What a journey!
An early morning start at what appeared to be an impromptu jeep and coach depot, a long discussion and much changing of seats, a lot of shifting of baggage and finally we were off.
I was fairly chuffed, I'd been given the front seat, (much to the annoyance of several passengers) and after a lot of stopping and starting, including getting stuck behind the slowest thing on the road...a ten foot high cement mixer and lifter pulled by a tractor...we were on the way up and out of the Kathmandu Valley to Okhuldhunga.
The roads soon broke out of the Kathmandu Valley and districts next door into the neighbouring district of Sindhuli. A more beautiful mountainside view and a better seat I could not have asked for, well built, (generally) roads took us past sweeping vistas of wide flat valley floors, filled with beaches, villages, farmland mid harvest, trucks gathering stones, children travelling to and from schools. Communities living and breathing amidst the cracks between the mountains, on the flood plains, against the river.
That was Sindhuli where the trip by jeep was worth it by itself. This was even considering our drivers errant attitude towards time keeping and 'snack' breaks. Of which there were 3 just for the morning. It also transpired he was delivering newspapers to all the police officers on the way...which delayed things somewhat. So that 6/7 hour journey turned into 10/11, and sleeping wasn't preferable at first...or possible later!
Because you see, Okhuldhunga really...and I mean really, needs new roads.
I've never seen buses or jeeps successfully traverse a road at quite so many angles, outside of a Youtube video titled "Top Ten Worst..."
One highlight was watching a large digger using it's own hydraulic scoop to lever itself back onto a flat bed truck. The video if which is frankly unbelievable and I will be sharing soon. Landslides are fairly frequent it seems in Okhuldhunga, even though it's the dry season there was one being cleared on the way in and two just being cleared on the way out!
After the landslides, random stops, eating breaks and one case of the driver just leaving for half an hour we finally got to Rumjatar. The closest town to Mamkha, even holding an airport! Though the allegations of functioning wifi were unfortunately over optimistic.
After meeting up with PDCN Chairman Arun Karki in Rumjatar we co-opted another jeep to take us to Mamkha. This road again was probably better suited to goats than to vehicles but still, the Nepali drivers handled them with efficiency despite me being convinced twice that we'd already fallen off the cliff. (My general preference for seating on public transport is next to an open window I can fall out of).
Mamkha itself is like an unspoilt mountainside retreat, and I cannot wait to tell you more about it. . .
What a journey!