Hari Kumar Silwal, a chartered accountant and negotiator by profession, is an intrepid traveller. Tamish Giri of New Business Age sat down with Silwal as he recalled his trek from Malekhu in Dhading to Bhandara in Chitwan.
Recalling the Trek
I have many travel experiences but the walk to Bhandara is the most recent one. I recall it as one of my best experiences and have many vivid memories. The route had already attracted me in the past. I had travelled their 4 years before; it was a solo trip back then. My Solo trip was good, and I planned to go back again with travel enthusiasts this time. Technically, the trip was a 62-kilometre trek but since we all wanted to walk off the beaten track; we walked an additional 9 kilometres and covered 71 kilometres of land altogether. Our trip began with a bus ride from Kathmandu to Malekhu highway and from there we began the trek.
A Route with History, Trade, and Ethnic Diversity
The whole route is part of Kerung-Thodi trade route, which is the shortest trade route that connects India and China via Nepal. The government is expanding the road in this route for trade. The place is home to a special ethnic tribe named Chepang. 80 percent of the people living in the area are Chepang.
The route also has historical importance. It was the only path for the people and traders in terai to reach Kathmandu valley. So, I found the trail significant from the trade, cultural and historical perspective.
Finding the Touring Party
My friends know me as a traveller and they have always wanted to join me in my adventures, so I travelled in a group for this trip. I announced the trip on social media for interested individuals. At first, 20 individuals showed their willingness for the journey but ultimately the touring party comprised of six individuals from varying professional backgrounds.
Help and Hike Tour
Most of my tours have a purpose and a theme. I travel for various purposes; I go on a solo tour while I am writing, to explore the culture, to learn about the livelihood and economy and to help people. The purpose of this trip was to help people. We had carried 120 tubes of toothpaste and 360 toothbrushes with us and distributed it to the schoolchildren of the area. We also taught them how brush their teeth and showed them a demo.
The journey was tiring because three of our companions were new to the trekking experience so we were slowed down. This actually benefited us as we had the time to explore. We interacted with the locals to learn about the deep-rooted history of the place.
A Memorable Encounter
During the last day of our walk, we met a Chepang man at around 7:30 am and we asked him about his personal life.
We offered him breakfast during the interaction but the man said he was not hungry and refused to eat. This made me think about the urban population. The difference was clear; if we had made the same offer to a city dweller, I think few would deny it. I was touched with the sincerity and honesty of this person. We met the man back again hours later during our lunch, this time we again asked him to join us. He said now he was hungry and agreed to join us.
We think only rich people can party but we were wrong, the Chepang know how to party! We saw the gathering of the Chepang; they hardly have any income yet were partying all the time. The people are fond of celebrating. We saw a family celebrating their daughter’s first visit home after marriage. This amazed us; we hardly hear families partying on such occasions here in the urban world.
We were overwhelmed with the offers we received from the Chepang community. They welcomed us with the best they had. When we were walking, people offered us rides. They offered us their home to stay when we needed a space to sleep. They even offered to move to the neighbouring house so we would feel comfortable! They touched us with their support and hospitality.
Carrying a first aid kit and water purifier will be enough. The route is part forest, which is home to wildlife so understanding certain safety measures is crucial. Travelling in October, February and March will be ideal. However, if you are seeking adventure any period can be suitable.
Don’t wait for the good days to come, just start walking. Start with nearby locations and start with at least a half-day trip. Travelling is a lifestyle and is good for health. You need not be rich to travel. Money is not pleasure, experiences are, and travelling is the best way to experience things.