जाने होईन त चुम उपत्यका? गणेश हिमाल पारी तिबेतले ३ तिर घेरेको त्यो नेपाली ठाँउ

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दशैँ तिहार बिच पारी हरेक बर्ष झैँ म र मेरो श्रीमती नेपालका कुनै बिकट मनोरम हिमाली क्षेत्र हिडयौँ। शहरमा बस्दा बस्दा थुप्रिएको अलमल्याईपन, बिभिन्न सामाजिक बन्धन र नकारात्मक सोचका गाँठो फुकाउन बेलाबेलामा प्रकृतिको निकट जानै पर्छ। यस्तो मन सफा गर्ने भ्रमणले हामीलाई अाफ्नो देश राम्ररी चिन्ने मौका पनि प्रदान गर्छ।

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हामी धेरै नेपालीलाई नेपालमा चुम उप्यत्यका भन्ने ठाँउ पनि छ भन्ने कुरा थाहै छैन होला। हामी काठमाडौँबाट उत्तरमा दिनहँ गणेश हिमाल देख्छौँ। तर त्यस हिमाल पारी पनि नेपाल छ भन्ने कुरा विरलै थाहा होला। हो, त्यहि हिमाल पारी नेपालीहरु बसोबास् गर्ने एउटा चुम उपत्यका छ जुन गोर्खा जिल्लाको उत्तरी सिमामा पर्छ र तिन तिरबाट तिवेतले घेरिएको छ।

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चुम उपत्यका पुग्न मनाश्लु हिमाल पर्यटकिय मार्गबाटै शुरु गर्नु पर्छ। हाम्रो चुमको भ्रमण कुल १५ दिनको रह्यो। गोर्खा-धादिंगको सिमानामा रहेको अारुघाट बजारबाट शुरु गरेका हामीले कयौँ दिन द्रुत गतिमा बगेकी बुढि गण्डकी नदीको तिरै तिर हिँडय़ौँ। हाम्रो कुल खर्च भने चाहिँ कुनै पनि विदेश भ्रमण गर्दा लाग्ने हवाई टिकट खर्च जति पनि परेन। समुँद्रबाट ५०० मिटर माथीको सतहबाट शुरु गरेका हामी हिँउ नै हिँउले भरिएको ३७०० मिटर सम्मको उचाँईमा पुग्यौँ।

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चुमका बासी जसलाई “चुम्बा” भनिदो रहेछ, हामी दुई नेपाली पर्यटक देखेर तीन छक परेका थिए। हामी घुम्न अाएको भन्ने कुरा नपत्याउदैँ “होईन होला, ‘प्रोजेक्ट’ बाट अाउनु भा होला ?“ वा “पत्रकार हुनु हुन्छ होला?” वा “विदेशीको ‘ग्रुप’ लिएर अाउनु भा होला“ भन्थे। यी सबै होईन भन्दा केहि नलागेर “अमेरिका बस्नु हुन्छ होला – घुम्न अा होला” भनि अाफ्नै मन बुझाँउथे उनले।

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हाम्रो लागि यो भ्रमण अध्यात्मिक अनुभवले भरिपुर्व रह्यो। चुममा बस्दा हामीले चुम्बाहरुका कला, संस्कृति र परिवर्तन नजिकबाट हेर्न पायौँ। चुमको एउटा अचम्मको विशेष संस्कार बारे थाहा पाँउदा मेरो मनमा त्यस बिकट क्षेत्र प्रति श्रद्धा जागेर अायो। यहाँ झण्डै १०० बर्ष देखि कुनै पनि जनावारलाई मार्न मनाई रहेछ। मासु नै खानु परे पनि जनावार मरेपछि मात्र खाने व्यवस्था रहेछ। अनि अर्को कुरा यहाँ यार्सागुम्बाको व्यापारले पनि अाम जीवनमा अामुल परिवर्तन ल्याएको रहेछ।

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अहिले चुम्बाहरु धेरै पर्यटन देखि अाकर्शित भएका पायौँ र यार्सागुम्बाले ल्याएका अाम्दानी पनि यता तिरै खन्याएका पनि देखौँ। त्यहाँ कति पय गाँउमा त हामी भरखर बनी सक्दै गरेका होटेल-लजमा बस्ने मौका पायौँ। एक बोरा सिमेन्टको ३१५० रुपैया पर्ने ठाँउमा पनि पर्यटनले गर्दा स्थानियहरुले धमाधम पर्यटकलाई बस्न लायक व्यवास्थाहरुमा लगानी गरेका देख्यौँ। खुश्शी लाग्यो ! चुम उपयत्का र जाने मार्गहरुमा भैरहेको तिव्र पर्यटकिय बिकास हेर्दा मनले छर्लङ्ग बुझ्यो कि पर्यटनले कसरी नेपालको समतामुलक बिकासलाई फड्को मार्न मद्दत गर्दो रहेछ।

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चुम्बाहरुका प्रमुख व्यापार तिवेतसँग हुँदो रहेछ। अाफ्ना याक र घोडाहरु लिएर उनीहरु सजिलै ५००० मिटरको पास कटी एक दिनमै तिवेत पुग्दारहेछन् अनि किनबेच गरि फर्कन्छन् भोली पल्ट।  तर नजिकैका नेपालका सहर धादिंगवेसी वा गोर्खा बजार अाउनु पर्यो भने एक हफ्ता सम्म लाग्छ।

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यस् हिडाँईले हामीलाई नेपालको विविधताको बारेमा अझ श्रद्धा जाग्यो। हामी हरेक भित्र विवेकशील परिवर्तन ल्याउनको लागि एउटा उत्तम उपाय भनेको शायद हरेक बर्ष अाफ्नै देशका बिकट क्षेत्रमा भ्रमण गर्ने संस्कार हुन सक्छ।

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“नेपाल सुन्दर छ। यसको सुन्दरता अनुभव गर्न हामी अाफैलाई परिवर्तन गर्नु जरुरी छ।”

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Chum, an exotic valley hidden behind the Himalayas of Nepal

 नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोला

Have you traveled to the hidden valley of Chum behind the Ganesh mountains in the Himalayas surrounded on 3 sides by Tibet ?

