Trek – Part Nine

Gillian Holdsworth’s Trans-Nepal Trek Diary

Part Nine: 29th October – 5th November

Monday, 29th October

Left Phaplu for Booridarra- Glorious weather and a truly flat path.

Nepalis will frequently tell you that the path is flat but as yet I have never found one! We stopped for lunch in Nelai and then climbed up on to the Lekh before dropping down to Booridarra.

Tuesday, 30 October

We walked from Booridarra to Sotang. We dropped steeply down to the Dudhkoshi River, crossing a long suspension bridge.

There was a young boy leading his elderly parents across. They were embarking on a pilgrimage to a holy place in India and were afraid to cross the bridge alone.

We followed the Ungu river valley heading north. This area is the home of the Kulung Rai, a sub-group of Rai who are renowned for their portering activities around Everest region, as well as working in the British Army.

We stopped at a small Sherpa lodge in Sotang for the night run by a delightful Sherpa lady with her two children.

Her husband had worked as a trekking guide but left to work in Israel two years ago because work was scarce in Nepal. They have not heard from him since.

Wednesday, 31 October

“There is no greater vision of hell than the view from Bung to Gudel”. A quote of Shipton on one of his trips to Everest and one that kept Rosie Blandy’s brother Richard amused ten years ago as he walked this route.

We took the same route and actually I found it rather beautiful. However, the climb up from the Hillary Bridge to Gudel is very steep and then continues up to Sanam at 2900m.

We walked with a delightful elderly 53 years old man who was married and had eight children, only four of whom survived. Three died in infancy and another daughter died last year in childbirth. He was returning home to celebrate the birth of his first grandchild.

Thursday, 1st November

We left Sanam and climbed a further 500 meters to cross the Salpa pass (3400 meters), the border between Solukhumbu and Bhojpur Districts. The path follows a steep river valley, densely forested with rhododendrons and pine – a beautiful valley. From the top we had spectacular views of the Dudh Kunde Himal.

After crossing the Salpa Pass we dropped 2500 meters to Salpa Fedi where we encountered a Maoist who asked for “Help” in the from of a “Donation”.

Actually, we knew that there was a Maoist group operating here as we had met a Belgium tourist and his guide on the path who had warned us.

When I asked the man his name he said “Ma Maobadi chu”- “I am a Maoist”!!

When I told him about my “Noble Trek” and fund raising for BNMT he was happy that my donation was significant enough and we passed without making any “Non optional political donations”!!

Friday, 2nd November

We left Dobhan for Bumlung and crossed the Arun River into Sankhuwasabha. I feel as if I am on the home stretch now in all very familiar territory.

We stopped for lunch in Goothi Bazaar. At the hotel where we ate the wife had a severely disabled daughter of ten years old who looked about five years, She was evidently a birth injury and her limbs were terribly spastic but she had a beautiful smile and was obviously deeply loved and cared for by her mother. I have never seen such a severely disabled child survive in Nepal.

Saturday, 3rd November

Rosie’s birthday and the day we reached Sonam’s house in Bhotebas. We had woken up to a heated political discussion between local villagers on the state of the country and the rescheduling of elections-“Too many cats don’t kill the Mice”!!

We walked to Chandanpur where we ate lunch. Pasang, Rosie’s porter is a tenant farmer in this village. Sonam and Pasang both come from north of Khandbari from an agriculturally marginal area so has taken the opportunity of farming someone else’s land in a more productive area.

Sunday, 4th November

Had a day off at Sonam’s house in Bhotebas-Ablutions, washing and lots of Tongba Walked up to the ridge above the house to see if Makalu was showing her peak but we still have low cloud, so no mountains today.

Monday, 5th November

Still cloudy. We walked down to Khandbari, the district centre of Sankhuwasabha.

It is one of those Bazaars which one can’t walk through without 45 cups of tea and lots of bunches of bananas from old friends!

Visited the BNMT Office where we had a grand welcome from CM Ghimire (District Program Co-ordinator), Surendra Rai (Program Officer) and Rajan Regmi (Finance Assistant) who described the BNMT program in this District.

In Sankhuwasabha a two pronged approach is operated to improving health by working with the Government health services to strengthen their programs through training and providing medical equipment and working with local communities on health awareness and health rights – “The Rights Based Approach”.

There are 39 health facilities in Sankhuwasabha and a BNMT Drug Scheme operating in them. This means that patients attending health posts receive medicine at 40% of the retail cost. But the Government has now decided that all health care must be provided free of charge. – Central interference with successful local programs in not unique to Nepal, we experience it regularly in England too!