November 14, 2016
Achyut Tiwari tells of the trials and tribulations of doing field work in Nepal. The field work was conducted two years ago for his PhD project on climate responses in treeline dynamics and growth climate in central Himalaya and Hengduan mountain, China. Tiwari is originally from Nepal, and is affiliated with Xishungbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
I still have one more story from this same field work expedition:
As we prepared to return home, we learned that the hotel owner had a big organic apple farm. He offered us apples at 65 cents per kilo (2.2 lbs), which was a very good price. I and my two field assistants decided to take 10 kilos (22 lbs) of apples each. We did this because the biggest Hindu festival of the year, called Dashain, is usually in October. This is when we take blessings from seniors/elders and enjoy good food. And since it’s also apple season, the fruit is cheaper and we eat a lot of them.
Now the road coming out to Mustang was quite good when we came out to our field site on September 10-12. But while returning on September 25 the road was blocked due to heavy rain and a massive landslide. We had thought we’d have to carry the apples ourselves only a half-hour up to the bus station. Unfortunately our bus stopped after just half-hour drive due to the landslide. In fact some parts of roads were washed away and took almost a month to rebuild. The only way forward for us was to walk.
Hiring porters to help us was out of the question. We could not afford it. We were so tired after two weeks of exhausting fieldwork that I was ready to throw the apples away, but my field assistants consoled me. It was 20 kilos (44 lbs) backpack plus 10 kilos (22 lbs) of apples. Horrible. But we managed it, stayed in a dirt crooked hotel that night after three hours walk, and the next day we carried the things for five more hours to reach another bus.