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My wife and I decided it was once again time for our annual trek onto remote Nepal. It was an excellent opportunity to rejuvenate our souls, secluded from the urban social distractions of Kathmandu. This was also our way of getting to know our Nepal. The sad reality is many Nepalese these days have seen other countries more than places within Nepal. If we only make it a practise of traveling within Nepal once a year, our tourism industry would be further self-reliant while Nepalese learn and enjoy the diversity and beauty within. Here is our daily account of how we ventured into the hidden valley of Chum. I bet many of you have never heard of this place which lies just behind the Ganesh mountain range that you see every day from Kathmandu valley.

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Day 1: Kathmandu (1300 m) to Gorkha (Via Khaireni) 

We shared a ride on a car from Kalanki as the usual microbus station at Maacha pokhari ( near New bus park) was empty possible because of Dashain, one of the biggest Nepali festival.

We reached Gorkha in 4 and half hours where we stayed at small hotel called “ chautari” near the bus park. It was decent enough. We found Gorkha to be warmer than Kathmandu. In the evening we took a steep walk up the stairs for half an hour to reach the tiny palace of Gorkha that spawned one of the greatest Nepalese born, Prithivi Narayan Shah, the uniter of Modern Nepal.

As we climbed the last stairs, we were overwhelmed with the stench of blood all on the stairs as people a few days earlier in Dashain’s 8 th day “Aastami” had sacrificed animals to the goddess Kali’s statue there during Dashain festival. I hope someday they replace these sacrifices with flowers or something kinder. It would be fitting for the one of the most powerful goddess in hinduism.  We had brought some fruits which we quietly ate at the palace grounds. I was contemplating a simple question, “What motivated a small king to go on to conquer and unite into what we call ‘modern’ Nepal today and how did he build the team to make that impossible possible?

 We stayed there to see the beautiful sun set over the palace. I couldn’t help but wonder how Prithivi Narayan Shah must have built and managed a ‘dream’ team in the 18th century that went to win much bigger kingdoms after another while in the south, built a worthy adversary to the southern “british empire” where the sun never set.

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Day 2: Gorkha bazaar to Arughat (500m?)  to Arke to Soti Khola (700m)

We missed the bus by mere minutes! Unfortunately the local bus schedules are haywire and irrelevant. We had to wait for 4 hours to find the next bus to a place called Arughat a town by the budhi gandaki rivers on the borders between Gorkha and dhading district.

Just to get the tickets we had to push our way through crowded chaos at the ticket counter. As the bus rolled on a dusty, dirt-road, cramped with people traveling for dashain. Believe me, when I say, I couldn’t even see who was sitting on the other aisle of the bus for hours. Those of us ‘fortunate’ who had seats were busy carrying the random babies in our arms because their parents were busy clinging to the bus as it swerved through an atrocious cliff one-lane roads. Finally at about 5 in the evening, tired and dust-covered,  we reached Aarke just beyond Arughat where we started our official trek to a place called Soti Khola which was about one and half hours away. Just at dusk we reached Soti Khola and slept in a just finishing up newly built lodge, “Fulbari lodge”  listening to the roar of the raging Budhi Gandaki river just steps away.

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Day 3: Soti Khola to Lapubesi to Maachakhola (900m)

After having an appetizing tibetan/manaslu bread (think of them as an exotic rectangular form of doughnuts) with milk tea for breakfast we started off our first full day of trekking. An hour from Soti Khola we passed by nice springs just by the path where you can take a bath and easily fool around for an hour. The smaller one further up has a nice waterfall too.  This was our first real day of trek, going over suspension bridges, hundreds of meters above ground, to seriously rocky trails on the cliffs under breathtaking waterfalls. The one just after Lapu Besi will hold you spellbound (just over looking a suspension bridge).

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 Lesson of the day: Have breakfast before you head out! It gives you enough energy to sustain yourself for a few hours. We were  weak when we reached for Lapu Besi, a small gurung village. On the path we met a lot of elderly foreign tourists ( above 60 ) who dared to trek in this region. It gave us more confidence! Just before we reached Machha khola, we had a leisurely walk through the sands along the raging Budi Gandaki river.

At Machha Khola (Fish water – english translation) we stayed at Chum Valley Guest house (recently upgraded into a new lodge). If you ask the locals, they will prepare you a dish with local fish caught in the river right there.

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Day 4: Machha Khola to Tatopani to Dobhan to Jagat (1300m)

Best to start the days early before the sun slows you down considerably. I recommend starting at around 7 in the morning. The highlight of the day was a 5 tier waterfall. At Tatopani, i bathed in the small hot springs (more of a bathing place). At Dobhan we had a delicious lunch of Dal-Bhat with fresh green vegetables with chutney (achhar). The walk today was filled with small to humongous water falls. The trek all day ran besides the Budhi Gandaki gorge between mighty mountains on either sides.

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We reached Jagat at around 4. (The word ‘Jagat’ means a place since centuries ago, that collected tax through the ancient trade route between Tibet, Nepal and India. We stayed at the freshly built Manaslu Shanti Hotel (in upper Jagat village). The one besides it is just fine too. At Jagat we came across police station and a Manaslu conservation area check post that checks for your permits. Make sure your guide has all the documents. We saw cases where guides did not have the permit or their own identification papers (clumsy). As for us fortunate Nepalese we don’t need any permits :). All we got were surprised faces who didn’t expect Nepalese to travel (within their country).

