kyanjing Ri:

Ashmita had a heavy back up so we decided to leave items we wont need for the ride up behind.So we left our dirty clothes as well as Ashmita's 3-4 pairs of clothes in the safety of the hotel owner didi. 
Outside the Lama Hotel @Lama Hotel

The next morning we took our leave at 7 am in the morning. The trail was so scenic as we crossed the green spring forest. We reached Riverside in 45 minutes. It has 3-4 tea houses/hotels. Not stopping we continued on. After crossing riverside, the trail gets steep for 30 minutes. That is where Gaurav met phitso, a local, who was heading to Syafrubesi. On conversing, they became friends and phitso told us to stay as his to be sister-in-law's hotel at Kyanjing. 
The trail to ghodatabela has a landslide area so there is an alternate route in between. Pass through the Bridge as shown in the picture below to follow the other trail.
Bridge leading to alternate route to Ghodatabela

However, we had no idea about the route, so instead we went to the landslide trail. The locals had warned us earlier to cross the areas of landslide as quickly as we can and also to look out for the falling rocks from above.

Pass this area quickly
As we crossed it, and were nearing Ghodatabela, we came across the view of hundreds of rhododendron in multiple colors: white, red , pink.

We ate noodles and soup at Ghodatabela where we reached at 12 pm. At 1 we left for Thangshyap, the trail to which was steep route of 45 minutes. At Thangshyap, we ate our lunch, conversed with tourist and guides and then when the rain stopped we  headed for langtang village. The view in front of our eyes really sad as we saw the devastation of earthquake that had hit Langtang Village.

It took us 45 minutes to just cross the devastated area. That only can tell how huge the devastation really has been here. The locals of Langtang had moved just a little ahead of this region with a growing settlement on going. Langtang has enough hotels to accommodate 100 or more tourist. 

One of our friend got mistake for a guide, and thought Ashmita and I was a foreigner so he was asked to register our details at the police bit of Langtang 🤣🤣. We chose to have some snacks here so we stopped on the other side of the langtang village. There is no electricity after syafrubesi but the local hydro power @Kyanjingsupports  electricity to Langtang And Kyanjing. So we also charged our phones. We ate tea, and boiled potato here. Kyanjing was around 2 hours from here as was told to us. We left at around 4 pm and considering we will reach Kyanjing by 6 we walked in our own pace. The trails were also not very steep and rather easy. Some folks of langtang had also migrated upward from Lantang. We went on and on and walked for more than 2 hours but kyanjing was no where to see. We followed the electricity poles with it giving us hopes we are going in the right direction. In a matter of seconds, the weather also got chilly and foggy. The white fog/clouds covered the path and visibility became very poor. Finally we saw a gumba. The signs there were misleading and we lost path. And to make it more dramatic, it started to snow. As we sought to find our way we saw two small huts. We ran to it and had in our mind decided to stay there no matter how uncomfy it would be since we were freezing.  Turns out it was the mini hydro power. There was a worker too who helped us by making tea and turning on the heater. Wow finding the heater and warm tea was like finding heaven. We also dried our wet clothes in the heater. Then followed local women who came to the hydro for shelter against snow. They were locals of Kyanjing so after the snow stopped they guided us to the hotel that phitso had named. The hotel owner's daughter was getting married to phitso's brother in a few days so they denied us shelter initially as they were not taking any tourist due to wedding work. But when we told them that phitso had sent us they welcomed us. We got the most comfortable bedrooms and delicious dinner. Ashmita ate too less and went to sleep early. While i stayed to have a view of the millions and billions of stars as the sky was clear that night.

Day 4: Kyangjin Ri (4400m)-Thangshyap

The next morning we woke up at 5 am to find mountains surrounding the valley. Dressing up in warm clothes we went out to have a broader view. We also witnessed the sunrise. We were advised to climb Kyanjing Ri in broad light due to the trails. So at 7 am we left to conquer the Kyanjing Ri. Ashmita chose to stay behind as she was not feeling well. 
It took us 2 hours to climb the hill. And I am going to let the pictures describe how beautiful the scene here was. The weather was very nice today so our view was amazing and breathtaking.
Moon shining on right and the sun about to shine

Early morning at Kyanjing Gompa

Overlooking the valley as we ascend

The lake that is the main source for mini hydro power. They use insulators in the pipe during winter to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
 Climbing the hill was the most easy part for me and going down was the scariest one. I took my time to descend while the gang (Our friend and the friends we met on the trek) were running down the hill and I was at places on on fours using even my two hands to descend as slow as I could. I took me an hour more to reach the hotel. At 12 pm we ate our lunch, packed our bags, called home (there is  satellite phone) and finally said thank you and made wishes to the bride to be and left.
Panorama Guest House
Our next stop was Langtang, where we had tea and since it got dark we chose to stay at Thangshyap.
The accommodation was okay but the people here was so nice. They told us that during winter they stay at Kathmandu. Their daughter is a topper and was appearing for SLC/SEE that year. We are potato, rice, spaghetti as our dinner.

