5.12.2017

Nepal: A Trekking To Hakula, Solukhumbu 3: from Kathmandu to Ranem

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Kathmandu airport
Kathmandu airport is a world a part, and that is especially true for the domestic flights terminal. We arrive by taxi, show our tikets to the soldier at the check point and then again to get in the  small crowded building. I have already been here in December, when I took the flight to Pokhara. This time it's different: we are going to Phaplu, a destination you can hardly describe as 'touristic'. Indeed we are not tourists, and I get quickly assimilate to the many Nepali families traveling to their villages in the mountains. My ticket though is different than Lalit's one, and I paid it three times more. 
The check-in for Phaplu isn't open yet. We have to wait, and Lalit, who's an outgoing guy, starts talking with some other travelers. There is a family from the lower Solu Khumbu - a young mother with her baby, the auntie, the granny and another child, about 2 years old. The old woman is traditionally dressed, while her daughters are wearing modern clothes. The elder son wants to play. It's amazing how children can bypass words! The baby sucks from his mother breast, falls asleep, gets wet, wakes up and repeat. He doesn't wear nappies, he's just wrapped in several blankets, the inner one gets regularly checked and in case changed, taking a new one from a big bag. There is also a group of foreign doctors heading to the hospital in Waku to help the local population: three young women, a man, and an elder lady, who is the team leader. We talk in English with them, but they know some Nepali words.
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Ramen in the early morning
Finally we pass the check-in. The hall is crowded: trekkers and mounaineers, guides, and a lot of Nepali people, villagers and citizens, riches and poors, all trying to breath in the awful heat, standing or siting or camping on the floor in the middle of their baggages... just like us. 
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Ramen in the early morning
We wait ages. The airport speaker says there is 'traffic' and that's why flights are delayed or cancealed. Finally, after some four hours, an old small bus takes us to the runway, the aircraft isn't there yet but the driver - a woman, like many in the airport staff - tells us it's landing soon. We wait again, this time under the sun in a bus without airconditioning. And when finally the aircraft lands... we have to wait for it to refuel! but there is a little shadow under the wing, so there we stay, with all the crew.
Now, I know... what I'm writing about? but a travel in Nepal, with Nepali people is also that, and I have to live with it: time is dilated, there is no pressure, or better you can even be in a hurry... but it take ages anyway.
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Ramen guesthouse
When we take off finally, it looks like a miracle. The airplane is small, smaller than the one to Pokara, and we can see the pilots in the cabine. There is no pressurisation so we get some cotton to put into our ears and a candy. It's a fast take-off. The flight lasts just 40 minutes, but we have the time to enjoy some turbulences. It's cloudy so when I see the mountains they are very close. Too close? Phaplu airport is less dangerous than Lukla, still the runway is short. We land holding our breath.
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Inside the guesthouse
But we can't go nowhere: the aircraft stops in the grass and there we wait while another one takes off. "Good luck!" the elder doctor says. That plane looks very very small. Now we are allowed to go, we cross the runway, climb some stone stairs and head off to Salleri, where we are supposed to meet Lalit's younger brother Niraj. I have just my backpack but Lalit brings a lot of stuff: his backpack, his guitar and a 12 kg box of fruits as a present for his family. 
When Niraj arrives there is no doubt they are bothers: he looks like Lalit, a lot! He's with a friend and say: "Vai [elder bro] I have other planns". In their village there is a primary school but for to attend the secondary school kids have to go living in Salleri, and often they don't feel like to go home for holydays, especially when they are grown up like Niraj, who's 16 yo. Lalit wants him to come. We take a break in a 'restaurant' - wooden tables and benches in a bare room at the ground floor of a traditional house - and they go on discussing while eating noodles soup. "I'll take my friend". Finally we move on, Niraj carrying the box on his shoulder.
Nepali guys and girls are all quite stylish and everybody own a smart phone. They pay a big attention to their look and get on line as often as they can to check their fb profile and to post their last sefie... That contrasts with their social condition, modest for the most or definitely low, but it represents very well their aim to be a modern generation: cool, digital and fashionable. 
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Dinningroom :)
So now I'm in an overcrowded van with my stylish Nepali guys, the family from the airport and other people traveling in the same direction and sharing the bus fee. The doctors took a jeep insteed. "You must may be sit here" Lalit said assigning me the best seat, in front beside the driver. We are going to be shaken like hell and he thinks may be I'm not as used as they are. Yep, I'm not.
There are no roads. No paved roads, not even gravel roads or what we call 'dirty roads', but a barely marked track, good for trekking not for driving, often interrupted by slides, or streams, or bulldozers, or too narrow to allow two vehicles to pass so blocked because of a flat tyre, or a big slow tractor all dressed like an Indu temple, or a Tata truck loaded of building material... The trip takes ages. We share water, food and stories that I can't understand. "Don't get bored" Lalit says, but I don't: I like listening when they speak Nepali, it's a lovely language, they sound like tweeting birds.
Finally we arrive to... where are we? it's dark and when I get off the van I see nothing, just a metal sheet small building. High on the mountains, few lights from houses in remote villages. But here it's the deep night. The bus leaves, we collect our stuff. This is Ramen and we are going to sleep here.
The building is a very basic guesthouse. We sit on the benches while a 'didi' [elder sister] prepare us dal bhat. It comes in plates and without any spoon or fork, Lalit wants to ask one for me but I boldly say I'll eat by hands me too. Well, I try! 
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Dudh Kosi river
The lavatory is a small building outside, with a hole in the floor and a water can with a jug to wash it. Here there is also a hose for to get a shower. The moon is out and I can see the mountains' profile, Dudh Kosi river in the valley like a shining sword and the banana trees up the hill, softly rusting in the breeze. Peace and beauty are sinking into my soul. The beds in the guests room are all taken, we'll sleep upstairs, on the floor, a blanket under and one over us, Lalit too far from me, with the other guys....

...............................TO BE CONTINUED..........................
SEE ALSO PART 1 and PART 2

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