Arriving in Kathmandu
Thursday 27/1-2005 - When we arrived at the airport, a mutual friend, brother Pradhan, met us. It felt a little safe. He was the only one I had met before, since he once had been in Norway. We visited his home and said hello to his family, and he also supplied us with some nepali litterature. Thus we would have the possibility of preaching the news for people in territories which had never been preached. He also arranged a hotel room for us for the night at a hotel in Kathmandu.
Friday 28/1-2005 - At this (for me) first day in Nepal, we were looking around in Kathmandu, in addition to ordering flight and trekking tickets. John also ordered some new glasses for picking up later, and he showed me some of his familiar places from before. The fact that he seemed very familiar with the place, felt reassuring to me.
Close to our hotel, this office supported us with flight tickets and passports for the trekking, in addition to hot tea with milk and sugar while we were waiting.
John got help to order his new glasses, which were promised to be finished when we returned to Kathmandu.
Brother Pradhan took us to a restaurant (the man in the middle was not together with us). The long food is mine.
From Kathmandu to Pokhara
Saturday 29/1-2005 - After our breakfast, we went to Pokhara with the local bus. It took about eight hours, and it was very different from what I was used to, as some of you would imagine. At many places the bus never really stopped, but people jumped or were assisted on and off, while the bus was in motion.
Early in the morning, before departure, we had some breakfast at one of the incredibly cheap dining places.
This bus was similar to our bus. Look at all the luggage on the roof. The comfort was far from what we were used to.
Now we are in Mugling. Markets on wheels are really convenient when the buses arrive with hungry passengers.
From Pokhara to Jomsom, Marpha and Larjung
Sunday 30/1-2005 - Early in the morning we were put on a little plane, heading for Jomsom (2740 meters above sea level). After a flight at about 25 minutes, we arrived there while the sun was shining. We had a nice view of some beautiful mountains.
Here we have just landed at Jomsom airport. Because of the weather, this was the last arrival for almost a week.
In Jomsom, we visited a large family, and they were all happy to recieve some literature in nepali.
The tall mountain peaks were so white that it was almost uncomfortable to look at them.
Here we arrive at the small village of Marpha. The specialty here is apples and apple products.
In Marpha we could enjoy an incredibly tasty breakfast. Among other things, we had a beautiful apple wine and baked apples.
On our way south we met a lot of caravans, and this was the first one. Not all of them was as nicely decorated as these ...
The scenery we walked through was really magnificent, and full of contrasts.
Where is John? He stands over there, in front of the rocky stone.
Fortunately, we had a tailwind. It was strong and cold, and lasted for most of the first day.
From Larjung to Kalopani and Komaonidal
Monday 31/1-2005 - The next day was cold, with some snow in the air. Huge scars in the terrain told the stories of heavy rain and floods. I was told that, a generation ago, the monsoon never reached up here, only just a few miles from the border of Tibet. And now, they have really big problems every summer. Most of the things here are made from stones. Houses and fences and even more fences, made of millions of stones.
Nepalese are world renowned for their stone construction. Here they make a wall to protect against flood water.
Many houses up here in the mountains have blue corrugated roofs, like this stately house.
Notice the wood stacked on the roof. This is very common in the highlands of Nepal.
Some children were very restrained, but this girl was first in line when the camera appeared...
Three gentle children posing next to a staircase made of a tree lumber.
Stone is a reasonable building material, and is used for houses, fences and roads.
A red dressed girl poses in front of a white brick house.
John is appearantly afraid to get this giant stone in his head.
Here is John at one of the many suspension bridges we had to cross.
We stopped and chatted with these nice Spaniards, who were trekking in Nepal just like us.
This homeowner had obviously come across a can of fairly affordable, purple paint.
We greeted a big brother who looked after his little sister.
This young man had his own shop and sold live hens.
On this old suspension bridge we met a bunch of young sherpaes.
Some of the suspension bridges seemed quite fragile, but the donkeys could not have cared less.
An elderly man in Kalopani reads courageously through one of our tracts.
Look at John's backpack compared to the backpack of a real sherpa.
This toilet building consists of two holes in the floor, with walls around ...
Not only the rooftops were used to dry wood, but also many of the stone walls.
This kind of wood stove are very common for cooking, but unfortunately they make the kitchen very smoky.
This little assistant we met when we found lodging for the night in Komaonidal.
From Komaonidal to Ghaza and Kopchepani
Tuesday 1/2-2005 - The night was freezing cold, too cold to even sleep, so this was no place to stay. After breakfast we proceeded southward. Some rain and some fog, very slippery and steep, and no fences. Lots of stairs made from stones. Some places were hit by big landslides where there was only narrow paths to walk on. We had our lunch in Ghaza, but after hours of walking we were still wet and cold.
