Is was a 5 k walk to get to the entrance, 10 k's to the 'summit' and back and another 5 k back home - because it seems we were either too emotionally or intellectually disabled by this point to barter with a taxi driver for a realistic fare home. Looking back upon that moment, 5 km really is probably worth $6, still, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger (or at the least sore, which generally makes you feel like you've acheived something).
Just after we had arrived at the entrance to the forest, and potentially naively handed over Katherine's only ID to the Armed Policeman (not that he had a gun, that's just the term for the service) it started to rain. Not to be put off at yet another reminder that this is not the right time of year to be going walking in Nepal we donned out next to useless raincoats and started up the hill on what some people might call a track* (see footnote).
Within 10 minutes we looked like drowned rats, but we by the time we reached the top, the worst of the rain had passed, we had de-leeched, killed about 40 bazillion mosquitoes and had (again) a most exquisite view of Kathmandu (that's 3 weeks running for me folks!). Eww icky leeches...
The Buddhist stupa at the top is apparently a common pilgrimage point for Buddhists around the world. We wouldn't really know except for the signs because apparently they got the memo about not trekking in the monsoon...
Needless to say we hiked back down, which was pretty, slippery and fun although a little less wet (but twice as exhausting) but there is more to tell you of the last week, so I shall continue.
On Thursday at approximately 3.29pm (i knock off at 3.30) I was asked if I would like to go on a field trip to Nuwakot on Friday. "FIELD TRIP!" was my instant excited response, but to be responsible and follow the rules, I had to ask, "where are we going?, how are we getting there, where are we staying?" etc. The response was, "well if you don't want to come..."
Quickly I arranged for approval and before I knew it found myself outside Hotel Shangri-La waiting for the car to pick me up at 6.30 am Friday morning. We drove for 2-3 hours, along the side of a hill allowing buses and the like to pass us on seemingly tiny one-lane roads. Constantly pausing for me to get a good photo, and trying to teach me Nepali and explaining what exactly it was we were going to do in Nuwakot all at the same time, the 5 of us (Menoj [the driver], Mohan [the counterpart], Bhoj Raj [the self-appointed Rob assistant, regardless of whether he wants one or not], and guy who's name can't be remembered and now too much time has passed for Rob to ask]) made our way to the town of Trishuli.
There we spent an entire day teaching Female Community Health Volunteers about how to recognise the signs of childhood blindess so they could go back to their villages, screen children and send them on to the Community Eye Centre in Trishuli. Some of them had travelled more than 5 hours on foot to be there. Of course, I assume this is what happened because the entire day, and all the handouts were in Nepali. "How obvious" you might say, well its not so obvious when a chunk of the women were actually illiterate. It could have been in Swahili for all they knew.
The night we stayed at a "5 star resort" according to Whatzisname "haha I make joke" where the mattresses were like rocks lying on a bed of rock. The food and beer was unbelievable though, and we ate by candlight as the hydroelectric power station above the town didn't seem to be on the clock 24/7. We shared an 8 bed dorm and they tried to make me more comfortable by putting one rock mattress on top of another. The boys (Menoj, Whatzisname and Bhoj Raj) acted like it was a 14 year old slumber party and wouldn't let me sleep. My Mp3 player and rubik's cube were the hit of the party. [I was sitting there twitching as they destroyed 2 hours of work on that damn Rubik's cube, but I did love to see them so excited].
I'm putting hashing on my list of 10 most awesome experiences in my life, I shall see if I can keep up the momentum when I meet them all again next week!
* Of course, you would only call it a track if you were descended from mountain goats and had some kind of miraculous glue shoe that allows you to stay on it.