Standing on the peak of Kyanjin Ri 4779m. of altitute and glancing 360 degree to the mountains around and Kyanjin Village on the bottom of these mountains and millions of things going on in my head. The sensation of being physically free but at the same time trapped inside my small head was something weird.
I stood in the same mountain on a same rock over decades ago. Only the difference is that by then I was with an empty stomach, few torn clothes, plastic water boots with a water in it, shivering but with free and joyful spirit with a feeling that the mountain was mine and it would never hurt me.
But today on the same rock with a backpack of chocolates + cokes + breads, warm mountain clothes and many more which indeed was not necessary but with painful spirit and anger to these same mountains which I felt was my protector and questing, WHY? She had to snatch everything from me what she gave me??? In my childhood days my parents used to teach us to respect the mountains and nature. my grandma used to tell her stories of how they escaped from Tibet. When the Chinese chased them, my grandma and many others felt safe only when they crossed these mountains and by then they settled in Langtang. They felt the only protector were the mountains and was their new place.
But than I realized WE CAN´T FIGHT NATURE. Some old people of Langtang believes that we might have done something bad in our past so we have to go through these bad days. But I do not think this way…The things happens although it is difficult to accept.
After an intense hike to Kyanjin Ri, finally returned to Kyanjin Gumpa, the last village of Langtang Valley, around 4.000m. We were warmly welcomed with a hot milk tea and mixed Chowmein with a smiley face of my cousin sister Karmu. Karmu owns a Small Star Guest House in Kyanjin. Very small, friendly hotel where you will be treated as a family member.
He is all the way from Bolzano, Italy. He is returning to Langtang after 30 years. He visited a wild Langtang in 1988 and I assure that very few tourists might had chance to feel the original, wild and humble Langtang of that time…
Because by the course of time the valley has modernized, people have changed in a good and in a bad ways. So Lucky you Luciano and Lucky me to be a part of your trip this time 2017. Only the difference of his visit by then he visited as a tourist, explorer and now he is in the valley for a humanitarian purpose by being one of the founder of Nepal Reconstruction.
Along with his son Martin, friend Fabio and Sara, they distributed clothes to the children in different schools. They financed the part of providing Solar electricity to Gumpa Village (The village next to Langtang). And also helped Karchung in reconstructing her house in Langtang. You can go through the post of Karchung.
On our way back from Langtang, we stopped at Benjyang. We were at a hotel of Karsang Dawa. The uniqueness of this small guest house was that they used the ground floor for the children who comes from a poor families or are orphans. It is an NGO managed by Karsang Dawa himself. During the day the children attends a nearby government school which is under reconstruction.
A very beautiful little girl came near to me this evening. She invited us to dine with them. Of-course we accepted her invitation. We had the pleasure to see how these little ones cooks their own dinner and how they shares happiness of being together. The soup they prepared was delicious even-though they used very few ingredients in it.
The funny thing during the dinner was seeing a little boy coming close to Luciano and handing Luciano his spoon. The little did it because he saw how Luciano was struggling to eat the soup with his hand. But of course, at first the little boy wiped the spoon with his torn and dirty shirt and later with his tongue.
We spent a very pleasant evening listening a old teacher of NGO playing traditional guitar with beautiful songs. It was a memorable evening without a doubt.
The children woke up very early and did their works. The tea tests much better when you have to wake up with that freezing cold. They lined up for a tea. We bid goodbyes to these lovelies and we learned so many values of life from them.
9 days in Kyanjin was just amazing. Of-course there was ups and downs in the emotion. We were invited for teas, teas, teas and more teas in each small tin houses. It is a tradition in the families of Langtang that you invite for a tea, chat and share smiles with hospitality even though you have very little resources to do so.
I would love to share with you all some of these meetings:
-Dorjee Lama came to the Guest House various times to invite us to his place. One fine morning we made a time for a tea. Dorjee is one of the oldest and longest working man of Langtang Cheese Factory which is also destroyed by the earthquake.He used to live in the same cheese factory. I have very beautiful childhood memories with him. Me and my sisters used to go and steal some cheese and than run away but than he used to come with more cheese instead of scolding us.
