It started with a ‘bone shaking’ six hour drive in a car with no suspension but this holiday had an extraordinary ending, says Phil Brown.
It started with a ‘bone shaking’ six hour drive in a car with no suspension but this holiday had an extraordinary ending, says Phil Brown.

'The worst overseas trip of my life but I’d go back'

I was watching Michael Palin on SBS recently reminiscing about his Himalayan adventures and it reminded me of my own.

So I pulled out my travel diary from 1991 (it was like rediscovering the Dead Sea Scrolls) and relived our trek up the Langtang Valley in Nepal. It began with a bone shaking six hour drive from Kathmandu in a Toyota Corolla with no suspension.

Hiker walking on train in Himalayas.
Hiker walking on train in Himalayas.

By the time we got to our starting point, the village of Dhunche, I was already wrecked.

We hired a guide who ended up carrying both our packs as we traversed what the locals laughingly regard as foothills.

I didn't so much trek as trudge and it was hard going.

My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) lured me to Nepal. She had trekked before. "You just wander from hotel to hotel" she said and I thought that sounded okay.

I pictured myself with a wooden staff and a Tyrolean hat, eating schnitzel after a hard day's walking.

Phil Brown. Picture: Ric Frearson
Phil Brown. Picture: Ric Frearson

But in the Nepal Himalayas a hotel is basically a wooden hut with no electricity and a bucket for a toilet. I was duped!

I was so frustrated at one stage I set to cussing and every step was accompanied by a new profanity and those profanities echoed around the valleys.

The thing that kept me going was the thought that I might see a yeti but they're elusive buggers. There was a yeti Hotel in the upper part of the valley but I didn't notice any checking in there.

 

The views of the mountains were incredible and there were a few mad bastards setting off to conquer the nearby peak of Lantang Lirung which was only 7,227 metres high. Just a baby compared to Everest.

I can still see its peak in my mind's eye looking like a gleaming white shark's fin in the crisp October air.

When we eventually got back to Dhunche to rendezvous with our driver we found a bunch of other travellers desperate to get back to Kathmandu and a group of pretty tough German women tried to hijack our vehicle.

But I plied the driver with some American dollars so he threw them out of the car and off we went for another six hours on the scariest road I have ever experienced.

Would I do it all again? Umm, not really. Unless you could promise me I would see a yeti.

Originally published as The worst overseas trip of my life but I'd go back if I could see one thing


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