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Note: Make sure you charge your phones here. Also the only mobile phone system that works beyond Jagat is called “Sky telecom” (Nepal Telecom and NCell didn’t work beyond Jagat at the time of this writing).

Day 5: Jagat to Philim to Chisapani to Lokpa (1900 m)

We started our trek at 7:30 in the morning. First stop was a small village called Shirdibas where we had tea and coconut biscuits, the legendary trekker favorite biscuits made in Nepal that every Nepali guide, porters, travelers enjoy!

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Soon after we crossed a very long suspension bridge (allegedly the longest in this region), and climbed uphill to reach a beautiful gurung village called, ‘Philim’ (1600m). We were pleasantly surprised to find wi-fi internet at a lodge there started by locals with the help of Mahabir Pun. I enthusiastically uploaded my pictures and updated family/ friends since there were going to be no mobile communication and very little electricity from now on.

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We had lunch at Chisapani where a new hotel was being built. Everywhere we went, we were seeing tourism infrastructure being built. I am sure in a year or two the basic accomodation will be highly improved! Not to be missed was the enormous waterfall beyond Philim just beyond Chisapani.

After an hour from Chisapani, you come across a crossing one which takes you to the main Manaslu trek towards ‘Larke’ pass, and the other to the mysterious Chum Valley trek behind Ganesh Mountains where the ‘Chumbas’ lived, almost shut from the rest of Nepal (and the world). We took the one towards Chum Valley and immediately embarked upon a steep hair-raising walk by the cliffs with the budhi gandaki river deep below.

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In about an hour and half, we reached outskirts of Lokpa and stayed at the solitary lodge called “New Tsum Hotel and Lodge” where for dinner we had one of the most delicious “Roti and Aloo-tarkari” (Chappati with potato curry).

Day 6: Lokpa (1900m) to Chumling (2400m)

At Lokpa we met a guide Laxman kaji rai, who had done Chum Valley more than a few times, and two of his german guests. We were to tag along with this group for a whole week. Unlike the earlier days, this day had a lot of steep walks up and down, even though the destination was short. We started at 8  in the morning and had a good walk through the jungles full of monkeys and beautiful green lush pathways, as always with the river besides us. On the way we managed to crawl through a recent landslide that was scary to walk through and scarier to look back at. We reached Chumling at just after noon, and stayed at a solitary hotel, Tsum Ganesh himal hotel and lodge, outside the main village.

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After lunch, we decided to wash our clothes at a local river minutes away, which was deeply refreshing. In the afternoon we went up to the village to see local villages busy harvesting their crop ( special wheat ). Chumling village was beautiful at harvest season and gave us a good taste of how people have lived for long in that region, shut off from most of civilization. Chumling also overlooked another village on the other side of the gorge called, “Ripchet”. Much higher up was a village called “Chum-chet” an hour or more steep walk from Chumling. We didn’t dare climb to it, although the views would be very rewarding of possible Ganesh Mountains.

Trekking industry is the melting pot of Nepali society where guides and porters from all regions of Nepal come together to bring in fresh skills, ideas and knowledge and mix it with locals and conjure the best of Nepali hospitality. It may be a noble way to build harmony among the diverse ethnic groups of Nepal.

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Day 7: Chumling (2400m) to Chhekampar (3000 m) :

We were now entering into the main Chum Valley today. As today was also going to be a walk on the shorter side, we started off at 8:30 am. It was a steep climb up to Chhekampar with the sun shining hard on us as we walked up the cliffs entering the valley ahead. Unfortunately there was not even a single tea shop on the way. Make sure to bring a few things to bite upon and plenty of water on this day’s walk.

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A somewhat scary thing happened on our way up. As our group passed through a narrow trail up the cliffs, we suddenly heard a big sounds with bells just behind us. We looked back to see a Yak had fallen off the cliffs and was crushed hundreds of meters below. Obviously the horses, and yaks herding above seem to be the cause of this all. The cliff walk although sturdy may feel dizzying to many travelers.Pretty soon, with the sun bearing hard upon us, we were agonizing with thirst specially when there were no shops or houses on the way to get water! Luckily we chanced upon a fresh stream after walking for an hour uphill where we drank to our fullest and bottled some for the rest of the journey. At about 2 in the afternoon, we came up to the  Chhekampar village and stayed in a hotel right in the middle of it. Today’s highlight was the breathtaking view of Ganesh and Manaslu mountains.IMG_1293

Also finally I could sense my mind was de-cluttered and “present”. Being with raw nature is a wonderful filter for our soul! 

Day 8: Chhekampar (3000m) to Nyile (3200m)

It was a clear blue sky today. We came across zen like rock gardens on the way from Chhekampar to Nyile village. The panoramic view of the mountains were just majestic all the way around. On the way we diverted to Rachen Gumba a buddhist nunnery with hundreds of nuns. We had a fun time with young nuns there who were teasing us, coaxing for my wife to convert as monks right then and there while I was to become a monk nearby at another monastery!

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As we passed another village Lar, we could see women jolly harvesting crops. Harvest time seems to be the merriest time in Chum valley. We heard it takes a difficult 11 months to harvest crops here (as compared to 3 or 6 months in the lower regions of Nepal). We also learnt here that Chum valley inhabitants call themselves “Chumba” :)

We reached Nyile around 3. At Nyile we stayed at a young local guide Migmar and his family’s freshly finished lodge “Mingmar’s Lodge”. It is among the first houses when you enter the village.

