The story below is an excerpt taken from a blog about Nepal by Sophy Roberts, which was originally up on The Wall Street Journal(www.wsj.com).
“A trek in Nepal only a year after its devastating earthquake may seem like an unlikely choice for a family vacation, but the Himalayan kingdom is as mysterious and rewarding as ever.”
We were trekking above Eastern Nepal’s valley’s and our expedition party was led by local Sherpa guides, who have been residing there since ages. Though my 8-year-old son rushed up the stairs quickly, I chose to walk cautiously struggling in the thin air. We were still a day’s walk from the nearest road.
Finally after an exhausting whole day trekking, we hit a ridgeline above the clouds. Along the narrow spine ran a 65-foot-long, chest-high wall, like the crest of a dragon. Granite slates carved with Buddhist prayers were layered against the sides. One of our porters chanted quietly as he walked along the cairn. Mount Pikey , one of the 13,000 foot plus peak, stood tall right above us. The mighty Everest laid beyond that – a brooding shadow I had spied from the plane on the 40-minute Twin Otter flight from Kathmandu to Phaplu.
“Our aim was to make Pikey’s summit, which is draped in Buddhist prayer flags, on a three-night, 19-mile trek with nine kids aged 8 to 11, 17 tents, 20 mountain bikes, 40 porters and 2,645 pounds of cooking and camping equipment. The logistics were masterminded by a friend who has lived in Nepal for the last 30 years. It was a private expedition designed in the spirit of the early Himalayan explorers, compete with silver tumblers.”
Walking almost eight hours a day, we ate Congee with Himalayan herbs for breakfast and risotto with local morels for dinner. We even stopped by a yak herder’s house for lunch, where we drank Chyang – a fermented rice and barley drink and also rejoiced watching our guides dancing on traditional Nepali songs.
Every day was a new mystery to us. When yaks emerged out of the mist with their curious sloped backs and shaggy manes, it felt like we had stepped into the pages of Narnia. During our visit to Chiwong, a monastery located on a cliff above the airstrip at Phaplu, kids took mountain bikes, and for few precious moments, I had Chiwong to myself.
We visited the hospital built by Sir Edmund Hillary in Phaplu. We met a small child, with face covered in burns waiting to be treated in the hospital. We talked with a Belgian orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Pierre Soete, who has so far raised about $224,000 to rebuild the unit, working with Dr. Mingmar Gyelzen, a Sherpa born in this valley.
Comparatively, the progress in reconstruction works were not in full fledge here. However, new lodges were opening – answering a need for tourism to return. “In the Gorkha District, which was the epicenter of the earthquake, there’s the new Gorkha Guan lodge, with a handful of stone, slate and wood cottages. In Chitwan National Park, Taj Hotels just opened the luxurious Meghauli Serai, where visitors can book wildlife safaris to look for Nepal’s tigers and one-horned rhinos from the back of an elephant. In Mustang, a region on Nepal’s northern border, a series of four new lodges, built along the old salt trade route linking Tibet and India, is expected to be completed in the next 18 months”
Sophie is particularly excited to visit Mustang as she feels that the ancient kingdom of Mustang is another silver of the Himalayas that is unbelievable. “Nepal has had its share of tragedy, but high up among the prayer flags, the old magic is still there.”
Read the full story here