This woman could tell that her stove was a state of the art, American model ...
John and I took a little break at this tiny little town.
In Ghasa we found this inn, which appeared like a small oasis.
Here we are on a suspension bridge again. None of the donkeys seemed to be bothered by fear of heights...
From this suspension bridge it might be 15 - 20 meters down to the river.
A row of donkeys have an airy walk. This is the same place as the two previous pictures.
Here a small waterfall has performed its stone work. But we are obviously in the slightly drier season now.
Here we take a look back up the valley where we came from.
On our way through this village we passed the place's 'Hilton' restaurant.
After walking in foggy and cloudy weather most of the day, the sun finally peeped through.
And here we stopped for the night. Notice the black text on the sign: 'Good food here'. It turned out to be true.
Here we are greeted by the company's nice owner and his youngest daughter.
It was easy to see that it was not the first time this young lady made food.
And then the delicious food was served. The coalbucket contributed to smoke, warmth and atmosphere.
I was told that this elderly lady who stopped outside could not speak ...
From Kopchepani to Dana
Wednesday 2/2-2005 - The next morning there were blue skies and the sun was shining. Lots of steep stairs headed downwards. We met donkey caravans all the time, with up to 30 donkeys in one caravan. With two to three caravans following each other, and only a narrow path, we had to wait patiently many times.
Mmm - Tibet bread. Really delicious, and I've got the recipe somewhere...
We met an old artisan working on splitting some reeds.
With sun, blue skies and a more summery temperature, it was pleasant to stroll along the trail.
When we met these two guys we stopped for a chat.
On the fields here are rapeseed, and in the background we see a little of the Himalayas.
When the road is narrow, you often have to wait your turn.
The peaks of the Annapurna mountain tops thrive about 6500 meters higher than where we are.
When we arrived at Dana, we stayed at this 'fashionable' hotel.
The menu tempted us with hamburger, but I have to admit that I was a bit unsure when I saw this...
From Dana to Tatopani
Thursday 3/2-2005 - The next morning it was beautiful summer sunshine, and we had our breakfast on the restaurant roof. While leaving Dana, we had a closer look at how the river at some places becomes dangerous to the citizens. The southmost part of Dana was very close to an approximately 15-meter high vertical rockface cared into the landscape, down to the river. And the direction of the river headed directly into this spot. It was easy to see that the next heavy flood probably would dig out the soil and cause the path and the nearby buildings to disappear into the river.
Look how the settlement is threatened by the river...
John is getting his second wind, and enjoying the sun.
Here, John poses next to some of the natives we talked to along the way.
These cute little kids liked to be photographed more than ever.
And these too ... From the left: Kamla at 13, then Bimla at 6 and finally Oinjo, 4 years.
I also took a picture of an old man we met. By a strap on his head, he carried a sack of rice that perhaps weighed 25 kg.
Here the terrain was so steep that the path was led into a small tunnel through the cliff.
On the other side of the tunnel there were several hundred meters straight down to the rushing river.
And just a few meters away, the trail has been repaired after a landslide has swept all the vegetation.
When I saw this individual, I felt my back started hurting a bit...
Then we finally arrived in Tatopani, where we were going to relax one day before moving on.
The first lunch in Tatopani consisted of a hint of chicken, then bread, tomatoes, fries and salad.
A relaxing day in Tatopani
Friday 4/2-2005 - The next morning was gray, but still like a Norwegian summer. Tatopani was a nice little town, with a long main street passing through, many lodges, and a quaint atmosphere. Some of the English-speaking citizens were talking about some kind of national crisis, but they were not able to explain what really was going on.
This motive is from the back garden of the Tatopani hotel where we stayed. The red flowers are called 'Lalopati'.
I delivered some clothes for washing, but I did not expect it to be the son of the hotel owner who got the job.
Here we took a group photo after we have had a longer Bible conversation.
It was hard to say no to be taught Nepalese words with such a sweetheart of a teacher. The yellow piece of cheese is yak cheese, which tasted something close to Jarlsberg.
Down by the river were the hot springs which have given the name to Tatopani (= hot water). The water from the source was more than 60 degrees C, so it was more than hot enough.
And here you will see one of Nepal's national dishes: Dal Bath. Dal means lentils and bath is rice. It is served with Tarkari, which is today's vegetables, and Aichar which is a kind of pickle.
From Tatopani to Chitre
Saturday 5/2-2005 - When we arrived at Tatopani, I thought we were somewhat closer to civilization, but how wrong could I be? After leaving, there were even more narrow paths, steep stairs up and down, landslide areas and steep slopes into the river. Some places the path was even chopped into the rock walls. On the other hand, most of the landscape in Nepal is not made of rock, but merely moraine residue from ancient times. We also went over the most rickety suspension bridge since we started from Jomsom.
