Trip Report
To Nepal and Back Again....and Back Again. A Trip Report.
Wednesday January 27, 2010 1:03am
I've been home for two weeks but I'm still not quite right in the belly. The Flagyl 400mg tabs are working, but that Chipotle I downed an hour ago feels like a sucker punch. And its not just the gut. My mind isn't the same either. Re-entry is always a bit tough for me. This was not a vacation. I saw and experienced much and have a lot to unpack mentally. The sights and smells and sounds and faces of a country in struggle are still with me when I lay still at night.
When I close my eyes...This is what I see.

Credit: micronut

This trip report will be a bit of a way for me to decompress. To sift through some of the "why's" and "what next's." Bear with me if some of my worldview finds its way into this little story. You may or may not agree with my take on the world, but perhaps you can find some joy in the faces and places of this mysterious and inspiring land. So here goes. To Nepal and back again. And there and back again in a seven month period. We have been to Nepal twice in the past several months. This trip report will combine the experiences and images of those two trips. They are a blur in my mind so I'll just condense them here for simplicity.

June 2009 and January 2010:
The plan is pretty basic. No climbing. Go and spend time with local Nepali church planters and help mobilize, educate villagers and assist them in the work they do there. Do some medical treatment/dentistry/physical therapy in under-served, impoverished villages who have little o no access to health care. Leave America at home. Be available in mind and body and spirit. Open our eyes. Love the people. Help how we can.

Day1. San Fran to Bangkok to Kathmandu
Credit: micronut
We land hard and Kathmandu hits us in the face. Loud. Busy. Full on third world. Filthy. We check into the Tibet Guest House. No power. We find our way down the hall and I catch a glimpse of something familiar on a window. Nice. Climbers lurk here.
Credit: micronut

The first couple days are spent in tourism mode. We spend time at the Hindu and Buddhist temples. These places are a pretty big deal to these two religions. Its not every day you see open streetside cremations. Here are some images from those first few days.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
The smells of incense mingle with those of open sewage, massive piles of trash and the pungent urban odor of a typical third world city. I have been to Europe and Russia and once spent a month in Kazakhstan. Kathmandu is intense and I'm soon ready to get out of the city. The next few days will be spent doing improvised medical camps in outlying villages. We have brought enough local anesthetic and gauze to pull a lot of teeth. Adam, my climbing partner is a Physical Therapist. My surgical assistant from home has come to assist me. My wife and two kids will round out the american part of our team.
Credit: micronut

Hours and hours and hours we grind Northeast on unimproved roads where death from approaching TATA awaits around every corner.
I always fantasized about these bus journeys as a kid reading Bonnington, Boardman and Tasker. Now I just want to vomit. Or get out or both.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
We will be spending time in Dunuwar villages. The lowest of the low caste people. "the untouchables." They are viewed as lowest of the low.
We spend a day visiting some smallish villages where there, at this point, are no christian churches. The sadness and poverty are overwhelming. Disease is everywhere. There is a sense of hopelessness that is pervasive. The people are very friendly but....hurting. We are not on the tourist treks. We are not in places that get postcards made of them. Most of these people have never seen Americans. This isn't "in the brochure"
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut


We arrive at our first village, a small, hillside hovel on the border of Tibet, and are greeted by the local Christian pastor. Happy dude. His joy is real. In fact, whether you belive me or not, my experience during these two trips, in the villages we spent time in, was that where there was christianity, there was real, palpable, inspiring joy. Where there once was uncertainty, hopelessness and helplessness.
Here is the pastor and a few "church" members.
"Shoes off in church please."
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Pastor of the small congregation in the gorge.  This is his newest dau...
Pastor of the small congregation in the gorge. This is his newest daughter.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
We spend most of our days doing medical camps. Adam does PT on old, hobbled backs, knees and feet. I pull lots and lots and lots of teeth. I do some minor surgery but try to keep things simple with goats bleating five feet away and flies landing on he bloody instruments in my hands. It is an amazing experience and people line up in droves. We are primarily treating Hindus and our job is not to "preach at 'em" or evangelize in any way. We are simply here to help and show them that somebody cares about them. Something that just does not happen in this society if you are born in the wrong place with he wrong name. The caste system is still in full swing here. They are amazed that we have come this far to care for them, engage in conversation, eat with them and show them that they are more than their caste says they are. It blows their mind that somebody loves them.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Here's Micronut taking a cyst out of the lower jaw.  Good times.
Here's Micronut taking a cyst out of the lower jaw. Good times.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
After a couple days. Our hosts want to take us to a nice hotel where we can watch a sunrise over the Himalaya....."Scott, you will have many nice view because you are the climber!"
We have been eating village food and the sound of a nice hotel, though a good bit of a drive away, is welcoming. Here are some shots of eating in the villages. They cook in stone huts, straight out of the dark ages. Mainly potatoes, cauliflower and bony chicken knuckle bits with dhal. Tasty but suspect. Sus---pect.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Out of the six of us, four of us, including my eleven year old daughter, get violently ill during the trip. Massive bouts of vomiting and the big "D" for a few days that really depleted us physically. Throwing up, through the night, into dry heaves beyond your abdominal strength, in a third world country is not as romantic as it might sound. It is an experience none of us will soon forget. Ouch with a capital "ow."
Ok....back to the hotel. We drive out of Kathmandu.......this......
Credit: micronut
And in two hours....are met with.........This!
Credit: micronut
"whoah...." After days of living in the dark ages, we almost cannot wrap our minds around the view before us. It is amazing. Truly splendid. Luxurious. We spend a cushy night in a nice bed, the scramble up to the rooftop at dark thirty am for a sunrise I will never forget. The entire Himalaya, from Dorje Lakpa to Everest to Kangch to Makalu, wakes out of the darkness before us in pristine detail. I feel like Shipton. I cannot click the shutter fast enough. Then I sit and stare and nobody talks....then back behind the lense for more. It seems to go on for hours....It is truly the sunrise of a lifetime. Enjoy it with me here.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: macronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
I feel utterly spent after the sunrise sesh and I spend the day doing pen and ink drawings in my journal, thinking about the poor, the needy, the orphans of the world. And how it clashes with all that I see and tend to get wrapped up in back home. The materialism, the greed, the selfishness, the me..me...me society in America. The I'm right, you're wrong. The "I better gits mine." The "its all the government's fault." The "Its somebody elses fault." The I want more, I'm entitled, I've been wronged, I'm angy....I, I, I,I. Where is the..."how are you?" "You look like you need a minute to talk, man," "You ok maam?," "here, you take mine...I've got a few minutes to spare."? I love America. Best place to be if you ask me. But man, it is the center if the "I and Me and Mine" universe. These past trips, and the one to Kazakhstan before it, have shown me that If I'm not careful, it becomes all bout me real quickly.
That is not the man I want to be.
Down the hill we go. Back into the muck and the smog and the mire. Back to the city.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
We re-organize and have a few more great days of medical clinic. I pull a whole bunch more teeth, including a surgical extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth on a Tibetan woman who had walked for thirty daysto Kathmandu after her "whole village died." She wasn't sure why she came, but just started walking, hoping to perhaps end up at the Buddist temple Swayambhunath. Instead, she walks by out outdoor clinic, sees the sign for "free medical" and stops by and waits for an hour until I am all done with the last patient. She looks like something straight out of Rowell's "Throne Room of the Mountain Gods." She leaves with a smile on her face and so do I. What an encounter.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
So now I'm back. My mind seems swollen with all I have seen. In two trips we have seen the gamut of humanity. Seen maoist rebel riots in progress, survived a stuck van in a torrential flash flood, shown our children the reality of life on earth for most of mankind, seen sunsets and sunrises and made friendships that will remain in our hearts forever. I was honored to go and serve such a humble and sincere people. In the faces of Nepal I saw sadness and sorrow and hunger and pain and joy and color and sunlight and hope. I learned a greater sense of humility and a deepening of purpose in my own life. I believe God is slowly and surely redeeming the human race and using all kinds of people in all corners of the globe to do so. My hope is that my children saw the goodness that is out there and needs to be seen and felt and shared. My hope is that they develop a broken heart for the worlds poor. I'm a young dude, a climber, a dad, a husband, a leader, a follower. But trips like this age you a bit. I'm fortunate to go and see and do in some pretty amazing places. Just getting the inertia going to take some time off work, to raise some funds, to mobilize and get off the couch is a hard thing. But once you are on that plane, wheels up, with the adventure before you, you know its all worth it. There is so much need out there.
So here are a few parting shots. Some of my most vivid memories. They are not necessarily of mountains, though one of the Big E is in there. May they inspire you to get off the couch. May they perhaps nudge you to, for a moment, take care of your fellow man rather than whine about how bad you have it. The trick I've found, is to somehow sustain what I have seen and felt. Because all too soon I find myself back home, impatient in the line at Starbucks complaining that they better not make my cappuccino too hot again this time. It's images like this that I need to more often replay so that I might learn from them what life should really be more about.
See you around.
Micronut.
A "church" in progress.  They were stoked to be going from mud walls t...
A "church" in progress. They were stoked to be going from mud walls to concrete. Still no electricity or running water. Should fit about 100 on Sundays.
Credit: micronut
Everest and friends.  She's the dark one in the background.
Everest and friends. She's the dark one in the background.
Credit: micronut
Dunuwar girls returning from getting water.  Man that would get old.  ...
Dunuwar girls returning from getting water. Man that would get old. Most of us cannot fathom life without running water.
Credit: micronut
My wife receiving handmade flower leis at a school we brought chairs t...
My wife receiving handmade flower leis at a school we brought chairs to.
Credit: micronut
Nepali bible
Nepali bible
Credit: micronut
Such a colorful people
Such a colorful people
Credit: micronut
No child should be balding.  A sure sign of vitamin deficiency.
No child should be balding. A sure sign of vitamin deficiency.
Credit: micronut
A smile worth a million bucks
A smile worth a million bucks
Credit: micronut
I'd like to come back and see how this kid is doing some day.  Its a s...
I'd like to come back and see how this kid is doing some day. Its a small world. You never know.
Credit: micronut