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Day 9: Nyile to Mu Gompa (3700m) to Nyile

The first night at Nyile was a hard one as we started feeling the effects of altitude. One of the effects is the need to pee more often (especially in the cold night). Today we woke up later than usual (8ish) knowing we were only going for a short walk up to Mu Gompa at 3700 meters. As we ventured towards the Mu Gompa, we started feeling visible effects of the altitude as we were panting for breath even though we were climbing a few steps. The views of borders with Tibet and the mountains all around was breath-taking. At the top of our climb was a monastery and a bit to the side a nunnery. If you walked a few more hours from here, you could reach the high 5000+ meter passes to Tibet. All along we could see majestic horses roaming around freely while terrifying yaks carried woods from forests to households.

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In the afternoon, we went to another monastery above Nyile and Chhule, an adjoining village separated by a river). From here we got a superb view all the way to Manaslu mountains to the west.

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By the late afternoon, the weather started turning for the worse with clouds all wiping off the blue sky soon to be replaced by rain. We were kind of  hoping it would snow so that we could see the other side of Chum valley. As we gathered around in Mingmar’s kitchen, he started telling us a story about his near death fall while collecting “yarshagumba” in the high mountains at near 5000 meters. He talked about whole village emptying during the pre-monsoon season when everyone went to collect “insects” (yarshagumba). He mentioned stories of how even pregnant women went up there and gave birth high up while collecting these quick cash generating prized “insect-fungus”.  This lucrative trade of himalayan herbs seems to have given some degree of prosperity to the villagers devoid of other quick income generating activities so far. From all the tourism infrastructures being built, I am confident tourism will soon replace this highly risky unsustainable activity.

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Day 10: Stuck in Nyile (3200m)

We woke up in the morning to find the rain had turned to snow and that too falling heavily. October was a highly unusual time for snow here but the villagers were rejoicing it as it brought water needed for their fields. All of us travelers were stuck looking at the snowfalls that seems to never stop falling. By the evening there was a foot of snow. At one point there was a white horse waiting for cover on our lodge doors. Another time, there were literally 2 yaks on the door steps looking for cover. So surreal !

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As we were all huddled by the kitchen stove, this was a good time to ask our lodge owners about their customs, their history and how they survive up here. Mingmar told us that it has been nearly a hundred years since Killing any beings was forbidden. It is amazing that tradition still continues where no animals are killed for whatever reasons. You will be hard pressed to find any meat in Chum valley. Only freshly dead animals meat is ever eaten here.

It was bitterly cold that night in Nyile. We didn’t have sleeping bags so we had to wrap ourselves around in 2 blankets while sleeping.

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Day 11: Nyile to Chhekampar

Early in the morning we started walking (or tried to) through the slippery snow back towards Chhekampar. The whole landscape looked brand new to us because of the snow cover all over. The snow melting had all our shoes soaking wet. We could see and hear small snow avalanches all over the mountains we passed by.

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We had lunch at Burje and at Chhekampar returning stayed at a just finishing up hotel at Tashi’s hotel & lodge.

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Day 12: Chhekampar to Lokpa (via Chumling)

Tough walk today. We had decided not to go towards Ganesh Himal Base camp because there was no real tea house for accommodation nor guarantee of food at the gompa nearby. We didn’t have sleeping bags so we felt we were underprepared for the grueling trip there.  So instead we headed back towards chumling. We started early at around half past seven (after having our fill of tibetan breads for breakfast).

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Because of the snowstorms, the fresh stream we had met while going up had been replaced with ice by avalanche. The view though was superb and going downhill eased our burden a bit although our knees bore the brunt. Sticks really helped us here! In between Chumling and Lokpa we again had a hair raising experience crawling up on a scary landslide on a deep river gorge hundreds of meters below.

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At Lokpa we stayed at the same lodge Chum Valley guest house. Our host Lobsang Lama was a gracious man, soft-spoken and humble who had built a nice place there.

Day 13: Lokpa to Jagat

Today, we began to hear news that many trekkers had died on another pass, Thorang la in the Annapurna regions during the same snowstorm we had met. Since we had no internet, electricity or phone during the time after the snow storm, we were relying upon other tourists for any news from the outside world. We decided that given the amount of snow up on the mountains,  the 5100+ Larke La (pass) on Manaslu was not worth the effort. So we decided to return back to Kathmandu from the same route. We seperated from our german tourist friends we had tagged along with their guides.  While they went off towards Manaslu base camp, we went down to the gurung village of Philim. We had delicious vegetable momos for lunch at Philim and managed to log in and tell on facebook to our friends and families that we were safe. Little did we know that our friends and families for 3 whole days had panicked about our whereabouts and some had even checked us on the “missing” lists on Thorang la!

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At Jagat, we again stayed at the same local, Bal Bahadur Karki “Manaslu Shanti” lodge to hear more of his stories about the history, politics of this region and the local efforts to change this region into a separate district of Nepal the “Larke” district which never came into being. The regular Nepal Telecom and Ncell mobile phones again started working here. So we were finally back connected to the world although I didn’t want to connect just yet.

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Day 14: Jagat to Machha Khola

We traced back the same route from Jagat to Machha Khola. Going back we found out we could hardly remember traveling up the same route. So it was good that we imprint  a clearer memory of walking through this trail. We had a forgettable lunch at Khorlabesi at some hotel with gardens. They prefered foreigners to us (Nepali) while charging the same amount.

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At Machha Khola we stayed at Manaslu Lodge. All the hotels were packed because of overflow of travelers returning from the failed Larke La pass attempt. Here we met guides and trekkers with sun burnt faces who told us stories of how the snow nearly took their lives, how they made it to within 100 meters below the pass but had to give it all up because of the snow of over nearly 2 meters (6 foot). In hindsight we had made the right decisions.

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Day 15: Machha Khola to Soti Khola to Arughat and then all the way to Kathmandu!

Today was one hell of a marathon!  We started early at 7 and set out to make it to lunch at Soti Khola. On the way we took a rest to dip ourselves at a nice waterfall by the trail. After having a delicious Dal bhat lunch at ABC Lodge in Soti Khola we took a local bus all the way to Arughat. It took us about an hour and half. No more walking!

