Monday, July 1, 2019

Hike To Jharlang(Batase)

Hike Date: 22nd-23rd June 2019

This was fairly a new route and we were pre-informed that we will have to catch a local van or bus from Dhading besi hence our departure time was 6 AM. Most of us reached the office by 6 am and awaited a few of the remaining hikers. At the last moment, however, Kushal backed out because of some personal reasons. The 13 assembled hikers including our dear Rajendra dai, then left for our destination at 6:30 AM. We started our hike with our musician, Raman, playing songs on guitar. We picked Shreebatsa from Kalimati who had bought apples and bananas for all of us. The unfortunate story is, he bought unripe bananas that weren’t edible even on the next day. We made our bread and jam in the van as a breakfast. We stopped somewhere between Naubise and Galchi for tea, pea and pee break. At 10 AM we took a local bolero from Dhading besi, that is where our musical journey of guitar and vocals ended as we left the guitar in office van. We booked the bolero to drop us at Dundure. The driver was telling us the bolero can fit 16 people but fitting 13 of us was a challenge in itself. At 12 pm we ate our lunch at a local place, and surprisingly the food was really tasty. We reached Dundure at 2pm. As we started our hike, the locals were telling us about our luck as the cloud was shading the sun. After only 30 minutes or less walk, the rain followed us, and we geared up with our raincoat and umbrella. As everyone was walking along the roadway, Sumit, Subash and I took the forest shortcut thinking the road and the shortcut will meet in the next corner as it happens in most of the cases. 15 minutes into the hiking trail, we get a call from our coordinator Shree who informs us that due to bad weather he is thinking of changing the plan and that we wait for the rest in the junction, where the hiking trail meets the vehicle route. We waited in the drenching rain, bedraggled 20 minutes….30 minutes, calls made to and from.... 40 minutes. They did not seem to catch us, or had they already crossed us? We waited there confused. We kept asking the locals if we were on the right way to Borang village and which we were. We even checked the map and yes, we were on the right track so why hadn’t the rest of our group caught up? 1 hour and there still was no sign of our group. Our phone conversations were not helping either. Finally, we decided to go back the vehicle route and that is when we met 3 locals who told us that they saw our friends going through the wrong route.
When we realized that we have been separated, our coordinator asked us to come to Ward no 7. The locals informed us that ward no 7 is very far, and we will find a better view and better hotel options at Batase, 2 hours from was where we were and quite nearer from Ward No 7, where our friends were. Communicating that with our coordinator, we all decided Batase as our meeting zone.  The locals helped us further by guiding us through the village route past the green trees and wet alley with leeches. After 1 and half hour of continuous uphill walk, we finally reached Batase and said our goodbyes to the noble locals, without whom our journey would have been a hard or maybe lost one. We had been so crestfallen when we found out the group had been separated. So, to us the locals became "dhunga khojda dueta vetayo". We then met another local who was coming from another direction, who informed us that our friends were 5 minutes away. Meanwhile, we inquired for a hotel to stay in. After reuniting with our lost group, we were again helped by the friendly locals who guided us to the only local hotel that could accommodate 13 of us.  After settling our bags and hanging our wet raincoats and jacket, some of us settled down to check for leeches, and oh if there weren’t any suckling our blood. I alone was bitten by 6, Subash had 7. When our leech hunting was over, we all freshened up and sat for tea. We played dumb charade, mafia as we waited for our dinner and the night to fall.
