Photos from the Shoebox: Rafting on the Trisuli River, Nepal 1990
If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.
My months long trip to Asia began with the desire to seek adventure. Back in the 90’s, without the influence of the internet, the world was still a huge mysterious place. The pages of the National Geographic, with its colourful, glossy photos sparked the imaginations of those seeking the exotic. And so, with my like-minded best friend, I left Canada to explore the far side of the world.
One of those exotic places was Nepal. We thought a nice and easy introduction would be to take a white water rafting trip down the Trisuli River. We would plunge into the unknown with the help of a guide and fellow travellers. Getting out of Kathmandu was easy. Traversing the chewed up, pot-holed dirt road was another thing.
We were a crazy bunch. Six Australians and four Canadians. Nine girls and one poor guy, Marcus, listening to us chatter about ‘girl’ things like how everyone’s periods were synching.
The first day started out early. By 6am we had breakfast and hoped the low-lying clouds would lift. We prayed to the river gods and they answered. The sky opened up, the sun appeared and as if on cue rafts started to float by.
We split into two groups, went through two small rapids and mostly floated down river. The relative calmness of the day gave us the opportunity to absorb our surroundings. It also inspired someone to start a singing contest. I would have never guessed I would be floating down a river in Nepal singing my heart out.
It wasn’t all about rafting. As we cruised down river we spotted large pots sitting over fire. Sensing our obvious curiosity, Yumbi our leader, guided the rafts to the riverbank.
But before we could get out of the rafts we were swarmed by dozens of Nepalese kids who were even more curious and excited than us.
It was the middle of Tihar, a Hindu festival. In a couple of days the Nepalese would be celebrating the relationship between brother and sister so they brewed up Raxi (rice wine) in pots for the festivities. It was their version of moonshine and they proudly let us have a taste. Why does moonshine always taste like rubbing alcohol?
Rocky II, Monsoon and Crazy Tiger. These were some of the exciting rapids we paddled through. In contrast, our time on the Trisuli ended with a gentle float down the river. My friend and I made the seven hour long, ass busting journey back to Kathmandu while the rest of the group went on to do an elephant safari at Chitwan National Park.