On the Road to Kalikasthan

How should I describe the road to our village at Kalikasthan? Let's just say it is 82 kms from Kathmandu, but 5 hours by bus. 4 of those hours are on the main highway. We took over an hour to travel 10 kms out of the city. Unfortunately the dust came with us. It covers everything.

Finally we made it to some bitumen, and the scenery is stunning. Snow capped mountains, paddy fields terraced up the hills, forests, rivers and head-oncoming buses and trucks. We had a pit stop, where, surprisingly, I had a great espresso. It will be my last coffee for quite a while.

Kalikasthan is on a road that is being developed for traffic from China. Most of it is under construction. Instead of doing one section at a time, it seems as though the whole road is roadworks, with dust, dust and more dust covering everything, and rocks and holes being the main road base. Our bus bottomed out frequently. And then it got worse...

We arrived at the village, but had to turn off onto a narrow dirt and rock track to our house. The driver had to get out and inspect the track to see if the bus would fit. We hoped so, as we had 420 kgs of luggage to off load. After a few tense moments, he managed to do a five point turn onto the track and we arrived unscathed.

We were greeted with marigold garlands and smiling relatives of Ratna. The place has been recently finished (the day before) but enjoys the most incredible views over a valley. It even has snow capped mountains in the distance. Unfortunately the smog is still with us as it is only 20 kms from Kathmandu as the crow flies.

Ratna's brother has built this place especially for tourists. We have our own room with ensuite, probably the smallest ensuite ever. Ray has managed to hit his head on the doorway every time that he enters. Others discovered that the only hot water is available in a larger bathroom downstairs, so we haven't even attempted to swing a cat in there.

After being made to feel welcome, we have settled down to enjoying the view and the great Nepalese food. We'll be up at 6.30am for a guided walk tomorrow. We can't wait


Heading out from Kathmandu we're starting to get some elevation.We catch a last glimpse of the northern part of the city.


We are on the highways from hell with no lanes and no rules expect to try not to hit anyone or anything. Nominally, they drive on the left as we do in Australia, but that does not stop them from going onto the wrong side of the road if they think they are not going to be able to make a turn. They just take a short cut on the wrong side of the road.


This steel merchant stores part of his stock on the footpath outside their yard. If there is a pickup, the truck simply parks on the road and everyone else has to make their way around the truck.


More wires, dust, crappy looking shops and mad bus drivers


What you see here is part of the main highway out of Kathmandu towards both the Chinese and Indian borders. This joinery shop puts all of its old stuff out on what might be termed a footpath, although very few  people would ever walk on it because it is full of old and broken down stuff from who knows where. Instead they walk in the gutters and on the road.


Would you go into this shop to buy a packet of chips? Obviously the dog is reasonably satisfied with the marigold necklace it received in the festival celebrations.


This pile of gravel has been dumped on the road in preparation for some road building. Everyone just makes their way around it like it is normal to dump a pile of gravel in the middle of the main highway.


The beauty of the place is ruined by the smog which is a constant. Here, it is due to the dust caused by road traffic over pot holed roads.


Our bus with some of our group at the comfort stop on the other side of the mountains surrounding the capital.


The big mountains are coming.


It hasn't taken long for this retaining wall to be covered by a landslip. They haven't even gone close to having the road finished. More gravel in the middle of the dusty potholed filled road.


Take away the bigger boulders and you have the main highway. I kid you not!


You think i have a thing with dirt? It is everywhere. It is on the verge of being overwhelming.


This finance house seems to be able to keep clean. I suppose when you charge up to 50% interest, I guess you can afford to.


Kathy, one of our colleagues and one of the the young relatives of the family we are staying with going down some steps to a "checkpoint" at the top end of town. You can't go anyhere without walking up and/or down steep inclines.


Another landslide, another village just up the road from Kalikasthan where we are.


A typical transport vehicle that plies the road from China to Kathmandu. The trucks usually have slogans painted on the front and back and are often even more colorful than this one. The "highway" travels right through the centre of the village with many of the houses and shops right at the roadside.


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