IamA Nepal Earthquake survivor that was caught in the Langtang Trek - AMA!
This is my story:
Happy to answer any questions you folks have!
Link to my gofundme page for Shyam (my guide) who saved my life below:
Unfortunately i hadn't seen her or heard about her while i was there.
If she was in the Langtang Village (a part of the Langtang Trek) at the time the quake happened, it would be bad news as that village was hit the worst... There was an avalanche that leveled the town.
I was there the day before the quake, fortunately.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family
Can you check pics of other missing people? You can find them on www.instagram.com/langtangmissing Families are desperate for info! Some don't know where loved ones were on day of quake. If you have seen them before, it could help them pinpoint their itinirary.
I will go through the list and provide an update. Thanks for the link
I don't recognize any of them.. but only can comment on one thing:
Leonie and Nina, if at Dunche would most likely be safe and making their way down to Kathmandu.
What would you want the western world to know that the media isn't showing?
I have been reading some bad press about how the Nepalese are handling the situation. Nepal is a very big country and their population is spread out over vast mountainous regions, which makes relief efforts difficult. Given the situation, i'd like to let the western world know that this is not an easy task to handle.
The Nepalese remain resilient and resourceful through this time of crisis.
Heard on NPR that there is only one runway in Nepal. Makes it difficult for large cargo planes to land and then send resources throughout the country.
Kathmandu.. the largest airport in Nepal is really small and not equipped to handle all the large aircraft that has been pouring in (PLUS commercial aircraft).
So, you are quite right.
Would you say that they Nepalese are receiving enough international support?
They are receiving heaps of support. You should check out the Nepal earthquake wiki page.. The list contributions from each country
How are the survivors coping? Have you received any aid/assistance yet? I read today that another large earthquake (aftershock) has hit the region; I hope you and your friends/family are safe.
When I left the camp, the other survivors were doing alright. There should be enough food and water for them to last a week or two. I had left 3 days ago, I believe a lot of the trekkers would have been heli'd out to safety by now.. Although of the locals and some foreigners have left by foot to dunche, about 2hrs away, which is another town close by in hopes to get to kathmandu. Yes, another small quake hit earlier, mag 5.0. Hoping everyone is fine.
My family and my group are all OK. Thanks for asking
I've received some aid over a small first aid booth in syabru besi.
Received full treatment in Malaysia upon my return
What's the most heroic act you witnessed during the quake/afterward?
There was a person who broke their leg during the first quake nearby to where i was.
Never saw him after the second day, but he emerged a day later at Syabru Besi. I was told four strong Lithuanians carried him out as they stumbled across him when they were trekking to safety. He was air lifted out the next day.
It was EXTREMELY difficult to trek down given the landslides, i really have no idea how they managed to carry him.
Just like that: http://imgur.com/a/WSOqR Actually it was five Nepalese and two Lithuanians (me and my brother). It was hard and took very long - maybe 4x normal walking time! What saddened me most was that when we reached the helicopter pad at Syabrubesi, two flights left without taking the injured. Supposedly they were private flights (big money wins) and our guy had to stay on Ibuprofen in a tent for another night :( The Nepalese in return for the help were very nice to us, helped with the shelter and food.
You sir, and your company need to be commended.
He was at the same camp as us, and we left the day after for Syabru Besi. People were asking for helicopters to get him, but to no avail. Thank you for your amazing feat.
Are the beautiful temples in Kathmandu still mostly standing? Or was all that history and architecture destroyed too?
Unfortunately a lot of it has been destroyed or damaged.
How long did it take for recovery teams to reach you after the quakes? If you know, how did the electrical, telecom, etc. grids fare after the quakes?
This is a very good question.
If you are within the Langtang valley, there is no form of communication. Once out to the town at Shabru Besi, communication was scarce and unreliable. You'd be lucky to get a signal at that town during the first few days. Communication got marginally better after day 3.
All electricity was cutoff and will remain cutoff to the majority of the small villages and towns in mountains for a considerable time to come.
There was electricity and communication in Kathmandu, for the most part.
