Saturday, October 6, 2012

Langtang Valley Trek, Nepal 24 Sept – 1 Oct 2012


24th Sept 2012

There are 3 buses that leaves from Kathmandu to Dunche and then 2 carry on to Syaphrubesi (8-9hrs), the buses leave at 6am,6:30am and 7am. Before I book the trip I found out that there was a bad landslide after Ramche. The bus company only sells ticket to Ramche, from there on passengers have to get off the bus and walk across the land slide area. There will be another bus waiting on the other side to continue to Syaphrubesi. Sounds like it’s going to be a long and interesting day!

My guide/porter, his name is Bhes, sound like BEST, I hope he will be the best! :-p He picked me up at 6am, we arrived at this road side full of people who are waiting for something. Then one bus arrived, looks like a chicken bus in South America. Bhes told me that there is no tourist bus to Syaphrubesi, only local bus. :-) OK! That is going to be even more interesting!

Packed Bus to Syaphrubesi
Move in please!

He got us our tickets, yeah we have seats, I sat and wait watching at the locals loading everything they can on to the roof top of the bus. There were a few other tourist on the bus also with their guide. As the bus moved, locals go in and out, up and down from the bus every few meters, the bus is packed even roof top as well. Every time when the bus is going to pass an Army or Police check point, just 10m before all of them from the roof top will have to get down and cramp into the bus. At the check point, all of them have to get off and walked across, the police or army will come into the bus to check if there is any weapon hidden in the luggage compartment. After the check point, they will all climb back up to the roof top again. This process goes on and on. I remembered after climbing out of Kathmandu valley, the bus went zig zag down to Trisuli valley, oh gosh it was really bad, I had to close my eyes and try to sleep. I thought of Winnie during our bus journey from Inle Lake to Yangon, Burma she was throwing out the whole time. This is worst! Even me I felt sick!

Trisuli River
Finally we got to the end of this horrible road. We stopped for lunch before the bus hit uphill. There were rice terrace landscape views along the Trisuli river. Finally we arrived at the landslide area. Bhes told me this is the first one, there is another one further down. L We walked for about 20mins passing thru a big landslide area where the authority is working on fixing it. We got into a bus which is already waiting for us. Bhes said that from now on the seat is on first come first serve basis. This stretch is only 30 mins ride until we come to another landslide. Next bus will take 2 hours to Syaprubesi. The next landslide was a major one, we walked for 45 mins till we get to the next bus, I was almost running in order to beat the locals and porters to get a seat on the bus. As my guide was carrying my backpack, I could walk faster. I only managed to get myself a seat. After Dhunche, there were 2 check points for tourist, my guide did everything for me. We finally arrived at Syapru around 5:30pm, 11 hours long bus ride.

Local Porter



25th Sept 2012
Trek start : Shyaphru (1460m)
Trek end : Lama Hotel (2340m)
Duration : 5 hrs
Difficuties : Easy

I had a good breakfast from the Hotel, we are set to go at 7am. We passed the check point and cross the first bridge, passing a very old village, we continue crossing the second bridge and noticed that the other trekker who was in front of us stop at the bridge and didn’t follow the same path. As we carried on, Bhes spoke to 2 local porters, they told him that this is the old path, they open up a new path this year just opposite the river, it is more flat and easier to trek. Bhes told me he did this trek last year so he didn’t know about the new bridge. We agreed to walk a little further to check the path condition, the path slowly became more bushy. We decided to turn back, on the way we bumped into another group of trekkers with a guide too, him too didn’t know about the new way. We lost 45mins but we got back onto the right track. The way to Lama Hotel is almost flat following the edge of the Langtang river in the valley. We passed several small teahouse and plenty of waterfalls. It was relatively easy walk compared to ABC. We arrived around 1pm. Lunch is Mixed Fried Rice topped with Yak cheese. I am getting used to fried rice with cheese now. :-) The teahouse here are much better condition compare to ABC, the rooms are bigger and newer. But when I checked the price I got a shock! It is almost double the price of ABC.

Lama Guesthouse
Mixed Fried Rice topped with Yak Cheese









Langtang Lirung Peak


26th Sept 2012
Trek start : Lama Hotel (2340m)
Trek end : Langtang Village (3500m)
Duration : 5.5 hrs
Difficuties : Easy

We started around 7:30am. Gentle slope upwards for an hour, occasionally we have a glimpse of Langtang Lirung Peak, the valley widens up while we emerged from the forest. Now we have the wall of mountain left and right, countless waterfalls fall from the top, beautiful wild flowers covered the ground, the view is just amazing. We stopped by Thyangsyap Village for an early lunch as my pancake has long digested. As we approached Langtang Village, we could already see the snowcapped mountain at the end of the valley. That’s where we are heading tomorrow. I got a room with an awesome view of the valley.