This little hill was just a small start on our climb uphill, because we kept walking uphill all day.
It did not take long before we had a great view over the sloping landscape.
Look how nice! No matter where we turned, one could see farmed terraces, livestock, cabins and people.
I thought this honeysuckle (Lonicera Ciliosa) looked so beautiful. I have more pictures of it later in the blog. You can see the official power supply strung through the bush.
This lady and her husband carried some giant loads. I hope for her sake that it's not as heavy as it looks...
Most of the materials of this hotel in Chitre, was not made here, but has been carried up the mountain by humans. Donkeys don't like walking on stairs.
From Chitre to Deorali
Sunday 6/2-2005 - At the hotel in Chitre we had rooms with hot showers and proper toilet (not just a hole in the floor - amazing!). Outside there was some sun, and a little cloudy. We proceeded our walk into a real jungle, with enormous, old moss-covered trees and small plants hanging down from the moss-covered branches. At night, the temperature had been just below zero, but in the morning time it rose to 8 to 10 degrees, and even warmer in the sun.
Today's trekk started with paths like these, but gradually we got to an altitude so high that the trails were more or less covered with snow.
We did'nt mind the snow, but it was'nt easy walking on the icy paths. And the stairs were sometimes a challenge.
When a Rhododendron has become so big, it's not pretty anymore.
As long as the sun was out, the temperature was mild and nice.
John took the lead, and I followed...
We were glad we didn't walk here a few days ago, when there was a heavy snowfall.
Here the vegetation grew at an angle, compared to the tree trunk to the right, which stood straight up and down.
Finally at the lodge for the night. John and the guide Nima are sitting with their backs towards me, and the hostess waves at the photographer.
Here at Pasang's place I bought a pair of warm wool socks. My shoes had become really wet after we had walked on the snowy paths most of the day.
Here you can see that the string-game is universal...
This young girl wanted to show us her two puppies.
Shenti is practizing a new solitaire that John just taught her...
From Deorali to Tadapani
Monday 7/2-2005 - The next morning we woke up to the sound of singing and chatting. The night had been ice-cold, and not only outside. As we left Deorali, heading for the next place called Tadapani, we were told to visit ‘Super View Top - Lodge and Restaurant’, and ask for room nr. 10.
Here's John on the way down the steps...
In some places there was actually a handrail.
The distorted, mossy trees made a mystical atmosphere.
There are a variety of different species of primula, and almost half of the known species come from the Himalayas.
This tree seemed like it would fall over the trail at any time, but we decided to pass under it anyway...
This rhododendron limb was so big and tough that I barely have any comment.
Here the forest floor was completely without vegetation, so that one could run in and out between the trees without tripping.
This picture was taken the next morning after our hosts had started the day's tasks and we were about to say goodbye.
Outside the inn was a map of the area from Annapurna Base Camp in the north-east to Birethanti in the southwest and Poon Hill in the northwest.
From Tadapani to Bhaisi-Kharka and Ghandruk
Tuesday 8/2-2005 - We had a good nights sleep in quite good beds. This means that the matresses were five centimetres instead of three centimetres thick (or thin). The next morning there was some clouds and some snow in the air. We looked at the small markets, and found some souvenirs for bringing home to Norway. A hail shower changed to dense snow weather, but we both had an umbrella, so we started on the next lap anyway. The path was nice and easy, although it snowed.
The trek after breakfast was almost endlessly downhill - on stairs.
The stream in the valley that we followed, gave us many beutiful picturesque scenes.
Because of the water in the creek, most of the stairs were wet and slippery.
The vegetation was just marvelous, and sometimes it gave us some unexpected views.
A thin tree trunk was bowed to the ground, and had become a mossy portal across the path.
We found this funny stone slate on our hiking southwards in the countryside. So we stopped there for a cup of tea...
From Ghandruk to Synali Bazar and Birethanti
Wednesday 9/2-2005 - This morning had beautiful weather and I got some nice pictures. After leaving the hotel, we walked downhill on the stonesteps for a long time in a landscape tilting about 40 degrees downhill, with terraces and settlements and people and animals everywhere.
'Annapurna Guest House' bathed in the morning sun and with a few peaks in the Annapurna peaks in the background.
This is the continuous view to the east from Ghandruk, and with the Mount Fishtail to the right.
We got a glimpse of this tiny sherpa, and he wanted his picture taken.
It was sunny and a comfortable temperature, and the view was as always impeccable.
Early in the morning, we had to flock of uniformed schoolchildren on their way to a school a little further up the hill.
The terrain is utilized to the maximum for growing rice and other crops. In the middle of the picture is 'Remember Restaurant'.
A traveling merchant visits 'Remember Restaurant' in Ghandruk, with his goods.
