Helambu is quite different to the other areas of Sindhupalchok that I have had the chance to visit in particular in terms of ethnic make up and subsequent cultural traditions. The communities are largely Sherpa and we were informed some 99.9% Buddhist allowing only for a few out of district Hindu teachers (amongst them our guides). Being both one of the popular starting points for the Langtang trekking region and having a large diaspora abroad meant that the area had received support post-earthquake despite still being hard to reach. However, the level of damage was extremely high to begin with as shown in my earlier post.
#1 Like so many places, most of the homes had been destroyed in the earthquake. However, the locals had been able to successfully salvage many items from the rubble and build quite honestly fantastic temporary shelters. We had the joy of spending the evening in this lovely couple’s interim home. Complete with the usual incredible hospitality, welcoming hearth, great company and hearty food we were more than happy to relax after a hard day’s walking;
#2 After a lovely daal bhaat dinner we spent the night sleeping in the village Buddhist monastery. Quite literally on rugs on the floor next to the altar (is it called an altar in a Buddhist monastery? Why yes it is, hoorah for Wikipedia…) In the morning we walked back up the hill to our hosts’ home for breakfast. I got up especially early to come and help make the first round of Sherpa tea (also know as butter tea, Tibetan tea, churned tea – and you’ll see why…) The process involves churning the ingredients together in a specially made churn which is often imported from Tibet. The second round was made with rather more finesse but I enjoyed myself;
#3 As we walked through various settlements over the two days we came across people working in and around their fields and homes. Including; here locals are cooking up a variety of raksi – local spirits distilled from locally grown rice or millet (kodo);
#4 Seemingly everywhere we stopped I somehow couldn’t help making new friends. Often I was so exhausted and busy catching my breath that it was definitely more their idea than mine!?
#5 Again, the spring-like nature of autumn here completely baffled me and again I was mesmerised by the sheer quantity and variety of flowers on display. As it’s been a while since I showed off some of the floral beauty of Nepal, here we go…;
#6 Side note: most of these flower photos were taken on the second day where we were mostly descending back down from the high point of Tarkeghyang at 2600m. On the ascent I tended to be focussed more on maintaining some kind of momentum…;
#7 And not just the flowers were stunning and varied;
#8 Towards the end of our two day adventure, the storm clouds were starting to gather. Luckily though it was just in time for a well earned lunch break. So, off we went into yet another stunning, temporary home just as the clouds burst. Helambu, it was truly a pleasure;