Travel Notes from Ridi Bazaar, Palpa, Nepal
Out of nowhere comes the rain in Tansen. The clouds were turning darker by the second, and local villagers prepare for the coming typhoon. Women get their laundry on the roof, and men pick up their kids to school early. In a town badly hit by landslides during the moonson, fear can get the best of you. My homestay is at the lap of the hills, so imagine how strong the wind blew that afternoon. Yesterday, the rain continued on till before i sleep. There was no electricity almost the whole day, so it was hard for me to share this story right away.
Jihoon, the Korean guy i was traveling with met up with me, and off we go for some momo and Tuborg Gold. As the last customer of this local pub at 9, we searched the maze to find our respective homestays. I rushed to find the tiny little corner going to Horizon in the darkness. Thankfully, Abbhie was there waiting for me. We said goodnight, and in less than a few minutes i dozed off to dreamland.
Earlier that day, i went for another thrilling bus ride far west of Tansen to the tiny and remote village of Ridi. In this place, lies the sacred confluence of Gandaki and Trisuli river. Many Hindu pilgrims visit the place, to wash away sins, to die, and celebrate life. There's pretty much no absolute information you can find on the net, and not a lot of travelers have been here, too. In a few hours that i roamed around, i saw young women bathing, a young man being read his last will and testament, and a grandfather weeping to the passing of his wife. For one moment, it was too much for me to handle. It was the pain, the suffering and the mourning that brought me to tears that day. Varanasi was magical, Pashupatinath was remarkable, but Ridi was unexplainably momentous. I saw a hermit, sitting at the nearby cave. His face has been completely washed away by dust and sun. He didn't have any material possession with him, but he appeared contented with his life. There was an old couple who passed by me on my say to the river. In a very convincing manner, he was talking to me in Nepali. Of course, i couldn't understand anything but the friendly smile, and warm touch were enough to let me know they care. Since i blend in with everyone, i didn't get the stare nor was i an interruption to the sacredness of the place.
In Ridi, there were no hotels nor restaurants catering to tourists. There is only one lane that people walk to from the south of the river to the bus station at the north. There was one barbershop, a couple of tailors, and one school. The old bridge is not anymore used for walking back and forth the main highway to the bazaar. The road to Ridi was narrow, on the edge of mountain ranges, passing through several towns. Along the way, you could see emerald green paddies, a few huts impossibly built on the cliff, and a couple of puja stops along the way. The view is spectacular, to the say the least. I've never been that impressed while struggling to calm my nerves. This side of Palpa is so off the beaten, yet so rewarding to go to.
But the very essence of people stopping by is to pay tribute to a holy place. After sitting for a couple of hours, watching families clap and sing, a few women bathing, and young boys picking the coins thrown by pilgrims, i stumbled upon a death ceremony. A few minutes later, the husband walked away and crying his heart out. It was that moment that i realized the big difference in the way of life of people here. I stood, watch, and prayed for the soul.
I am very happy i extended a day in Tansen so i could visit Ridi. It's one of the most rewarding journeys of my life, one i will never forget. It's here that I've become even more content with life, and know that i should make the most out of it,
I watched in gaze, as the beat up public bus, ride up the highway in a very handsome fashion. It was totally fighting the law of gravity. But with Nepali super drivers, everything's possible. I opened the windows and feel the wind upon my skin. I paid 320 rupees going to Ridi, and 20 rupees less coming back. Up until now, i don't have an idea the actual cost. Heck, i could totally 500 rupees and do Ridi all over again. That night, as i finish my third bottle of Tuborg Gold, i realize that tomorrow i'll have a hang-over but whatevs, i'll just sleep it off and recover.