I was also allowed to have a look into the kitchen at the restaurant where we had breakfast.
I thought this view was a testimony of picturesque planning.
Here we have reached the bottom of the valley, to the village 'Synali Bazar' and the river 'Modi Khola'.
After a long walk along the river, we finally arrived at Birethanti, where we found accommodation.
The fishtail peak is called the Machhapuchhre in Nepalese, and is nearly 7000 meters high. The picture is taken in the evening in Birethanti.
From Birethanti to Pokhara
Thursday 10/2-2005 - We were up at seven, after listening to roosters for more than an hour. Had a warm gas-powered shower, and the water was almost too hot. Birethanti has an altitude of 1075 meters, so we have walked downhill about 2200 meters the last two days, mostly on stone-stairs.
I took a picture of my breakfast in Birethanti. Not that it was so incredibly exciting, but it worked well in the stomach.
Here we enjoy the view from the bus stop on our way to Pokhara. The man with beard is a Scot named McSomething.
And here is the Nepalese guide who arranged us to sit on the roof and who also took a picture of us.
As we approached Pokhara, the bus stopped at a place with a great view of Lake Fewa at Pokhara.
This seems to be a wedding party or something like that.
We were advised not to take pictures of military posts, but I just had to sneak a picture of one...
Here we are outside the Kingdom Hall in Pokhara, and John is talking to good friends from his previous visit.
In the evening, we visited friends whom John knows from before. Two older sisters were also with us.
John has told a lot about Hari, who is a pioneer and lives in a room with his wife Gita and little Salitja.
A relaxing day in Pokhara
Friday 11/2-2005 - During the day, we looked around Lakeside, delivered some laundry, ordered some garments from a local tailor, and set aside a motor bike for a trip we were planning for the next few days, visiting some people and looking at the landscape around Kushma and Baglung.
A colorful motif from a local outlet of food and natural colors.
They eat a lot of vegetarian food in Nepal. This was my lunch this day ...
This youth had just finished oiling these newly manufactured chairs.
No helmets, safety shoes or scaffolding. These guys would probably have a visit from the Labor Inspectorate, for their own safety ...
Nakul (left), lived in the apartment above the Kingdom Hall in Pokhara. There was also room for John and me a couple of nights.
And here is Nakul's pioneer partner, Ratna. Both have undergone the service education school in India.
From Pokhara to Kushma
Saturday 12/2-2005 - Despite of a communication strike all over the country implemented by the Maoists, I found a city bus this morning, heading for Lakeside. Though there were people and bicycles and ox transports everywhere, it was almost impossible to find a taxi or a bus, but I did find one!
Breakfast break in Naudanda. Bishnu Pariyar, a youth of 19 (sitting in the middle), and Hari K. C. were thankful for Biblical literature.
Hari wanted us to come home and chat with his wife Tara who worked as a teacher, and here they are both pictured together with John.
Finally arrived in Kushma, and surrounded by curious youngsters. We were waiting for Gita Tiwari to pick us up any moment.
Kushma - and a short visit in Baglung
Sunday 13/2-2005 - Half past seven the next morning, a group of sixteen armed soldiers speeded past the house, and a little later some more came walking. At eight o’clock the sun rose, and it seemed to be a beautiful day. The Tiwary family lived in a beautiful house, with many artistic decorations in different patterns and colors.
Gita, a teacher, took us to the school area, and obviously something was happening here.
Here is the youngest Tiwari. She was only four years old, but went to school together with the others.
Many of the students got their measured time with the microphone, where they sang traditional songs.
Nirmajal (left) was quickly on the spot as our self-appointed English speaking guide, and eagerly explained what was going on.
After the singing, some small presents were shared with the youngest children, and here they were nicely in line waiting for their turn.
Here I tell about my homeland on the other side of the world, and about how it was to visit a primary school in Nepal.
The principal had promised the children that if they were very good then he would dance for them afterwards. And yes, they were awesome ...
John also borrowed the microphone a little, and told us about what we had experienced on our trekking trip.
Here is a picture of Gita's house, which is also where we stay. She had designed the house herself, and most of the funding came from Norway.
Here we started our trip to Baglung. And from time to time, we stopped and took some pictures.
The transport strike was about to paralyze the country, and all buses and taxis were parked. But with motorcycles we felt free like a bird ...
This picture is taken near Baglung. See how the river Kali Gandaki has dug into the terrain for hundreds of years.
Here in Baglung, there are about 25,000 people, but due to almost full stops in tourism, the city is showing its decay.
But they must have something to do. These men played Ludo and they had many spectators.
As we took a small stop on our way back to Kushma, we saw this older lady trying to earn some rupees breaking stone into pebbles.
This family would also like to be photographed. Economically, these were among the poorest people in Nepal.
