|We had tea there; now it's in the news. What's left of it.|
This restaurant looks awfully familiar. That is to say, both "familiar" and "awful."
There were two lethal landslides last week, and one hit a place with a quirkily typical Nepali name, Typical Restaurant, in a village with an even better name, Pumdibhumdi. It's such a good name I wish I had an excuse to say it over and over, under better circumstances.
|If you want to go to (or leave) Pumdibhumdi,|
learn to row. Or pay the lady in back.
Who, you'll notice, was not given a lifejacket.
It turned out to involve trees, cliffs, more trees, and more cliffs. You couldn't really get close to the lake; it was all too steep and forested. We were grateful that one trail somehow led us accidentally down down down onto the aforementioned Typical Restaurant with its tea and boats. The whole place was a landslide waiting to happen. But then again, so is much of Nepal.
The landslide, when it did finally happen, took the lives of four sleeping workers, ages 18 to 28. I'm not sure what the landslide toll is this year, but it seems to have been eight just last week: the four at Typical Restaurant and four at yet another landslide in Sindhupalchowk, which is the same district where a landslide a few weeks ago drowned a village, killing around 200 people, displacing thousands, blocking the only highway to Tibet, and creating a new lake where the road and highway used to be. (I use the term "highway" loosely, in the Nepali sense, which basically means a paved road that goes somewhere important and may possibly, but not necessarily, have up to two lanes.)
|This used to be a village.|
Also the only road north from Kathmandu to China.
The Sunkoshi River swelled into a lake after a landslide.
|People are raising funds|
and supplies for victims of the Sunkoshi landslide through campaigns
such as Fill The Bucket
Which is, of course, terrible. And if you live here, it also means things like: To drive or not to drive? I've been wanting to go to the village for the Teej festival, and going to the village, like going anywhere out of Kathmandu, involves this long and winding road ...
But I have a strong preference for not getting caught in a landslide. Or on the other side of one, since we'd have to wait it out while the newly formed hill was cleared or a trail built over it. (About 600 tourists trapped on the Tibet side of the Sunkoshi landslide were ferried out by helicopters. WIMPS. I'd wait to walk out, like all the Nepalis. But then again, I don't have a plane to catch. Or anyone offering to pay for my helicopter.) See the trail below? That's over a landslide that blocked a road for so long it got onto maps.
Anyway, we decided if it didn't rain steadily for two days, the ground would be okay (in Nepali Roulette terms), and it only rained a little bit, so we did end up going to the village. Along the way, on the stretch of the Prithvi Highway between Kathmandu and Naubise marked by tight hairpin turns and vertical walls of rock and dirt along which trees and bushes cling gamely but unconvincingly -- the stretch that, if you live here, you probably think of as "the really steep part" (because, like Eskimos with all those ways of perceiving snow, you've learned to differentiate "really steep" from various other levels of steep) -- we counted TEN LANDSLIDES. Little baby ones. They were just covering a bit of the road, but weren't blocking it. Yet.
|The road is actually very pleasant, in its way.|
To the right, there's a dropoff (down down down) to the Trishuli River;
to the left, that's a wall of dirt (hopefully not ready to fall).
Wonder what's around the corner ...
Feel like a monsoon drive? It's not too bad. Most of the time.