Nepal_Village life, Never Alone & Mountains roads

Trip Start Feb 05, 2009
Trip End Dec 16, 2010

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crossing into Nepal with 2 Nepali women on board…24 hours later I have shared meals with 2 Nepali families, parked my van in their garden, explored the jungle and been on the back of motorbike visiting a huge suspension bridge! Also stared at by numerous locals, either at the van or when eating my food (out of respect the guest eats first and me thus alone!). I spend most of my time in small villages, drove a tractor and drank rice wine! Then decided to take the alternative difficult road via Tamghas to Pohkara…what a challenge it proved to be, but with stunning views! Along the way visited a famous temple (where I asked for a safe journey across), visited a boarding school and been invited to several Nepali homes for a meal. Then the real challenge began, driving the seasonal off-road track to Tamghas. We (me and my guardian angel Laxman) made it across, just.

20 May 2010: I am the proud aunt of Elina! By brother and A are now parents of 2 kids! Thanks for the photos, makes me feel a little closer to you all! Enjoy the beschuit met muisjes!

Leaving familiar India behind…In a different way then at other border crossings! Seems that this one is used mostly by pedestrians, as I have to cross 2 narrow bridges to get to the India check-out desks, trying to not knock anyone overboard into the river!

On board I have 2 Nepali women who want a lift, sure hop on board! No clue till where they have to go, I presume until Nepal Customs…

Procedure Border crossing: Once over the bridges (truck-size overlanders are not able to cross here I think as the second bridge is quit narrow), you get to desk nr.1, Immigration check-out. Departure form filled out, exit stamp in passport and continue to desk nr. 2: Customs. Here the CdP is stamped and signed. India: See u Later! In the van down a gravel path until Nepali check-post. Quick van check and continue over yet another (small) bridge. At the Nepali side first to Immigrations: On the spot I can buy a 3-months tourist visa a $102, arrival card filled out and empty departure card in the pocket. At customs the CdP is stamped and signed. Done. Total time: 2 hours. The barrier is lifted and we can drive into Nepal.

I write WE because all the time the 2 Nepali women sat in the van. Turns out they would like a lift to their village about 20km down the road. Not once this the border police check who they are or ask for a passport. Later I find out that Nepali and Indian people can visit each others countries freely (no document needed). For me it seemed I could have smuggled anyone into Nepal!

So my first moments in Nepal are shared with an old woman and her daughter! I drop them at their village and as it is getting dark look for a place to park the van for the night. A nice looking forest area near a small village is the choice this evening. I have not even turned off the engine or a man is coming towards me. What I do here? Well, ahum, park up and sleep in the van. What? Not possible, I have to come to his house and eat with his family and park the van there. Oke… possible to park….sure! By then 20 kids have surrounded my van as well. With 5 on board I take the narrow path to his house and park the van in…his garden!! No problem! That evening I learn my first words Nepali, try my best to communicate in Hindi and eat a home-made Nepali meal. Followed by a Nepali film evening! Everybody crowded around the tv, about 25 young and old and me ;-))

I sleep in the van and am woken up by the kids in the morning….early morning: 05.15. Seems they start the days early here! Too early for breakfast, so I go for a walk around the village, with me 6 girls and a Pandit! We visit the 2 local mandirs (temples) and I drink a salty tea offered by an old Mata Gi. She insists I park the van next to her kutti (little house)…maybe next time! A few hours later Hiralal shows up at the house, first person to speak good English. He is send by his father to see if he can help me with anything. Turns out news spreads fast in Deep Nagar! He likes to take me to the nearby jungle. Sure why not. So we remove the van from the garden and park it at the other side of the village near their house. Again immediately surrounded by very surprised villagers… a situation which repeats itself over and over throughout the country! Privacy and feeling alone is impossible here! By noon I am walking with him and 2 friends in the jungle (looks a lot like a forest but different scrubs). It is hot! South West Nepal is very flat and the climate humid and warm…At night in my van (without AC and a Fan) it is not funny! Also cannot open any windows or doors due to over-curious Nepali people! After the jungle trip and lunch at his house, prepared by his lovely mother, we take the motorbike to go and visit a huge suspension bridge! When I see the river I cannot resist and jump in, cloths and all! How refreshing! That evening the family insists I come again for food. By the time I enter their premises and am placed on a huge wooden table, at least 35 villagers are gazing at me! I am served food first (token of respect in this country)…eating in a relaxed way is impossible with 70 eyes focused on every bite you take! Believe it or not, even this I got used to over the last 2 weeks since entering this country! When I lie in bed that night I cannot believe I have only been in the country 24 hours! Even already scored a Nepali sim card!

