Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blue Sky, Clear Water

Heading for the Tibetan Border



I tried very hard to take a good picture of Dunche for you. It is the largest village in this region, the one that you can find on a map. Our vehicle was shaking so violently that this was the best I could do.

It really isn't a very large village, but it is an important one. There is a military check point there where we had to show proper permits to enter the region. Not far away we saw policemen on training exercises running uphill in formation carrying their guns. There is a history of political conflict here. It is also very close to China, formerly Tibet.

Long past Dunche, there were many smaller villages. At the confluence of streams, wherever there is water and a bit of flat land, you will find people trying to eek out a living. If it does not have a house on it, it is because a home was not sustainable there. The power lines that you see are bringing electricity to these tiny villages from the hydroelectric plants. They actually have more reliable power up in the hills than they do in the capital of Kathmandu.

Water is the key to life in this terrain. As the glaciers disappear from the Himalayas, there is less water for the terraced farms. Without the vegetation the terraced fields turn to brown dust and erode. I saw hundreds of abandoned fields. There were whole sides of mountains that had turned brown and barren dotted with empty broken dwellings. In one area, I saw a brown abandoned mountain that faced a lush green productive mountain. Viewed from the valley, it was a very striking contrast. The difference between these two mountains was irrigation.

One of the best projects that I have seen in Nepal were little fish hatcheries. I saw several large concrete ponds on the mountainsides. All they need is a good spring to feed the pond and they could raise a Japanese variety of rainbow trout to eat and to sell. Many of the hatcheries had restaurants right next to the road serving the fish they raised.

Speaking of fresh fish, after 4 hours of bouncing around, it was time to stop for brunch. We were getting very near the area where we were going to begin our hike. There was no fish for us though. We had the usual: milk tea, lentils, rice, vegetable curry and eggs.

Tania, Belief and JR are above, I think TN is sitting behind his younger brother.

The housing and clothes were much different in Langtang. They had a more Tibetan flavor to them. There were Buddhist symbols carved on the doors, and prayer flags and chortens were all over the village. Neat rows of clean houses decorated in primary colors lined the streets.

Tania found a Cyber Cafe all the way up here with a good connection and sent a quick note to her employees in Brookline, MA, about what they need to do for an upcoming sale. We don't really get away from work any more, do we?

This whole area looks newly built.

A Chorten; you really need to click on these photos to see the details.

The buildings that you see across the river are a Tibetan Refugee camp.

A better image of the camp.

More beautiful children looking for something to do by the side of the road in the small village where we had brunch.

We were getting very close to the beginning of our hike up to the hot springs. That will be in the next post.


  1. Wonderful post. I love the simplicity of the area and yet there's an internet cafe! Beautiful photos. Looking forward to more.

  2. Such rugged country. Sorry to hear how the agriculture is suffering from lack of water, especially considering how many years it must take to create a terrace and get it in condition for crops. I'm guessing the bright little flags are prayer flags. They add beauty as well as serving a wonderful purpose.

    I have found my favorite part of travel is the children. Even in tough conditions kids seem to find a way to make life more fun. I love the quick smiles, the curiosity and even joy they share.

  3. Hi Hilary, It boggles the mind doesn't it.

    Hi Leenie, The melting of the Himalayas is one of the most easily measureable effects of global warming. It is frightening to think how rapidly things are changing at the top of the world.

    The children are what it's all about. What will their future be?

  4. Hi Butternut,
    You are offering a great deal of knowledge to us through this blog. We need to understand these issues and these areas a whole lot more. Are you still traveling?

  5. Your photos are great Jennifer, you can see alot, I am facinated so I love seeing all the detail. I am so thankful you are sharing this way.

  6. These photos and the entry are just terrific! There's so much here to digest. I think with each post, your book is being written!

    PS Thank u for posting the cover of our synchro book!

  7. butternut - it amazes me that the little fingers of one world reach into the other world with such apparent ease and yet against almost improbable odds. i wonder if their presence is welcomed, tolerated, or resented? steven

  8. Dear Lakeviewer, I only go to Nepal about once a year on average, but I am constantly traveling inside the US. This weekend we were up on Lake Erie camping with the kids next weekend I will be selling in Durham, NC.

    Lori and Trish, thanks for the encouragement. I have a long way to go yet.

    Hi Steven, I get the impression that most of Nepal wants to emulate the more industrialized world. They may not have a very clear understanding of how our modern practices are destroying their/our environment. On the other hand, they do know the benefits of modern medicine and labor saving devices. Some people certainly understand the need for green vehicles, solar, wind and water power. Mixed blessings... I suppose we will all see how the world changes in the next 20-40 years.