It was raining heavily that night and we slept with the optimism of a clear sky the next day. I woke up at 4 am in the morning and went out for bathroom break as well as to check on the weather and the view, as I do in most of my hike and trek. The weather was doomed. Still, the view outside was beautiful in its own way. I went back to sleep, placing myself in the small bed that I shared with Karishma. The rooms were see-through too and we could hear as well as see the guys snoring from the adjoined room. By 6 in the morning, everyone had woken up and were freshening up. We had tea and biscuits and left Batase at 7am. From here on, we again followed any locals we could find who were also headed to Dundure to catch a van to Dhading besi.
Again, through the wet and grassy stairs and alleys with a constant cloud and inconsistent rain, screaming at the attack of a leech, running at times, stopping sometimes to admire the beautiful view in front of us, we reached the point where I, Subash and Sumit had waited an hour the day before. But today we came across a lot of locals who were going the same way, and we found even more shortcuts we had missed the other day. After walking for 1.5-2 hours we reached Dundure but due to a rise in the water levels the van were unable to cross the rivers hence we had to walk at least 3 -4 hours more to catch a van at Kintang Phedi.
The fast walkers, went ahead, following the locals. As we went ahead, we made signs of stones and sticks to show shortcuts for our slow walkers. We kept moving and moving as we did not want to miss our chance of walking alongside the locals who could show us the shortest route to our destination. 1 hour later, we received a call from the coordinator who informed us that Raman was having a hard time walking due to pain in his legs and hence they will be slow. We continued our walk, without taking any food or bathroom break until we crossed the first suspension bridge after Dundure. From here on, we only had to follow the vehicle route as there were no shortcuts, so we decided to rest a while as we dipped our legs in the cold stream.
As we started back at our hike, the sun rose almost above our head. It was getting hot and humid and walking became tiring and difficult in the scorching sun with hungry stomachs and tired legs. Constantly checking on the map and asking the locals, who were confused by our wrongly spelled and pronounced destination name, we reached Kitangphedi at around 12pm. We went right into the riverbanks, where we rested, being seated on the stones of the bank. Subash and Sumit had other plans and they swam in the slow current river. After 15 minutes, me, Shreya and Rajendra dai went to order us lunch. Unfortunately, they had no or too little food to suit a group of 13. The water level had also decreased so all the vehicles waiting at Kitangphedi had either picked up the locals and left for Dhading or went ahead to Dundure.  That meant we had to wait at least an hour or more for any vehicle arrangement, so we decided to order lunch, which according to sauni would take 1 hour maximum to a minimum. 1 hour later, everyone arrived, and we all delved into the plates of chowmein and cold drinks. Our food was still an hour away from being ready, so we all went to the river shores to enjoy some nature and relax. At 3pm, we ate our lunch/brunch. We had ordered a bolero from Dhading besi which was on its way so while we waited, we watched the repeat telecast of FIFA women’s world cup, played mafia with the interested bunch. Finally, at 5 pm, our vehicle arrived, and we left for Dhading besi. At 7 we caught up with our office shuttle, and our previously hurt Raman, came back into form as he got his hands on the guitar strings. He played the strings so hard, the 3rd string actually broke. So, when that happened, we went back to our speaker, which we had played constantly throughout our hike with songs “Galbandi Chyatiyo”, “Lifejacket” on repeat. The lyrics of lifejacket “we don’t reach destination unless we walk, we cannot touch the sky unless we fly, we drown many times in life, but if we have a life jacket we won't drown” became so popular among the group along with the line from Galbandi “dhila ayo tara kada ayo (Although late, the entry is blasting)”. At 9pm, we stopped at Naubise for dinner and reached office at 10:45 pm and everyone left for their home.