All ladies want something to dress up with. And here we came across a seller who can offer almost any kind of color ...
Here we are back in Kushma. When I see this, I wonder how they make it work ...
We had not been many minutes in downtown Kushma before we began to feel what it's like to be a celebrity ...
At a shop in one of the side streets, some youngsters started playing some kind of board game.
Here we are in the drip stone cave. It seemed a bit sad when I discovered that they seriously believe that the rock formations really were gods ...
When we passed a construction site, we found this young man who cut steel wire for reinforcing concrete by hitting it with a stone ...
Since this was the last evening with the Tiwari family, we had to take some pictures for their father back in Norway.
Rachana, wearing my trekking hat, was better in English than her mother Gita, who is an English teacher. Therefore, Rachana was often our interpreter...
From Kushma and back to Pokhara
Monday 14/2-2005 - At seven o’clock in the morning, we heard a group of armed soldiers marching by. A little while later there were several groups of soldiers marching by. A little later we went for a walk in the streets of Kushma together with our host family. We had our breakfast at a little cafeteria, tea and donuts and boiled eggs.
We took farewell with Kushma and went on our way to Pokhara again. Look at this incredible terraced landscape to the east!
The river that flows east of Kushma is called 'Modi Khola', and is the same river that we became acquainted with on February 9 ...
This beautiful mansion brightened up in the landscape and, if it could talk, asked to be taken a picture of ...
You have never seen this kind of transport before, neither did the nepalese standing next to me when I took this picture.
Here we are back in Lakeside, which is a busy tourist center along the northern bank of Lake Fewa at Pokhara.
As I strolled along in Lakeside, I got acquainted with this idyllic boat ride.
The roof of this restaurant in Lakeside's main street is filled to the rim of orange honeysuckles.
Here I show off the motorcycle we used the last few days before returning it.
Our last dinner at Lakeside. My Chicken Gordon Bleu actually tastes much better than its appearance would suggest ...
Last day in Pokhara
Tuesday 15/2-2005 - Fewa Lake or Pokhara Lake is the most beautiful and second biggest lake in Nepal. Its average depth is 8.6 m and maximum depth is 19m. It covers an average area of 4.4 sq. km. On its southwest side there is a protected dense forest and on the Northeast side there is a beautiful built-up area 'The Lakeside', the main tourst center of Pokhara. In the middle of the lake there is an island where a famous Barahi temple is located. Fewa Lake is famous for its flat water boating. Motorboats are not allowed in the lake.
Here we rent a boat at Lakeside. As you can see, there are plenty of boats to choose from, most likely because of the hazy weather.
Here we are in the middle of the lake. The boats were not rowing boats in the common sense, but I and the boatman's son paddled with one oar each.
Tal Barahi Temple is the main religious monument in Pokhara. It is located on an islet in the middle of Lake Fewa.
It may be unnecessary to say that I enjoyed these honeysuckles very much. This is from Fewa Resort on the south side of Lake Fewa.
The 'boatman' had taken care of John's shoes from the last time he was here, until now. But it ended with the boatman having the shoes for good, as a 'thank you' for the job well done.
The 'boatman' who operates a boat rental at Fewa Lake, and his son, also belongs to our congregation in Pokhara.
Some of the amenities along the Lakeside. The main street in Lakeside is actually close to two kilometers long.
The Hindus is divided into several thousand different castes. Snaketamers belong to their own caste where the profession is inherited from father to son.
I just had to try this. He wanted 500 rupees (about three days wages) to let me pet the snake, but I did give him 50 rupees.
Over 80% of Nepalese are Hindus, and for the Hindu, the cows are holy. This means that cows often walk freely in the streets, as in this picture.
Many Nepalese run their own shop on wheels. Here you can see someone who has his own jewelry store.
And this guy sells different types of homemade snacks.
Here you will see a more creative variant, with lights on. It was absolutely an advantage when it came to the evening because one is naturally drawn to the light ...
Here we are back at Hari and Gitas place, which we also visited a few days ago. As you can see, there was a lot of different dishes to taste.
A final picture of Dad Hari and his daughter Salitja. We have greatly appreciated the hospitality they have shown us.
From Pokhara to Mugling and Kathmandu
Wednesday 16/2-2005 - We had a cup of pepper tea as the last goodbye at our lodgings, after which we headed for the express bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu. The strike was over, and traffic between these two largest cities in Nepal went almost as normal. The bus was a Toyota hiace minibus with 15 seats. When we started in the morning I counted 19 passengers, and some time later that day I counted 22. Don’t ask me how, but I remember the trip as pretty crowded.
Picture of the departure outside the Kingdom hall in Pokhara. Nakul was coming with us on the bus, while Ratna said goodbye here.
These are the notorious express buses. A lot of baggage had to go up on the roof, because the passengers got stuffed in the car like sardines.
