Welcome back my frozen friends! Oh wait, that’s just me who is still frozen, not you. Ah well, certainly still a very interesting cultural experience.
Using night sight, view from the window in my room at 5 AM.
Not that I needed a number for confirmation, but at 5:10 AM it was between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius (34 degrees F) both inside and out. I can still hear raindrops on the roof, but they might be dripping from a tree rather than still actively falling. Getting up to go down to the bathroom, with every step, the wooden floor, stairs and then door creaked in such a way that I am almost certain that the entire house hears me. One thing is for sure, when all those kids I met yesterday hit adolescence, there will definitely not be any “sneaking out” at night; the whole house serves as an alarm system.
By 6 AM, based on my own imagination, I was cautiously optimistic that the rain would have stopped by 8 AM, giving us at least 2-3 hours to walk around a bit before it would start again. Checking the weather report on internet seemed to reaffirm my guess.
At 7:15 AM it was still very foggy, but not raining. I put on three shirts, plus my fleece jacket as I was getting ready to go down for breakfast. I topped off the ensemble with my ear warmer band from Ladakh, and yes, I was still cold. However, I tend to handle the cold fairly well, so no major complaints. Nevertheless, upon meeting up with Dorothee and Maria at 7:30 AM, the consensus was that we would head back to Kathmandu today.
This might simply be a case of “be careful what you ask for,” because you might just get it. We had said that we wanted to get to know about authentic village life, and it looks like that this might be it. Our hosts seemed no less cold than we were, and no less enthusiastic about wandering around aimlessly outside, especially in the rain. The difference of course is that most of them don’t have the choice of escaping back to the comforts of the city when things don’t go as expected. Even in the possible freezing rain, the kids would still be walking to school, and there would still be chores which had to be done outside, as well as all of the day to day tasks of cooking and cleaning inside. This is life.
Fortunately though, the driver would not be able to arrive until about 10 AM, and it looked like it wouldn’t be raining until at least 10:30 AM, so if we were to eat quickly and get out into the street, at least we would be able to see a bit of what could be seen in the immediate vicinity before once again embarking on a ten hour journey.
We even had some time to be silly. We got some odd glances from a few of the villagers, but everyone seemed to chalk it up to “crazy foreigners” and simply left us to our own devices. I was sad that we did not get the chance to actually know any of them beyond the immediate family where we had been staying, but there was nothing to be done. Incidentally, Hit told us that this village was MUCH more developed than the other village which we had originally planned on visiting on Day 5 after a 3-5 hour trek on back trails.
Botka arrived with the transport at 9:41 AM. After having a quick tea, we were all set to embark on the ten hour trip back to Kathmandu. After some experimentation, we finally decided on the least uncomfortable (equal levels of possible discomfort) for everyone. Maria would sit in front, I would sit behind Maria, and Dorothee behind the driver. It still wasn’t super, but definitely better for my knees than yesterday’s trip.
At 12:19 PM we were having lunch at the same place as yesterday, this time costing 1350 NPR ($10.22 USD) for the five of us. We dawdled quite a bit and did not depart until 1:15 PM. Going both ways, we had seen several hanging pedestrian bridges which crossed over the river, so we asked Botka if it would be safe to stop for a couple of minutes for us to try one out, and at 2:20 PM he finally spotted one which seemed to make sense. Dorothee, Maria and I were all extremely impressed by how well they were made. They did not shake at all, evidently also being made strong enough to bear motorcycles. For many isolated hamlets, aside from taking a boat across the river, this is their only connection to the main road. Of course, we took advantage to snap some photographs, some less silly than others.
More idyllic scenes abounded as our journey continued until we once more stopped at 3:40 PM to get a drink at Jhangajholi, Ratma Sunshine Food Cafe to let the driver rest a bit while we had coffee.
When we were departing at 4:20 PM, I decided to try to catch up with my ANKI flashcards in Hindi which I had neglected for three days. I worried it might not work well as the road was frequently bumpy, but the Android app on my phone worked great, and 48 minutes later I was all caught up and ready to appreciate the remaining views as we neared the city.
Finally at 7:25 PM we were back to Sunrise Cottage in Kathmandu. We said our goodbyes to Hit and Botka, deciding to pay Hit for the originally intended six days of guide services (around $30 USD a day) and once again paying Botka the same 19000 NPR ($144 USD) as yesterday for his incredibly safe driving services. After taking a couple of minutes to freshen up, I proposed to go to dinner at nearby Hangkook Sarang Korean restaurant.
This was a bit of a splurge, but I really need some feel good food, and I had read that the Korean food here was great. Maria wanted to take a break from dinner itself, but was happy to tag along for the company. The total bill for Dorothée and I was 4650 NPR ($35 USD). We decided to not make any set plans for the next day and by 9 PM I was tucked away in bed.
So no, things definitely did not go as originally planned for the villages trip, and we’ve decided to stick close to Kathmandu for the remaining days. Was it a bit disappointing? Yes, but sometimes that’s life. You can’t control the weather, and sometimes it’s better to make a change of plans rather than stubbornly pushing forward in the face of adversity. Perhaps we would have had an even more amazing cultural experience had we been willing to trudge 4 hours through freezing rain to the next village, constantly being extremely cold for four days but also constantly enlightened by these life experiences, but that’s not what we decided to do.
Do I feel bad about coming back to the Kathmandu area? Not at all. It’s an amazing place with plenty to offer, and I look forward to seeing much more of it tomorrow. Feel free to let me know what you think of our decisions, or even just leave a word of encouragement in the comments section. As always, thanks for following along; I’m sure there are more great things to come.
Lovely reading your mind while u are travelling..Keep up the good work..
Thank you so much. I’m glad you find it enjoying.