Hike to Chitlang And Chandragiri 2017

Hike to Chitlang
Date of Hike: 19th -20th August 2017.
Route: Kathmandu -> Thankot -> Naubise -> Palung -> Chitlang ->Chandragiri ->Thankot
Co-ordinator: Kushma Thapa
AmbikaM, BigyanS, DijupT, KarishmaP, KumarD, KushmaT, SanjeevS, SarojK, SheprataS, ShreeKrishnaG, ShreyaS, SujanS, SurajR
Report by: Kushma Thapa, Saroj Khadayat, Shree Krishna Gurung, Sujan Sauden

Recalling Chitlang Hike by Kushma Thapa
Departure time: Stated 6am, Actual 7am.
Date of Hike: 19th -20th August, 2017.
No matter how much of pre-planning you do, you are bound to face obstacles you couldn’t have imagined. Our hike to Chitlang was also a gift box that unwrapped unexpected obstacles.
On the first day, we ate our breakfast at Naubise, and took the route to Daman from the Naubisejunction. It was the first time taking this route for some of us. We stopped at a deserted house for a short nature break. On the route, we discussed few terms: 2005, two types of brake: fuel and motor. I am sure these terms don’t make sense to the readers but it’s just a flashback to the memory lane for the hikers. At around 2pm we stopped somewhere around Palung/Thaha municipality and started our hike. Our destination was around 7km away. The biggest joke of the day that happened was when Sujan said (or so we heard): “How much can we walk in 7km?” (Hami 7km ma kati hidna sakcham ni didi?). Since our route was no hiking trail but vehicle trail we were bored. In addition, the road trail was also very skewed. Hence, we decided to take a shortcut and walked catawampus across the maize/brinjal fields. It was very much fun to walk through the muddy field trails while constantly checking for leech attack. Finally, we made back to the road trail, caught a place with big stones placed, where we sat for short snack time. From there on it was all walking until we reached a homestay where we ate our brunch. The non-vegetarians loved the piro choila and even packed 3 plates for the night. From here on, we explored Chitlang as much as we could, again taking the maize field trail so we could explore more of “the Chitlang basti”. On our way, Dijup Dai and Bigyan gave a visit to the yak cheese factory. If anyone is interested, the price of 1kg yak cheese is Rs 3000. Unfortunately, the price was very expensive for us and so we bought none.
Finally, we made it to Chitlang organic resort. We rested for a few minutes, changed and gathered to the main area of the resort. The resort was nothing like a resort: Flies, dirty room walls, dirty sheets, and unsatisfying customer service are some ways I like to review the resort. After a few moments, it started to rain, and we got a beautiful view of a rainbow. Rainbow, pear farming and thick green forest in the background and our Shahrukh khan pose for a picture is a memory I’ll keep. Soon we all settled for snacks.  We danced, we sang, we ate, we played games and we also completed our punishments, which was part of losing in the game. Whoever lost in the game had to perform squats or pushup or plank for a specified amount of time or number. After eating our dinner, we all hummed along while Saroj and Sujan performed live for us. This went on until late evening. When the night came to end, it became difficult to sleep in a room with dirty walls, dirty bed sheets, and insects accompanying.
Next morning, we took our breakfast at around 8am, packed our bags and left the resort at around 9:30ish. 20 minutes after walking a not so straight yet not steep road, the uphill route began. The route was filled with leeches and that was the scariest part for me. After around 1 hour or so of climbing, we reached right below Chandragiri hill. There we ate our lunch and rested for about an hour. We decided to climb the Chandragiri hill instead of taking the down road to Thankot from there. As we were walking to our destination, Chandragiri, it started raining. Most of us hid under our umbrella, but Bigyan and Dijup dai took shelter under their special plastic raincoat. Since it was raining, the view from the top was all white and nothing more was visible. So, we concluded we cannot get a view that made King Prithvi Narayan Shah desire to take over Kathmandu valley, without paying Rs750 for the cable car. Hungry hikers that we were, we ate another quick lunch at Chandragiri. Luckily due to protest by visitors for costly food price, the management team of Chandragiri had made the food price reasonable.
After taking a few selfies, group pictures, and wandering around, we started walking down to our destination: Thankot. We had planned to descend to Kritipur but we were informed the road is very steep and slippery due to rain so we decided to take vehicle route so we could avoid slippery and leech-y shortcuts. At one point, we collected gravel stones to make way as the road was very muddy.
Up until now, leech had been the scary part; so, enters another scary part of the hike (at least it was scary to me). At first, I ignored what was in front of me like the roots of trees, pink and widespread. It took me a few seconds to realize the whole width of the road was smothered by big thick pink legions of earthworm.  We covered leech, we covered earthworm, now let’s come to another interesting gift our hike unwrapped for us as we almost reached Thankot. We were probably 20 minutes away from the township of Thankot when we came across a fresh landslide. There was just no way we could cross the landslide. There was little panic starting on most of our heads already. Luckily there we 3 locals who were also travelling who told us there are other routes through the thick jungle. The first shortcut was a dead end so our effort of climbing down, with the help of plant/bush/tree roots was in vain.
Crossing the myriad of earthworm again, we came to the entry point of another shortcut. We grouped the team so all the ladies were in between. The road, rarely used and very slippery, was the final gift we unwrapped. Some of us made through the whole route on four legs. Some of us had to take help from more than one person to make through some slippery turns. Some of us trusted on our two legs and some of us trusted our two legs to support our self as well the other person. As we advanced, the route progressed even more deeply into the jungle. Throughout this journey, our motivation was “aayo aayo road aayo”, which never came of course until the end. In the middle of the journey, Shree Krishna informed us that the road ahead is slippery so it’s better if you climb down seated on the muddy route. On that note Sanjeev Dai’s reply was “basera aye ni huncha! Uthekai kaile thyo ra?” i.e. Climb down sitting?! When had I even been standing?  Unsure where the route led us, unsure what was to come ahead, with no food and no water ( Dijup dai secretly had water he kept for an emergency case of someone fainting or worse) we kept moving forward, at times talking of the possibility of coming across a tiger. Finally, finally, we met the vehicle route. The happiness was too real and too treasured.  30 minutes of walking, we found Ram dai and our office shuttle. Everyone settled in and we started recalling the day.

