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Kangchenjunga Trek - Day 4, Lali Kharka to Bangyang

Breakfast appeared to be rushed as we geared up for the day ahead, a shame as the golden rays of the sun were acting as angular spotlights on the surrounding hills and the distant mountains on the horizon. A moment of peace to absorb the scenery I thought - but not to be, by seven thirty we were off.

The route wound its way around the hills passing through a number of smaller hamlets with the thatched roof buildings. The area was relatively prosperous to other parts of nepal I had seen with every available piece of land growing crops of some description or the other. Overall it was very scenic and I took the opportunity of photographing the landscapes. At this rate I was going to run out of film.

We had a steep descent to lunch, the sun fully out now and there was a risk of sunburn. Again the thermal vest provided cover but was overly hot. I was sure I would reap the benefit later in the trek especially if what the other trekkers had said was true. But now, having eaten, we had to ascend another eight hundred or so metres, it was probably in the eighties, and I was sweating hard. Soon I got into a rhythm and after a couple of hours we reached camp. Looking back across the valley I could see a small clearing on the distant hillside - Lali Kharka.

Bangyang is a more sizeable village and it was interesting to see villagers busy with their crops. We set camp on a plateau just behind the village and watched the sun disappear behind the hill. I was asked by one of the villagers to take a photo of his family, which I did , promising to send an enlargement to him later. They were all very excited about this and I hoped that my photo was going to be okay. The light was fading fast and the camera flash was limited. The photo taking broke the ice and it gave me opportunity to take shots of the kids in the village. The people here seemed so much friendlier than they had been in the Annapurna and Langtang regions. Probably because they don’t see so many tourists.

Soon, one of our porters was telling the kids about the glove puppet I had and once again I was asked to put on a small show. The donkey (eeore) caused some puzzlement, positively frightening one small kid, who decided to have nothing to do with it ,perhaps it was my vocal imitation (and I thought it had improved since yesterday). There is definitely a call for the marketing gurus to get out here and promote Winnie the Pooh, mind you they probably haven't seen a bear, and what they would make of Tigger is too frightening to consider.

I decided to change tactics producing yet another western phenomenon - a yo-yo. As a kid I could 'walk the dog', go round the world' and do other amazing tricks. Now in an attempt to show the Nepali village kids what this little round object was, I began to demonstrate. It wasn't long before I experienced what all performers must go through - the moment of truth was here and credibility was at stake. I started with a simple up and down, followed by' over the wrist' and a feeble 'round the world' impression, the yo-yo returned to my hand (thankfully) and the challenge was laid. First it was the kids, a few attempts with the yo-yo never getting back up the string and it was soon abandoned. Now the porters wanted to have a go, but no one could grasp the concept that you had to flick the wrist to make the yo-yo return back up the string. After much laughter and frustration on their part they too gave it up as a bad job.

After the evening meal and a round or two of cards it was off to the tent to get some sleep; no chance, the Diwali festival was still in swing - it lasts nine days. The local villagers and some of our porters were now in full voice and, backed up by the rhythm of the drums, they were in full swing. I probably heard the best part of the Nepali folk song repertoire - twice. Amidst all this the fire works, a series of thunder flashes with earth shattering bangs, went on for most of the night, which in turn got the dogs barking. The sound carried across the valley to other villages; their dogs now responded to ours and before long a cacophony of barking was to be heard. I suspected that somewhere, far away in distant Kathmandu, the chain of barking was being continued as I eventually drifted off to sleep.

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