Bus Ride: Kathmandu to SyabruBesi

If you’d like to contribute to help the people of Nepal recover from the devastating earthquake, please visit our page collecting some worthy causes.

It was 6:30 am on the morning of April 24, 2015. We had just been dumped out of our taxi at the Kathmandu “bus station” where we would catch our Super Deluxe Bus to Syabrubesi, which was the start of our 8 day trek through the Langtang Valley.

At the time, we were overwhelmed by the cacophony of noises and abundance of smells at the bus station. Finding our bus was a challenge. At the time, the bus ride seemed like a fun, long and uncomfortable adventure. Now we know it was the beginning of a fateful journey that not everyone survived.

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That morning, we had woken before dawn to do our final preparations for our trek. We had to wake the manager of our hotel to check out and leave our bags. We found a taxi which zipped us off to the “bus station” as the sun was rising. We were glad that we had been told to travel there the day before to purchase our tickets as it saved us some time and confusion. Even so, we didn’t know quite where to head.

There were many buses there, though not a lot of identifiable signage. We knew we had purchased the Super bus, which we had been told would be a faster ride. We did see several other tourists in the area and asked most of them where they were heading and which bus they were waiting for. Later, we would come to know most of these tourists extremely well.

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Finally, through some help from local vendors we saw our bus trundle in to the “station.” We were surprised to see that the roof rack was completely full. We jumped onto the bus and took our assigned seats, A1 and A2, right at the front. We were even more grateful that we had purchased the day before as the rest of the passengers started to file onto the bus. Those who joined us were a group of 6 independent trekkers, a group of three Israeli trekkers and their guide, a single Israeli trekker, and two Israeli families (3 young children each!!), their guide and 3 porters. The aisle was full of bags which made it a climb to get to the seats behind. It also meant that all of us had to ride with all of our bags on our lap. Somehow there had been some errors made in the selling of the tickets and there weren’t enough seats. As you can probably imagine, this made for a pretty uncomfortable ride.

Despite it all, we were excited. This was going to be a big adventure and we were anxious to get our first views of the majestic Himalayas that would be our home for the next several days. The driver pumped up the music, and we were off.

The Super Deluxe ticket that we purchased had promised a faster ride than the local bus. So, were a bit annoyed when we had to stop over and over again. First for a bathroom break, then for “lunch” at about 10 am, where we were asked to make photo copies of our TIMS cards. Then 2 more times for checks of our paperwork by the Nepal army and the Armed Police Force- luckily, the photocopies sufficed for these.

We stopped in the town of Dhunche and unloaded the bus. It turned out that the roof and aisle had been full of food and supplies destined for this village.

We stopped again at the entrance of Langtang National Park where our paperwork was checked by the park staff. Only 15 min later, we stopped yet again, for our paperwork to be checked by the police. We wondered how many different forces were in Nepal and how many more times our paperwork could possible be checked. Especially since the bus had been traveling all day on a one lane road on the side of mountains. There didn’t seem to be a lot of changes that could happen between each check.

We arrived in SyabruBesi at around 2:00 pm where we were dropped off at the beginning of town. We expected to be attacked by touts hoping to lead us to hotels… But there was no one. In fact, we entered a hotel and could not find a manager of any sort to check us in, so we left.

We did eventually settle on SuryaPeak Guest House because it had a balcony with a nice view over the town and the beginning of the Langtang Valley. We paid 2 dollars that night for accommodation. We read on the balcony, enjoying the crisp mountain air. We went down for an early dinner and our guesthouse prepared us fresh momos and a large plate of dal baht. We had been concerned that we hadn’t been drinking enough water, so we decided to go for a “medium” pot of tea. We were shocked with the “medium” pot seemed to hold about two liters!

It’s hard to really explain this part of our journey now. So many things that seemed important at the time, like the long and uncomfortable bus ride, the scary views out the windows, and the silly mistake of ordering too much tea seem so inconsequential now.

The bus ride introduced us to some people who would become very important to us over the next few days. It also introduced us to Or Assraf (standing on the far left of our picture below) who would start his trek the same day we would start ours. He would be trekking alone and would experience the earthquake somewhere on the trail. He wouldn’t be as lucky as we were. He would be missing for several days following the quake and later his body would be found at the bottom of a cliff. We did not know him well, probably only said a few words to him on the journey, but we will never forget him. We can’t imagine the fear he must have felt during the earthquake that he must have experienced all alone. Our hearts go out to his friends and family who spent a week in trepidation and had their fears confirmed a few days ago. Or was only one of the more than 7000 people who died during this tragedy, but his memory will always be with us.