Recalling Chitlang Hike by Saroj Khadayat

August-19 2017, we were all set for a hike to Chitlang. Chitlang is located at the southwest of Kathmandu valley in the Mahabharat mountain range. Fifteen signed up for the hike out of which fourteen people showed up. Office vehicle was available for driving us to the starting point of our hike which was Satghumti. On the way to Satghumti we got stuck in jam for about ½ an hour. The traffic jam made us eat bread and jam since most of had not had our breakfast in the morning and everyone was hungry. Dijup dai’s past hiking experience talks made the drive more fun. After about 4 hours’ drive, we finally reached the starting point of our hike (satghumti). The excitement level was too high for me since it was my first hike with VITians. Per the weather forecast, there were chances of heavy rainfall so we were all well prepared for it with raincoats and umbrellas. The day seemed perfect for the hiking- cool breeze, green hills, clear landscapes kept excitement all along. Those songs on Dijup dai’s speaker made the hike more wonderful. His old collection playing while walking down the desire line of paddy (so-called shortcuts) gave that retro feeling.

First Hike from New Office: Shree Krishna Gurung
Just 2 weeks of joining Verscend, I got the opportunity of enjoying my first ever office Hike. I was not very sure if my name would be in the hiker's list. I also had no idea how many hikers will be listed or any more detail nevertheless, I was hoping for the best. This hike gave me the opportunity to bond with my Verscend Colleagues. I also enjoyed leading the way through the deep forest trail. Although, Dijup dai was constantly asking us to keep on moving, at times the forest was so deep that I waited for other hikers just in case we encountered a wild animal and we could outnumber the animal/animal gang. Because a lone wolf dies but the pack survives as quoted by Sansa Stark in GOT season 7 episode 7. Thank you so much to all the hikers for making my first hike so memorable.

Long awaited chance to be part of office Hike: Sujan Sauden
Regardless of showing interest in many other hikes, this was the first time I got the opportunity to be a part of the hike. The whole experience has been beautifully expressed by other hikers so I am not going to dive much into the hike details. The only bitter experience was the customer service. Unfortunately, I had left my slippers at home so I requested the resort manager many times to provide me a pair of slippers but unfortunately, they turned cold shoulders to my request. I don’t want to say anything more, overall it was nice, fun and everything

Picture 1: Start of our hike

Picture 2 Taking the shortcut through brinjal field


Picture 3: Giving Sharukh Pose in front of the Rainbow, but where is the rainbow?

Picture 4: Traditional Raincoat

Picture 5: View From Chandragiri


Picture 6: THE VIEW ( minus Rs750 cost of the cable car)

Picture 7: The shortcut through the deep forest trails (Slippery, leech-y, earthworm-ly), behind Sanjeev seated and waiting.

Australian Base Camp: July 2017

The Amazing Experience of Exploring Australian Camp
Hikers: Anil Dongol, (organizer, absent in person due to fever, but present in words as irony), Keshab Maharjan, Teena Dongol, Rina Shrestha, Bimal Karki, Binjita Aryal, Saroj Thapa, Dilip Kunwar, Raj Thapa, Bhushan Shrestha, and myself Kushma Thapa.
Departure time: Stated 6am, actual 7am.
Date of Hike: 22nd-23rd July 2017.