We were 6 people and we nearly have no space to sit. My Italian friends sat on the bed and I sat on the floor with Dorjee. The tea tested so good as it was prepared with full of love and had a dozes of affection in it. We shared a laughter and tears. Dorjee had his yak wool tibetan hat. Luciano just wanted to touch and feel the wool. Dorjee just put the hat on Luciano´s head and started to smile and told that it looks so good on Lucinao. He presented the hat and this is a true example of real being.
-Fokto Tamang is a widow of over 63 years old. She lost almost everyone and everything. She has many grandchildren to look after.Fortunately she had her grandchildren but unfortunately she does not have means to take care of them. I would like to thank to all the sponsors who are paying the schooling of so many children. Without your help the children will have no house, no education, no clothes and no future.
We were offered a tea at her place where she shares the small room with other elderly people. During the tea she could not hold herself and burst into tears. She mentioned that she is living with grief everyday. But the good thing is that she cracks jokes every now and than to make others around her feel better. She had a necessity to talk, explain her situation to someone, share the pain but at the same time she does not want others to feel bad because of her. It is always an example of overcoming a terrible situation in life for me.
-Samden Tamang is a old strong mountain lady around 70 years old. She could wash her clothes in the iced cold water and walk whole day with a smile. Just the thing she does not like is the untied hair. After seeing me with an untied hair, she followed me to braid my hair. She has a superstitious believe that upbraided hair brings a bad luck.
Fabio and me, we were invited by this old lady to her tiny Yak Hut for a tea. The door was so low that Fabio had to crawl to get inside. There are little moments that you share with each person that you can only feel and will not have words to express that. Fabio and me ,we had very precious moments with Samden.
-The Lamas: In the Buddhist religion THE LAMAS plays a very significant role. And Langtang being the the valley of Buddhist people, there are Lamas who mediates and prays for the well being of the people whole year. They just enrich the valley.
One fine morning my sister Choenyi and her friend Kunga, who had also accompanied us in the trip were on their way back to Kathmandu as the holidays were over for them. They were lucky to take the helicopter as it had free space. The helicopter was transporting the hydro electricity materials up to Kyanjin and flies back empty. I was talking with some ladies and Luciano. We hardly had time to say bye to my sister and her friend. Luciano did not really get that they were going to Kathmandu and when he did he felt bad because he had not been able to correctly say goodbye to his fellow travelers with whom he had shared many beautiful moments. Without saying anything to me Luciano left his lemon tea and disappeared. We desperately looked around for him and I was very worried. The issue was that although Luciano has a lot of strength and enthusiasm, he had a problem of mobility. I was scared that something might happened to him while walking alone along the rocks. He made a great effort to come up to Kyanjin with the help of his son Martin who accompanied him all the way. Now he had gone alone so I was very afraid that something might go wrong.
I ran almost half an hour and than cross a beautiful magical bridge. There on the other side I sew Luciano drinking tea with the Lama´s. At the beginning I was little furious with him s he left without informing but than I understood the situation and joined them for the tea. We were offered a lunch and the Lama´s were generous enough to invite the next day too. If anyone happens to visit Langtang than you have to stop to this quite and peaceful place and chat with a knowlegeous Lama´s. It is worth.
Norsang Lama is spiritually young and handsome and is more than 75 years old and hardly can see and hear. But he do have a sharp memory because he recognizes everyone even though it has been ages that I did not visit him.
We went to give him some warm clothes in his hut. Actually he had a good choice for the colors haha. Only an hour spent with him gave us so many values of life. He lost his wife during the disaster. He never had a kid. During the chat he cracked jokes and he told us how he used to have many girlfriends in his days and how strong he used to be
No offense to the boys but he confesses that during his stay in the shelter camp in Kathmandu after being evacuated from Langtang, the boys used to tease and laugh at him by misplacing the shoes and many more . He hated them but the young girls always helped him. So good points for the little girls and keep it up. Bravo girls!!!
Sonam Lama: One freezing snowy evening we went to Sonam´s place for more teas. He intended to talk to my friends in English which he did pretty good.
Actually all the people with whom we crossed during the trip had a impressive impact on us. Mostly the stories and livelihood of these old grannies.
We also managed to take a time to relax, take a shower, wash clothes and massage the hair. To do so, we had to wait a sunny day because of the freezing cold there was a shortage of water. As the water runs all the way from mountain through a pipe, it usually freezes if it is too cold.
