After 3 weeks in Kathmandu, I decided it was high time to take the adventure out, beyond the Kathmandu valley and start to explore the wider wonders of Nepal. After another week of intense language learning, Friday afternoon August 22nd I therefore set off together with my fellow VSO volunteer Chris on a road trip to Dhading Besi. More on destination later, first came the journey;
First of all I was very pleased to be travelling with a seasoned expert on my first adventure; Chris has been commuting for the last 10 months from Kathmandu to Dhading Besi where his wife Mandy – also a VSO volunteer – is working as a teacher trainer on the Sisters for Sisters, Girl Education Challenge project. First we travel across Kathmandu to a indistinct, muddy side-of-the-road spot which is apparently the correct departing point for buses to our destination. I was very happy to simply follow Chris and climb aboard a bus we were fairly certain might go the right way…
#1 The bus climbs steadily up out of the Kathmandu valley and over a high pass to reveal on the other side a stunning, dramatic landscape of steep hills covered in lush “upper-tropical” vegetation. Though with only those little concrete blocks (where they are still in place) there to save you from a precipitous fall it can be hard at times to sit back and focus on really enjoying the scenery;
#2 Clinging to the road side there are an array of Nepali style truck stops along the way. Plus at any point in the journey where buses regularly stop – for example waiting to cross a single file bridge – there are also entrepreneurial locals offering cold water, fresh fruits or dried fish for sale through the bus windows;
After 4 hours of travel (which luckily for me went as smoothly as it is feasible to go (Chris’ record is 9 hours for the same journey…) we arrived in time for dinner with another education volunteer Wilhelmina before making sure we’re home before the 9pm curfew = metal gate lock down time, a common phenomenon in rural and even urban Nepal.
#3 The view from Mandy & Chris’ apartment in central Dhading Besi – not a bad view to wake up to!
The town of Dhading Besi is the main town of the Nepal district of Dhading – one of 75 districts making up this diverse country. More on the technicalities of Dhading Besi and the Dhading district on Wikipedia.
#4 Saturday morning we headed out for a walk. Stop #1: only five minutes into the walk, and still on the edges of the town we stopped for a yoghurt with a view. A breath-taking view in fact of paddy fields, the Thopal Khola river and forested local hills. In the background would also be the Himalaya if not for the perpetual monsoon clouds around this time of year;
#5 Stop #2 at my special request we went to visit some local acquaintances of Chris and Mandy’s – the head teacher of a very successful, private local school – and of great interest for me because we got to view their 15+ year old and still functioning Biogas plant! Still running effectively after 15+ years of operation turning the waste from the family, their one buffalo and their farm land into a gas supply for the house.
#6 Great to see my first Nepali, rural small-scale Biogas in situ, with a view! There is a video about the existing Biogas programme in Nepal on YouTube – worth a look if you want to know what this picture shows;
Dhading Besi (part 2) coming soon. Plus some more details about the existing Biogas programme in Nepal.