Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Our journey to the starting point of our trek.

The day had finally come. It was time for us to leave Kathmandu and take the grueling journey to the starting point of our trek in the Himalayas. This was the part of our journey that we were both excited and apprehensive about. Excited because we knew it would truly be an epic seven day journey to the top of the world with incredible views and apprehensive because we felt unprepared for what lay ahead.

Being the backpackers that we were, the cheapest option to get to Syrabrubesi, the starting point of our trek, was the local bus. The local bus was everything that you imagine a bus in India or Nepal to be. It was very old and extremely colorful, there were all kinds of decorations hanging from the ceiling and sitting on the roof was the norm for men traveling on the bus. That morning we met up with our wonderful guide Bolle and our porter, Dendee (that's how we pronounced it, I have no idea how to spell it) and made our way to the bus station. The bus station was very chaotic and we were so thankful to have Bolle there organizing everything and ordering us food and chai from a little stall. We had some idea as to what the standard of the bus we would be taking would be but there were a couple of other trekkers on the bus also and they seemed completely shocked by the bus.

Our bus to Syrabrubesi
The bus was very busy and we felt extremely lucky to have Bolle with us, we met a pair of German sisters who were completely frazzled because they had no idea which bus to take, where to sit and what to do. Luckily for them Bolle generously helped them throughout the bus journey. It was at this point that we started realizing how lucky we were to have Bolle by our sides.

Syrabrubesi is only 120km away from Kathmandu but unbelievably the bus journey takes anything between 8 and 12 hours! This is because from the departure point to the destination the entire road is winding mountain roads. I don't thing we ever drove more than 2km on a straight stretch of road. Also there are no bus stops along the route. A person stands on the side of the road and the bus picks them up. Luckily for us these mountain roads provided us with some outstanding views and I felt so in awe at the scenery. Everywhere the eye could see there were mountains with rice paddies going down the entire side. Most houses don't have running water so the main source of water for people is from wells on the side of the road. We saw people showering, washing dishes, doing laundry and preparing food on the roadsides.

The scenery throughout the bus journey was so beautiful.
More rice paddies.

The closer we got to Syrabrubesi the more indigenous the people were. this trek is quite close to the Tibetian border so most of the people living in this area would be Tibetian. There were children who looked like they hadn't had their hair brushed or washed in years and they were so excited to see the bus come. It was so cold up there that I couldn't blame them for looking so disheveled. It's incredible to think that they only have cold water available to them, on the road side. This probably makes showering unbearable for most of the year. The poverty in that area was also very visible. Luckily everybody had concrete houses, but that is for necessity as I can only imagine how cold it gets in the height of winter. Most children were wearing rags and there were many people on the roads carrying food and firewood up the grueling hills, some of these people were very elderly and carrying things that I couldn't deem of carrying, sometimes for hours on end because they couldn't afford the bus.

One of the houses on our way to Syrabrubesi.

There were also plenty of goat herders along the road, as well as buffalo and cows. It was an incredible journey that gave us an insight into the difficult everyday life of most people in Nepal.

Goats on the road.

Halfway through the journey we stopped for some lunch, typical Nepali style, Dal Bhat. Dal Bhat is really delicious, it's a big plate with rice, lentil soup, pickles, some type of sauce and a curry. The typical way to eat it is to mix it all together and eat with your fingers. It took us a week before we'd try eating it the traditional way.

A typical Nepali Dal Bhat

I have to say though that the bus ride, for me, was honestly the scariest I have ever taken. The roads were so windy that a few people seemed to feel sick, in fact a very unfortunate incident happened on the bus. A person on the rooftop was feeling sick and started vomiting, unfortunately because he was on the roof the vomit was going down into the open window below and on to a poor woman! We were counting our lucky stars that it wasn't us!

We were getting higher and higher as we went along and the road was only barely big enough for two vehicles. The vehicle on the outside would have to edge off of the road so all there was was a sheer fall down a mountain. We would have to get so close to the edge that one of our wheels would be nearly off of the road. If the driver made one slight mistake then we were going to be tumbling down the edge of the mountain. I was sitting by the window and nearly pee'd my pants every time someone would overtake us, as I couldn't see any road, only the sheer drop of the mountain. Then there was the scariest part of the road. This one part had been swept away by a waterfall where the road should have been. It was raining so there was quite a bit of water too. And to make matters worse there was another vehicle going the opposite way, so we had to pull out to the edge of the rubble to let the other driver pass.

With my hand on my heart, I truly thought those were my last seconds on Earth. I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to die. It sounds silly but that is how scared I was. I couldn't see anything underneath us, just the side of the mountain and we were driving over huge rocks that would make the bus lean to one side. In that crazy moment that I thought was my last all I could think about was what would happen to Willy.

As you've probably guessed by now, we didn't die! We arrived in Syrabrubesi alive and well after about ten hours. We got settled into our guesthouse, had some food, watched some Dexter and had our last hot shower for a while.

We were both so nervous that night as the next day would mark the beginning of our seven-day Langtang Valley trek.

Beautiful scenery 

Scenery on our way to the beginning of our trek.

One of the many rivers in the area.

Getting up high and the mist covers the tops of the mountains.

Travel Agents:
Exotic Mt.Treks: They were very honest and really seemed to want to help us in the best way possible. I'd definitely recommend any travelers to use their services.

Trekking Guide:
Bolle Magar: bollemagar@yahoo.com
He was a highly qualified guide who always had our best interests at heart, he always had a smile on his face and became a good friend during our trek. His English is also great.
Hint: if you book with him directly you will be able to cut out the agent fees and save some money.

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