News from Nepal - part 6

Updated, May 21st. More news from Nepal. Thanks to Cicerone Press authors Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons for this news.

From our own correspondent… flying today
Kathmandu May 11

Today was the first morning since our arrival on May 1 that we were rudely awakened by the alarm clock. Word has now come in from Purna Thapa Magar that the convoy left for Rolwaling/Dolakha this morning at dawn, well a little after - Nepalese time. The hotel courtyard and parking lot became a tarpaulin cutting salon this morning, as the heavy duty roll was too heavy (51kg) in one piece. Lots of local hands came to the rescue to do this job, including Beni Ghale’s young son, another recruit to the Yellow Hat Sect brigade. No sooner had that been done than news came from Steve and Erling that they were stuck in Arughat, the roadhead for Manaslu, still awaiting the chopper after an all-night drive. There was no news of the army chopper delivery to Tipling from last night’s airport supply delivery. More tarps are being ordered, but the supplies from India have currently run dry. Over a quick lunch of scrambled eggs at Pumpernickel, we met a trekker who had been eating lunch in Ripchet village (on the south side of Chumling in the lower Tsum Valley area) when the quake struck. Apparently all the houses crashed down and a few caught fire. We understand from her that no one died as a result of the quake there, but the trekking trail out was horrendous, across endless landslides all the way back to Arughat. She is hoping to get some supplies up to Ripchet by small chopper in a few days, using donations. 

nepal earthquake news

Sian and Bob swimming in the sea of blue tarp

Meanwhile we were back at the Hotel Moonlighting, when word came that two more loads of supplies for Tipling could be dropped today by privately funded helicopters. So everyone at the hotel was drafted in to pack 600kg of rice plus sleeping bags, mats, 15 large Bergans tents and 15 smaller ones supplied by XXL in Norway. In addition, one of our 25kg heavy duty tarp rolls was added and the lot bundled off to the airport for immediate dispatch to Tipling. A further update will follow shortly… it’s a bit like the Archers or Eastenders, this saga… you gotta wait for the storyline later!
 
From our own correspondent... taking a deep breath 
Kathmandu: May 11th, evening 
Steve and Erling are now reportedly in Namrung on the Manaslu Circuit just below Lho, having been flown in with all the gear and medicines for a clinic between supply runs. Ian Wall’s convoy is being finalised tonight and the first vehicle will depart at dawn, Nepalese time, for the Balephi valley upper area. The villagers have already come down from the high country to rendezvous with the jeep supplied by a Sitaram Bhandari, everyone’s favourite camera and battery supplier in Thamel. More supplies are being provided to a nearby village, whose people have come to Ian in Kathmandu to get help. Meanwhile, Beni and the two loads funded by Mountain People (Uttam Phuyal and David Durkan) took off from the airport quite late. (Mountain People is run by a very dedicated bunch who are funding up to 5 or 6 chopper drops to Tipling with the remaining runs due for tomorrow.) 

After this everyone sank down for a breather. Back at Himalayan Map House in Thamel, we discussed some of their voluntary efforts. Pawan has already been up to Melamchi Bazaar in Sindhupalchowk, one of the worst affected areas, with supplies, and now needs to get more rice upcountry. The price of rice is going up in Kathmandu, but in Banepa, 20kms east, it is still only 1000 Rupees ($10) for a 30kg bag, so we donated enough cash for 90kg to them. During a hurried dinner at Northfield Café, Sian received a surprise call from Beni Ghale, now in Tipling. She said the Army chopper had flown in early morning and dropped off last night’s airport load in the upper village, close to the adjacent settlement of Laptung. She and her load were dropped in the main village and there was no chaotic rush for the supplies. Since it was raining hard, they will sort the stuff at first light. Nearly every house in the village has been destroyed and people are very exposed to the bad weather. Beni has met her parents. With that, her phone died away as she seemed to be getting low on battery. 

news from nepal 

We await the trucks at the hotel (it’s already 9pm) for the next supply run to Tipling tomorrow. That will be done from near Trisuli Bazaar in order to maximize the number of runs possible. Apparently the fuel has to be airlifted into Trisuli before that can happen. A volunteer, Frank from Norway, is helping with coordinating supplies for the trucks at the Hotel Moonlight. Hopefully Purna Thapa Lama and his truck has arrived in Gongar Khola. Another contact here, Sunar Gurung, who was the first Nepalese international mountain guide to qualify in Chamonix, phoned to reassure us that he is fine. He and his brother Harka Gurung run Trinetra Trekking here, mainly for French-speaking clients. His home village of Laprak is one of the worst affected in the country, being close to the epicenter north of Gorkha town. Sadly five of his clients and six staff are missing following the catastrophic avalanche from Langtang Lirung peak that engulfed the entire Langtang village. His is a very sad situation indeed. We await news from Jit Sane Gurung, also from the same region, who is due here tonight. The trucks are now here for loading, so it’s all hands on deck.