One fine morning we went for a tea in Snow Leopard Guest House. The owner is Sumzo. Another helicopter landed nearby and I asked Martin to leave a tea and fly with me to Langtang for 10 minutes.
I told him that the we could fly for free!! He did not think twice. He is an incredible, determined and responsible guy. Let me introduce you to this handsome and young Italian man.lHe is Martin, the son of Luciano. He was the right hand for his dad. He helped his dad to make this trip a successful one. Their relation of dad and son made me learn that the dreams can be shared and when accomplished together it brings double joy of success.
He turn out to be a very good friend of mine. We used to play card late night and make fun of each other. I felt comfortable with him and felt like we have known each other for whole life. Let me tell you that he is a good singer!
I would also like to talk about Sara, the next member of Nepal Reconstruction. She is a very active girl and I felt very close to her. She is very eager to participate and getting involved in all activities. I could see how she open up with my people and get close to them emotionally. She had to leave to Italy earlier because of her studies and she promised to return to the valley soon.
We were also accompanied by some beautiful Spanish volunteers. Please go through my anterior post to know them.
Ah! And before returning to Spain, I was fortunate enough to take a tea and chat with Jordi Tosas, who was in Kathmandu and the next day he was leaving to Langtang. Jordi is a Spanish climber and mountain guide who is very closely linked to Nepal and especially to Langtang.
Jordi has been a great friend of Langtang for many years. I know he has been to Langtang many times, although I was no longer there to know him. I remember when I was young, he had had a serious accident in the mountain of Langtang and luckily they took him by helicopter and survived. But by then I knew that he was one tourist and that was all. I had not seen him again until the earthquake struck and I contacted him on Facebook when I learned of his initiative with Kilian and SOS Himalaya to help Langtang. Thank you very much Jordi and knowing you personally made me feel that you are great with a beautiful soul.
My mom used to remind me always that ”Wherever you go in your life, whoever you become or whatever you do, never forget where you come from”. Langtang is the place that I knew from the very first breath of my life. It was a heavenly place but I also have struggled so much in this place that there were times, I used to feel that it was a hell. Before the tourism bloom to this place, it was a wild and we used to live a life of nomads. We had to walk an hour to fetch the water, had to wait for an year to have just a portion of rice meal. With bare feet, winter used to be very difficult for us along with many other harsh situations.
Despite all these difficulties, I can say that these years were the best part of my life till today. No schools, no hospitals and didn´t know a place out of Langtang did exist. Still there was different kind of freedom and happiness which people used to cherish. Now a days it is more difficult, because being in contact with the more modern world you realize what you do not have and want to have more … As a parent you want your children to be better, have the opportunity to live a better life, without having to work so hard for it , And many young people are lost along the way and forget that humble and simple life.
Indeed being these days in Langtang and despite everything that has happened, I was able to feel peace. A peace which is impossible to feel in hustle and bustle of Kathmandu or in Spain. That is why I understand that my people want to continue living in the mountains despite the difficulties and I am happy to see that some young people retun back and strive to maintain the good traditions that we have …
One day we will also be able to rebuild my father’s house and I am sure that my brothers will return there for seasons, vacations or perhaps to work, and we will be able to get together and relive our childhood experiences. And maybe someday we will go up the mountain with our own children and we will show them where we grew up and they will also be able to enjoy this beautiful place. This thought fills me with happiness and I am hopeful that it will happen soon …
I have seen numerous photos, videos, heard from the people how the avalanche and earthquake destroyed my dear Langtang. But there are things or feelings in your life that you start to believe only when you touch by your hands, feel by your all senses and see through your own eyes.
In this busy and competitive world that we are today, we take the things easy and believe that everything and everyone lasts forever but it is not true. Every second something happens, someone changes and our dear ones leaves and we will even not have a chance to say bye.
Walking over the avalanche knowing that you are stepping over the people you loved and village you grew up made me numb. The avalanche was just a distance of 30 minutes but it took over more than 2 hours to cross over. When I took the first step, my heart started to beat faster, my body shivered, hands cold and my mind was blank and numb. I walked like zombie not knowing where I was stepping and not believing what I was seeing. I had to stop every now and than. I can say that it was the worst and 2 hours nightmare of my life. I used to think that these kind of situations are fiction but no, it turned out to be real.