Everywhere in Asia, they like to decorate their vehicles, although this was not exactly the prettiest bus I've seen ...
When we arrived at Mugling, the bus was surrounded by sellers who offered their goods.
Oranges are good food, and the ones sold here are guaranteed to be grown locally.
We preached the bible to these college teachers and they wanted more information.
In Mugling, we had to wait for five solid hours, because we were told that the road had been booby-trapped somewhere ahead.
As you can see, there are quite a few people here, but I did not discover anyone who was stressed or impatient because of the delay.
This overview, taken from a small height, shows only a small part of the long bus queue that occurred.
From Kathmandu to Damon
Thursday 17/2-2005 - The next morning at our private lodge, we had a nice breakfast, while discussing the map and the plans for traveling eastwards.
The Story of dr. Giri.
Tulsi Giri, born in 1926, was an important part of Nepal politics from around 1950.
From Damon to Hetauda, Pathlaya and Biratnagar
Friday 18/2-2005 - We had an early start; at 7 am we hit the road. In three hours and 54 kilometers, we reduced the altitude with some 1900 meters. The road was blocked because of maoist activities in several places.
Driving a motorcycle in Nepal is just a dream. The country, for the most part, consists only of winding roads ...
Here I'm posing with the bike. It was almost brand new, and had only been driven 400 km when we rented it.
Here you can see some of the results of the maoists forced communication streak. But we barely were able to pass the blockade.
We had our breakfast in Hetauda, a place about 1900 meters closer to the sea surface than where we started in the morning.
We stopped here in Chandranigahapur to stretch our legs, get some refreshments and get some help with the map.
The many rivers that transport water from the Himalayas during the spring thaw and during the rainy season, are almost empty for water the rest of the year.
Not all shop owners have a storefront for their goods. This guy sold his goods from a tarp outside on the sidewalk.
Late in the afternoon we passed a country market where hundreds of people had gathered.
Biratnagar has about 200,000 inhabitants. Buddah and Sujata were both pioneers (full time preachers), and the closest congregation was about 400 kilometres away.
From Biratnagar to Bedethar
Saturday 19/2-2005 - After a nice breakfast with toast and omelet, we packed some of our stuff and headed north for Dharan and Dhankuta. The roads were broad and nice, and we passed some overgrown woods along the road. Some of the trees were enormous. There were many people and thousands of taxi bikes. The speed limit signs showed 40 km but the traffic speed was between 10 and 90 kilometers per hour. Or put another way: Some drove at ten kilometers while others drove at ninety.
Here in Biratnagar there was a service meeting every morning at half past seven, to get out in service before the day became too hot.
Here we have reached the top of the hill. The picture shows some of the views southwards, towards Dharan, Biratnagar and India.
These two cute little ones were laying down on the hot asphalt, almost in the middle of the road. They thought it was okay that we stopped for a chat ...
We got a room at this fashionable hotel, which reportedly was a permanent accommodation for both royal and other celebrities.
Later we were given the opportunity to climb a viewing tower. This is the view about eastwards, and our hotel is now in the middle of the picture.
The day ended with a fantastic sunset over India. This picture shows the last rest of it ...
From Bedethar to Dharan, Itahari and Biratnagar
Sunday 20/2-2005 - Early in the morning, between 4 and 5 am I was awakened by the roosters, but I really wanted to sleep. While I lay in my bed, I waited for the sunrise. But still before the sun rose, the roosters stopped crowing, and I fell asleep again.
Here we eat breakfast together with the owner and the manager at the hotel. The owner was very positive about what we showed him from the Bible.
The hotel owner had plans for a new resort close by. Here is a picture of the hotel taken from the new property.
We were given a tour of the new property, where much of the basic work had already begun.
Now we have left the top and started on the road south again. But I just had to stop here to take a picture of this colorful building.
These were incredibly numerous here in Dharan. They were generally used as taxis and took up to eight passengers.
Here, in one of the many stores in Dharan, there were fruits in all varieties. Nice and neat.
Such rest places of stone are found in Nepal. They are perfect places for social gatherings, since the tree in the middle gives shade.
We stopped along the road between Daran and Itahari to investigate this eh, whatever it is. Looks like a big bone ...
Here you can see an example of a construction site where they work in heigth without railings or any safeguards.
An accident at the restaurant kitchen forced us to evacuate in a hurry. We felt the thick smoke even out on the sidewalk.
Back in Biratnagar, we invited our hosts to visit a restaurant. Here we are outside a slightly exclusive place.
This guy lived in the Kingdom Hall. It was quite small, and sometimes difficult to detect, since it changed color after what background it was on.