What should we be doing right now to help out the country?
There are a lot of avenues for donating, but i am not sure as to which one is the best. Maybe someone else can advice?
I see gofundme.com a lot on reddit and imgur and they have a lot of campaigns to raise funds for the victims.
I am using it to help my trekking guide who lost his home.
Link above if you'd like to donate
Hey. First off I'm really sorry to hear everything that's been happening. I was in Nepal not too long ago and seeing destroyed photos of places I was at was heartbreaking.
I wanted to ask how's the situation there now. China, Pakistan and India have been having massive recovery attempts there, albeit with political favour purposes, but how are the people coping with the sudden outburst of help from the neighbours?
When I left Nepal, the country seemed to still be in utter chaos. Unfortunately they are not prepared to handle a situation of this size.. I don't think the aid was getting to it's intended destinations efficiently
Foreign aid has been pouring in, including crisis professionals. I hope that the situation has improved by now
you can edit your posts by pressing "edit" next to the reply button :)
Done, sorry - first time posting to reddit
Hi OP.. I'm glad that you're alive and well. Being a Nepalese who is away from home.. It was certainly devastating to hear the news while barely awake.
Nonetheless, the media is only covering most of the damages on the capital city, Kathmandu. I would like to know how badly affected are the rural areas of the country?
The rural areas are hit really badly, from what we see when we were flying over.
A lot of the houses in the small towns were made out of stacked bricks and rocks, which really didn't stand a chance against the quake, compared to many buildings in Kathmandu which were reinforced.
Having a lot of crucial roads destroyed, which they depend on for their livelyhoods, also would pose a big problem. Aid would also take a lot more time to reach them..
Mayweather of Pacquiao?
The Pacman of course
I'm guessing most people in Malaysia are rooting for Packy right? From my experience pretty much everyone in SE Asia loves him.
We love Packy
As a worker in a fair trade clothing shop we have a lot of connections with families in Nepal and so this disaster was horrible news to hear. We have received confirmation that they are okay from many of these families, but there are still a few we are waiting to hear from. We are hoping that this is purely due to damaged communication lines. How bad is the level of damage to communication services out there? We all hope that help reaches you all as soon as possible, many people over here in the UK are happy to donate.
If they are out of the city in the mountains, i would remain positive.
Communication is really bad as a lot of towers up in the mountains were damaged during the quakes. Landlines share a similar fate.
How does an embassy operate out of a car? Did you have any trouble getting your passport or papers necessary to get back to Malaysia?
Also: What was your first indication of an earthquake? Was it really strong all at once, or did the shaking gradually get stronger and what did it sound like?
Your story is fascinating and the pictures tell a story of bravery. Thank you for sharing.
It was an emergency, and in hindsight a car parked at the airport would be the best option to connect with survivors. No trouble, the embassy rep was helpful with the emergency passport.
Shaking was small but very rapidly got stronger. It sounds like Zeus-worthy lightning struck a few miles away - that sound you hear seconds after.
Did you think you would die? If so what is that like?
I feared for my life.. but was too preoccupied with avoiding falling rocks to think i would die.
Those thoughts crossed my mind during the first night at our campsite though.
For me, i was thinking of HOW i would die.. how it would feel being crushed by a giant boulder.. and would it be instantaneous? painful? torturous? etc etc..
Your leg vs boulder injury looks horrible! What ended up being wrong with your leg? Any broken bones or just a massive bruise? Thanks for your story, and am glad you and your dad are ok.
The initial impact caused bruising, but because i strained it over the next couple of days it developed cellulitis? and a possible infection.
I can't really walk or straighten my leg now, but i expect it to improve. I have another doctors appointment in a week.
Thanks for your concern.
Cellulitis is potentially life-threatening if it spreads to your blood and lymph nodes. Please do exactly as the doctors have advised, and if the red swollen area does not decrease in size with the meds you were given, go back to the doctor.