From our own correspondent… a shocking sight! 

Kathmandu May 11 evening There have been a few aftershock tremors continuing, one or two around the 4.0. mark. One of them might have been caused by someone dropping the 50kg blue tarpaulin roll in the hotel courtyard! It might have been Sian and David doing their synchronized swimming on the tarp yesterday. An ‘old’ trek leader colleague, Val Pitkethly has been in touch to tell of some other projects sending masses of help into Nepal from the UK. (Val, along with Pete Royall, Rex Munroe, Ann Sainsbury, Kev Reynolds, Keith and Shanan Miller and many others, were a regular part of the trekking scene here in the so called ‘golden years’). 

Stop press 
Kathmandu 3.30pm May 12 
This post was started last night before the latest quake! OK so far. A bit shaken but not too stirred - though the after tremors are more in the body and head at the moment. We were on the fourth floor so a lot of momentum as the building swayed. But then we ran down into the garden with our Mars Bars and cups of English Breakfast and Earl Grey!!! Luckily the water had just come to the boil. More aftershocks but a bit quieter now? We hope. Most of the international emergency Search and Rescue teams have gone home, so perhaps they'll be back again soon. It's pretty hot outside, so we're sitting just inside the door on the lobby computers waiting to run out at a moment's notice! In any case writing the story takes one’s mind away from the situation. There’s an eerie silence in the streets as no one dares go out. An army chopper flew over within minutes of the quake. The phone lines are intermittent. Power is OK so far. The main runway is apparently being inspected already, with Jet Airways hoping to leave later than scheduled. We are keeping up to date listening to the radio (BBC), having rushed upstairs to grab a few vital things together in a rucksack of food, water and, importantly, reading glasses! Steve and Erling have called to say the helicopter has not picked them up and we are not sure where they are now. They are now trying to get back to Kathmandu somehow by road, but all traffic has ceased. No one wants to drive into Kathmandu. Poor old Frank is stuck near Trisuli with all the gear for the Tipling helicopter run, but we have no idea if it will go ahead now. Poor old David Durkan, just back from a successful visit to the Red Cross, is off to lie down after the 3am truck departure, which the whole hotel heard!! Rescue operations were well underway, but now, when they will begin again is uncertain. Already pictures are appearing on the computers here of another collapsed building near Balaju. A lady appeared stuck on the 3rd floor of another. Just heard that all helicopters now have to go to search and rescue operations for this quake, so more delays to our aid supplies. But of course we understand that. Hope we will not be hunkered down too long inside the best exotic Moonlighting Hotel for too long, even though we still have our Malaysian noodles and Mars Bars. 

Stop Stop Press! May 12th, evening 
Steve and Erling have just returned from Arughat to the Hotel Moonlight in a vehicle that was hit by a house during today's earthquake. No doubt he will post photos later. Now it's time for a beer in the garden, where Beni's kid have set up camp for the night. Phew! Hope we can sleep tonight. 

May 13th - early morning 
Desperate news! Purna just phoned from Jagat on the way to Rolwaling. He had delivered his supplies to his ecstatic villagers, and was eating dal bhat in Jagat when the second earthquake struck. Huge landslides now on both sides. They are trapped and he doesn't know if his village has been wiped out. We hope helicopters are on the way to rescue.
 
