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How Long to Travel an Inch?

NEPAL | Friday, 26 October 2007 | Views [1593]

Riding the Ping!

Riding the Ping!

An early morning rise and a local bus to Begnas Tal...now what?! We weren't sure either. After a minor "detour", the first of many I'm sure, we began to follow a gravel road which we hoped would take us to our first stop...Sheklung. What we didn't know is that the less than one inch on the map between Begnas Tal and Sheklung would take us over SEVEN hours...Holy Cow! We also learned that the Nepalese time scale is completely different from our own. When asked how far we had to go we received a variety of responses: 25 minutes, 2 hours, and a long, long way. I can't believe our first day in and we're already a day behind! We did have some adventures along the way though....Mark seemed to attract leeches everytime we stopped, we rode on a Ping which is a four-seater Nepalese swing resembling a wooden Ferris Wheel and propelled by man power, and we were popular with the overloaded buses that whizzed by (and nearly flattened us) as passengers waved and shouted enthusiastically.

Six hours into the trip we were climbing a very steep incline still on the hunt for Sheklung and our lunch break. Thinking we would have to return down the same path the idea was mentioned to hide and stash our heavy packs. We finally found a good hiding spot and tree to attach them to but while in the process I began to feel sharp stings on my legs. My first thought was I was brushing up against a thorn tree but I couldn't find any of the bushes. Finally I saw what it was....GIANT ANTS (I think I've seen them on the Discovery Channel, so large they can destroy a rainforest and carry off small babies or something like that)! They were crawling all over me and biting...ouch! My initial reaction was to start flailing around, trying to knock them all off. I think at first Mark was really confused with my new, strange dance but he quickly came to my aid and then, even more quickly, untied all the gear and we jumped back onto the safety of the trail.

Eventually we reached the top (or what we thought was the top) only to find that we had a ridiculous amount of steps to climb. Figuring we were close to the end we all sucked it up and marched our way upwards and onwards. However, the steps were endless and exhaustion took its toll. It was finally decided that Reb and I would watch the gear while Mark, chivalrously, continued on with the hopes to find accommodation. It seemed like ages before he returned and with disheartening news that the stairs went on for infinity. With heavy hearts we had to turn around and re-trace our steps. Once at the bottom of the stairs we were drained and starving but fortune stepped in and saved us!

A kind Nepalese man owned the 'restaurant' we were standing near and asked if we wanted some food...we heartily said "YES!". Not only did he provide us with tasty meals but he and his brother moved out of their bedroom, changed the sheets, and allowed us to sleep in their beds! We also had a mini-introductury lesson on the Nepalese language, focusing mainly on numbers and important phrases like: I am lost, Where is...., What is your name..., my name is..., How much, etc. After dinner we took a bath, Nepalese style: squatting around a bucket of cold water. The next morning we paid our bill for the wonderful services (lunch, dinner, breakfast, plus room a total of 149 Rupees or $2.50 USD!) As we loaded up our gear, said farewell to our saviour and continued on with our journey we could only hope that the next inch on the map wouldn't take us nearly as long!

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