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At Arughat we reserved a 4 wheeler jeep who was returning from bringing tourists for the Manaslu trek. After bargaining on a reasonable rate, we started on our way back to Kathmandu going through on a reasonably comfortable ride on a dirt road trail via Dhading besi.

On the way we went through beautiful Salyantar in Dhading and the river below was a stunning sight as the sun set as we passed through.

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We heard this area was about to become a huge lake if a big hydro project went through as planned in the coming years. It would be another interesting place to stay in, if this artificial lake came into being. We ate a local junction “khursani taar” as recommended by the driver Badri Ojha ( 9851044266 ). From Dhading besi to Kathmandu, we were on a highway.

We finally made it to Kathmandu at around midnight. I checked my weight. I had lost 2 kilos, without dieting :)

 

In the end I leave you with this  from some place we stayed on the trek :)

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Some helpful tips:
1) All photos taken through a mobile (Apple Iphone 4S)
2) For a Nepali traveler on Chum valley expect around Rs 1,500 a day if you want to travel comfortably and treated as a tourist without the feeling you are being discriminated in favor of foreigners. (This is cost without any guides or porters. Transportation to and from Arughat is extra depending on how you travel- local bus or private jeeps).

How to trek safely in Nepal ?

Over the years I learnt often through my own hard experiences, the importance of safely trekking in Nepal as any instance can quickly turn into a life and death situation in remote regions.
Here are my safety tips while trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal:

  1. Many trails in Nepal have mules /donkeys as main transport vehicles. If you see mules/donkeys coming towards you,make sure you always give side on the safe end. Don’t ever stand on the edge of a cliff to let them pass. Mules/ donkeys will not hesitate to push you off the edge as they usually take the safest side in the trail!
  2. Use walking sticks (2 if possible). it helps ease your balance and in some tricky situations like crossing streams or on broken paths.Roads usually go from good to worse within a day of change in weather. Sticks are special help to your legs. You can find a pair at an affordable price in Thamel, Kathmandu.
  3. Ask fellow traveller who are coming from opposite directions on the status of the trails and where there could be potential difficulty in passing through.
  4. If you are alone or with only one companion, always tag along groups. This helps you when you chance upon a difficult situation when even small landslides, streams on paths cause you to walk carefully (often with the group’s guidance). Don’t hesitate to use your hands on difficult places.  They are most handy. Don’t forget them:)
  5. Make sure your shoes are in good condition (carrying a super glue helps to glue in soles that might come off in these grueling walks). Water proof /resistant shoes are a good investment.
  6. In suspension bridges (you will run across plenty), don’t walk looking down deep into the gorge. It’s usually dizzying. Look straight ahead. if there are mules/donkeys crossing the bridge from the other direction, stop right there and go back! Let the mules/donkeys pass entirely before you step on to that bridge ! I told you so!
  7. Be extra careful walking downhill than uphill specially in cliffs. Slower is better. Sticks help a lot here. If you want to watch the scenery, stop and watch. I would warn you over watching the beautiful scenery around you while walking on a cliff trail.
  8. Watch your head! (when you are going to toilets, homestays, kitchens, gumbas as many of the traditional doors were built for people less than 6 feet (1.8 meters tall).
  9. If you are worried about the weather affecting your travel, I recommend you to carry a satellite phone as there are no reliable warning systems in many villages up behind the mountains. A solar charger is best as there is plenty of “strong” sunshine during the day. Most villages don’t get electricity during the day (in Manaslu region) and are unreliable then too.
  10. Always leave a day or two extra when you are trekking for more than a week or two. Most accidents happen because we are strapped for time and want to rush the trek which is dangerous in remote, high altitude regions.

Nepal is a heaven when it comes to traveling through pristine beauty of nature and soul warming beauty of the locals you meet on the way.

My warm wishes for your soul cleansing journey safely in the wonders of Nepal!

Travel Safely !

(If you have your travel tips, let me know. I will add them here).

Meanwhile you can also read some of my trekking diaries here.

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How to succeed at business in Nepal ?

There are many ways to entrepreneurial success. Here is one, if you are a first-time entrepreneur:

  1. Do NOT try to produce a totally new, new thing. The reason is simple. When you produce a totally new, new thing, you need a lot of money to educate the market about what your “new new” thing is. Educating the market is very expensive, both in terms of time and money.
  2. When you try to educate the market about your new, new product, you burn a lot of your precious capital. When you burn your capital (like the dot com companies did in the US in 1999), you may go out of business altogether.
  3. Adding insult to injury, as it often happens in Nepal, you may then have to watch late-comers succeed with the very idea that you came up with because you foolishly spent all your money educating the market about the new, new product for your future competitors to benefit from! [Believe us: nobody gives you a medal for being a “business saheed”!]
  4. Instead of trying to produce a totally new, new thing, look at an established industry where there are existing suppliers, competitors, customers, etc. In other words, as a first-time entrepreneur, choose a known industry.
  5. In that industry, think hard to find a niche (your new thing): see what the customers are looking for but not getting, and see whether you can find a way to meet their (unexpressed) demand. Finding your niche or your twist in a well-known industry lies at the heart of first-time entrepreneurship.
  6. Once you find your niche in a known industry, educating the market will not be that difficult. That’s because people already know your industry, they can generally understand what to expect, etc.
  7. Once you have identified your niche, then, find a way to put “a moat around it”, as Warren Buffet says. A moat refers to a large body of water (preferably with crocodiles) around a castle. A moat makes it difficult for others to attack the castle. If you think of your business as a castle, what should your moats be? Price? Brand? Location? High switching cost? Service?
  8. Do NOT worry about competition. All reasonable people want to copy good ideas. Having competition is good, because it validates you and your idea. If no one wants to copy you, be worried.
  9. Even with a niche and a moat, how do you know what works? You don’t. Therefore, experiment small, fail fast, learn quickly, and change course to continuously scale up.
  10. In the back of your mind, always ask yourself these four questions, and try to have answers:
    1. What compelling reason exists for people to give you money to buy your product or service?
    2. How do you get what you are selling for less than it costs to sell it?
    3. How will strangers find out about the business and decide to become customers?
    4. What insulation (moat) do you have from commoditization (“just like what everyone has”) and price war (coming from competitors)?