Langtang Valley

Langtang Village has a small settlement of Sherpa people. Their houses are made of stones and wood covered with flat zinc roof that has tons of stone placed on top to secure them from flying. They take cares of their Yaks and goats, drying as much crops as possible before the winter comes. I find the people here more friendly and smiley as compared to ABC. I could even strike a conversation with a 100 years old man. He was using his best 10 words English to sell me a piece of gold plated locket carved in old calendar. He said “I sell, buy shoe” pointing to me his old croc. Unfortunately I didn't have any money with me.

Langtang Village

In the evening a group of Israelis check in to the hostel. They were loads of them on this trek. Later I found out that there is a long school holiday in Israel, that’s why they are travelling. There are nice in small group but nightmare in big group. I chatted a bit with a couple and found out that they were not paying for their rooms. As it was still low season, the Teahouses were fighting for business, they will take in customers if the customer promised to eat dinner and breakfast with them. Most of the Israelis paid for just the porter service, meals and accommodations are not included, they will pay as they go, so they bargain for good price. But this doesn’t apply at ABC. As for the porter, normally they will get a free meal where their guest eat and a free place to sleep in the same Teahouse. It can be anywhere in the Teahouse. Rooms are reserved for customers first.

Langtang Village

27th Sept 2012

Trek start : Langtang Village (3500m)
Trek end : Kyanjing Gompa (3800m)
Duration : 2.5 hrs
Difficuties : Easy

I woke up on this special day, peep out of the windows and I saw only blue sky. :-) What a beautiful day! Bhes was so sweet to remember that it was my birthday. He kept asking me anything special today? :-) To be here is already something special. I felt content.

Since it is a relatively short and easy walk, we took our time. At this altitude when we walk, we don’t sweat even though the sun was strong and glaring. The way up to Kyanjing Gompa is almost flat. The view was stunning; no words can describe how beautiful it was.

Yak
While we were having a tea break half way, I saw my first Yak. Wow! They are sexy with that long bushy tail. :-) They look fierce but they are actually shy animal. The yaks are kept for their milk, meat, skin and hair. There is even a cheese factory in Kyanjin Gompa that produces Yak cheese.

We arrived to Kyanjin Gompa in no time. We were surrounded by snowcapped peaks. On the left is the Langtang Lirung Peak standing at 7227m and Langtang Lirung Glacier, straight in front at the far end is the white snowy Ganchenpo Peak standing at 6387m, on the right is a series of peaks and the famous Kangja La pass at 5845m. OMG! I am in heaven! It is so beautiful here.

I got a room with the view of Langtang Lirung and its glacier. There are yaks everywhere here! :-) After lunch we went for a short trek to the glacier, on the way we passed by the cheese factory and the ancient old monastery, clouds started to move in, when we arrived, top of the glaciers were already covered by cloud. We sat down to enjoy a nice piece of raisins and nuts chocolate that I brought from Kathmandu. :-) Ahhh… what a special way to pass my 40th birthday. No party, no drinking, just silence, peace and serenity.

At night I couldn’t sleep, maybe because of the altitude and too much noise from drunken porters, guide and trekkers. When I look out from the window, the cloud has cleared, the snowcapped Langtang Lirung peak glows at night. It was stunning!

Kyanjing Ri
28th Sept 2012

Trek start : Kyanjing Gompa (3800m)
Trek end : Thyangsyap Village (3140m)
Duration : 7.5 hrs
Difficuties : Moderate

Today is a big day! We are going to hike up to Kyanjing Ri @ 4773m, this is going to be my record hike so far in terms of altitude. We packed up some snacks and a bottle of water, and of course my camera, we started at 6am. The sun has risen and brightens up the peak of Langtang Lirung, the snow peak first became orange and slowly turn to white.

I hiked extremely slow, because of the altitude and lack of oxygen my heartbeat beats faster than my breathing, every few steps I took I have to stop and breath. Finally we got to the top after 2.5hrs, the sun has brightened up the entire valley and mountains, we could see the entire snowcapped mountain range, and there was not a single cloud on the air. We were the only 2 up there, we enjoyed the moment just for ourselves. I felt like I was on the top of the world. :-) We spent an hour up there before headed back down. Going down took us 1.5 hours, it was slippery on the sandy rocky slope. A walking stick is definitely helpful.

Langtang Lirung Peak and Glacier

It was almost 11am, we had our lunch and left. We planned to walk as far as we could today. After 3.5 hours I surrendered, we stopped at Thyangsyap Village for the night. We planned to take a different way back to Syaphrubesi tomorrow, the path split at Rimche. We will then continue to Sherpagon for one more night before heading back to Syaphrubesi. Bhes has not been this way, it will be his first experience as well.