Hi, are you a doctor? Because while the bruising is receding, it's increasingly harder to walk. The unbruised part is still stiff and tingly to the touch. Any advice is appreciated
Hey, you probably know my parents who are coming home today. Did you meet kat heldman and Kevin krogh? Also the nurse brigita who was working on everyone is a family friend :)
Visit /r/langtang if you want more info
I may have seen them if they were in Syabru Besi.
Happy that they are on their way back home !
Could you describe in detail you experience of the quake itself? For example, did you hear it before the shaking started and was it loud during? How far back and forth did the ground seem to be shifting? Was it hard to remain standing? Based on the intensity, how badly do you think that exact earthquake would affect a "modern, " developed city?
I was in Langtang, Bamboo village at the time as well. The beginning wasn't loud, it was a gradually increasing shaking, I was sitting in the open at the time, wasn't scary at all. What was scary, was the rocks and boulders coming down afterwords... literally erasing one building after another in front of our eyes. A friend, took a video just a few seconds after it started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J5-dndrWxU
I was just at Bamboo a 1-2hrs before it happened!
That video is amazing. Thanks for sharing
To begin with, it was terrifying.
The shaking started and built up very quickly. Soon after the ground was moving violently, i'd guess by more than a foot or so very quickly.
What followed after was thunderous sounds of rock breaking and tumbling down the mountain, scary stuff.
My guess is that A modern developed city, if not prepared for it (like Japan), would suffer huge loss of life and property as we've seen in the past. Relief efforts would be more efficient and coordinated though in a developed nation.
My parents met in Syabrubesi in Langtang the '70s. I was lucky enough to visit in '07. Is the town still standing?
The town is badly damaged.. including hotels, roads, infrastructure..
Also one side of town was completely rained on by falling rock, you can see in the imgur album.
Thanks for the terrific photos and great narrative of events. I am assuming that "trek" is the same as "trail," and that the wonderful folks who helped you will be without an income until the trails are rebuilt. I wish everyone well.
My question is about the infrastructure of the highways and rail systems. I traveled to Kathmandu from India by narrow guage rail in 1970, and I understand that the line was closed last year and is going to be replaced by a sturdier rail system, which is being financed by India. Based on this information, I am wondering if there are navigable roads "down the mountain," or is air travel the only safe way out of the country right now?
There are navigable roads down the mountains for sure, but a lot of them located higher up in the mountains (steeper roads, cliffhanging etc) would have been damaged.
A lot of people are being airlifted out to nearby towns that have road access. That way it's easier to get people to Kathmandu.
I heard that there are concerns over whether the rainy season will see more mud and landslides due to rocks that was loosened by the earthquakes. Is there anything they're doing to prevent this? Can anything be done to prevent this?
This is a serious concern, but i'm not too sure what can be done at this moment. They have their hands tied on concentrating on getting everyone out safely before moving on to repairs for critical areas.
I was walking the Langtang Trek a couple years ago.
Do you think the whole trek path is lost, or still recoverable? Would be a big loss..
Most of the trek has been damaged by landslides..
Recoverable, but it will be a huge task to repair, plus it would need the villages to be rebuilt - which is a problem because the trekkers support the economy of the villages.
In a nutshell, it'll take awhile.
How many friends/acquaintances/family did you lose?
Acquaintances.. definitely a few but can't be too sure.
Family, i was only with my dad, so none.
Did you get any sense of how people were selected to be ferried out by helicopter or bus? Was it severity of injury, or was it just foreigners who got priority? Was there any backlash from people left behind?
The injured remained priority from what i've seen, although i did see a few exceptions.
TBH, most people, including in my group tried to get helicopters earlier by contacting our embassies, but there was just no possible way.
Up to my departure everything was very civil, there was some military men towards the last day i was there to see who got on and off.
I think all the embassies were trying to arrange for helicopters and provided pressure to the govt to a certain degree. The minister had control over all helicopters, and you'd need the ministers approval before flying - so that was what i was told.
That way, somehow foreigners would always get preference over Locals..
How much of assistance did you see from Indian Armed forces?
I notice a couple of huge military aircraft with supplies and army men when i was at Kathmandu Airport.
