Pratik Kayastha The concept of hiking has always eluded me. I happen to believe that walking is not the best way to travel. As such, this hiking was a completely new experience for me. So there I was in our office premises, waiting – excited, but a little nervous. The month being Aasad, monsoon was just arriving; and one could argue that it was not the best time to go on a hike. There was an ever present chance of being bedraggled in the rain. And for a destination like Lakuribhanjang, there was an added threat of leeches. There being a lot of buzz regarding the leeches of Lakuribhanjyang, we were advised to carry a bit of salt in case anyone would be bitten by one. Some even suggested that the leeches would literally fall down on us from up above. That was the part that was making me nervous. So in the true spirit of “Prevention is better than cure”, we bought some medical supplies, few band-aids, antiseptic and a ‘special herbal ointment’ that was supposed to be very effective against leeches. We got some other supplies, some snacks and other daily needed items as well. The girls were in charge of the shopping and they played a little prank on us. They bought an expensive brand of soap for themselves, but for us – the poor guys – they bought a cheap soap. I believe Ashara was the mastermind behind this plot. The route for our hike was from Lamatar to Lakurebhanjang to Panauti. We were to be dropped off at Lamatar by our office van, and from there on it was the march to Lakurebhanjang. When we got to Lamatar, we could not believe our eyes. It was raining cats and dogs and the hiking trail did not look easy either. It was a narrow, steep trail that ran through a dense forest up the steep hill; torrents of water flowing down the steps giving an illusion that it was super slippery. We began our climb slowly and cautiously; but to our amazement, the surface was not that slippery. Climbing was hard. We were drenched in the rain. On top of it, there were bags to carry. I was amazed that some of us were unfazed by any of these. Rosina, Sabita and Aawart were the ones to lead us; and to me they looked like they were flying across the terrain. Sometimes, the thick canopy of trees would clear up and we would see the scenic vista. We could catch a glimpse of Kathmandu valley wrapped up in a veil of fog. The views were enchanting and inspiring. The climb was nothing like I had imagined. It was fun. We would rest for a while, crack some jokes, and pull each other legs (figuratively of course). Then the inevitable happened - Ujjwal fell victim to the dreaded leeches. After that we all felt like we were harboring few leeches in our legs as well. At that point, I learned that Sabita had brought a pack (a whole kilo pack) of salt with her when I saw that all the girls were trying to bury their feet in the salt. They were tossing handfuls of salt everywhere. After a few steps, it was the turn of Sulekha to get bitten. She went from happy to frantic in no time when she saw the black, disgusting leech dangling from her feet. I was next to go. I found a leech as big as a peanut wedged between my toes. I must admit that it was not a pleasant experience. Sabita, Ashara and Sulekha now buried their feet in salt so they would not get bitten. We reached Lakurebhanjyang at around noon. By that time we all were understandably worn out. We had some photo shoots there - shooting the famous 'jumping shot'. Then, we had some snacks. We enquired the locals about the road to get to Panauti. Some said that the road was long and difficult, while others said that it was a piece of cake. We were confused, but in the true spirit of Deerwalk hiking, we decided to continue on. The road was comparatively easier - no steep climb, no torrent of water, no leeches. It was a pleasant walk. We were curious about our progress on the road, so we were asking the locals about it. They all said that we were just 20 minutes away. The strange thing was, no matter how far we had walked, we were getting the same answer - that we were only 20 minutes away. We passed through small bazars like Dobhan and Parkhalbari before we reached Panauti bazar. It was about 5:30 in the evening when we reached Panauti. By that time, we all were very exhausted. So we decided to travel to Dhulikel by bus. We were in Dhulikhel in no time, where we found a hotel of our liking. We rested for a while and it was time for dinner. While selecting a hotel to stay, we had a very strict criteria - the room had to have a TV in it so that we could watch the Euro 2012 quarter finals between Spain and France. After we settled in the room, we found that the TV in our room was not working. We requested that the TV be fixed, but to no avail. The hotel owners suggested that we watch the match in the dining room, as the room had a large TV in it. We complied. When it was time for the match, we found that the room was locked. But being an avid fan of football, we did not succumb to the fate of not being able to watch what could be one of the greatest matches of the tournament. We snuck into the room via a window, which strangely was left wide open! So we watched the match in pin drop silence. We had some muffled screams, some silent hand gestures and again, a lot of fun! But in retrospect, I realize that sneaking into the room was not such a good idea. Lakure Bhanjyang Hike II – The Journey Continues
Manish Dhakal After an extremely fun-filled Saturday, it was time for us to wake up early on a foggy Sunday morning. Imagine how hard it must have been to wake up early after having hiked nearly the whole day the previous day and staying up as late as 2:30 AM in the morning to watch the Euro cup clash between Spain and Portugal. With sleepy eyes and dizzy body, we were off to a so called KU’s favorite - Ram Dai’s tea shop. Indeed the tea was superb and it freshened us up to some extent. We recalled the moments of Saturday – hike on the rain, people crying and putting salt on their foot to avoid leeches, the never-ending 20 minutes walk as described by the villagers, the caricatures of office colleagues and watching the late night football game with a tired body. With these moments fresh on our minds, we set out to our next destination – Kera Ghari. It took about 25 minutes of bus ride to reach Kera Ghari from Dhulikhel. The place is famous for Lassi and organic coffee. We realized why it was so famous – the Lassi was one of the best I’ve ever had and the coffee was superb. There was a Hanuman temple a kilometer or two ahead and we decided to walk. All the gags and the laughter stopped for a moment to experience the peace and the calmness brought about by the place. Enjoying the peaceful nature of the temple with the rain falling outside was just another moment to savor on the hike. At around 2:30 the office van arrived to pick us up. By four o’clock we reached Kathmandu and the hike officially concluded. Personally, I had a lot of fun on the hike. Being relatively new to the company, getting to gel with new colleagues was an awesome experience. DW and DWians definitely do rock and I hope to have more fun in the days to come. Thank you everyone for the splendid weekend.