29th Sept 2012

Trek start : Thyangsyap Village (3140m)
Trek end : Khangjim (2235m)
Duration : 6.5 hrs
Difficuties : Moderate

Finally I got a good sleep. The weather was not so good today, it was overcast. When we arrived at Rimche, Bhes asked for the direction. They told us only 1.5 hrs to Sherpagon. It was up hill from Rimche, the path was by the ridge of the rocky mountain with amazing view. Some parts are really narrow, a bit scary for me. We arrived at Sherpagon, a very very small village, only 4 Teahouse and maybe 10 families. I felt I could put in more hrs of walk, the next village will be Khangjim 2 hours away. I decided to continue. Again it is going uphill, we ascent into the pine forest, very quiet path with no other trekkers. Only occasionally some locals.

Surka Hotel @ Khangjim
We were hoping in Khangjim we will find better teahouse. As we descent, I was thinking how much I miss a proper toilet with a proper light and flowing water in a basin. Not long after, we saw a huge Teahouse, looks brand new. We walked straight to it, the room was spacious with attached toilet. The toilet was just what I missed. We took it! :-) I felt like I have checked in to a 5 start hotel. Maybe there is a big buffet awaits? Dream on…. Bhes came with the menu, I wanted to have a pizza and Masala Tea, he came back and said they didn’t have them, I can only choose from rice, noodles and normal tea. :-( I chose a mushroom soup and fried noodles. There was no proper dining place, Bhes asked if I want to eat in the kitchen, I had a chance to visit the house of the owner where she is cooking, apparently the owner is not around, the brother of the owner who runs this place is helping up tonight. The house is really ancient, there is only one room where they sleep, cook, sit and eat. My mushroom soup and fried noodle turned up to be extremely salty, I could not finished half of it. Looks like they are not prepared for the tourist yet.

Attached modern toilet
Surka Hotel room



30th Sept 2012

Trek start : Khangjim (2235m)
Trek end : Shyaphru (1460m)
Duration : 2 hrs
Difficuties : Easy

The sound of the bell from the cows woke me up, I had a good sleep. It was cloudy again. Looks like I had been lucky this time to have a clear blue sky on the top. There is supposed to be another peak on the opposite mountain but I could only see a little. This morning, I tried to choose something simple for my breakfast after the disaster last night. I just ordered 2 fried eggs with Tibetan bread and milk coffee, even so my eggs arrived almost scrambled and my coffee only tasted milk. Bhes brought me the whole bottle of Nescafe. :-) He also agreed with me that they have a lot to improve on the food. High season is coming soon, they should do something.
Shyaprubesi

The way to Shyapru is only 2 hrs of descent, I took my time to enjoy the last bit of my trek in Nepal. At Shyapru, we checked in to the same hotel, there was a Bakery nearby which sells some really nice cakes, a few hotel and teahouse. We spent the afternoon sitting in front of the hotel people watching. The 2 buses from Kathmandu arrived and brought in more tourist. I was really not looking forward for the bus journey back. Bhes found out that there is only 1 landslide to cross now and we get to keep our seats. Cool!

SBS Chicken Bus
1st Oct 2012

We caught the 6:30 bus to Kathmandu, we arrived to the first landslide but seems like the rain last night has caused new landslides on the road so it is back to square one. We had to crossed 2 landslides. First one was 45 minutes walk, 2nd one was just 15 minutes walk. The local traffic is lesser today, we got back to Kathmandu around 3pm. Only 9 hours. Wee! Back online! I received so many Birthday wishes on my FB. I was the happiest gal! :-)

I took a bed in the dormitory, sharing with 3 other Chinese from China, 2 of them came from Lhasa for business. They took the 20 hours bus here to buy loads of winter wool stuff for their shops. They are leaving early morning to make it back for the long holiday crowds in China. For them it’s just like crossing from Singapore to JB for some shopping and return. I wish I could go to Lhasa but USD1000 for 7 days….hmmmm.



6 comments:

  1. it's so nice to be able to travel around the world.. hi, blogwalking from thomas's blog

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  2. Beautiful! I feel homesickness. We also did this trek in October-November 2012 combined with Gosainkund and Helambu. Beautiful places beautiful weather. Every day blue sky!!!

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    1. Erik, indeed it was beautiful, I have yet to do Gosainkund and Helambu, one day I will return again. :-)

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  3. Happy to read your experiences Alice. The pictures, the memo, everything is awesome. I have been to Langtang region several times and can picture your day to day words into memories.
    Keep it up!

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  4. It is great to read your blog with detail of the Langtang Region. Unfortunatly we are not able to see those lovely view during this trek in this movement. After Earthquake all the things are mist and it become a dead valley. Slowly it growing up but take really long time. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    http://www.nepalfootprintholiday.com

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  5. Hi, it was a nice read. Do you have any plans to revisit Langtang trails ? If yes, please rewrite the blog, because after the 2015 quake bloggers like you could help people of langtang get back on track.

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