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A late monsoon trek

By Rob Rowlands

The late monsoon made this trek quite tough – the weather was very humid in the lowlands. Also, taking bad advice on ’short cuts’ from locals who should have known better didn’t help.

But despite the tribulations, we infused enthusiasm for Nepal and KSP in the three trekkers who hadn’t been to Nepal before - the magic is infectious!

Lost bags!

We assembled in Bangkok and flew to Kathmandu on Sunday 23 September 2007. Both Debbie and Rob lost a bag each, so we threw the remaining bags on our chartered bus and despatched it the Terai, while waited for the other bags in Kathmandu. Next day, Debbie’s bag arrived, but not Rob’s. We caught a flight to Biratnagar late afternoon and joined our staff on the bus. Unfortunately, we were now half a day late, and we reached only Birtamod that evening, still in the humid Terai at about 200 feet altitude! But as a bonus, our old friend Indra Manandhar, a retired Geography professor, accompanied us on the bus and entertained us with stories of his youth.

On Tuesday, we breakfasted in Ilam, lunched in Phidim, then started the long grind on the unpaved road to Gopetar. At one point, we contemplated camping on the side of the road, as several trucks ahead of us were stuck in the mud. But after a couple of hours of chaos, the way cleared and we reached Gopetar about 11pm. Even at that late hour, Indra insisted that we celebrate his birthday, so we drank Rakshi while our cooks commandeered a local kitchen to produce our dinner of dahl baht.

The trek begins

On Wednesday, after a few more hours on the road, we lunched in Singapur, a small village on the hairpin of the road to Taplejung. Then started a ‘three-hour’ walk to the health post at Hangpang. It was very hot, progress was slow, and we stopped at a school below Phulbari that afternoon. In the process we entertained the 150 kids in the school, and they staged an impromptu “Nepali Idol” show for us. Getting to Hangpang next day, Thursday, took another 4 hours.

It was vaccination day in Hangpang, and the health post was swamped with mothers and children. Our vaccine fridge had failed almost 2 years before, owing to a bad charge controller, and we’d come to replace it. In the meantime, vaccines were being brought in coolers from Taplejung each month, and today was the day!

To be continued…………….