Hiralal is great company and his family is so enthusiastic that I decide to stay longer…over the next 3 days we visit a Wild Life park by bicycle (seen lots of deer and a chained elephant!!!), meet some friends, greet lots of locals, learn more Nepali, go on the motorbike with him and his sister and entertain the local kids and other curious people numerous times at my van. They are there as soon as I open the door! Even poke their head through the window to get a glance of the van! The only thing to do is lock myself in when in desperate need of private time, trying hard to ignore the knocking on the van, attempts to open doors and kids climbing on the roof!!!

After 4 days it is time to move on…could stay my total visa time at Deep Nagar, but Nepal has so much more to offer. With the promise to visit again to his mother-in-tears, I leave my first Nepali village…going east.

After 25km I take a break in the shade of trees as again it is getting boiling hot! Nothing much to do then taking a short siesta! For about 15min that is, until the next Nepali person greets me with his head through the window. He speaks very well English so I kindly tell him to wait one hour and let me my beauty siesta sleep. One hour later I am (not) very surprised that Madav and his friends are still sitting near the van, eager to talk with me. They are a good laugh and when Madav offers me to come to his house I accept. More Nepali village life to explore! One evening turns into 3 days. The mornings I can spend by myself (when not explaining/talking with the locals) as Madav is a teacher at a boarding school. Because of the hot season the kids go to school from 07.00 till 12.00. One afternoon we take the tractor and cruise around. I am also allowed to ride the tractor, my first time! He also takes me to a family to taste rice wine (twice), it tastes better when you do not see how it is  made ;-))) I am also treated on leeches from their own tree! Yummi! Again temped to stay longer, but only 50km into the country…time to make some kilometers! Otherwise I will never get to Katmandu and meet up with Sini!

I start early, but not until his mother has made me drink a glass of freshly collected warm buffalo milk! In the afternoon when stopping for lunch at a street food stall, the woman invites me to stay at her house as well, but after a nice but intense period of local-interaction I choose to park up far from people that evening! Cooking my own meal and enjoying the view all by myself, shanty time.

There are 2 ways to get to Pokhara, the quick one following the Highway passing Butwal or the longer, slower and more difficult road via Tamghas. It should come not as a surprise to you all that I choose the second option… It turned out to be a greater challenge then the KKH in Pakistan! Especially the seasonal off-road from Sandigharka to Tamghas…I just made it across, really better suited for 4WD only!

Leaving the 'Highway' behind I turn onto the B-road taking a Nepali business man on board along the way. The road is narrow, windy, hilly and close passing-by situations numerous! But the views are amazing! At a road block (a bus has to borrow some diesel from a fellow bus) it is almost impossible to get the van going. Oops…the heat and the hills are a challenge to Frits (the van). Me and Frits take a needed break when dropping off the guy. Over lunch he tells me about this one bridge that is not finished yet, the temporary by-pass could give some difficulty. But possible? I get the typical yes-head-shake as an answer. Hummm, I decide to find out. Going down no problem, but then: I see the hill and have major doubts. No need when you have locals around! After a failed attempt to race Frits up the hill, a local guy changes my engine diesel-in-flow on the spot. I let him try this time and with guys running after it in case they need to push it along, he parks it at the top of the hill!

A few km further I pass a famous temple. This is the place where Ram, Sita and Laksman (Hindu gods) have been. This Durga Mata temple is worshipped by numerous Nepali people from all over the country. Of course I stop and also pay my respects by walking around the mandir (temple) 3 times. Unfortunately a puja is not possible anymore as it is after 17.00 and the temple doors are closed. When talking got the local shopkeepers I am asked for a lift by several people. Sure why not. So I set off again with 3 people in front and one guy hanging of the stairs with his baskets! At times I have to remind myself to steer away from the rocks in order not to crush him!