From our own correspondent . . . the aftershocks 
Kathmandu: May 13 
We all had a terrible night’s sleep, whether in the hotel or out in the garden, following the big earthquake, with two quite striking aftershocks. The first at 2:05am woke everyone with a loud rumble and shaking. An hour later another less powerful shake was the end of all sleep. Most guests stayed in their rooms, as the danger seemed less than risking falling masonry outside. The Indonesian team of doctors stayed inside the hotel, but none got much rest either. Reflecting on the actual moments of the quake yesterday, those in the garden during the quake recall seeing the whole building swaying around a couple of metres, but inside on the fourth floor the sensation defies description, a terrifying feeling of complete helplessness combined with tacit acceptance that we could nothing but wait… and then walk downstairs as fast as safely possible once the initial violent tremors had ceased. At 6.55am we had a frantic call from Purna Thapa Magar in Dolakha district asking for a rescue helicopter to be sent. They had successfully delivered the relief supplies to his area; the people had been overjoyed. He was relaxing over dal bhat in Jagat when the earthquake struck. Mayhem broke out as terrifying landslides left them stranded between two slides. We managed to get the phone number of the Ministry of Home Affairs from our good friend Rajendra Lama off Facebook and contacted them to inform the authorities about their situation. Purna and 10 others moved to the Army camp nearby and awaited news and rescue. We were not party to the subsequent arrangements, but hopefully Purna will tell his own story in due course. Following the big quake of Tuesday, hardly any shops or cafes were open and the streets were very quiet. It was sad to see more damage to the old wing of the Kathmandu Guest House, meaning demolition is inevitable. It’s truly the end of an era.

Most of the day was a waiting game, until Uttam and David appeared much later. Uttam informed us that the two helicopters had taken Frank and the supplies into Tipling so that meant all our efforts to use the donated money for the villages had proved fruitful after almost 10 days of trying. The choppers were funded by Mountain People for this and this was the first substantial drop of any aid into Tipling. We are now working closely with Mountain People, as they are proving very effective in their rescue endeavours. It is also heartening to hear that many of the big agencies are finally getting into top gear. Perhaps Jeremy Clarkson is looking for a new job! 

There is a big Medicine Sans Frontieres field hospital in Arughat. Later David arrived from the Red Cross and airport, having patiently obtained 200 tarpaulin kits from the Red Cross. There seemed to be a lot of red tape getting the tarps but after 6 hours all was well. Beni and Frank remain in the village tonight. The hotel garden area started look like the ‘Penguins on Everest’ bar, as more characters assembled to talk about the state of affairs. A Chinese entrepreneur, Chen Yu, arrived with news of some aid efforts set up from Pokhara into the Gorkha area. Senior staff from one of the helicopter companies used by Mountain People were relaxing in the garden for a while, regaling us with stories of the rescue efforts. It seems that the Sindhupalchowk area – Helambu area is still in great need of help, while Gorkha district is getting a lot of help. Apparently the Hong Kong-based Kadoorie Gurkha Foundation has selected about 30 villages in the area to help with reconstruction over the next few months. Previous aid has involved bridge construction and shelters in the Nar Phu area and others.

news from nepal

the old wing of the KGH, damaged further by yesterday's quake

Later Victor Saunders and a climbing colleague arrived to see if they could do a recce in the Ganesh region, following a shortened attempt to climb Makalu. Heavy snows were again cited as the main problem for climbers this spring. Purna finally called from the airport, having been rescued from the landslide area in Dolakha. The news is terrible, with many villages probably flattened. We cannot report the details tonight as Purna and his team were clearly extremely distressed. News from the latest quake suggests that the classic trail to Everest has suffered badly this time along with Khunde, Khumjung and what was left of Thame. The state of Namche is uncertain, as reports are conflicting. It’s a sober and subdued atmosphere in general today, but there have been no further wobbles of note since 3am last night. 

From our own correspondent… many happy returns 
Kathmandu: May 14
It’s been a quiet day here in town, with a lot of shops shut and most people staying home. Luckily the plastic / hardware shop near the hotel did open around lunchtime and had new stock of house-size tarps so we bought the lot… well, all fourteen. At least 10 of the hotel staff have lost their homes, either in the valley or in their home villages, so we felt it was appropriate to give them the new tarps. That seemed to provide a small tonic for their own woes. It is indeed humbling to see how a small piece of plastic sheeting can bring such pleasure. They have been watching all the big loads of supplies heading through the into the hills with good grace.
 
