Happy Friday! Per Part 1, Lincoln and Cameron went to Nepal with the Moran Eye Center and then explored the Khumbu region after the Eye Clinic ended. Utah cities spend millions of dollars to maintain a surface road system that allows people, goods, and services to circulate in the community. Local roads are a key cog in the entire transportation network and the local economy. In the summer, Utah cities send their public works departments to evaluate, re-surface, and repair roads. In the winter, Utah cities ensure that snowy roads are plowed and are safe. Roads are equally vital in Nepal, but the transportation system in the highlands is unpaved, vehicleless, and dominated by porters, trekkers, and yaks.
There are stretches of the Everest highway where the Nepali government has “paved” it, but you can tell they don’t possess an asphalt paver! Porters can carry up to 200 pounds on their backs.
Utah has large swaths of rural roads that connect rural communities and moves goods from rural Utah to the Wasatch Front and beyond. In Nepal, this sweet lady is walking along the main highway that connects all of the villages along the Mt. Everest trek. All goods must either be grown or produced in the village or carried to the village by porters. The highway is primarily dirt—no worries about potholes—and is long and steep. No snow removal either. Notice the suspension bridge behind her.
A bridge too far?
Suspension bridges literally connect Nepal together. Utah cities often build overpasses, underpasses, and other vehicle and pedestrian bridges to connect communities over and around freeways, railroad tracks, water bodies, or other busy roads. In Nepal, villages straddle the hillside and the bridges can hang hundreds of feet above the raging river and stretch thousands of feet across the valley. They are covered with Buddhist prayer flags, and the bridges can bring the most agnostic trekker to prayer. The bridges sway with the canyon winds, and if an animal is crossing the bridge, hold on tight!
When roads are built in Utah cities, the public works department sends heavy equipment, notifies residents of the construction and potential delay, and detours traffic. The public works department considers retaining walls, storm water runoff, structural stability, and other engineering requirements. This Nepali road is the busiest highway in Kathmandu and they are adding another lane. The workers are chiseling, excavating, and building the road… by hand.
Instead of sharing the thoroughfare with vehicles as you would in Utah cities, porters and trekkers must watch for mules, cattle, and yaks. We never saw any “yak crossing” signs, but you learned quickly that a 2000 pound yak has right of way regardless of whether you were there first. As you may expect, yaks and others leave their manure in the road and Nepalese cities do not have a cleanup service. Utah cities provide poop bags at local dog parks but we don’t recommend expanding that service for pet yaks!
Have a great Utah fall weekend!