Dirt Music and Sunshine: Trekking the Eastern Kathmandu Valley Rim, Part 1

Nepalese women pause from their work in a potato field, Panauti-Namobuddha Nepal

Striking a Pose among the Potatoes
It’s hard work getting food to the market and the table; song, plenty of chatter, and posing for the “tourists” help lighten the load.

Every cell in my body was alive and smiling!

I had sun on my head and dirt under my feet. With my arms swinging and my feet walking, I was finally on the move, and every step was a joy. I love walking – that is, until my knees lock up and my hips inflame, whereupon every step becomes agony …

It was the start of “day one” on a short, “easy” trek in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, and I couldn’t have been happier to be out and about.

I love Nepal, and when photographer Gavin Gough announced he was running a workshop out of Kathmandu, I jumped at the chance to return to the country. I was so excited that I organised to arrive four days early and go on a warm-up trek with local guide Angfula Sherpa and another photo-tour participant that I knew.

Although it is true that getting there – and getting started – is half the fun, once we were out of the city and out of our vehicle, I was in my element. I had my pack on my back, my cameras on my hips and a smile on my face. Our first day’s walk was from Panauti, a small town southeast of Kathmandu, to the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery in the tiny village of Namo Buddha. According to Google Maps, it is only 10 kilometres: a walk of about two and a half hours; it took us much longer, as we stopped to photograph every corner, chat to every villager, and sample all the foods along the way!

Join me in the dirt and sunshine of the Eastern Rim of the Kathmandu Valley.

Airplane wing over the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Wing over the Valley
Our proposed “easy trek” is somewhere below me; flying over the valleys and mountains of Nepal gave me a reminder of how rugged the terrain is.

Airplane wing over Kathmandu, Nepal

Over Kathmandu
The smog of Kathmandu is as I remember it, and the city boundaries stretch forever. I’m glad I have pre-booked a recommended accommodation down there somewhere!

Sunrise over the rooftops of Lazimpat, Kathmandu Nepal

Sunrise in Lazimpat
I’m up bright and early to try to do some pre-trek stretching on the rooftop of Lazimpat House, and to watch the sun rise over the crowded city.

Nepali people around a Fruit Stand, Panauti

Panauti Fruit Stand
Our guide, Angfula Sherpa, collected us early. We stopped in Panauti to pick up fresh fruit …

Nepali woman at a Fruit Stand, Panauti

Panauti Fruit Seller
… from a street-side fruit seller.

Indreshwar Mahadev Mandir Panauti Makar Mela Spot

Panauti Temple
Our car let us off at the head of our track, near the isthmus between the Roshi and Pungamati rivers. To our right, and across the river: one of Panauti’s many Hindu temples; …

Panauti Stupa on the river, Nepal

Panauti Stupa
… to our left, on our side of the river: one of the many Buddhist stupas that coexist beside the Hindu places of worship in Nepal.

Raised Potato Fields, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd

Potato Fields
Soon enough, the vestiges of “town” are left behind, and we are among acres of new potatoes growing in raised beds.

Two Women and a dog on Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Women on the Road
We are not alone on the dusty road, as Newari people – the long-time residents of this valley – go about their daily lives.

A woman doing dishes in her back yard, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Doing Dishes

Woman in the Potato Fields, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Woman in the Potato Fields

Father and Child on Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Father and Child
Parents and grandparents along the way are happy to show off their babies. All across the region, young children wear kohl around their eyes to protect against infections and evil spirits.

Dusty road of houses on Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Houses on the Road
People are slowly rebuilding their lives following the earthquake in April 2015: houses are still coming down and going up. The damage we walk past is both random and heartbreaking.

The Green House and the brick Shrine on Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

The Green House and the Shrine
And then, amid the ruins and the simple brick homes, we find this!

Nepali women on the balcony of a green house, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Three Generations on the Roof
This elaborate building probably houses a large extended family – as illustrated by the three generations who come out onto the upper balcony …

Nepali Mother and Baby on the balcony of a green house, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Mother and Baby
… to watch us pass by.

Nepali man making samosas, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Making Samosas
It may still be late morning, but when we spotted a man making samosas filled with fresh minced peanuts and spices,  …

Smiling Nepali woman in a general store, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

The Shopkeeper
… (while his smiling wife looked after the rest of the shop) …

Nepali man making samosas, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Filling Samosas
… we had to stop and wait for them to cook so we could sample a few. They were absolutely delicious!

Pile of red baked bricks, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Sun-Baked Brick Pile
Meanwhile, next door …

Nepali man laying out bricks for sun-drying, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

… and across the road, …

Nepali man forming bricks for sun-drying, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Forming Bricks
… clay bricks are being made, laid out for sun-drying, and stacked in piles.

Nepali woman tending a garden, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

The Gardener
The sun rises towards its zenith, and we continue walking, with our bellies full of savoury samosas. The local women tend their gardens …

Nepali women tending potato fields, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Working the Potatoes
… and hoe the potato furrows, …

Nepali women tending potato fields, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

Woman in the Potatoes
… pausing their work and song to greet us with curiosity.

Potato furrows, Panauti-Namobuddha Rd, Nepal

The flooded potato furrows – like our walk – stretch out to the foothills in the distance.

The sun was getting higher and the March spring air was humming with fresh smells and warmth. We still had a long way to go before lunch time – let alone before our stop for the night. But, so far, every step was a pleasure, and I was enjoying the moment.


Until next time,

Happy Walking!

Photos: 05-06March2017

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