We plan to repeat the exercise tomorrow for some of the staff at the Kathmandu Guest House, since the old wing of the hotel will be shut tomorrow. They are having a puja to bring down the curtains on the end of an era. It will all be pulled down, from the Himalayan Encounters office area, through the old Ashta Mangal restaurant, the gallery room and the lobby (where the fireplace hosted so many tales and stories from trekkers and travellers in days gone by). Only the new block and, we think, the garden-facing rooms, will be left. A whole new set of rooms will be built around a central enlarged garden. Binay came by to get some donations via the Bank of S & B (which has a no bonus policy) from one of his contacts in the UK. Binay related an amusing village story; a little humour is essential to preserve one’s sanity in these unimaginably sad times. Apparently one of the thick mattresses donated to his village by the Kathmandu Guest House had been given to the oldest lady in the village. She had never experienced such a luxury spring mattress and, as she rolled over during the night, she thought there was another earthquake. The springs tipped her right off on to the floor… to the amusement of the family! (She was not injured.) 

Much later Beni, Frank and David (who flew in with the Red Cross consignment) arrived back from an epic time in Tipling. At least everyone in the village has received something, even though much more is urgently required. At least a small army unit has arrived to help the villagers. Frank has a long story to relate after an emotionally harrowing but inspiring time. No time now, so more tomorrow. Ian Wall also arrived back safely from his wife’s village in Sindhupalchowk, after a horrific experience during the second earthquake. As for us, we await the tarp man again from India and, since all the village people are asking for tarpaulins, tarpaulins and tarpaulins, our rejuvenated funds will go mainly to that cause, with transportation set up through Mountain People.
From our own correspondent… not forgetting those close to home 
Kathmandu: May 15, 2015 A bit more action today as more tarpaulins became available in the local market. One lot of 14 we purchased with the help of Navin from the Naxal bazaar area, and another lot of 12 we found close to the hotel (our second home for nearly 35 years). These have now been distributed to 26 Kathmandu Guest House staff who are homeless as a result of the two earthquakes. From our own correspondent... Tarps, tarps and more tarps 

Kathmandu: May 15 afternoon It's been a busy afternoon with lots of exciting news, and scurrying around searching for more and more tarpaulins as we learn that people in the valley are also still homeless nearly three weeks after the first earthquake.
Melanie told us of her astonishing project with the nuns of Gumba Lungdang in the Tsum Valley, hidden away beyond the sight of all aid agencies so far and almost impossible to reach. Ian and Bill are off again tomorrow, despite having had an incredible escape from the second earthquake a few days ago. See their own reports for more detail than we can possibly give. Similarly for Frank's harrowing but uplifting tales. Purna has been able to upload photos of the distribution of our 100m tarps in his village below Rolwaling, the day before the second quake and devastating landslides. We have received a generous donation from Bethan Morris-Jones and her school in North Wales, and will be off ourselves tomorrow out of the valley to visit a school in need and see how we can help them... tarps in hand, of course. All in all a busy day ahead... and an early start... 

From our own correspondent... Countryfile 
Kathmandu May 16, 2015 It's been an exhausting but rewarding day, so here are just a few photos of part one. Could anyone possibly still be living in this collapsed house? news from nepal 

A hectic day, as we drove a couple of hours out of Kathmandu eastwards on the new Japanese road via Dhulikhel that will link Kathmandu to the Eastern Terai. One of the Mountain People projects has been associated with a school in Methinkot above Bakunda Besi in Kavre, and they had been asking for help with shelter for some of the children’s families. Having received a generous donation from Ysgol Glancegin school where Sian’s cousin Bethan is headmistress, we decided to go out to this school. Uttam from Mountain People had met Bethan in her school in North Wales on one occasion, so he arranged for a jeep to take the three of us there.
 
We bumped our way over the massive 1m drops in the new Bhaktapur highway and into the countryside. To be honest, we didn’t see too many houses totally down beside the road, but look across the fields and nearly every house has some cracks of varying severity. The school is located in Methinkot village, high above Bakunde Besi up a very steep 4X4 dirt track. Fortunately the school building is intact and is currently being used to shelter homeless families. Schools across the country are closed until the end of the month. Apparently 17 families have lost their homes and nearly all other dwellings are damaged, although some can still be used. The village is home to some very poor people, since almost half are untouchables (dalits). The caste system is alive and ongoing deep in the rural areas, despite new regulations to eliminate the tradition. 

