We left Thadepati Pass November 25, 2011 and had a steep descent down a beautiful forest trail under brilliant blue skies and then crossed a suspension bridge over a river and climbed up to Melamchigaon, 2530 m. We had a quick water break and then proceeded onwards to Tarkeghyang at 2600 m. At times we crossed a road which was the first evidence of a return to civilization. The guesthouse at Tarkeghyang was quite large. It was also very busy. We arrived in the early afternoon and the sun was very warm and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon chatting with Anna, a lovely German woman who was trekking on her own but had been to Nepal 30 years previously. She was revisiting some of the areas she had seen before. She was most interesting to talk to. Before we arrived at Tarkeghyang there was an absolutely beautiful Buddhist monastery and temple that we visited. It was in a beautiful location and very peaceful. I had a relatively early evening in order to continue the therapeutic process of improving my cough. It was starting to settle.
November 26, 2011 was a relatively easy day traveling to Sermathang, 2590 m. It was nice not to have massive elevation gains or losses. I think I had reached my fill of trekking and was looking forward to winding down. We arrived quite early in Sermathang and again stayed at a wonderful guesthouse. At this guesthouse I met Julie, a retired British schoolteacher who was doing volunteer work at the local school. To my delight Anna also showed up at the same guesthouse later that afternoon which made for a wonderful evening full of conversation and fantastic kitchen dining. The food was superb. The remainder of that afternoon I spent walking around the village and just enjoying myself and taking a few photographs. It was a very relaxing day.
November 27, 2011 we had the final leg of the Langtang trek. Our destination was Melamchi a relatively large town at 870 m. This final day did involve quite a bit of trekking on a road which seemed shocking after all of the trail we had been on. I perhaps would’ve chosen a different route down which did not involve this stretch but I think my tour organizer wanted to add distance and increase days to match the duration of the missed Everest trek. It was very hot on the descent and I was happy to reach Melamchi. I swear I was the only Caucasian tourist in this particular town. We stayed at a relatively comfortable hotel that was advertised as a beachfront hotel. I am not sure why they did this because all we had for views was a large construction area surrounding the hotel and a distant view of the Melamchi Khola. I enjoyed another wonderful Nepalese lunch meal eaten with my hands with the guide and the porter of Dal Bhat. I then walked around the town and enjoyed an afternoon exploring and taking a few photographs. At the river I was enthralled with two homeless men fishing for their dinner. That evening we had a quiet dinner and then settled into a peaceful slumber. The Langtang trek, and in fact all of my trekking, was completed. What a rewarding experience overall. This was a much quieter, more remote and in many ways more rewarding trek than Annapurna. The trek was approximately 187 km in duration with a total ascent of 12,417 m (yes, that is correct!) and a total descent of 14,059 m! It was was a lot longer than Annapurna and more challenging.
We got up early November 28, 2011 and after a simple breakfast proceeded to the bus stop and took the local bus back to Kathmandu. There were no tourist buses in this area due to its more remote location. If I thought the tourist bus from Pokhara was bad it was nothing compared to the local bus. This trip was actual torture. The bus was very old, eventually absolutely packed with people to unsafe levels and in it’s condition should have been condemned. Most of the seats were ripped and had no cushioning. The ride was bone jarring again. It took approximately 4 hours to get back to Kathmandu. I was never as happy to get off a bus as I was on this occasion. Through six weeks of trekking with massive elevation gains and losses I had no pain or discomfort. However, after this bus ride I had an extremely painful right shoulder and right lower back pain. 4 hours on this bus accomplished what six weeks of trekking could not do. Thank God for anti-inflammatories. I arrived back in Kathmandu and stayed at my original hotel The Eco-Resort in Thamel. it was a wonderful experience to have a hot shower, get a haircut and shave and sleep in a comfortable bed that evening. Ah… we do like our creature comforts!
My final tour in Kathmandu was on November 29, 2011 when I visited the local tertiary Kanti Children’s Hospital for approximately 3 1/2 hours. I spent so much time there I was unable to make it to the leprosy clinic afterwards. It was a fascinating experience and I met some very committed and wonderful Nepalese physicians who were able to speak to me about their experiences trying to provide care. A relatively fascinating individual was the head oncologist who had trained in Los Angeles between 2007-2010 but had returned to Nepal to provide oncology care for the local children. He was having a direct positive impact with relatively good outcomes despite having very poor financial support and limited pathology support including blood cultures. With induction chemotherapy he often had to guess what was producing fever because certain cultures for common organisms fungal and otherwise were not available. I also had the opportunity to meet with a British nurse who was here providing volunteer training on central venous line placement for chemotherapy. This would make a big difference to the comfort of the children during their treatment protocols. The sanitation and infection control in the hospital were challenging issues. It was an eye-opening experience and again I am so thankful to be living in Canada. It would be interesting to come back and provide some volunteer medical time in the hospital teaching or providing service. I will have to consider this in the future. The need is so great here.
The evening of November 29, 2011, the entire day of November 30, 2011 and December 1, 2011 were spent relaxing, touring the tourist areas of Thamel and catching up on the blog. I am now relatively caught up- yeah! As I dictate today it is December 1, 2011 and I leave Kathmandu at 11:30 PM this evening to fly to Hong Kong and will arrive December 2, 2011 at approximately 6 AM in the morning. I will spend a few days in Hong Kong before I return back to Canada. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time both in Bhutan as well as Nepal. I grew to enjoy in Nepal after my initial reservations and I must say that the people of Nepal are extremely generous, warm and very gentle. I am so impressed with them. They are passionate about their children and providing education and adequate health care to them. However the government does not really support them in this regard. There are so many challenges in Nepal. Many of the Nepalese also have a passion to learn English as they realize this provides a gateway to better paying jobs usually in the tourist industry. I will continue to add a few more blogs about Nepal while I am in Hong Kong. For now I will say “Namaste” packing awaits.