Day 5: Thangshyap-Bob Marley hotel

After having Tibetan bread and breakfast, we said our good byes and left @8 am.  We clicked many pictures as the view around due to the spring weather was just mesmerizing. 

Somewhere between Ghodatabela and Riverside, This place has a single hotel and shop.

Lunching at Lama hotel
We ate our lunch at lama hotel, took our items back and started to head back. Our destination for today was Syafrubesi. 

In memory of an Israeli who lost his life in earthquake 2015

Back at pahiro, giving our legs a foot massage with the cold and flowing Langtang River

We reached Bob Marley Hotel @Tiwari  at 5pm. Since we had stayed at syafrubesi already so we decided to stay at tiwari the night, go to rasuwaghadi the next day and stay at kurintar to enjoy the swimming pool. There was no light so we played cards under the candle. The accommodation was not fancy

Day 6: Tiwari-RasuwaGadhi-Galchi

Breakfast at Tiwari
Next morning we left @8am. We reached Syafrubesi in half an hour.
We had to wait for the local bus until 12 pm to go to rasuwagadhi so the police helped us hitch a ride with a truck. The truck dropped us to Rasuwa.  The driver was having lunch there so we started walking and midway we hitched a ride in another truck. After waiting for 15 minutes the gates to the border opened. Only the locals of Rasuwa were allowed to go to the other side and shop. However they did let us in up to the bridge and allowed us to take pictures.
China Behind us, Nepal ahead of us

We then rushed to Rasuwa's bus stop. We had inquired there and they had told us the bus left at 12 pm. We called the number they gave us and asked them to stop the bus for us. All the trucks were going towards rasuwagadhi for all the import and export so we had to walk back. We ran midway when we heard the bus blow the horn. The bus was late and so we were lucky to catch it at 12:30 pm. There was a 3 day vehicle strike on-going around this time so the bus left us only up to bidur. We hadn't had time to eat lunch so we were very hungry. Upon reaching bidur as well, we were looking for vehicles to drop us at galchi. We could not find any vehicles going to galchi so the local police helped us again and hitched us a ride in a truck carrying imported shipping. The road from trishuli to galchi was a mess due to muddy gravel. We rode the truck at 4 pm and we reached galchi at 10:30 pm. There was such a traffic due to small vehicles getting trapped in the mud. We again took help of the police to find us hotel at that time of the night. We looked around 2 hotels and they were very dirty. Finally we found a newly opened hotel with decent and clean rooms. We finally got the chance to eat a proper food there.

Day 7: Galchi-Kurintar-Kathmandu:

The next morning, we had our breakfast and waited for vehicles. Regardless of the strike, a scorpion stopped and gave us a ride to Kurintar @NRs 2000. After reaching Riverside Resort, we came to know that they don't rent swim suits and we had not bought one. We really wanted to relax away,so we bought swim suits and dived into the pool. It was a much needed rest to relax our whole body.  After cleaning up, we ate at a local shop. Then we waited to get a ride to Kathmadnu. We asked for lifts but no one was stopping. No local bus was running either. Finally a pick up truck, crowded with passengers stopped. We played cards when we got chance, stood up when the truck got crowded and sat on the tent cover when the crowd was less. at Nrs 300 per person, the pick up truck dropped us at kalanki.

Langtang is one of the most amazing and memorable trek I have done. It was so beautiful and rich in scenary as well as the view and its so close to the valley. Its a must do trek. You can finish this trek in 4-5 days.

I support Local Empowerment. So, I’m sharing this Everest Base Camp Trek to promote a new way of trekking where trekkers can empower the local service providers like lodges, guides and porters by booking services directly through them. #empoweringthehimalayas #freetriptoeverest

Thursday, January 17, 2019

First Trek Of My Life: Gosaikunda

Trek To Gosaikunda: Aug 2 2017  - Aug 4 2017 (3 Day trek Kathmandu -Gosaikunda -Kathmandu)

The plan to visit Gosaikunda was very abrupt. We were leaving on Wednesday and I was informed on Friday I think. Since my mom had visited the Gosaikunda twice already and it is a very famous pilgrimage my mom gave me permisison immediately. It was the month of Shravan, the month when there is a fair or a mela. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims come to worship the holyness of Lord Shiva and the lake itself during this month. Its also the month of rain so we were expecting rains during our trek. I had been to hikes before and I had my mom who helped me pack the essentials. From my hiking experience, I had packed the minimal.