We were able to unload 32 tarpaulins at the school, sufficient for the immediate problems. Back down the dirt road, we could hardly fail to note the destroyed house in last night’s post. Behind this roofless wreck were two ladies busy milking a buffalo and cooking in the back area of the dangerous house. Their situation was desperate. The younger lady’s husband had run off 12 years ago and she was left alone to take care of herself and her frail mother-in-law. With no obvious manpower in the place, it was very sad, to say the least. A tarpaulin and a couple of thousand rupees hardly seemed enough to touch the surface of the problem. We can only hope that their neighbours can help them going forward. 

Further down the road some young men were setting up three bamboo poles to create a ‘home’ for three families, so another tarp was offloaded there. Three families will be living under two tarpaulins... We reached Kathmandu just in time to meet Dr Kailash Sah at Kanti Children’s Hospital, and sort out another specific donation from Sian’s sister Kathy. General and cancer medicines were purchased to supplement government supplies for people who cannot afford even the most basic fees for medication.  Back at the Hotel Moonlight, news came from Melanie of a successful helicopter drop of supplies and shelter to the Gumba Lungdang nunnery and village high on the north side of Ganesh Himal; a fitting conclusion to a good day.

Note A number of people have commented on the good work being done by many teams of Army personnel across the country. 

Kathmandu: May 17 We have now fixed our return to London for 29th May, a day before our visa expires. If any more of you want to donate, please do so soon in order that we can use the funds before we leave. Any funds received later will be directed to Mountain People to continue their ongoing efforts.
 
For those who follow the Kathmandu merry-go-around, Mick Chapman and Paulo Grobel are back in town. Mick had been in Rolwaling but had left the country just before the first quake. He was in Delhi airport on his way back when the second quake struck. Paulo was on Manaslu with a climbing group during both quakes. In one week, Paulo is off to largely unaffected Mustang with another climbing group. Both are emphasising the need for trekkers to return in the autumn (we might add for safety perhaps a little later in the season, from mid-October, to let the landslides settle after the monsoon). Tourism and trekking staff need the work to be able to continue their lives and rebuild their homes. Do not abandon them when they need the cash the most! Otherwise it’s a very quiet day, but the tarp man has called to ask how many more rolls we need. We await the supplies of big rolls, although smaller tarps are generally now more available in the market. There is a run on tin roofing at the moment. 

Summary of projects last week: 
Three sheets of flooring plywood were bought for the family near the hotel living in a Chinese Red Cross tent. Purna Thapa Magar managed to get our supplies on board a truck with other contributions into the Tamar Kosi-Rolwaling lower valley before Tuesday’s earthquake. Three rolls of tarps donated via our fund flew into Tipling at last via 1 Army drop and other helicopters paid for by Mountain People (see photo by Beni Rani Ghale) Tarps supplied to staff at Hotel Moonlight who have lost their homes. Tarps supplied to staff at the Kathmandu Guest House who also lost their homes. Small donation to Himalayan Map House for their rice and aid supply run to Melamchi Bazaar School run with 32 tarps to Methinkot village near Bakunde Besi. In addition funds dispensed through ‘S&B Finance department: Specific Medical Aid to Kanti Children’s Hospital Donations via Binay Lama to the charity So the Child may Live 

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Donations The following donations have been received this week with many thanks. We do apologise to anyone wishing to remain anonymous. So far the fund has received £5158, including our own initial contributions in Malaysia and specific donations of £1000 via S&B Finance! Thank you all! Chris and Anny Lewis Rob and Errin Mitchell Susan and Bob Wright Mickey-Boy (Monica and Michael Bennett) Kathy Pritchard-Jones Caroline and Geoff Mintenko Ken and Margaret Norman Barry and Jenni Pizer Melanie Friend Catherine Brice Richard Brewer Bethan’s school in Bangor John Pritchard-Jones and Mags Garel Maxime Girardeau 

From our own correspondent… helping mountain people to help themselves (Mountain People’s motto!) 

Kathmandu: May 18 It looked like being a nonevent today, but around 9.30am Pawan from Himalayan Map House called to offer us 25 tarpaulins from his Indian source. These are a large size, 12 X 30 feet, so good for a big family. No soon had they arrived in the Hotel Moonlight than they were hauled off by Mountain People to Beni Ghale’s women’s workshop yard for distribution to her workers and families. Both of Beni’s shops have had to close because of earthquake damage, so the ladies who make the handicrafts are all out of work. In fact 134 women from Beni’s home district came to receive help in the form of 30kg rice per family, salt and sleeping mats. Plus the newly arrived bright yellow tarpaulins! These supplies will hopefully sustain the families for a few weeks. 