What was the best of the human nature that you observed in those dark hours?
The selflessness of the Nepalese people.
This is the thing thats hitting home most of all for me. Lots of these people lost everything, family, friends, homes, livelihoods; but they're still helping everyone else. All these stories of guides etc going above and beyond are heart warming. The Nepalese are a truly great people.
Yes, fully agree..
Was rioting intense in Kathmandu when you got there? I heard people were actually stopping evacuation busses to try and force themselves on. I'm glad you made it out safely OP!
I personally did not witness anything of that sort, but the town seemed to be under control when i was there (3 days ago now).
I wouldn't be surprised if a bit of 'pushing' would've happened as a lot of locals are frustrated with the way things are being handled. Many of them were complaining while i was there
How do you feel, as a survivor of this natural disaster, that foreigners to Nepal appear to be getting preferential treatment over the local Nepalese? I say this because here in Canada, the majority of the news was about Canadians getting airlifted out and the government of canada bringing them home, instead of helping the local people who have no where else to go. This may be a biased view of things over there, but I was just curious what you think about that whole viewpoint?
Where i was, it seemed that the injured people had priority, regardless of nationality.
But what you say is true, the tourists and foreigners to take priority when it comes to airlifting. Many of the Nepalese that were in Syabru Besi decided that it was better to walk to Kathmandu from there, yes.. over 2-3 days.
I guess the foreigners aren't as resilient as the Nepalese.
I would also fare to guess that it'd be best to get as many people out as possible - foreigners can get help and aid easily from their home countries, so it's probably better for them to not be wasting resources that are meant for the Nepalese.
Interesting viewpoint, seconded
Has one of your cats got an inverted eye?? It looks really cool!
I'm obviously so glad you are safe and I'm hoping for the best outcome to the other survivors.
Minichi is blind in one eye, but still extremely cute!
Thanks mate, me too.
Selamat pulang. Masih ada orang Malaysia kat sana tak?
Saya tidak pasti, Mungkin ada beberapa.
What is the best organization to currently donate to?
I am not sure about this, but am using Gofundme.com
Anyone else who knows please share.
Having trekked the Annapurna circuit a few years back, I found the Nepalese the friendliest people I've ever met. In spite of this tragic disaster, with many of their homes/villages/livelihoods ruined did they still remain the helpful, selfless people I imagine they would?
Yes, the majority of people were still helpful, especially the group that i was with. I have utter respect for them.
There were a handful Nepalese taking advantage of the situation for charging heaps for basic necessities, but i guess we have to keep in mind that their homes and livelihoods have just been swept away, they want to recoup.
Have you seen or have any information about Dawn Habash?
Unfortunately not, sorry.
As someone who treked langtang two years ago how much of the area was destroyed by the earthquake?
The trek is mostly destroyed by landslides, but from what i hear the towns that were most badly affected were Ghoda Tabela and Langtang Village.
This website has some Satellite photos:
Will this put you off trekking in the future?
For awhile at least
Did you come back in a normal passenger plane to Malaysia? Also, did you have to pay for the trip back home like normal or you lost your money during the 4 days of the chaos?
Yes, we flew Malaysian Airlines an had to pay for everything.
We had our wallets so we could pay with our credit cards.
What place have you seen in pictures that made you think "holy shit, I was just there"?
My friend's friend and family was in Kathmandu when the earthquake hit. Fortunately she and her family were ok, but those couple hours after it hit without communication were scary. She has several of those experiences, e.g. she would walk to a temple every morning, and sent us a picture of it destroyed.
Many many places, a lot of the tea houses on the way down.
Langtang village is the most prominent one.
Would you say that Shyam and his team were ultimately the reason for your survival? Having known him for some years I know of his selfless acts, he once got between me and an angry half ton bull, and his daughter (Monica) fought off a snake I nearly trod on bare footed.
Yes, he pulled me up from a ledge right before it was disassembled by rocks.. And continued to help us all the way back. I owe this guy my life..