Day 1: Kathmandu -Dhimsa:

On day 1, we had our tickets booked for Pasang Lhamu Bus. One can get the tickets from their counter at Balaju Bypass Junction. One can also reserve a sumo or scorpio which will cost around Nrs 12000/- . The counter had asked us  to come on time i.e 6 am in the morning. They told us that the bus leaves strictly on time. We reached Balaju Bypass at 6:45. We were so late and bus was very ready to leave us behind but Venus, our friend had been asking for 5 more minutes every 5 minutes.
We took the route from Galchi -bidur-dhunche. We got stucked in a traffic after crossing naubise. That is where we ate our breakfast and Ashim completed his half done shaving. After crossing Galchiwe were again stuck in jam for about 2 hours. The road there was not black pitched and due to rain the road had got very muddy and small vehicles were getting stuck in the mud mire.

 The road was also blocked for an hour due to the ongoing road construction that was happening. 
We ate lunch at trishuli. It cost us Nrs 200 for Veg daal bhat.
The road to dhunche was pretty scary as are all the roads in the remote Nepal. We reached dhunche at 2pm. After strolling around to buy plastic as a make-do raincoat for some, slippers for ashim and bamboo sticks for walking we officially started our trek. First it was downhill for 20 minutes then it was an uphill trail until Gosaikunda. 
We kept going and climbing, resting for quick breath and snacking on almonds, raisins and juice. It also started raining mildly and gearing up with our raincoats we went on and on until we reached Deurali. There we  (Ashmi, Venus, Sony and Me) waited for the rest of our friends to catch us.In total it was 7 of us. 
 Since it was mela time, there were many temporary plastic huts with number. There was about 100-140 such huts until the lake itself. We made the hut numbers as our milestone. Stopping for quick break it every 2nd hut, 3rd hut and so on. After taking a break for 5-10 minutes we started to continue but as we took about 10 steps, it started raining heavily. So we decided to stop at hut no 9 for tea and biscuits. 
We also asked the hut owners to book us rooms at Dhimsa Homestay. When the rain stopped slightly we started making our way to the hotel. The uphill was getting tough for some of our friends. This was the time when i was really fit as I was doing swimming, dance class and workouts in a single day so I was doing fine for myself. At 7pm we reached our hotel and were delighted to get two rooms. Since this was the month of rain, we had been also careful not to be sucked by leech so seeing a leech on my leg made an outburst of screams from all the girls in the room. 
We changed our wet clothes, left  it to dry above the fireplace and sat around the fireplace to warm ourselves. We planned on leaving at 6am the next morning. 

Day 2: Dhimsa-Gosaikunda-Chandanbari

We woke up at 5 in the morning, had tea and ate the biscuits we had brought with us. By 6 we were all set and ready to leave but it was raining very heavily. We waited for a while but since the rain was not showing any signs to stop we decided otherwise. 
We reached Sing Gompa by 7. It took us only an hour. It was a place with more settlements. There were may be 10-12 hotels there whereas in Dhimsa there were 2 hotels only. Our next stop was Cholangpati. We had to go through the jungle and the trail was very very muddy and due to lots of pilgrims coming and going the muddy trail had  become very hard to walk on. The locals told us it was going to take us 4 hours to reach Cholangpati from SingGompa but we reached Cholangpati in 2 hours. We rested in a stable for 15 minutes, snacked up and dried ourselves as much as we could. The heat from our body, the sweat, the raincoat trapping the sweat and body heat and the rain was a very good combination for a dramatic scene of steam coming off of us as we rested. 
Our next stop was Laurebinayak. On inquiring, the locals told us that the trail was even more difficult and steep and we rather take a horse from here on. But we were here to trek and not horse ride, so we started our uphill trek. The route so far was not uphill compared to what we were walking now. At times, it felt like my chest was going to burst but that feeling was making me so alive at the same time. Somewhere near Laurebinayak, we got the network and we called our homes to inform them we were safe and sound. At 10:30 or 11am we reached Laurebinayak. In between, we rested in the huts for snacking on noodles, biscuits and tea. We started taking small bits of powder of timur, and other herbs as well as garlic and ginger that was sent to me by my mom. It is said to help against catching altitude sickness. We stopped at a hotel in Laurebinayak to wait for our slow walkers. As they arrived, we carried to our next stop Buddha mandir.  My mom on the call before had told me to not look up as in ascend my way from Laurebinayak. Not sure why she said that I was curious. We were told the trail was too steep and the hardest part of the whole trail. We hadn't had proper lunch and our energy was also going low. We had been walking almost continuously since the morning. Looking up we would see 3-4  hills to climb, as we reached atop of it, we would see another 3 hills we had to climb and then other 3-4 hills and so on. The weather was not favorable either due to rain. So on and on this went on, and I knew why my mom asked me to not look up  because those hills gave the deception of infinity. And yes, the steepness was too much too.  We started getting desperate so we asked many descender how far buddha mandir was or how far the lake was. Some would tell us it will take 4 hours or more some would tell us we will reach there in a hour.  By the end of it, we were so tired and less in energy that we snacked up on Ashim's workout protein bar. I spitted it out after 3 bytes as swallowing anything had become very hard. We finally reached Buddha mandir at 12-12:30pm. Oh that feeling of conquer was amazing. We were so happy to have done it. We decided to have tea and biscuits in one of the hots and gave our tiny tiger biscuits to the shopkeeper. The trail from here on was not very steep.  The buddha statue had been completely destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and so were the little stone huts which were being reconstructed.
We estimated we will reach the lake in half an hour since the trail was not so steep but due to the altitude, walking became difficult. It might also have been because of the weather and tiredness.