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We will continue to tell the story of our earthquake experience in Nepal. We were extremely fortunate to survive and to be able to come home to the USA. Our stories are now over, but those in Nepal are not that fortunate. Huge numbers of people have lost their homes and their livelihoods. Please take some time to donate (any amount, large or small, can help) to help this beautiful country recover. We’ve collected list of organizations that you might consider here

Use these links to read the rest of our Nepal Earthquake story:

 

The Nepal Earthquake: How to Help

We haven’t blogged in a while because we were trapped while trekking the Langtang Valley when the large earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. That is many stories for another time though. Right now, we want to use this platform to ask everyone to please consider contributing to the causes that are trying to help the country recover.

We’ll try to collect information on different charities as we learn about them.

Some Recommendations

  • Rasuwa Relief – A group working specifically in the Rasuwa region which includes some of the towns we traveled through. Extensive information about their efforts can be found on their facebook group.
  • Langtang Disaster Relief Fund – A new group started by a survivor from Langtang village. Funds go directly to the Langtang villagers to try to rebuild.
  • Sustainable Steps Nepal – Relief for now and the future of Nepal
  • Langtang Village of Nepal Relief Fund – started by friend of a friend in Denver who has connections to Nepal. Langtang Village was higher on our trek and was completely destroyed by a mud/snow landslide. Please also note that there is an in-person fundraising event planned as well.
  • Colorado Nepal Alliance / Shoes for Sherpas – two projects from our home state that do good work in Nepal. We have a friend on the board as well
  • Mountainchild
  • Gift of the Givers – this is a South African organization that is working in Nepal. They did a lot of work to support the two South Africans who were stuck at Bamboo Village with us. They are continuing their search and rescue and support efforts
  • From a friend: “I heard from a college professor (my major advisor) who has a current Nepali student from Kathmandu, with family there. I believe he knows they are okay, but he and his sister are fundraising for two relief organizations that aren’t on most people’s radar: Women’s Entrepreneur Association of Nepal (WEAN) and Baseri Village Relief Team (Dhading), through an Indiegogo campaign.”
  • Nepal Youth Foundation and iDE – Two charities that were recommended by a Denver-area church

From Our Own

Recommendations from a Friend With Connections in Nepal

  • DIRECT REBUILDING IN ONE REMOTE VILLAGE.  http://www.gofundme.com/t494ck   “Closest to my heart is this tiny campaign.  It was organized by Phurchhoki Sherpa, whose family I lived with both before she was born and after.  She is the first of her village to attend college in the U.S. and is here now, having just graduated.  I could not be prouder. Her American friends wanted to give money to rebuild her house, but she decided instead to ask for help in restoring the village school and Buddhist temple.  The money she receives will go directly to the village where villagers will use it along with the labor of their own hands to rebuild.  Please consider even a small donation as the money will go a long way.”
  • IMMEDIATE RELIEF/HEALTHCARE.  “These recommendations come from a young Nepalese doctor connected to my uncle (also a doctor, and who has worked on relief efforts in Haiti). Health is going to be one of the biggest challenges very quickly, as both in Kathmandu and in rural areas normal means of sanitation are badly compromised. This doctor is recommending two smaller organizations that, in her words, ‘skip both big names and our Nepali government… so that maximum money reaches the needy.’– “The America Nepali Medical Foundation is directly collaborating with major hospital in and around Kathmandu valley and is arranging medical care to reach ground zero.”  http://americanepalmedicalfoundation.com— “NAOO is our Nepalese group here in Cleveland. it will collaborate with local organisation and youth group to provide relief package and basic necessity supplies like tent and drinking water. few of our members have already left for Nepal to map the initial steps.”  http://new.naoo.org/?page_id=161
  •  IMMEDIATE DISASTER RELIEF IN KATHMANDU AND LESS REMOTE AREAS.  “I am recommending Charity: Water.  They have an excellent reputation internationally and have been in Nepal several years working to provide drinking water systems.  They have connections/experience with disaster relief also and are expanding their focus in the wake of the earthquake, but I believe their experience of water issues will be invaluable.  Water is a precondition for food, health, sanitation — everything — and water systems are stressed or broken in many places. “
  • LONG HAUL REBUILDING.  : “dZi Foundation I think I have been hearing more about this organization than any other.  It is relatively small, and it has a stellar reputation for employing Nepalis and for working in areas that have been unreached by conventional development efforts.  More information about their philosophy and present program of action in the wake of the earthquake is here.  I highly recommend them.”

Large Charity Lists

Some organizations have put together lists of reputable charities