Travelling to Lamjung was a good start, I have been planning this trip for a month now. Moving dates ahead and back. One day my assistant announced he had needed a week off for his sister’s marriage and I took this opportunity to take make my travel plan happen. My brother had just returned from his Mardi trek, boss and assistant both going away for a week. It was a perfect get-away time. My brother was happy I cherry-picked him instead of mom, who was supposedly my travel partner from the start to Lamjung along with my two other cousins, who cancelled due to unsuitable situation at their home. So mom was dropped out and he got on the board.
This was my first-time travelling to the city. It is my sir’s gau (village/town), well technical he is not my teacher but he used to be one of the Nepali teachers at my relative’s boarding school for a very long time, hence the term “Sir” and he is well acquainted with all the family members.
Anyway, we took microvan from Gongabu, nice and comfortable. Scenic not so unique half the way, it was same hills and jungles and making several unlikely mini-stops until Dumre.
Weather was perfect, bright and sunny up until the diversion from Dumre. As we approached Marshyangdi Hydro Reservoir, there was one-eighty-degree turn on the day, as if storm, rain, hailstone and micro-van were racing against one another to reach Besi Sahar first. Neither of four wanted to lag behind.
I was busy GoPro-ing every event on a commute that I completely forgot to call Sir to announce our arrival consequently passing our get-off stop called Sera and reached the Manang Highway. Thankfully the driver and his friend were friendly so to speak. They spoke to Sir over the phone and guided us to a nearby hotel at Manange Chautara at the end of the Besi Sahar lane.
Did you know Besi Sahar was not how the place was originally called? There is an interesting story on how this place got its name. The Shah Royals then, Drabya Shah and his successor had two Palaces, Summer & Winter. Summer one was up on the hills called Gau, and Winter one was in Besi, the foothills. So, when Royals moved to Summer Palace, her fellowmen announced “Raja Gau Sare” (King moved to Gau) and similarly when Royals moved back to his Winter Palace, the announcement would be “Raja Besi Sare” (King moved to Besi). Just like the Chinese Whisper game and passing down of words down to generations, Gau-Sare & Besi-Sare eventually became Gau Sahar & Besi Sahar.
Back to our journey story of that day ending at Manange Chautari amidst downpour, storm & hailstone, we found one room with twin beds and no attached bathroom. Further to our dismay no electricity and no Internet.
We spent the whole evening chatting with owners with hopes of getting out if the rain stopped. But no luck! We were there sitting, drinking coffee, eating meal and counting stores closing down one by one beyond glass window and incessant rain.
I remember we avoided drinking water to duck running to take a piss at cave-like toilet right down the end of the hallway and also praying that the night would somehow quickly pass and we get out of the Sahar ASAP.
Next morning was rather calm, the sky opened up and my eyes too at 05:00 hrs. First thing I noticed was the candle from last time has melted to levels and still no sign of electricity and that means no running water too. Electric pole somewhere near was knocked down by yesterday’s storm.
After making good use of half-a-bucket of water, I grabbed my camera and walked around muted Besi Sahar leaving my sound slept brother behind. I didn’t want to disturb him because I know how bad sleep he had due to highway facing room that served him rushing vehicle noise throughout the night.
I ceased complaining when I saw happy houses, calm road and people doing morning business as I stepped out of the hotel door. Sir called at 6 AM and we met immediately to make plans for the day. He appointed one of his students, Ronish, a very jolly boy, to visit schools in Khudi for our free health clinics come August. People serving at these remote areas come across always motivating, they are educated, knowledgeable, exude such positivity and their immense love and dedication to the place they grew up at.
The school would not open until 10 AM, so I asked Ronish if we could go see Khudi Hydropower which I thought was one we saw on the way and proudly pointed out to my brother saying “That’s Khudi” which of course was Manang Marshayngdi and also recall how a local sitting back seat had smirked hearing my shout out. I was offended back then and now I am embarrassed. But wait, why should I be embarrassed, in fact, he should have been the one suffering embarrassment for not correcting or being less-informative about his place.
A similar incident had occurred in Kathmandu when a person pointed out at The Chinese Embassy telling it was Hotel Dwarika’s, which I politely corrected.
I keep diverting from my Lamjung story track, don’t I?
We took a local bus at 8:30 to go to Ngadi, it’s en route to Manang (one of 100 beautiful places to see before you die), where Shino-Sagarmatha Hydro Plant reservoir was. Quite a bumpy road it was! We drove past two new bridges, first over River Khudi and second over River Marshyangdi built by Shino-Sagarmatha followed by 4.2 meters long tunnel. Amazing!! This could be my first tunnel road and a rare to non-existent in Nepal. We reached the Hydropower Plant reservoir but the guard would not admit us in without a permit, so we walked 5 minutes further crossing yet another bridge over the confluence of Marshyangdi and Ngadi rivers and photographed the vicinity. Luckily, Ronish’s friend was driving from Manang, his Jeep we hitch-hiked to the School in Khudi and also requested a 30 seconds halt at the end of the tunnel for photography.
After briefing the Headmaster the purpose of our upcoming medical camp at their school, we walked through a Gurung village, crossing rather dilapidated wooden suspension bridge again over the River Marshyangdi instead of waiting for a local bus. After a half an hour walk in 11 AM sun and breeze, I proposed a hitchhike approaching Bolero Jeep. We all climbed the trunk of it and travelled standing rest of the way. I loved it. Riding a jeep through eight feet wide turbulent road, constant jolting and jerking was an adventure itself.
We had to go to Rainas, a well-groomed Gurung settlement after lunch. We grabbed our late meal and set out on a journey there, just to meet another bad luck. The vehicle that was supposed to pick us from Paoudhi need maintenance and was parked at the workshop. Sir advised us that we leave Besi Sahar immediately on a Dumre-route bus and get off at Poudhi to catch a 2:30 bus that took us to Rainas, where our home-stay was booked and two more schools in the area to check out.
The Dumre bus was relaxed and the Rainas bus was in hurry. One had all the time in hand and waited for passengers while the latter one was patient less, didn’t wait an extra minute and stranded us in the middle of Poudhi despite several requests.
Flustered with both the buses and not knowing what other options were, we met another soul who had met a similar fate of missing the same Rainas bus by 5 minutes. She was a local there and talked around and discovered the next bus to Rainas was leaving 30 minutes. Glad we found who found us a ride. But our happiness didn’t last any longer, because other riders said the bus was scheduled to leave at 5:00 PM. God!! Both of us exhausted siblings got off the bus, bid adios to the Rainas plan there and caught the first vehicle coming towards us for Dumre and then to Pokhara.