Travels with the Beard – Nepal and Beyond

Our travels, chickens and surviving life

To Begin the Journey

on March 14, 2013

Kalyani (the young village school headmistress with whom we had become friends in 2009 during our 5 month stay in her village) was detained in her husband’s village by the death of his grandmother.
Kalyani’s husband lives and works in Australia & so couldn’t be there, but of course Kalyani was expected to take part in the ensuing ceremonies.
We understood.
She sent her youngest brother to accompany us up to the village,
“You must not go alone,” she said, “it is too dangerous these days.”
Please don’t get the idea that Nepal as a whole is dangerous for foreigners – I don’t think it is. But we were traveling up to a remote, isolated region, not far from Everest, and very far from ‘civilisation’.
We also had with us 2 large rucksacks stuffed with goodies for the village children and adults, & quite a bit of money to give to them.
We had therefore immediately become a potential target for the unscrupulous have nots, and would almost certainly not have reached the village with our luggage or money intact.
Kalyani’s brother looked 12 years old but was actually 17. He came with us in a taxi to the bus station to buy the tickets that would get us up to the village.
The bus station is not one of our favourite places. In 2009 it was nothing less than a stinking cess pit. In 2011 it had been somewhat cleaned up; but now it seemed to have slipped back into the realms of unbelievable filth, and massive piles of crawling rubbish.
No one collects rubbish in Nepal.
No one cleans it up.
No one seems to take responsibility for it, and to be honest no one seems to be in the least bothered by the piles of rotting garbage which stream in unsightly ribbons down the sides of so many mountains, and gather in mounds to block so many rivers.
The monsoons wash the rivers clear again, but no one seems to care where the rubbish ends up.
The story of our time in Nepal is very much tied up with the stories of our chaotic travels here.
Each journey is an adventure.
But when the ticket seller told us that there were no longer any micro buses on the route we would have to take up to the village, our hearts sank. That meant we’d have to travel in a Local Bus. Much more risky.
The mountain tracks are rough, high, and narrow, and the safety barrier hasn’t yet been invented over here.
Last month yet another Local Bus slid over the edge of a mountain & 26 of its occupants were killed. Odd that; because usually every occupant will die – the heights involved are breathtaking.
So we bought tickets for seats on the Local Bus the next day for the 3 of us, and a seat for our rucksacks.
If we’d allowed our rucksacks to travel on the bus roof they would doubtless never have arrived.
Time in Nepal has become confusing. How did it manage to get ahead of the UK by 5 hours and 15 minutes??
We asked the hotel reception to call us at 5am. Kalyani’s brother said he’d call us at 4.45am. The taxi was due to pick us up at 6am.
The best laid plans….
Kalyani’s brother woke us up at 4am. Reception rang us at 4.30am.
OK. We were up. No problem.
I went into the bathroom to wash. Every bathroom here has an open vent/grid in the floor out of which a faint odour of sewers will often creep, filling the room with a disagreeable smell that seems to stick to the towels and sneak onto your clothes too.
You get used to it.
I began to brush my teeth, carefully, using water from our filter bottle, and leaning over the basin.
Without warning a huge bubble of putrid air belched out of the vent on the floor behind me & completely smothered me in the worst, the most disgusting, abominable stink I had ever experienced.
I retched, dropped my toothbrush & the water bottle, ran out of the bathroom & threw up in the bedroom.
Tod grabbed me & sat me down, then quickly slammed the bathroom door shut against the raging stink inside.
I threw up again and sat shaking on the edge of the bed.
Unfortunately we needed our washing stuff, which remained in the bathroom.
In situations like these you need a quick thinking Tod, and he grabbed my perfume, opened the bathroom door, and emptied most of my ‘Opium’ into the stinking haze inside.
I would just like to point out that I wasn’t peeved at this astonishing misuse of my precious perfume, probably because I felt too ill to protest.
Adding insult to injury the taxi driver couldn’t sleep & picked us up at 5.30am.
So we and our rucksacks were settled on the Local Bus in good time for the 12 hour journey to the village of Salle.
We were about to start yet another adventure!


One response to “To Begin the Journey

  1. vickie says:

    holy banana! I hope that things get better for you and that you arrive safely in the village – looking forward to the next instalment xx

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