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Hardly had we had a quick lunch when Surendra, the tarp man called and, within the hour, four more of the big 100x6m rolls were delivered. Hopefully two of them will be going to Gatlang near Syabrubesi. It all depends on whether the road is open. Purna has called tonight and definitely needs more tarps for Dolakha, where places like Singati en route to Rolwaling were devastated by the second earthquake and massive landslides. There is still need of more shelter in Tipling, but some supplies were dropped by the Nepalese Army in Shertung in the same region of Dhading a day or so ago. We were particular pleased to receive a generous donation from Keith and Shanan Miller, who have been pivotal in developing trekking in Nepal since the 1970s. In fact it was Keith who was responsible for our meeting on a trek in Kashmir way back in 1983, so we are doubly indebted on that score! Thanks again. 

We do feel quite a responsibility to spend the donated funds as wisely as we can, and hope it will make a difference, however small it all seems on the wider scale of the disaster. We have also bought 25 fleece jackets from Mingma to be sent out as soon as possible. Every little helps with his house rebuilding, and the jackets are made in Nepal, so it supports the local economy as well. Cousin Bethan is keen to develop the relationship with the Nepalese school in Methinkot, and we will be equally pleased if this turns into a rewarding experience for the children and teachers on both sides. 

Many people here are begging for trekkers and tourists not to avoid the country next season. In the long term, perhaps it is those Nepal addicts outside the country who will ultimately best promote employment in the trekking and tourism industry and sustain the economic growth and rebuilding of Nepal. 

Just before dinner everyone in the hotel was roped into removing all of the handicrafts from Beni’s shop in the courtyard of the Northfield Café, the in-place in Thamel, being one of the few restaurants to remain open after the second quake nearly a week ago. The Mexican quesadilla suiza is a great pick-me-up! Tomorrow Steve is off again before the crack of dawn with some tin sheets for roofing in a village that is accessible by road. Anna, who arrived the day before the first earthquake to teach and then have a holiday, stayed on for three weeks to help with women and children’s projects. She is going home tomorrow to the sand, sea and blue skies of Hawaii. Aah! 

A huge thank you to The Chambelles (the Chamonix singing belles, of which I look forward to being one again soon!) for sending 1000 euros, proceeds from their recent concert. Merci beaucoup!! It's been a busy day, with our goods originally destined for Rolwaling being diverted at the last minute to Gatlang because of the way things worked out, totally unexpectedly. But don't worry, Purna Thapa Magar, we have already bought more rice and tarps! We'll explain more tomorrow... it's getting late now. Bonne nuit / suva ratri / good night / nos da!

From our own correspondent… musical rice bags 
Kathmandu: May 19 
Thamel is still empty, with most shutters down and very few restaurants open. Beni Rani Ghale and her ladies are still emptying all her handicraft stocks into the store at the Moonlight. The hotel is rapidly becoming the moonlighting depot for ‘alternative’ themes! The morning was spent getting together rice, dal, salt and tarpaulins for Purna Thapa Magar and the Dolakha area, so there were a few runs to the tarp shop and the rice was delivered. We are also trying to get a truckload of the same supplies to Gatlang in the Tamang Heritage Trail area near the Langtang valley. This project is going to be carried out with Mountain People in association with Umbrella Australia, but logistics are a nightmare. One truck carrying tents and supplies on the road to Dhunche was hijacked recently, so things are not easy. Helicopters are too expensive and at the moment the road is only open to Syabrubesi, a day’s hike short of Gatlang. The Chinese are apparently trying to clear the roads in the area as there is a big dam project higher up to the north.

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We were very pleased to get a donation from Ann Sainsbury, another trek leader who has been out here from the mid-70s and was one of the first to take a Sherpa Expeditions group into the Gatlang area. The afternoon sprung into life when Kim Bannister (who runs the Kamzang trekking company) arrived back from a 5-week trek in the Kanchenjunga and Lumbasumba region. The Arun Valley has suffered some landslides after the second quake, making the last few days very scary. Quite by chance, we learnt that twenty of her porters were from the Gatlang area. Most have no house left and one poor man has lost his two daughters. They would be making their way home tomorrow by public bus! 

