Kathmandu Valley Run 2011
I don't often blog training runs, just races, but when my morning run was from Kathmandu up to the valley rim, it was a bit out of the ordinary and worth taking some snaps with my phone. I headed out at first light from my hotel in Tahachal and headed for the shortest escape route. Kathmandu is so polluted, even in the clearer air of early morning I was reluctant to run much in the city itself. It was only a mile to the ringroad - pretty quiet at this time of day - then I headed north running on the dirt road that parallels it until I reached the park with two great Buddha statues on the right. Opposite the park a lane led off the ring road and wound up into the hills. Freedom!
Kathmandu's ring road, like most of the town, is very chaotic and messy. Most of the buildings seem to be in a state of semi collapse and the road itself is in a bit of a state. The dirt road I was running on looked a bit like something from a war movie - fires smouldered everywhere (rubbish doused in petrol, burnt to get rid of the trash and also to keep people warm as they wait for buses or rides to work) and the tumbledown houses and general poverty were a bit of an assault on the senses. People seemed so happy though - cheerful despite the challenges. I hope they soon get a stable government and start seeing some of the things we take for granted - like having the garbage collected and managed somehow instead of it just piling up in the river, and some kind of control of the horrendous traffic and its dangerous levels of pollution. Once across the ring road, I found myself in a different world.
What began as a metalled road leading between houses soon zig zagged upward in to an exquisite valley - houses became fewer and eventually after passing a small village, with the temple bell ringing and worshippers gathering, I found myself on a dirt track that led right up thruogh some quarries to the valley rim. There was a small settlement there and the trail headed off to a higher part of the ridge, but I had only a couple of hours to spare between early morning meditation and the main meditation gathering at 10am, so I was content to peek over the ridge into the next valley and enjoy the sunrise before heading back down into the fumes and noise of Kathmandu. Don't get me wrong - I love the place! But the contrast between city and countryside here is stark and the conditions people live in are tough.
On the run I passed quite a few locals on bikes or walking - heading for the temple at Changu Narayan or just out getting on with life. Some were heading into town on motorbikes. Each settlement had a tap where people could wash themselves or their laundry. Cockerels were crowing and goats scaling impossible slopes on the hillside.A couple of mountain bikers came zooming down in all the geat - helmets and body armour - perhaps there's a circular route yu can do here, or maybe it's just the nearest good descent to the city.
This shot from the ridge reminds me of Janaka's haiku -
blue hills beyond
blue hills beyond
On the ridge it was all peace, looking back at charming, crazy Kathmandu miles down the valley.
Most of those shots were taken on the way down. Back at the ringroad the noise resumed, and I made for the shortest route back into Tahachal to avoid running close to all that traffic. In two hours I'd had a great run of around ten miles with a challenging climb thrown in, seen lots of Nepali village life in all it's natural serenity and still made it back in time for breakfast :)
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