They all have to get off at Narpani. This day has been tough driving so I when Maya, one of the women lifters invites me to her house the decision is quickly made. I park the van on the (only) village road, grab a few things and follow her down a track which eventually leads to her house. The kids shy at first (first time they see a foreigner) but try their best English later. I find myself in a women’s compound as she and her neighbor are living their by themselves. Their husbands are working overseas (for 4 years already!). Turns out many Nepali men are doing this! I also met someone who just came back from a 12-year work period, with no in between family visits!

Narpani, a small village in the hills with a nice climate (not so hot and no mozzies!!) and friendly people! Another spot where I happen to linger for a few days going from one house to the next enjoying home-made meals! No privacy here as well unless I hide in the van. Cannot really explain this curiosity behavior. See the photos to get an idea!

At some point I am pleased to meet C.M. Sharma, a Bhutanese who is running a small boarding school here. With my weak spot for children of course accept his invitation to visit the school. Even get the change to interact with class 3. Never seen a foreigner before and then one with dreadlocks, quit a shock! He also takes me to the house of Parvati, a lovely woman who really wants to meet me and cook for us. We even discuss the fact that she should join me to Sandigharka as the road is difficult. I accept. Before setting of take a small pilgrimage back to the temple to ask for guidance and a safe journey through the mountains! Something I think really helped me later on, saving me from a run-off-the-hill-situation.

The real challenge lies ahead, leaving Sandigharka for 15km (turn out to be many more) off-road to Tamghas. I have my doubts, can we make it across. We meet up with one family member of Parvati: Laxman. He seems to know the current situation, ignoring the fact that he had a few drinks already. He offers to come along to help when needed. Anxious about this road I accept the offer (after reassuring with Parvati that he’s an ok guy). We set off. What a trip it will be… After many STEEP hills (just making it while racing up in first gear) we get stuck in the mud! It takes 2,5 hours and Laxman crawling around in the mud under the van to set us free. Dark by then and unable to climb the next hill we stop in the middle of nowhere for some food and a well-deserved alcoholic drink! The next morning the views are stunning! Hills as far as the eye can see and low hanging clouds in between! Impossible to capture this on photo, but I tried. Only one hour to Tamghas, well make it 4! Due to a mud slide I almost ran the van of the road. We take several necessary engine- cool-down-breaks after many more steep hill climbs. We have to wait for a mechanic to show up for this jeep that has problems and is blocking the road. And once Laxman is even using an axe to readjust the road as it is otherwise impossible for me to continue due to the low back axle. At times like these I wondered if he is still happy he came along ;-)) By the end of the morning we reach Tamghas safe and wrecked! If it was not for the reassuring words of Laxman and his help I would not have made it! We thanked the Hindi gods over and over. What a trip, what amazing views! Passing remote villages untouched by society! Once and not again! Or only while sitting in a jeep and enjoying the scenery!

2 weeks Nepal, so much has happened, so many amazing people I have met! So many things I noticed: The many bicycles, the women carrying all sorts of things on their head/back, true Nepali village life, the unpredictable electricity power cuts, the intense curiosity of the people, the many road accidents, the dry river beds until monsoon time and lots of boys with Avril Levine t-shirts!

Now in Tamghas for a few days for a well-deserved and necessary service check for Frits and meeting up with interesting people yet again…but more about this next time!

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Mira on

Hey Liekie,

Gefeliciteerd tante Angelique! Mooie foto van de kleine wolk! Nepal is inderdaad geweldig en ook Pokhara ga je gaaf vinden. Veel plezier! Weet je de skype nog te vinden? lijkt me leuk je live te horen!

Apu dey on

Hi Anglique,
Im also, in Nepal, send me ur no. at my email id, so that we can meet, and plan touristic some days..or sms me ur nepali mobile no.. hope to see u soon. im at kathmandu rt now. choa

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