In 2013 I travelled with a company called Village Ways to a very remote part of Uttarakhand in India. The region was devoid of any other tourists and there was a real sense of not only adventure but involvement with the lives of the people we met.
In November 2017, I travelled with the same company and companions to Eastern Nepal. It was two years after the earthquake and I wanted to support tourism that had been hit badly.
After a very pleasant overnight stay in Dhulikhel, then a seven-hour journey on possibly the worse roads I have ever been on, we arrived in the Sailung region and the mountain village of Solambu.
The ethos of Village Ways is to promote tourism in remote areas giving the local people income and the visitors a taste of village life. The houses we stayed in were simple and comfortable with accommodation for up to six people at one time. The meals were prepared by the ‘committee’ and the food was all locally sourced, one village being famous for its rice, another for its potatoes and another for it citrus fruits.
We trekked from village to village in a beautiful landscape of mountains, ploughed terraces, raging rivers and dense jungle. The highlight of the trip was to watch the sun rise over the whole Himalayan range from the top of Sailung Peak after a night spent in a tent. The whole hillside sparkled with ground frost as the sun’s rays turned everything pink and the prayer flags fluttered in the early morning breeze. In the distance I saw two jackals. One of them stopped and turned around before loping off.
It was pure escapism from our Western lives. We breathed in the clear mountain air and had no communication with the outside world.
It wasn’t until I returned to Kathmandu that I had to use my facemask and deal with hundreds of emails.
I wanted to scream ‘Take me back to Sailung!’