This news was more exciting than one could possibly believe, because it has become necessary for all NGOs and charities to get permits to move supplies around, thus adding further delays and fees to distribution. Those like us are unable to get such permits, as we fall outside the big boys’ planning radar. We hatched a plan to get each of the Gatlang porters to carry 30kg of rice plus a tarp and a baby fleece jacket (hurriedly purchased by Frank). We gave them the rice we had bought for Purna’s Rolwaling group and re-ordered it for Wednesday! Later a small truck took all the stuff to the bus park. The idea was to have the porters take the supplies as their own personal luggage, in order to avoid the permit issues at Dhunche. We await the outcome. 

Following this first effort, David spent the whole day attempting to sort out the logistics of Mountain People and the Umbrella group getting a much larger consignment into Gatlang in a day or so. We will donate any supplies that are required to this effort. Later we met climber Mal Haskins at the Kathmandu Guest House to hear about their plans for Helambu. The road is open to Timbu and stuff is getting into Tarkeghyang and adjacent villages from there. Already people are asking for tin roofing to be taken up where road access is possible. Now there is a shortage of tin and apparently a new rule has required all the tin traders and wholesalers to come under the control of the authorities. This story is not totally confirmed yet, but we can imagine it might well be happening. This will add yet another level of control to the free movement of aid supplies. Also at the Kathmandu Guest House was one Lhakpa Sherpa ( there are so many Lhakpa Sherpas!) from near Bung on the Arun Valley route to Everest. He is collecting supplies for the newly hit areas of lower Solu, a generally Rai-peopled area, hit by the second quake. They expect to take a truckload or two in via the Okhaldunga road. We were able to give him 15 of Mingma's double-fleece jackets for the people in the high areas near Bung. We also directed him to ‘our’ tarp shop, so stocks might dip very soon! Anna has finally left for Guangzhou and Hawaii after a big flight delay; Melanie is now leaving on Wednesday. Getting stuff into Upper Tsum has been proving difficult for her project, because helicopters are scarce and the Indian ones cannot go there as it is so close to the Chinese/Tibetan border. All in all another knackering day!
From our own correspondent: heavy metal 
Kathmandu: May 20 A thunderstorm rolled around the valley during the night, keeping most of us awake. The monsoon must be very close to arriving here now.
 
Catching up on yesterday’s report took up most of the morning, as the internet is very slow. With so many shops shut, it’s quite hard to find materials such as sleeping-floor matting and plywood, so it was not a very productive day. Dave and Frank are working on planning the next Gatlang trip, following news that the twenty porters have successfully arrived in Syabrubesi by bus. Kim is going to deliver stoves to be sent up on the next truck, along with more of our rolls of tarpaulin! New Orleans Café has a metal ‘house’ on display in the restaurant, a temporary monsoon shelter made of corrugated iron and metal bars. Photos to follow tomorrow! We have decided to buy one for the two homeless ladies we met last Saturday, and try to make it into a temporary home in which they can feel comfortable. Cost Rs10,000 (US$100). It can be dismantled into an IKEA-style flat pack, transported on a roof rack and reassembled ‘easily’ in situ. Hope the theory works in practice! 

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A very sad occasion followed around lunchtime, when we went to Park Village to pay our respects to Sunil Sakya, whom many old friends of Nepal will know well from the Kathmandu Guest House. His wife ‘Bobby’ tragically lost her life after a fall at Park Village in a freak accident on Saturday. 

From our own correspondent… we bought a house for US$100! 
Kathmandu: May 21 The above-mentioned house is a rounded tin and metal-framed structure for monsoon relief; it can give adequate shelter for up to 6 people. See the photographs. Obviously these are only temporary and ‘easily’ erected. We’ll let you know how easy it is to reassemble in practice!

Planning and shopping today as we wait for the transport issues in Dolakha to be resolved and the road to be re-opened. And enjoying a delicious lunch of shahi paneer from the Hotel Moonlight’s own chef. Talking of shopping, Beni’s shop has reopened in the Hotel Moonlight, bringing a splash of multi-coloured recycled products to the lobby. Time for Christmas shopping anyone? The supplies for Gatlang will be loaded at dawn and on their way tomorrow, with a huge supplement of rice to be added at Trisuli… The Kathmandu Guest House is already being demolished; goodbye to our favorite room 415, the end of an era…
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
Gibbons

Bob Gibbons

Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons met in 1983, on a trek from Kashmir to Ladakh. Since they met 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 Bob Gibbons

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