This is a guest post by Ashutosh Tiwari (Some of the materials may have been collected from other sources).

 

देश बनाउने सकारात्मक शक्तिलाई केले रोकेको छ?

 

सकारात्मक शक्तिलाई केले रोकेको छ? (सेतोपाटी पत्रिकामा पढ्नुहोला)

प्रतिभाशाली नेपालीको कमी छैन। देशलाई माया गर्ने नेपाली पनि हामी उत्तिकै छौँ। हरेक दिन कुनै न कुनै अब्बल नेपालीले राष्ट्रको शिर ठाडो राखेको खबर सुनेकै छौँ। हामी नेपाली बाहिर गएर पनि मलेशियादेखि अरब देशहरु धानेकै छौँ भने भित्रै बसेर पनि आफ्नै लगन र मिहिनेतले नेपाल धानेकै छौँ। तर यत्ति धेरै राम्रा र प्रतिभाले भरिएको देश एकपछि अर्को बिपत्तिमा छिरेको छिर्यै छ त। पटकपटक असफल साबित हुँदा पनि उही नेतृत्वले राज गर्ने मौका पाएकै छन् त।

एकपल्ट सोच्नुस् त- अहिले यत्तिबिघ्न राम्रा र प्रतिभाशाली नेपाली हुँदाहुँदै किन सकारात्मक शक्तिले हाम्रो देशको नेतृत्व लिन सकेको छैन? सकारात्मक शक्तिलाई केले रोकेको छ यहाँ?

तितो यथार्थ यही हो- प्रतिभाशाली र ‘आफूलाई राम्रो  मान्ने’ नेपालीले नै रोकेका छन् सकारात्मक शक्तिलाई

तपाईलाई नराम्रो लाग्ला, अविश्वास पनि लाग्ला र सोध्नु होला- कसरी यस्तो पवित्र काममा हामी ‘राम्रा नेपाली’ नै बाधक भयौँ र? कारण- हामीभित्र केही नजानिँदो कुसंस्कार हावी छन्।

जस्तो कि …

१. ‘कोठाभित्र रमाउँदै ठिक्क… ‘

हामी कोठाभित्र रमाएका छौँ र समग्र घरलाई बिर्सेका छौँ। देशको एक क्षेत्रमा उत्कृष्ट बनेका छौँ तर उत्कृष्टहरु बीचको सहकार्य गरी प्राप्त हुने ठूलो प्रतिफल देशलाई दिन सकेका छैनौँ। अरु देश बनाउनेलाई मद्दत गर्दा आफूमा कतै दाग, हिलो, फोहर पो लागिहाल्छ कि भनी डराउँछौँ। अनि देश जति गनाए पनि नाक थुन्दै अा-अाफ्ना ‘कोठा’ मै रमाउछौँ।

२. ‘भोलि उठ्दा चट्ट देश बनेको हेर्न पाऊँ’

सिन्को नभाँची अकस्मात् देश र समाज सब ठीक भएको हेर्ने अपेक्षा राख्छौँ हामी। भर्खरै बामे सर्दै गरेको देश बनाउने राम्रा अभियान, सन्जाल, समूहहरु हाम्रो आँखामा त पर्दै पर्दैन। कारण, उनीहरुले गरेका कामका परिणाम त आजको भोलि आउनै सक्दैन। तर, हामीलाई परिणाम आजको भोलि नै चाहिएको हुन्छ।

३. ‘मेरो गोरुको बाह्रै टक्का’

कसैले शुरु गरेको सकारात्मक परिवर्तन हाम्रै तरिकाले चलेको देखेनौँ भने दुई सेकन्डमै त्यसरी त कामै छैन भनी आफैँ पाखा लाग्छौँ। आफूले देखाएकै बाटोमा हिँडेमात्र कुनै ठोस् समाधानमा पुगिन्छ भन्ने अभिमान छ हामीमा। प्रतिभाशाली नेपालीलाई एक ठाँउमा उभिएर राष्ट्रको समस्या समाधान गर्न हाम्रै अहंकारले रोकेको छ।

४. ‘यो नेपाल कहिले ढल्छ र अर्को नेपालमा जान पाउँ’

अझै यही भ्रमको खेती गरी बस्छौँ हामी। ‘कैले कली देवता आएर सखाप पार्छ अनि नयाँ नेपालमा जान पाउँ! कहिले पशुपतिनाथ रक्षा गर्छन् ‘हामी’ सभ्यलाई! कहिले जंगबहादुर निस्किन्छ र सबै दुष्टलाई काट्छ! कहिले… … ‘ यसरी हामी विकल्प बनाउनुभन्दा काल्पनिक विकल्पमा जान कुरिरहेका छौँ।

५. ‘बलेकै आगो ताप्ने हो’

हामी जहिल्यै बलेकै आगो ताप्न तम्सिन्छौँ। कसरी बल्यो, किन बल्यो बालै मतलब छैन। कयौँ बेला त हामी समाजका भ्रष्ट, गैरजिम्मेवार, विवेकहिनले बालेकै आगो ताप्दै रम्छौँ। परिवर्तन गर्नेहरुले बाल्न दु:ख गरेको देख्दा-देख्दै पनि सिन्को भाँच्दैनौँ। उल्टो आगो कहिले बालिसक्ला र ताप्छु भनी कुर्छौँ।

