Bistari, bistari 2.0 - A second trip to Nepal - The Langtang

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April 18th 2013
Published: June 19th 2013
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Chhiri and LakpaChhiri and LakpaChhiri and Lakpa

Day 1- On the road
April 18 - April 25th

The Langtang Trek

In a departure from my usual day by day trek blog I've condensed this entire trek to a summary style entry (It was taking me so long to get the story out). Anyway, I hope it is still enjoyable to read. There are still lots of photos- they're hard to cull down (145 for this blog post). So, without further ado.....

*Trekking begins

Trek 3 was a 9 day, 8 night trek in the Langtang region. We went with a new company for this one, Mega Adventures. This company was recommended to us by a guy called Mark from Ann Arbor, Michigan. We met Mark in Pakhding at the end of the EBC trek. He had walked in with Tendi (guide for Mega Adventures) and Tendi's clients- the twins from Florida. Seeing Tendi in action we were pretty impressed so we got in touch, haggled a price and did the deal. The deal unravelled slightly in that at the last minute Tendi didn't end up being our guide, his brother, Chhiri, did. Our porter was Lakpa, Lakpa is normally a guide but work was a bit slow so he was portering. No big deal, it's Nepal after all, things often don't go exactly as you think they might.

Back to the story....

Main highlights of the Langtang region were to include rhododendron forests, interesting village people and forest/jungle terrain with 2 high elevation climbs- Kyanjin Ri (4900 m) and Tserko Ri (5000 ish m), we would have loved to do a longer trek to include Gosaikund Lake but alas, not enough time. This trek was rated as a medium trek. But first another jeep ride! 7 hours this time to Syabaru Besi. I actually really enjoy the drives- bit exciting and lots to look at. Syabaru Besi is a transit kind of town with a lot of teahouse and hotel style places. Not too much charm but interesting enough. We were to stay at Hotel Namaste. Got in at 2.30 ish (early) so I went for a walk through the town and climbed the big hill laden with Prayer flags- awesome views of Langtang range and the town. Walking back to Namaste I was accosted and ended up having a cup of tea at the house of 3 young sisters who must have mistaken me for Mary (ie - someone who really likes talking to kids)- luckily for Mary she wasn't with me because that cup of tea i think was the source of my undoing the next day- I soooo should have been more like me (not someone who loves to talk to kids) and not accepted the offer of practicing English and having a cup of tea.

Anyway, back to the story- The Trusilo River runs along side the town and all night it sounded like it was running through our room- luckily we had an attached bathroom - sound of running water ...... Dhal bat and black tea for dinner and slept warm and well without bed bugs until about 4 am (woke with a mild stomach ache).

* Trekking really begins

Up and ready to go by 0730, we set off SLOWLY, cross the first suspension bridge (seriously love these structures) for the trek and are soon in thick forest. Abundance of birds, monkeys , 1 small squirrelly thing and a musk deer. The pace of walking was diabolically slow, I think Chhiri and Lakpa must have thought that we might like it that way!!!! I had to say something in the end, it was really frustrating. So for a while the pace picked up. However, at about the 2 hr mark I develop stomach cramps, the vomits and have profuse cold sweats, luckily there aren't many people on this trekking route so running off to find a bush/tree isn't too difficult. We stop for lunch (get me a bucket) at Bamboo and I have a lie down on a bench for about 45 mins. We still have about 4 hours of mainly uphill to go - to cut it short, it wasn't a great day, although it was a good test of stamina. Crawled into my sleeping bag at Moonlight Guest House in Rimiche and slept the afternoon and night away- much better the next day. Moral of the story - don't accept tea from strangers in children's clothing!!