Before reaching the lake, we came across Sarswoti Lake and Bhairab Lake. At 2pm we reached Gosaikunda.  We quickly changed to take a dip in the lake. Then we went to trishul dhara, about 20meter above the lake. From there, me and ashim decided to take a round of the whole lake whereas, the rest decided to go back and book a room in advance. It took us exactly an hour to make a round of the lake.

 At some places the route was difficult as we had to climb and jump from the rocks. BY then we were very hungry as we had not had any lunch so we ordered daal bhaat. Ate a full plate, slept 15 minutes and left when the clock hit 4pm. We then started speeding up. We were going really fast compared to other walkers. In the descent from Buddha Mandir-Laurebinayak -Cholanpati, we crossed it in mere 30 minutes. That is where we met our friends who had a head start of an hour. We again continued running down as we wanted to cross the route of forest to Chandbari before dark. We made it to Chandabari at 7pm, booked rooms at Hotel yak and Nak with attached bathroom which felt like a deluxe suite room (It cost us Nrs 1000/1200: I don't quite remember).  We took bath in the hot water , let our clothes to dry at sat by the fireplace again. We massaged our legs,neck and hands with massage oil.

Day 3: Chandanbari - Dhunce - Kathmandu

The next morning we woke up to a much clearer view. We were surrounded by very green hills, the settlement itself was beautiful and we paid a visit to the DDC Cheese Production Center.

After having our breakfast, we started heading down. We were in a hurry as we wanted to catch the 12pm bus from dhunche. The bus counter on Day 1 had told us to call them before hand to book the tickets. So I started walking in my best pace. Ashim was having hip ache and was also doing his photography thing. Venus and Sony were behind me. Ashim, Samjhana and her friend lost their way at dhimsa heading taking the trail to Thulo Bharkhu. Attacked by leeches, they had lost all hopes in where they were heading, until they met a local villager who then directed them to the village.
On the other hand, me, Venus, Sony and Renu were waiting for the 3 at Dhunce. We ordered chowmein as we were very hungry. Ashim called us told us they lost their way and  will catch a bus from there and book the tickets as well. And when the bus came, we rushed to it, pushing and pulling fellow passengers and finally got to our seats. But there was so much issue with tickets, the counter were selling tickets from their counter, whereas the bus conductor were also selling tickets to same seat and the locals were denying to leave seat so we ended up getting off the bus.
Then we came to know we might be lucky to get tickets the Kerung Bus service. So we booked our seats and bought the tickets from the counter. When the bus arrived, the seats were packed and the locals were denying to leave our seats. At the end we ended up scooching in the last row. We were sitting 6 people on the seat of 5 and I sat above our bags the whole ride. There was also tight checking at Kalikasthan temple since the area falls under Langtang National Park.

My first trek was an adventure, a lessson and most of all an experience of a lifetime.

I support Local Empowerment. So, I’m sharing this Everest Base Camp Trek to promote a new way of trekking where trekkers can empower the local service providers like lodges, guides and porters by booking services directly through them. #empoweringthehimalayas #freetriptoeverest