Some experiences leave you so speechless, you cannot decide where to start. Hence skipping the part about the mundane routine of the hikers having their breakfast at Naubise (new eating place this time), lunch at Abu Khairini’s  “Thakali Shanta Hotel and Lodge” and in between bathroom breaks, let's jump into the part where we hired a Sumo, or so I think, from the Tudhikhel of Pokhara and experienced the bumpy sumo ride. I am sure the sumo driver assured Keshab Dai five times that our bags on the roof of the vehicle were safe regardless of not being tied. Nevertheless, the driver had to tie up our bags defeated by the consistent request from Keshab Dai. We drove up to Dhampus, 11 of us, including our beloved Ram dai from wherein we started our hike to Australian Camp.
Before we started our hike, I and some of my friends applied clove oil on our legs so as to scare off the leeches, while Ram dai gave us another alternative solution which was to apply Titepati. Turns out leeches despise the bitter taste of titepati or Artemisia vulgaris. As we reached the base, we saw some of the locals were playing futsal. After asking them if we could join, me, raj and Saroj and Alex, a tourist, made a team and played against our amazing local players. While we were playing futsal, some of the hikers took rest under the shade, captured pictures and finally made their way to the hotel. The 3 of us, me, raj and Saroj, also quickly went to our respective rooms, placed our bags and came back for another game of futsal. In between the game, I heard someone say mountains. To my utter surprise, the view in front of me left me speechless. My eyes were nowhere in the game but fixated on the view in front. The clouds slightly cleared themselves to show off what was hiding behind them. The amazing white Annapurna and Macchapuchre. The view was so stunning. Some think they are bored of seeing the mountains and the hills, but how can someone not feel immensely mesmerized by a view as beautiful as that. Nature can never cease to amaze us even with the same creations it has under its sleeve. A short time after that all of us headed to a small base near the hotel. The base outlooked the whole of Pokhara city, Kande and a lot more as the Australian base is 2060m above the sea level. We headed back to the hotel after observing the outflow of scenic beauty that we were present and ate our snacks. Bhushan dai, Binjita, and Dilip were checking out the maps for the next day’s hike while Bimal, Raj, Saroj and I, played a game of dare and truth. At one instant, we dared raj to act like a drunk husband who is persuading his wife to open the door. Soon after, we took our dinner and most of us went to sleep.
At 5 in the morning when darkness finally started giving out, we came to the rooftop to just lay, feel the cool breeze, and observe the view of the mountain scale ahead of us, the view of Pokhara city along with fewa lake and clouds overhead of it, the view of a town drizzled in rain with thunderstorm on the very south. As the sun started to rise, the mountains glittered more and more. The green jungle around, green grasses below, beautiful people along, the white mountains ahead, and the beautiful city of lakes to the southeast, we just laid lazily sipping our tea.
At 8am, we started our journey downhill to Kande, resting at places while mimicking the noise of goat, we finally reached Kande where we ate local noodle soup and tea. We ate our lunch at Pokhara at the usual stop: Fewa thakali. The food was amazing. We left Pokhara city at 11:30 am or so; most of us happy about reaching home early. Unfortunately, our little happiness shattered after being stuck in the traffic from Thankot to Kalanki. We reached Thankot at 5:30 pm and crossed Kalanki chowk at 8:45 pm. In that traffic, we also made small talk with some Indian tourists who were here to visit Pashupatinath on the auspicious month of Shravan. Their 3rd question to us was “Why is this city so dirty?”. In my travel, I also caught sight of a truck loaded buffalos. They were severely tied on their tails, their heads and crowdedly placed (3 times that of the dangerous Nepal Yatayat). The worst part of the view was catching one of that soul shedding tears. The tears were so real, so thick and so painful. We are at the top of the food chain and so we take the liberty to eat them. The problem isn’t the food chain, the problem is how are treating the ones who lay below us in the food chain. As Plutarch said, “But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy. We have a choice but they neither have a choice nor the power to rid themselves of that pain.  
Nonetheless, let's end with another beautiful quote, this one is by John Muir.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature's sources never fail”.