On July 8th (*the first group left separately on July 6th), monks from Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling and volunteers from Shenpen packed almot 7,000 tin sheets and other supplies (such as tarps, rice, and vegetables) into three trucks and two jeeps to head to the himalayan region of Tipling. They left around noon and arrived in the small town of Shyabrubesi by 9 PM, where they were able to find rooms to stay in overnight.
The next day they left at 5 AM for Somdang. This part of the trip, covering a distance of about 50 kms or so was when the real challenges began. The road from Shyabrubesi to Shantang is much less travelled and in much poorer condition. It also travels up one side of a mountain and then down the other side in a continuous series of twists, turns and switchbacks that cling tenuously to the steep slopes. Monsoon season only adds to the challenges, either turning the road into a muddy bog or covering it with rock falls and landslides.
This 50 km trip from Shyabrubesi to Shantang took about 8 hours. The challenges began before the group was even 15 minutes into their journey, when they encountered rock fall on the road in front of them. There were dozens of boulders, ranging from 50 lbs up to perhaps 500-600 lbs that needed to be moved before they could go on. All the while they were moving these rocks, a glance over the shoulder revealed dozens more ready to fall at any minute. Teamwork made pretty quick work of this rock fall and the team was on their way after about 30 minutes.
The road continued to rise and after a couple of hours they reached the small village of Gatlang, about halfway to their final destination. Here the team was able to see some of the devastation caused by the earthquake, as there were many houses in complete ruin. The typical construction method of piled rock stood little chance against the power of the earthquakes.
Past this small village the road continued to climb and the challenges continued to mount. Very soon the lead truck was hopelessly stuck in a particularly bad section of road. They spent considerable time filling the muddy tracks with rocks, but were unable to free the truck. Only with the fortunate arrival of a large excavator, which used its shovel to nudge the trucks forward, were they able to get through this stretch. After each of these muddy stretches, it was common for them to find leeches stuck somewhere on their legs or crawling up their boots looking for some place to attach.
At about 1 PM or so, after more than 8 hours of travelling, they reached the village of Shantang, literally the end of the road. The Shenpen team was greeted warmly by the villagers and again saw much devastation, with rock walls toppled and houses ruined. It took them about an hour to unload the three trucks with the help of the happy villagers. Afterwards, they were treated to tatopani and dal bhat in a small courtyard. The monks from Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling also performed puja and incense offering, and inaugarated the raising of a new prayer flag pole, which the locals greatly appreciated.
One of our volunteers who went on the trip to Tipling, Joseph Larose, wrote the following touching words about his experience there:
“The trip was physically and mentally exhausting, and the first thing I did when I saw my Nepali sister afterwards was cry. I cried because I was exhausted. But I also cried because the trip was so amazingly rewarding. The more time I spend in Nepal, the more I am amazed by the beauty of the country and the beauty of the people. We were greeted so warmly everywhere we went and treated with great generosity. The work that the monks are doing is so important, and I am very happy that I was able to play a small part in this one trip.”