News from Nepal - Part 3

Cicerone Press author Sian Pritchard-Jones continues to report from the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.

Loading Binays Truck Yesterday With Mattresses And Plastic Tarpaulins Etc
Loading Binays Truck Yesterday With Mattresses And Plastic Tarpaulins Etc
Kathmandu May 4 
Having had no progress finding a helicopter to reach the Ganesh Himal village of Tipling yesterday, we tried a new tack and were recommended to go to Oxfam in Patan. En route to Patan we noted that a few of the older buildings have collapsed, including some temples, but in general little is down. Cracks and damage are there, of course. Only a few Chinese-donated tents dot the Tundikhel open area near New Road; most people have returned to their houses with only minor tremors continuing. Thousands (estimated at 700,000) have left the valley to return to their villages. 

Many shops remain shut as restaurant staff, hotel staff and the like are gone. Together with Beni from Tipling we met with the extremely helpful Oxfam area coordinator to find how the system of distribution works. Apparently all aid is directed to the local CDO, the district office basically, and they decide which areas are the priority and where any aid stuff will go. The various NGOs are then allocated areas within the main zone. In this case it’s called Dhading zone. The Oxfam co-ordinator arrived for the first time in Nepal on Tuesday last week and had never been to the country before, so we at least could give him some insights into the country.

One can image what we were discussing and how we expected aid supplies to be distributed ‘equally’ around this multi-party dominated zone. The remote villages are sure to be beyond the radar of town-based administrators in Dhading town. The man from Oxfam is trying to co-ordinate all the various affected areas across Nepal, so it’s a mammoth task, especially as he is not familiar with the terrain or the culture. We are not sure if they had any decent maps in the building, and during discussions we relied only on our Nepal Himalaya guidebook to explain the geography. At the conclusion of the meeting we held some hope that a helicopter will be assigned to the area very soon, but as usual its timing is not assured. 

Meanwhile we rushed all the way back to Thamel to get copies of the Himalayan Map House maps and guidebooks that cover the whole of the affected areas for our most helpful host at Oxfam. One can draw some conclusions from this but we are not here to judge how things are done that we know little about. Later Beni also managed to find a private helicopter, but its capacity is a mere 400kg. It might depart tomorrow with basic food and maybe some of our tarpaulins if weight permits. After this we received a call from Binay as they wanted to load the truck bound for the Kavre area east of Kathmandu. After collecting some mattresses donated by the Kathmandu Guest House we found ourselves in Tahity Square nearby to load the tarpaulins that Binay had located, with more mattresses and some food supplies. It’s certainly hands-on, with only the driver, Binay, his mate and us to load. 

The truck departed and we made it back to the hotel to meet with Dr Kailash Sah, the deputy director of Kanti Children’s Hospital. It would seem that the hospital currently has all its immediate needs, manpower, medicines and equipment. That at least seems very positive. They are however expecting the problems to intensify in a few weeks when sickness and disease start to develop and the monsoon approaches. We are still having our Malaysian food stocks for lunch (at 3pm) and luckily Kailash doesn’t like Mars bars either, so they are holding up. We have finally heard from Purna Lama in Gongar Khola on the Rolwaling trails, whose committee financed our guidebook trek research last year. Apparently they too have sustained devastation, with Simi, Beding and Na virtually destroyed. He is due in Kathmandu in a day or so. 

With so many lodges flattened, it looks like treks in much of Nepal in future may be done in the traditional style of camping with armies of mules, porters and cooks etc. Annapurna has escaped almost but not quite unscathed, so it might yet see a revival of fortunes in future. Everest too must not be forgotten; it too has seen damage and destruction in places. In the late afternoon we took a taxi with our retired trekking guide/cook Mingma to see his house. It’s way north out by Kopan Monastery. Again en route the damage is limited to a few badly-built new houses and old ones. His one-storey house is standing, but cracks means it has to be rebuilt, so we are personally able to help finance the start of the reconstruction. Just this process might cost US$2000, so it’s not a small job, but Mingma is a resourceful man and is confident it will be done quite fast with his own resources and a little help. He is asking that any donated funds we get should go to the remote village causes, so we will not involve any outside resources in his rebuilding.

Today was the festival of Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of Buddha, so we dropped by at Boudhanath stupa on our way back to the Hotel Moonlight. It was crowded with pilgrims and monks circling the great monument. Sadly it too has suffered some damage to the upper spire, so visitors and pilgrims are not allowed to access the inner area at all. Nor are the flags flying from the top. Overall it has weathered the quake well. It was a happy if somewhat subdued occasion. By now we needed a loo stop, so we crossed the road outside the stupa to visit the Hotel Tibet International, but our old acquaintance Tsering Dolkar was not there. The hotel has been shut for a while, but is said to be opening again tomorrow. By now it was well past dinner time, so a good curry at the Third Eye was in order, and that’s the lot for another day.

The truck departed and we made it back to the hotel to meet with Dr Kailash Sah, the deputy director of Kanti Children’s Hospital. It would seem that the hospital currently has all its immediate needs, manpower, medicines and equipment. That at least seems very positive. They are however expecting the problems to intensify in a few weeks when sickness and disease start to develop and the monsoon approaches. We are still having our Malaysian food stocks for lunch (at 3pm) and luckily Kailash doesn’t like Mars bars either, so they are holding up. We have finally heard from Purna Lama in Gongar Khola on the Rolwaling trails, whose committee financed our guidebook trek research last year. Apparently they too have sustained devastation, with Simi, Beding and Na virtually destroyed. He is due in Kathmandu in a day or so. 

With so many lodges flattened, it looks like treks in much of Nepal in future may be done in the traditional style of camping with armies of mules, porters and cooks etc. Annapurna has escaped almost but not quite unscathed, so it might yet see a revival of fortunes in future. Everest too must not be forgotten; it too has seen damage and destruction in places. In the late afternoon we took a taxi with our retired trekking guide/cook Mingma to see his house. It’s way north out by Kopan Monastery. Again en route the damage is limited to a few badly-built new houses and old ones. His one-storey house is standing, but cracks means it has to be rebuilt, so we are personally able to help finance the start of the reconstruction. Just this process might cost US$2000, so it’s not a small job, but Mingma is a resourceful man and is confident it will be done quite fast with his own resources and a little help. He is asking that any donated funds we get should go to the remote village causes, so we will not involve any outside resources in his rebuilding.

Today was the festival of Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of Buddha, so we dropped by at Boudhanath stupa on our way back to the Hotel Moonlight. It was crowded with pilgrims and monks circling the great monument. Sadly it too has suffered some damage to the upper spire, so visitors and pilgrims are not allowed to access the inner area at all. Nor are the flags flying from the top. Overall it has weathered the quake well. It was a happy if somewhat subdued occasion. By now we needed a loo stop, so we crossed the road outside the stupa to visit the Hotel Tibet International, but our old acquaintance Tsering Dolkar was not there. The hotel has been shut for a while, but is said to be opening again tomorrow. By now it was well past dinner time, so a good curry at the Third Eye was in order, and that’s the lot for another day.

Map of  Nepal
Jones

Siân Pritchard-Jones

Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons met in 1983, on a trek from Kashmir to Ladakh. Since then they have been leading and organising treks in the Alps, Nepal, Algeria and Niger, and exploring the world. However, they regularly return to their first love, Kathmandu and the Himalayas, and have published several books on the region.

View Articles and Books by Siân Pritchard-Jones

Get involved with Cicerone