Through the Rain

Friday, 17 Jan, 2020

Kathmandu - Gatlang

The power went out a couple of times during the night, each time with a bang. It rained constantly and was still raining heavily as we had breakfast

We were pleased the trekking bags were waterproof as they were loaded on the roof and covered with a tarpaulin. Simon took the front seat and the three of us sat together with Jonno in the middle. Puncha, our guide, was in the back with room for the two porters, Gopal and Bhakta who we picked up along the way.

The traffic was fairly heavy leaving Kathmandu and it continued to rain steadily. After about an hour we stopped for morning tea and enjoyed surprisingly good coffee. The traffic was streaming past and we watched some creative parking by a petrol tanker.

Back on the road we slowed to a crawl. This didn't suit one vehicle that decided to pass multiple vehicles before being stopped by a bus coming the other way, fortunately without incident. We continued to move slowly for around an hour before reaching a toll collection point.

We picked up speed and soon stopped for lunch. We went with the Nepalese option after Puncha advised that it would come quickly whilst other food would take some time.

Still the rain continued as we drove through the afternoon. We stopped at the entrance to the Langtang national Park where we thought the soldiers were going to look through our bags, but after assuring them we had no drones, they let us continue.

A bit further on, we stopped again. This time we had to show our passports whilst Puncha completed paperwork. We waited in a cavernous and cold room with a TV in the corner where India was playing Australia.

We had one more checkpoint as we headed through increasingly mountainous terrain. And still it kept raining. At times the road was quite flooded but the driver persevered.

We stopped at Syabru Bensi and used the toilets in a random guest house. There were lots of guest houses along the road, but we didn't see any tourists.

The road became even narrower and rougher as we headed towards Gatlang. We were slipping and sliding along the muddy road which became increasingly treacherous. The Jeep was an Indian version of a Pajero with all wheel drive only, no low range and standard tyres. We were relieved to arrive at our accommodation.

The fog lifted slightly to reveal views across mountains sprinkled with snow, with the village of about 1500 people nestled beneath. As expected, the rooms were very basic and ours lacked a window pane in one corner. The kids fared a little better with more effective window coverings.

The persistent rain had tested the limitations of our duffel bags and dry bags and some of the gear was a little damp. Fortunately, nothing too drastic and we made use of our walking poles to create some hanging space.

We soon adjourned to the dining room to gather around the stove in the centre of the room. Simon and Georgia draped damp clothes across their knees to make the most of the fire. Puncha told us a little about the local history. The name Gatlang meant sleeping ox. Whilst Langtang, meant body of ox.

We ordered a big pot of hot water and enjoyed tea by the fire whilst we waited for dinner.