६. ‘पक्कै डलर खेती गरी रा होला’

कसैले केही राम्रो शुरुवात गरेको देख्यौँ भने मनभित्र दर्जनौँ शंकालु सोच आइहाल्छ। शंकै-शंकाले आफूभित्रको आस्था र सहयोगको भावनालाई निमोठिहाल्छ। फ्याट्ट कतै आफ्ना शंकालु दृष्टिकोण राखिदिन्छौँ, त्यही कुरो एक कान दुई कान हुँदै सत्य बन्छ। राम्रा गर्ने खोज्ने थाहै नपाई एक्लिईन्छन्। यसरी नजानी नजानी नै खुट्टा तान्ने संस्कारका प्रवर्धक हुन्छौँ।

७. ‘यहाँ यस्तै हो। केही हुनेवाला छैन’

यो देशमा अब केही हुदैँन भन्दै हामी आफूभित्र पनि डर जगाउँछौँ, गर्नेको पनि हौसला रित्याउँछौँ। जेको पनि सकारात्मक भन्दा बढी नकारात्मक तात्पर्य नै निकाल्ने गर्छौँ। यी मनको पिपले वरिपरि बल्न लागेको ऊर्जालाई पनि निभाउने काम गर्छौँ।

८. ‘भै हाल्छ नि, गरि हाल्छु नि – नो प्रोब्लेम्’

प्राय हामी ‘नाइँ’ भन्नै सक्दैनौँ। फेसबुकमा दश जनाले ‘आाउछुँ’ भन्छौँ तर वास्तवमा आउँछौँ मात्र एक। ‘मुखले आश्वासन, खुट्टाले धोका दिने’ चलन बोकी हिँडेका छौँ। आश्वासन भंग गर्न चानचुने कुरा लाग्ला तर देश बनाउन हिडेँकालाई यसले ‘स्लो पोइजन’को काम गरि रहेको हुन्छ।

९. ‘मैले त्यत्रो गरेँ त्यसलाई। खोई त मलाई पनि गरेको’

मद्दत गर्दा तुरुन्तै ब्याज खोजी हिँडछौँ हामी। राम्रा गर्दै गरेकालाई कतिपय परिस्थितिमा त बीचैमा मद्दत रोकी घर न घाटको बनाइदिन्छौँ। देश बनाउन हिँड्नेको जिन्दगी कहाली लाग्दो, तिरस्कृत, एक्लो, गरुङ्गो छ। यो यथार्थको रत्तिभर पनि सह-अनुभूति (एम्पेथी) राख्दैनौँ।

१०. ‘ओहो! फलानाको छोरा-छोरी त अमेरिकामा… ‘

डिभी पाउनेको फेसबुकमा सयौँ लाइक हान्छौँ। तर बाढीपिडितलाई सहयोग गर्दा त्यसको आधा पनि लाइक दिन्नौँ। इस्टमित्रले देश छाड्दा स्याबासी दिन्छौँ, फर्कँदा चाहिँ ‘बौलाइस् कि क्या हो?’ भन्छौँ। यही मनस्थितिले देशलाई वृद्धाश्रम बनाउँदैछौँ हामी। देशमै केही गर्छु भनी कम्मर कस्नेले कोसँग मिलेर देश बनाउने?

जबसम्म यी कु-संस्कारलाई हामी आफैले त्याग्दैनौँ, देशमा सकारात्मक नेतृत्व शक्ति बन्नको लागि प्रमुख बाधक हामी नै हुन्छौँ। यी कु-संस्कार त्याग्न मैले देखेको सर्वोत्तम उपाय भनेको त्यसको ठाउँमा नेतृत्व बनाउन चाहिने सु-संस्कारहरु हालिदिने हो। यदि तपाईँ जस्तो प्रतिभाशाली नेपालीले यसो गर्न थाल्नु भयो भने मलाई विश्वास छ, सकारात्मक शक्तिले देश हाम्रै कालमा हाँक्ने छन्। मैले समग्रमा बुझेका केही नेतृत्व बनाउन चाहिने संस्कारहरु बुदाँगत हिसाबले तल प्रस्तुत गर्दैछु।

नेतृत्व बनाउन चाहिने केही संस्कारहरु:

१. ‘माथि होइन तल हेर्नु’

देश बनाउन हिँडेकालाई कसरी चिन्ने? राम्ररी हेर्नु- उनको मुख मात्र चलेको छ कि पाइताला पनि? मीठो दर्शन भन्दा पनि के गर्यो, के गरिरा’छ, के गर्न ला’छ? त्यसैमा ध्यान दिनु। बाचा कम, काम बढी गर्नेकै पछाडि लाग्नु, उनैको हौसला बढाउनु।

२. ‘दान होइन, लगानी गर्नु’

देश बनाउन आँट्ने नेतृत्वलाई तपाईँको एक-दुईपल्टको अनुदान होइन, नियमित लगानी चाहिन्छ। सक्नुहुन्छ भने समय नै लगानी गर्नु, सक्नुहुन्न भने श्रोत दिनुस्। देश बनाउने नेतृत्व बनाउनु भनेको आफ्नै बच्चा हुर्काउनु जस्तै हो। ठोस् समयसम्म पाल्नु भयो भने ठोस परिणाम पनि देखाँउछन्, अनि अचम्मको सन्तोष पनि पाइन्छ।

३. ‘नेतृत्व आफैँ बन्दैन, बनाइन्छ- यही मन्त्र जप्नु’