My sister Choenyi and me we cried a lot with my dad. There was a moment when Choenyi thought of returning back to Kathmandu before crossing the avalanche. But than she realized she had to move forward and crossed it with my dad and others. I stayed back with Fabio for a while.
While me and Fabio were walking through the avalanche, we and met two ladies. One of them was the best friend of my late mom. Both of them hugged me and cried a lot. These are the moments that hurts and chases you always.
They pointed me where could the body of my mom be and also their loved once too. We stopped 10 minutes and the lady gave me a water. They shared their grief and for an instance, I could imagine and feel the pain rolling through their eyes. The pain of loosing everything. In the wrinkle of their painful smile, I could notice the frustration. One of them told me, “You have to be strong and move forward. You live far away so at least you don´t see the place of destruction everyday. But for us, we don´t have any other possibility other than walking and working on the same place where our loved once left us. It is hard for us but this is the reality”. Actually when they says that we don´t have nowhere else to go,they refer to : since the government is not going to give them new land in the area, and they would not know or want to live in Kathmandu. They have always lived in the mountains and they want to continue here. Whatever the situation is, I feel very proud of my people.
Fabio asked me to hold his rucksack and walked with a piece of chocolate and a bottle of water to the place where my mom might be buried under. He told me that he just wanted to let my mom know that she is not alone. She is always been taken care by everyone in our heart. This gesture was so beautiful which made me melt. I could not stop myself and we cried and hugged with the ladies and Fabio.
Now please know our giant and strong Italian man Fabio. He also belongs to Nepal Reconstruction as mentioned above. His heart is as giant as his body and he is caring and loving. The best part of Fabio is that he can stare and talk to the nature and admire the beauty. He finds happiness and beauty in everything. He is just admirable. He is someone with whom you can be 100% you and not pretend to be someone else.
Sometimes you freeze some images in your mind just to calm yourself and move on. I did it too with Langtang and it´s people. But my freeze melted once I walked through the rocks and destroyed houses. The people who are survivor of the earthquake have already lost their charm in their smile. I saw my house and did not recognize if this was the place I felt the warm hugs of my mom. I just broke when I remember and started to listen the giggles when we were little.
There comes a day in your life that you will not know if you love where you come from or you hate it just for being where you are from. Now I realize that it is not the place, it is you that who cannot tolerate the loss of loved once. People comfort us with words like be strong and move on but when it pinches your heart, you just can´t move on no matter how much effort you put.
I would like to thank on behalf of LANGTANG DISASTER RELIEF FUND for believeing on us to link the world family with the people of Langtang. During this two years we were able to collect the donations of 32,995 Euros out of which we used 1.250 Euros for the handicraft work for the women of Langtang during their time in refugee camp. And the schooling fee of Urkeen Tamang, a girl from Langtang.
On 24 February 2017 I was able to hand all the donation to 116 families of Langtang. Each family got 250 Euros. It was a co-incidence that most of the families were in Kathmandu to celbrate the Tibetan New Year. As they can buy the materials needed with the money on their return after the New Year. We informed all the villagers to be in Yellow Gumpa on 2th February which they did. Yellow Gumpa was the monastery where the people took shelter for more than months after the evacuation from Langtang. There are more projects to carry on but delivering your help to each and every family was very important for me. Thank you and the pictures below will explain more. Without your help the people of Lantang wouldn´t have been able to restart their lives.
Above all I would like to thank all the sponsors who are helping the children to continue their studies which is a long term help for Langtang.
This trip was very important journey of my life. I spend a month and half in Nepal. I almost had time to everything I had planned. I had spent a quality time with my family and friends. In Langtang, I had the chance to see and talk to everyone calmly. I believe the trip was a closing chapter of one phase of me and beginning of a new and fresh me. I will try not to speak about the disaster/earthquake and looses. I will never forget anyone and anything but I want to see optimism in everything to walk through the future.
We have known so many good people during these two years and created a strong link, although each one of us have our own stories. I am sure these links will lasts forever and ever.
It is so good to see that tourism is already blooming in Langtang area. Langtang is a beautiful place and it has already shown that after a tragedy there is a hope by standing back again. If you are planning to go to Nepal please make sure that you make Langtang in your first list. You are always welcome to Langtang!!