* Itinerary/General Trek Conditions

Day 3 - Buddha Guest House, Langtang Village

Day 4, 5 - Namaste Guest House, Kayanjin Gomba

Day 6 - Buddha Guest House, Langtang Village

Day 7 - Landslide Hotel, Pairo

Day 8 - Langtang View Hotel, Dunche

Day 9 - Back to KTM

We walked through some really beautiful terrain- amazing rhododendron forests, ancient rain forest (but cool not hot/humid), pine forest and rocky landslide area, much of it was riverside. It reminded me a lot of the rivers of the Annapurna region. We did mostly uphill for the first 4 days - innumerable steps and switchbacks. I don't know if the route is much easier than than the others (Annapurna, EBC and Mustang) or if we have just gotten a lot fitter but it was a really comfortable climb, I would say it's easy to medium.

The mules are the transport animal of choice for this route- I have come to the conclusion now that I really, really hate the smell of mule poo- give me a good runny yak poo any day! The terraces and crops are picturesque. Lots of forest birds including scarlet minavet, blue magpie, danphe and woodpecker (low elevation) and robins and choughs (in the higher elevations).

Lots of tea houses along the way, the local people are very friendly. The women were dressed in Tibetan style clothing, particularly up higher. The tea houses are pretty standard- like on all the other treks the rooms are generally; 2 beds, a thin mat over wooden base, lumpy very flat pillows, 3 wall hooks, 1 window with outstanding view, dubious floor covering, random wall covering- anything from paint to wood to fabric- with or without holes that show through to the next room and a door that may or may not close. The dining rooms were all pretty similar too; long tables, bench seats and a central heat source. The main difference with Langtang though is that wood is plentiful so the dining room was generally warm, and that tea came in a mug as opposed to a small cup. So... 'Small pot black tea' became a redundant order, we were having big mugs (and not a McVities digestive biscuit in sight).

Weather wise, the second day was warm/hot - T-shirt weather, it then got cool on day 3 with rain becoming snow before lunch. We had serious snow for the next couple of days and no visibility (which i think was fantastic - makes for good and interesting photos and as you know is a big novelty for us from the Southern Hemisphere ) and the
Rubbish dumpRubbish dumpRubbish dump

As you come into Syabaru Besi!
snow is just lovely to walk in. It is that crunchy squeaky non melting, non slippery snow. Seriously picturesque.

Also worth noting- Kyanjin Gomba Village wasn't operating in full tourist mode as it was still pre-season and cold and snowy so the Cheese Factory (Swiss project) and main Gompa were both closed (No big deal IMO but it may matter to some). We did take a hike out to the river bed - about a 2 hr round trip, there's no shortage of hikes on offer.

* The Two Peaks

Re the physically high points of the trek (Days 4 and 5); after sitting around in Kyanjin Gomba for an entire afternoon and the next morning due to the snow and cloud, we convinced Tendi that we should try to climb Kyanjin Ri in the afternoon despite the weather. It was a relatively arduous but not too difficult climb but we fell short of the peak by about 150m when the snow came back in. Still, it was beautiful at the chorten and prayer flags that we reached. Even with no visibility there is an intrinsic beauty to the landscape. The next day
Heading out of Syabaru BesiHeading out of Syabaru BesiHeading out of Syabaru Besi

Day 2- Trek actually begins
we were really lucky, the sun was back out so we started the assault on Tserko Ri. Lots of forget me not flowers and miniature irises on the ground. It was a steady, slow, breathless and cold climb which was once again hampered about 100m short by the sudden change of weather. The track was completely obscured with snow and there were several large drops that Tendi was unhappy about so we turned around. We weren't overly upset because we felt we had already achieved higher summits with the Everest Base Camp trek. I just really enjoyed the process of the climbing- the views were secondary. As we turned back from Tserko Ri the cloud came in even lower hampering visibility so it was probably a good decision. We had a picnic down a bit lower- boiled eggs, Tibetan bread, chocolate and biscuits. Chhiri and Lakpa had been slathering some chilli butter on their bread which they offered to us - very nice initially, we then thought someone had stepped in poo- turns out it was the smell of the chilli yak butter! Hmmm, wish i hadn't put quite as much on my tibetan bread after all.