From Birathnagar to Narayanghat
Monday 21/2-2005 - The night was filled with music from a wedding or something nearby. We got up before six o’clock, and after we said our goodbyes, we headed westwards along the highway towards Naryangath. There were bikes and people all along the road, together with cows and goats and, of course, the beautiful nature. Where it was possible, we drove at 80 kilometers per hour, in the middle of the road. My thumb was placed at the horn knob at all times, ready for use. And I did use it, all the time.
This species of Mimosa is called Subabul and is a very common tree in the lower part of Nepal. The yellow 'flowers' that hangs from the branches are seed-pods.
We met this cyclist along the main road. I think this is what you will call a 'wide load', but I may be wrong...
This bridge over Koshi river is about 1.2 kilometers long. It has built-in locks that regulate the water flow to India.
Here the river is as wide as a large lake. In the water you can see the sandbanks, and then the water seems to go into infinity.
Do you remember 'dinosaur bone' from yesterday? It was the remains of a huge tree like this. Do you see John? He is also there somewhere.
Close-up of John and the tree trunk. He looks extra narrow here, but both John and the tree are at least 30% wider in reality.
The paved highway seems like the perfect place to dry corn. The logs are placed there to prevent the corn from being finely ground by the cars driving over it.
Cows are holy both in India and in Nepal, but they still have to do all the work. Is there not a little contradiction already there?
Here we are at the police officer's office. Judging by the cover on the police officer's chair, he is also just a human being...
The first day in Narayanghat
Tuesday 22/2-2005 - Bharatpur is the fifth largest city in Nepal, and the area is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Narayanghat is the name of the city's and area's main trading center, and is located on the Naryani River bank in the center of Bharatpur. Ever since we traveled from Norway we had planned to be a few days in Narayanghat because there are many friends here and because the surrounding countryside is so special.
This sister belongs to the Narayanghat congregation. Her husband is a professional military, and he is stationed in Myanmar.
The bicycle rickshaws were not lacking in ornamentation. This one even had a tarp ceiling for protection against the rain...
Motif from the bridge over Narayani river in Narayanghat. By maximizing the picture, you can spot the riverboat to the far right.
At one time there was a circuit assembly held here, and on the wall inside the dining room there is still a big picture of the 'celestial carriage'.
This first trip was unsuccessful due to the failure of the cooling on one engine, but they promised to let us know when the boat was repaired.
Gainda Cottage was a cozy place with a well kept garden. We stayed in a room in one of the adjacent buildings.
A young man is paddling home in the evening sun. His boat seems to be loaded with a huge log...
Here we sit by the fire and enjoy a nice meal. From the left: Silash and Simon, the guitarist and John.
Now you understand why I call him 'guitarist'. Neeraj sings and the 'guitarist' plays - and sings along.
Second day in Narayanghat
Wednesday 23/2-2005 - After an early breakfast, we decided to visit the Chitwan National Park, and we invited Sujata's brother Neeraj to join us. Outside Narayangath, a long line of buses were waiting for escort. Some soldiers told us that the road to our destination was somewhat risky, due to rebels. But nevertheless we could continue, but were prompted to be careful. Drawing near to the national park, all the area was quite inhabited. A lot of small cottages along a narrow muddy street about 1.5 or 2 meters wide and several kilometers long.
Here we are on the roof terrace of the Sujata family in Biratnagar. From the left: John, Neeraj and his mother.
Ready for a tour on elephant in Chitwan National Park. From the left: Neeraj, John, myself and the driver.
The ride of about two hours passed through rivers, jungles and open landscapes, and here we have finally reached the starting point.
On our way back from the national park, we passed these guys who transported bananas from the plantations to the market.
Here we have returned to our lodgings. At lunch we had Dal Bat, which Neeraj's mother had made for us.
The riverboat was parked near Gainda Cottage. Now it has been repaired and this time we had a speedy trip.
After the boat trip was finished, we said our goodbyes to the owner of Gainda Cottage, as well as other good friends.
The last night in Narayanghat we were going to stay with the Thapailya family. Here Bishnu is well underway with dinner: Homemade momo.
I forgot to take a picture of the food. Now we have eaten everything, and it was absolutely true: I have never tasted a more delicious momo anywhere.
Fom Narayanghat to Mugling and Kathmandu
Thursday 24/2-2005 - For several hours during the night, the dogs in the city were barking like crazy. Since the moon was full, maybe they were influenced by that.
Large rainfall in the monsoon season causes the landmasses to slide into the Narayani river.
This is the result after the two parts of Narayani river have disagreed on which path is the right one.
Very many places between Narayanghat and Mugling, the road has been severely damaged by heavy rainfall.
As we had ended up in a military conflict, I was very careful taking pictures of military vehicles or personnel.
Even though we stood for hours in a line that was getting longer and longer, people were still remarkably patient.
Then we're ready to drive. Notice the front passenger car, which is filled with passengers all the way to the rear bumper.
