The journey to the Dang Valley starts with a step, public bus, motorbike, taxi, airplane, rigshaw, night bus and a private van; it takes 9 hours and a lot of patience to arrive from Kathmandu.
The benefits of knowing the local language makes travel 10 times easier but definitely not more comfortable. Our caravan of 5 (Jeff, Marty, Megan, Nav Raj & Khopiram) trudged through Kathmandu traffic and maneuvered airport security where one of our group was unable to unknowingly transport his apparent deadly cuticle scissors into the airport, local authorities confiscated them.
Our propeller prop engine 55-minute Air Buddha flight left and landed in Nepalgunj without incident. I was told afterwards the plane carried a couple thousand baby chicks imported from Qatar. Nepalgunj is more than 500 miles SW from Kathmandu and about 5 miles from the Indian border. From this border outpost we took 15-minute human powered rigshaws (power provided by Ramesh and Salem) to the bus stop for our 5-hour journey to Ghorahi. Rigshaw cost was $1.
As we waited for our bus, we had a very interesting 20 minutes. First, in an effort to relieve his bladder Jeff popped over to pee behind a roadside building only to have a local throw a rock at him for being indecent. I had to go as well and in order to avoid hurling projectiles; I opted for the public squat toilets. Being female and an avid traveler, I am used to these toilets but what I was not ready for was this toilet making it to my worst toilet in the world list. Thank goodness I held my breath the entire time and did not have a smell to go with what I saw, which will haunt me for an eternity.
Once we boarded our $3 bus, we crowded into the last row and jostled, bumped and inhaled diesel fumes for the next 4.5 hours. Around 10pm, we arrived at a sleepy backwater where we dined like Raj’s on dahl bhat (lentils, vegetables and rice- the national dish of Nepal) and inquired about their only hotel (@ $5 hotel- what a steal!)
Our last leg of the journey was 30-minute private van to Ghorahi where we arrived at the home of Nav Raj. The time was 11 pm and these travel soaked souls were ready for bed.
This article was written by Megan Riley; she documented this recent trip with The Nepal Project to oversee the solar panel installation. She will also be writing other Nepal stories on her travel blog, www.thebigfatworld.com.