The starting point of the Langtang valley trek was a little village-town called Syabrubesi to the north of Kathmandu in the Rasuwa District. The bus to Syabrubesi from Kathmandu leaves early morning from the Macchapokhari bus stand. It was the Friday before Dashein/Dassera and there was an exodus from the city towards the villages. It was also the beginning of the tourist season and Bideshis contributed to the thick crowd.
We were rushing from one end of the line of buses to the other, frantically scanning the crowd for our guide whom we did not recognise but who apparently recognised us. People were busy loading their luggage, cartons, fruits, gifts, goats and themselves onto the top of buses. We finally found our guide, there he was our man waving wildly at my husband, Mongolian features, big smile and a small bag. (1/5th the size of ours).
We got into our bus and I squeezed into the last row while Mr.Guide and Philippe climbed up to the top of the bus. There began a journey that was to last 8 hours. The bus carried all kinds of people, old and young, local and Bideshi, modern and traditional and everybody had squeezed where they could find a spot.
Our first stop was Trishuli in the Nuwakot district, a small busy town named after the lovely Trishuli river that roars through it. It was noon and we had stopped for dal bhat like all the other buses on the route. The small Thakali restaurants were buzzing with activity. Everyone ate their dalbhat hurriedly and returned to their seats and rooftops to continue our journey on rocky paths that I dare not call roads. Nevertheless these rocky motor-able ‘roads’ had brought Kathmandu much closer to these villages.
The landscape changed radically from Kathmandu to Syabru and so did the style of houses and the faces of the inhabitants. We began through Newari-Hindu villages to arrive in Tamang-Buddhist villages. We began through hills and arrived in mountains. We stopped at a few small villages on our way to Syabru. The villagers looked at the buses, this bit of modern development that came to them from the big city 50-100kms away bringing them back their family who had gone away in search of better jobs.
Every time the bus stopped a crowd of villagers gathered around and a few of them heartily welcomed a descending passenger. I found a seat by the window and I could now witness the family reunions and the dangerous roads we were traveling on. Later on Mr.Guide would reassure us that grave accidents on these roads happened mostly because of mechanical failure, as the drivers were experienced locals and used to driving on hill roads.
We climbed up towards Dunche (which was the biggest town of the district of Rasuwa where Syabrubesi was located) we went past small villages on the slopes of the valley. In the heart of the valley flowed the mighty Trishuli. Rapids pounded down hundreds of metres towards their destination, the river. Breathtaking views of the yellow-green mustard fields, the green rice and cornfields alternating on the nearly perfect man made terraces, stone houses built in clusters of 4-5, watered by the Trishuli and the many rapids, took my mind of the condition of the roads.
Dunche was on top of a hill and had a lovely view of the mountains whereas Syabru was in the valley and the tall green hills around blocked the view of the snow-capped peaks. We arrived at Syabru after having witnessed atleast 30 family reunions. We were to stay the night in Syabru and start our walk to the Langtang the following day.
Thus began my first trek into the magnificent Nepal of the Himalayas.