बुद्ध, गान्धी, मण्डेला एक्लै बन्या होइनन्। पेले त्यसै पेले भा होइन। तपाईँजस्तै कसैको आस्था र निरन्तर मद्दतले तिख्खारिदैँ, उच्चालिदैँ यी साधारण मानव असाधारण महामानव बनेका हुन्। अहिले जिरोमा रहेका ती परिवर्तन निर्मातालाई आड दिई राख्नु, समयले हिरो बनाएरै छाड्छ! यसरी यो देशमा फेरि बुद्ध जस्तो नेतृत्व बनाउने जिम्मा लिनु त। नेपाली इतिहास फेरि हाँस्नेछ।

४. ‘बनिबनाउ स्वर्गलाई होइन, भत्केकै स्वर्ग बनाउनु’

नेपाल भत्किएको स्वर्ग हो। कम्मर कसे चाँडै बन्छ। विकसित मुलुकको बनिबनाउ स्वर्गलाई थप सिंगार्न लाग्नु भन्दा अभाव भएको आफ्नो देशलाई समृद्ध बनाउने बाटो रोज्नु। अवसर आफैँ बन्दैन, स्वयंले बनाउने हो। बाहिरै भए पनि नेपाल बनाउनेहरुमै लगानी गर्नु। आफू फर्कने बाटो यसरी नै खोल्नु।

५. ‘टन्न भाकालाई होइन पेट कराइरहेकालाई खुवाउनु’

श्रोत-साधन-शक्तिले टन्न भाकालाई समर्थन गर्ने कु-संस्कार छाडी मद्दतका भोकालाई हात दिनु। उदाहरणको लागि, यसले जित्छ भनेर होइन यसले सही बाटो समाएको छ भनी भोट दिनु। परिवर्तन गर्नेहरु एक्लो हुन्छन्, मद्दतका भोका हुन्छन्। उनीहरुलाई नै खुवाउनु न।

६.’१०० मिटर होइन, ‘रिले’ म्याराथुन दौडिनु’

छिटो पुग्नेलाई होइन, चाँडै नथाक्नेलाई खुरुखुरु मद्दत गर्दै जानु। धेरै जसो बेला हामी यसैमा चुक्छौँ। ‘तु’ पुर्याइदिने बाचा गर्नेको पछि लाग्दा घर न घाटको भइन्छ। दिगो परिवर्तनको लागि बटान पास गर्दै ‘रिले’ म्याराथुन दौडनेमै बाजी लगाउनु।

७.’नेपालमा बोल्ने-लेख्ने-पढ्नेलाई पुग्यो अब गर्नेलाई पालो दिनु’

सर्वत्र थाहै छ कि बोलाइ र गराइमा सन्तुलन नल्याएसम्म कुनै कार्य सफल हुँदैन। यसो गर्नुपर्छ भन्ने, लेख्ने, विश्लेषण गर्नेको अनुपातमा कार्य गरी देखाउने रवैया भएका निकै थोरै छन्। जसरी घरका हरेक खम्बा नबनेसम्म छानो ढलान हाल्न सकिन्न, गर्नेलाई बलियो नबनाएसम्म देश बन्दैन।

८.’मन जगाउनु- जगतै तताउनु’

नेपाल बनाउन तम्सिनेलाई मद्दत गर्न पिएचडी चाहिँदैन। आसेपासे पनि हुनु पर्दैन। अरु त के देशमै हुनु पर्दैन, नागरिक नै हुनु पर्दैन। केवल मन चाहिन्छ मन ‘पाशा’। कुनै पनि नेतृत्वलाई सबभन्दा महत्वपूर्ण मद्दत भनेको त्यही ‘पहिलो समर्थक’ बनिदिनु हो। त्यसपछि त ढिलो चाँडो वरिपरि तात्न थालिहाल्छन्।

९. ‘नेपालमा नपत्याउने खोलाले नै बगाउँछ – यो कुरो ध्यान राख्नु’

चौबिसे राज्य मध्यको एउटा फुच्चे राजाले नै नेपाल आँट्या होइन र? इतिहास पल्टाउनुस्- परापूर्व कालदेखि नेपाल हल्लाउने जति सबै नपत्याउँदा नै थिए होइन र? नसुनेकालाई मद्दत गर्ने चेष्टा गर्नु्। नपत्याउँदालाई नहुर्केसम्म हात डोराइहेर्नु न।

१०.’नेपाल ‘सकारात्मक’ हल्लै हल्लाको देश बनाउनु!’

अरु कुनै नसके पनि यो एउटा त पक्कै सक्नुहुन्छ। उठेदेखि सुतेसम्म राम्रै राम्रा हल्ला फैलाउनु। सानै हिमाल चढेको खबर किन नहोस् वा ट्राफिक स्वयंसेवक बनेकै, उनैको बेस्मारी गफ छाँट्नु। मुखसम्मै आइरहने ती नकारात्मक हल्लालाई भित्रै दबाइराख्ने कसरत दिनहुँ गर्नु।

नेतृत्व लिने मात्र नेतृत्व होइन, नेतृत्व बनाउने पनि नेतृत्व हो। मेरो लेखको सार यही हो।

नेपाललाई अहिले तपाईँजस्तै ‘नेतृत्व निर्माता’ को जरुरी छ। नेतृत्व लिन चाहिने सीप, त्याग र लगन जो कोहिमा नहोला तर नेतृत्व बनाउन त हामी हरेकले सक्छौँ। आफूभित्र नेतृत्व बनाउने संस्कार आजैदेखि विकास गरे यो देशमा सकारात्मक शक्ति, सञ्जाल र नेतृत्व बलियो बन्न केहीबेर लाग्दैन।

अन्तमा मेरो अनुरोध तपाईँजस्तो प्रतिभाशाली नेपालीलाई-

‘आउनुहोस् अब नकुरौँ, नेतृत्व आफैँ बनाउने आँट गरौँ !’

 

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