  Trip Report Views: 3,001
micronut
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
hossjulia

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
  Jan 27, 2010 - 11:26am PT
outstanding tr micronut, thank you from the bottom (and top) of my heart.
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Jan 27, 2010 - 12:40pm PT
Great trip report.

I spent two weeks in Modesto flat on my back in 2007 after breaking my neck. While I am not a Christian, the climbers who came to visit me the most were. They never tried to convert me, they just came to help.

I wish you well in your efforts.
RJ Spurrier

SuperTopo staff member
  Jan 28, 2010 - 12:33am PT
Wow, impressive trip, and trip report. Thanks for sharing your inspirational journey.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Jan 28, 2010 - 01:13pm PT
Micro-

I want to thank you on this thread too for what you are doing for the poorest of the poor in my favorite foreign country.
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Jan 30, 2010 - 03:55pm PT
You did it justice! Great to climb and minister w/ you, BELOVED. :)
Raker

Trad climber
Lakewood, CO
  Feb 8, 2010 - 02:52pm PT
Nice job portraying the plight of the lower caste people of Nepal. I spent 3 weeks last fall in similar off the beaten path villages in Eastern Nepal and had similar experiences. Good on you for all your medical help as it's sorely needed.
luquitos

Trad climber
santa cruz, ca
  Feb 8, 2010 - 05:56pm PT
Wow! Really inspiring stuff. Thanks
manassfrass

climber
Carbondale, CO
  Feb 9, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
Great writeup. I spent two months in Nepal this past fall and also came back to America with the upset stomach and the big question of what next. I felt like I'd one from one foreign country to another and it has taken me over a month to feel semi 'normal' again, though I know that I'll never again be the girl that I was before my time over there. What a powerful experience. Travel on...
dfinnecy

Social climber
'stralia
  May 12, 2011 - 09:37am PT
Micronut wrote:
Massive bouts of vomiting and the big "D" for a few days that really depleted us physically. Throwing up, through the night, into dry heaves beyond your abdominal strength, in a third world country is not as romantic as it might sound.

Uh,..that doesn't sound romantic.

Great trip report tho. I'm not a believer anymore, but this touched me as a nice reminder of the pure good that is possible in the Body of Christ. All the best,Micronut.

Edit: And dang, all of the photos are wonderful but a few are really stop-you-in-your-tracks fantastic.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  May 12, 2011 - 10:05am PT
Wow!
Good on you for what you accomplished for the poorest of the poor. I've never been to Nepal, but at my age I probably wouldn't survive the experience. But you are also correct about this being the land of Me, Me, Ne, Mine, Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie.

Hope you get well soon, and Flagyl isn't any fun either.