A last day in Kathmandu
Friday 25/2-2005 - While we were on trekking (Sunday 3/2) we met the sherpa Nima who we promised to visit in his home in Kathmandu. And on this last day in Kathmandu we finally got the opportunity. We first contacted him on the phone, and afterwards we drove to an address on the other side of the city. There we met Nima, and we followed him to his home. We met his family, and we talked about our journey and what we had experienced, in addition to our thoughts about trekking in the Himalayan / Everest area. He told us that two days before we met in the mountains, armed maoists robbed him and his tourist group of fifteen people. When we were about to say our goodbyes, Nima's teenage daughter appeared. When we had preached to her for about fifteen minutes, Nima asked her: 'Now how do you like what you hear'. The daughter replied, clearly touched: 'It's the most amazing I've ever heard '. The daughter would love to have a Bible study and contact was of course conveyed.
Do you remember the sherpa Nima who we met on Sunday, January 6th? Here's John together with Nima, Nima's wife and youngest daughter.
Then we are on our last stroll in Kathmandu. It is quite clear that motorcycles are a popular moad of transportation here.
Probably the world's smallest store measures about 80 cm in width and 60 cm in depth, giving a floor area of about half a square meter.
Saturday 26/2-2005 - The last day in Nepal had come. It was funny to think how the days and weeks have rushed by. Most of the time since we arrived, there had been a state of emergency in Nepal. Though the strike together with its aftermath paralyzed the country for long periods of time, we had really no problems traveling around. The last 14 days, due to our rented motorbikes, we have traveled about 1500 kilometers up and down, from slightly above the sea level to about 2500 meters above sea-level. And all the way, we met some very nice people showing friendship, kindness and hospitality. They all shared a part of their life and their country.
Due to the state of emergency, it was almost impossible to travel freely around Nepal as we did. After returning to Norway, I found a journalist's travel description from the same time as John and I traveled to East Nepal. Their travel experience became a different one from ours. Just look here:
Road closed - Wandering aimlessly across Nepal without a destination.
(Day 1) On 16 February we left Kathmandu for our destination: Tehrathum i eastern Nepal. After six days, we were forced to backtrack 1,000 km across Nepal to Butwal. There, we stopped because finally we could go no further. We avoided the Prithbi Highway by taking the unconventional route to Hetauda via Dakhsinkali. At Kulekhani, an army sentry told us we were the only car he’d seen this day. The Tribhuban Highway in Bhainse was empty. There were some motorcycles in Hetauda, but no cars.
(Day 2) The next morning, we passed a convoy of 50 tankers and trucks escorted by an army mine-protected vehicle. At Patlaiya junction, we were waved on at the checkpoint: only res and ambulances were being allowed unescorted. We passed patrols clearing tree trunks from the road and saw only two passenger buses on the 50 km stretch to Nijgad. Joined by a tractor full of merry marriage-goers we reached a deserted Chandra Nighapur in time for lunch. A landmine on the Kamala Bridge had just been defused, we pressed on towards Lahan and didn’t see a single vehicle till Itahari. Turning north we got into Dharan. A journey that would normally have taken 12 hours had already lasted two full days.
(Day 3) The next morning we heard that the Dhankuta road was blocked by booby-trapped power pylons, but we drove up to Bhedetar thinking we could still make it to Tehrathum. Not Possible, so we headed back towards Jhapa. East of Itahari, there were only bicycles, and at Belbari locals told us there was ‘some action’ up ahead and the road was closed, so we returned to Itahari. By now we had no destination, we were wandering aimlessly around Nepal.
(Day 4) Continuing westwards the next morning we passed a long line of trucks, buses and taxis near Lalbandi all moving at the same speed. It looked like a long train being pulled by an armoured personnel carrier. We talked our way past checkpoints, defied warnings and risked going to Birganj by nightfall.
(Dag 5) The next day we headed north towards Bharatpur, the road was clear but there were checkpoints every step of the way. At Lothar there was another convoy of vehicles headed in the opposite direction. An army Alouette hovered overhead. We wanted to turn off and go back to Kathmandu, but the road was blocked at Krishna Bhir. What to do? We headed west, past heavy army patrols and convoys and several long-distance rickshaws carrying cargo from Narayanghat to Butwal, a distance of 100 km. Rotten tomatoes had been dumped by the roadside by farmers who couldn’t take them to market.
At Kawasoti, a roadside resident was sick of it all: «At night, the Maoists force us to pile rocks on the road, by day the soldiers come and tell us to clear them.» From Butwal we could go no further, the road to Lamahi and Pokhara were both blocked.
A highway allows you to get to your destination, it is not by itself a destination. If you are a traveler on Nepal’s roads these days, having a destination you can reach is a luxury.
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