Trekking back down the valley over the next few days the weather improved a lot, the last day being hot again. We got sun/snow burnt faces- mainly lips, despite hats and hours and hours of reapplication of sunscreen. Consequently we were now looking less than our glamorous best- our lips were still scabby and split at the end of the trek- nooooiiiiicccce!

*The people

As most of you know, this is an aspect of trekking that has a lot of appeal- you have an opportunity to meet all sorts of people. On the way up we met a French family (with vomiting daughter) early in the trek then never saw them again - clearly the French are lacking in stamina! (***** DISCLAIMER ***** this is an in joke!!!! Any French people reading this- I don't really mean it! I love the French..... one of my best friends is French..... seriously!). We met a guide that we had met in Mustang (he remembered us! he was one of the horse guys with the Japanese helicopter tourists) with a group of 5 Koreans and there were a few small groups of Nepali students. Met a lone woman trekker from Sweden plus guide/porter - I would liked to have spent more time with her, she was really interesting. Met a young 23 yr old Israeli guy travelling alone- Daniel. He was out of the army and had travelled through Australia and NZ. He became our new best Israeli friend and we trekked together for the next 5 days. We had to share a room with him one night when the tea house we were staying in that night ended up being overrun by a group of 7 trekkers as it was getting dark. But, no big deal, we are used to sharing. Said goodbye to him on our day 8 as he went on to Gosaikunda and we continued down to finish our trek. He was a really nice boy, good company and taught us a card game called Yanniv, an Israeli card game that Chhiri and Lakpa cheated their way through !!!! We had a lot of fun.

* Memorable Moments

#Finally succumbed to the 'snickers momo' - a deep fried snickers bar in a momo casing, at Thulo (Day 8). Luckily we hadn't discovered these before as I would now be the size of a yak- seriously, seriously awesome!! I can't describe how good they are!

# Being chased by a yak whilst wearing my penguin hat- probably shouldn't have snuck up on it- then again, I doubt it's ever seen a penguin before.

# Visiting the Tip Top Coffee Shop for my "Sunday Walk" on the way to Kyanjin Gomba and the discovery of the hot apple pie and espresso serving tea house in Kyanjin gomba where we spent 2 nights - we actually had to surreptitiously sneak there (twice) because you are only supposed to eat at your own tea house.

# View of the Langtang mountain ranges when the weather allowed us to see them. The absolute height and magnificence of the Himalaya is breath taking.

# The river and rhododendrons (particularly the white ones), I love the river, the colour is sublime.

# Chhiri (Sherpa) and Lakpa (Tamang), aged 24 and 26, they were a lot of fun, they sang constantly and thought they could get away with the card cheating, little did they know that we were on to them from the start. A very nice change on trekking style.

# Sitting around the well stoked fire for hours on end watching the snow or the night sky and enjoying the moment.

# Lying back propped up on my back pack on the way back down Kyanjin Ri and spending 20 mins alone with my eyes shut just soaking it all in. The others had gone ahead, the sun had come out and it was kind of a meditative moment.

* The return to civilisation

We started the down hill return and had 2 really long days. Long but great. By now Chhiri and Lakpa 'got it', that my walking speed is faster than snail pace and that I wasn't going to fall off the mountain so I got some good stretches of walking by myself. The Langtang really does provide beautiful walking conditions. Retraced our way back through the forests, etc, etc. Encountered beautiful terraces and looked longingly over the Langtang Ranges towards Tibet. Bypassed the small villages with the apple trees in their first blossom. Walked on trails thick with fallen pine cones. I relished
Another bridgeAnother bridgeAnother bridge

RHS- Daniel from Israel, we didn't know him at this stage
those last few hours. It was pretty sad on that last afternoon to get the first glimpses of the road again. Our last night was in the small town of Dunche, we stayed in a kind of hotel- like the one in Syabaru Besi I guess- one foot still in the trek and one foot firmly out if it.

Additional photos below
Photos: 145, Displayed: 31



Feeling a bit revolting at this stage

Didn't see too much of Rimche

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