With my sincere respect,

Rodger
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  May 12, 2011 - 10:11am PT
we need more people like you micronut!
Zander

climber
  May 12, 2011 - 11:12am PT
Great trip report Micronut!
I don't know how I missed it the first time.
Thanks for putting it down.
Zander
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  May 12, 2011 - 11:24am PT
Incredible. You really walk the walk. Inspiring photos and a huge life lesson for your children.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  May 12, 2011 - 11:27am PT
Beautifully expressed and shot. A doc friend of mine went there and I'll
never forget the shot he took of a patient and the tape worm he took out
of the guy laid out on the lawn in front of him - all 16' of it.

Peace
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  May 12, 2011 - 11:38am PT
Outstanding work Dr. J!! Somehow I missed this very moving TR with all the junk threads taking over the front pages at times. Fantastic humanitarian effort and quite the experience overall I'm sure.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  May 12, 2011 - 11:39am PT
This is an incredible read!!
Park Rat

Social climber
CA, UT,CT,FL
  May 12, 2011 - 12:16pm PT
I also missed this report the first time around.

It is both awesome and humbling at the same time.

So much poverty in the world, and so few people who will go out of their way to to help the way you did.

It's easy to see how overwhelming your trip was both physically and emotionally.
I bet you the people you helped will never quit thinking about you traveling halfway around the world to help them.

A truly impressive trip not to be forgotten by all that participated.
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  May 12, 2011 - 12:42pm PT
very awesome, thanks for posting and for all your charitable work, I'm sure those people appreciate it more than we can ever imagine.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 12, 2011 - 01:10pm PT
Brother, this thread deserves to stay on the front page for a long time, and I will give it needed bumps until I see the number of views ticker really large....

Great rewards come with empathy. You and yours are on the right track. You are giving your kids an important shot of wisdom.

Beautiful pictures of a beautiful people. May this old world sort itself into a little more justice someday.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  May 12, 2011 - 01:31pm PT
hey there say, micronut....

not sure, but i think? i remembered you saying you had gone, or were going, but this memory seemed to have faded, til i saw this...


thanks so very much for this "trip report"... the kind of trip that all folks need to soak in, in their lives, in some way...


god bless....

sorry to say, i cannot comment yet on the pics, but, a with all stories, it is the WORDS that touched my heart...

will come to see the pics, when i have free time...
thanks so very much for sharing all this...


edit: and of course, "job well done" :)
even though i know, that the good cry you must have had, over all this, was part of knowing that you DID just that... :)
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
  May 12, 2011 - 01:41pm PT
Thanks Micronut for this outstanding TR. You can make us feel like we were there! The serenity and stoicism of the Nepalese people deserve our admiration! Doing what you did takes more guts than doing the Eigerwand!
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  May 12, 2011 - 02:52pm PT
the shot of the two hardwomen with gauze in their mouths is priceless!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  May 12, 2011 - 09:56pm PT
Thanks for the kind words everybody. I'm glad yall liked the photos and words. The wife and I went back a couple months ago. I'm whupped. That's three trips in 18 months. I feel like I need an emotional and physical break. Its heavy stuf over there. No vacation. I'd like to spend some time just trekking or maybe climbing something there someday. Its amazing how someplace so far from home and comfort and safety slowly begins to grow on you until it feels kinda like you belong there...or a part of you belongs there. Nepal is full of beauty, kindness, absurdity, filth, corruption, laughter, contrast and civil unrest. For me, some of the romance is gone. Now I primarily see corruption, poverty, filthy cities and hopelessness in the peoples eyes. I'd like to get back to the time when I thought it was just awesome mountains, smiling villagers and pretty prayer flags blowing in the breeze. I'm grateful for our time there and the continued ministries that are hard at work bringing hope and joy to real people in tangible ways.

Here are some shots from our trip a few months ago.
Homemade dinner at a friends home.  Dirt floors, plates made from pres...
Homemade dinner at a friends home. Dirt floors, plates made from pressed leaves. Plenty of waterbuffalo for all.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Ama....Grandma. I pulled her tooth, she yelled at me.
Ama....Grandma. I pulled her tooth, she yelled at me.
Credit: micronut
Lamosangu.  Recently under maoist control.  Now a new and thriving chu...
Lamosangu. Recently under maoist control. Now a new and thriving church is in place. peace reigns for now.
Credit: micronut
Something Big.
Something Big.
Credit: micronut
Rucksack.
Rucksack.
Credit: micronut
Mom's happy I yanked his tooth.....he might not be.
Mom's happy I yanked his tooth.....he might not be.
Credit: micronut
Maoist thug propaganda
Maoist thug propaganda
Credit: micronut
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the k...
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
- Jesus
Credit: micronut


TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
  May 12, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
HUGE

tfpu, a real inspiration.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  May 12, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
Thanks MN for posting and for doing what you do.....powerful experience captured in stunning images and caring words that provides a scale to measure our worlds, good work.
Denise Umstot

climber
Princess of the El Cap Bridge!
  May 13, 2011 - 01:37am PT
Fantastic TR and pics! You hit the nail on the head regarding America and the "me" society. It is really sad. Great work you are doing and what a fantastic eye opening experience for your children!
Thank you!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 13, 2011 - 01:01pm PT
Dear lord, save us from: wow really?
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
  May 14, 2011 - 03:20am PT
Outstanding TR. I worked in Kathmandu for over two years. You caught key aspects of the people in your pictures. As beautiful as the mountains are; as beautiful as the people are, it was tough to live there. The work you are doing there is wonderful. Thank you.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 14, 2011 - 11:20pm PT
Great effort helping the people of nepal, thanks for your service.
Thanks for posting our thoughts and reflections!
Truthdweller

Trad climber
San Diego, CA (stuck in Jersey)
  May 15, 2011 - 12:16am PT
"I have been to Europe and Russia and once spent a month in Kazakhstan. Kathmandu is intense and I'm soon ready to get out of the city."



"WELCOME TO KATHMANDU! Eat pie, drink chai, get high...don't be shy!" A smiling bookseller would greet me with this line every morning of three that I spent in the city during a two week tripback in '88-89. Thailand and the Philippines are not much different in many rural areas, nor is Iraq where ancient dwellings living nearly side by side with modern wealth. My journey's, as, I'm sure, did yours, definitely opened my eyes as to what comfort we have, even in the worst of times, here in the U.S. of A!

This is the "real world folks"...Ours, here in the states, is the exception.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  May 15, 2011 - 10:44am PT
A bump for a worthy thread!
frog-e

Trad climber
Imperial Beach California
  May 15, 2011 - 11:16am PT
Tremendous post!
Thank you very much.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  May 15, 2011 - 11:56am PT
Micronut-

I loved your quote after your third trip.

"For me, some of the romance is gone. Now I primarily see corruption, poverty, filthy cities and hopelessness in the peoples eyes. I'd like to get back to the time when I thought it was just awesome mountains, smiling villagers and pretty prayer flags blowing in the breeze".

Everyone who tries to help or change Nepal gets to that point. Now all you need is some naive tourist coming up to you while you're working to ask you why you are trying to change anything. "Can't you tell it's Shangra La"?

There are still awesome mountains, smiling villagers and pretty prayer flags blowing in the breeze, but you have to go to 8,000 ft. or higher to see them.

Then you will have a whole new set of issues to ponder about the difference. Is it climate, culture, Buddhism etc.?
BriGuy

climber
black hills, south dakota
  May 17, 2011 - 12:00pm PT
Thank you micronut! Very inspiring.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  May 17, 2011 - 12:24pm PT
Thanks for the photos and report. Some nearly brought back the strange odors of parts of Kathmandu.

You are doing good work.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Sep 24, 2012 - 11:15am PT
Fritz,
When were you in Kathmandu last? I'm sure it's changed a good bit.

Jan,
Are you still over there?


We haven't been lately, but hope to go back in the coming years. Thanks for all the comments on the TR everybody.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Sep 24, 2012 - 11:36am PT
Micronut: I haven't been there since 2008. My treking company owner friends are still going every fall and often in the spring too. Their Sherpas mostly live in Kathmandu and are like an extended family for them.

I just reviewed your Nepal appreciation thread, where I posted up my photos & memories of our 2008 Mustang trek.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1680800/Nepal-Appreciation-Thread-You-been-there-Stories-photos
MisterE

climber
  Sep 24, 2012 - 11:59am PT
You are a good man, Micronut.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 15, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
Bump for nostalgia on a slow Monday at work.
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