What you have described is not hard to believe, the man is a hard working honest man. If you can please donate to the fund for shyam.. He really needs it at this point in time
I have done the Langtang trek 2 months ago and staying in Bamboo lodge (among others). Do you know if the very friendly owner and her family survived? Also I heard that Langtang Village got completely destroyed. Have you seen any survivors or heard anything about the situation there? I would be very grateful for an answer.
I wonder the same thing about the owners and their families.. especially the kids that help out..
I have heard of survivors all the way up to Lama.. and even Ghoda Tabela that make their way to Syabru Besi. Unforunately none from Langtang Village.
Glad you made it out alive! Heard your story through the grapevine.
Just wanted to ask, did all the training in 5thPJ prepare you for any of this?
Woah, fellow highschoolmate? All the camping done during the scouts definitely helped, mentally at least during the 3 nights camping
Hey op, so glad you made it out alright. Did you instantly know it was an earthquake, or were you kind of in shock initially? Have you been through earthquakes prior to this event? I've been in a couple small earthquakes and they're not common where I live (southern USA), so it always took me a minute to figure out what was going on.
I have not been through earthquakes prior to this, but i instantly knew within seconds. I guess it's the magnitude that makes the difference.
In hindsight, what are two things you wish you had with you? Thanks for doing this, I wish all the best
A satellite phone and a solar powerbank!
Fellow Malaysian here. How do you come back to Malaysia? Commercial airlines or RMAF?
Came back on commercial airlines which we booked ourselves.
The embassy guy didn't know if there was going to be another RMAF flight.
How would you describe the current connectivity level in Nepal / where you were at? I'm assuming that the internet connection was slow to begin with, and I'm not sure on how the mobile connection was. Would you say that the rescue efforts are being slowed down by this?
Really really poor. Voice connection was scarce, and internet was unavailable where i was.
Definitely rescue efforts are being slowed by this, communication, from what i've experienced, is the most vital thing during a disaster.
Wow great story glad you made it out safely.. What was the cat situation while you were gone? Who was watching them for you?
I live with my family, so my mom and sister were looking after the cat..
Mom was going nuts, needless to say.
Do u know how many Chinese there ?cause I'm a Chinese and I'm care about the people who came to Nepal recently.thank you for your answer.
I didn't notice a lot of Chinese nationals on the trek or at Syabru Besi
With every country doing their bit to send aid in the form of cash or kind, is there any form of aid that you observed being of no/minimum use? Can people who are sending aid divert towards other resources that would be more helpful?
I reckon all forms of foreign aid will be useful at this point.
However, what is really lacking is expertise, in the form of crisis management and or volunteers/doctors going to to Nepal to help out.
What's the emergency food aid like? What is it and how does it taste?
Not sure because my area didn't receive it whilst i was there.
I'm assuming a lot of rice, biscuits etc.
Holy wow jesus man. I am extremely pleased to hear you made it out alright. That's a hell of a story to tell.
Just cause I like to focus on the positive, before the quake, what's the coolest part of the trek?
Getting to the top of Kyanjin Ri, at 4700m the view was spectacular.
Do you know Jessie Ramirez? She was on that treck too, I think.
I do not recognize that name, sorry.
What are your living conditions like right now? Do you have shelter or anything?
Back in Malaysia mate, comfy bed and good food.
Most people in Nepal are still under tents if their houses are destroyed.
Hey, thanks for doing this!
I have 2 friends who had gone for a Trek in Nepal, too. We're still to hear back from them.
All communications appear too have been disrupted. Any idea when the communications would be back up or how could we get in touch with them?
Depends on the area, but they are slowly restoring comms to the rural areas.
Looks familiar, but not too sure...!
Will you be returning to help with the aid operation when you've recovered?
I don't think i'll be returning soon due to commitments here, but i will persevere on helping my guide recover from this disaster.
How has this event affected you? Do you feel any change of perspective?
Life.. strangely feels normal back home.
I think the whole thing hasn't fully sinked in yet.
Glad you made it out safe OP. I made this trek a year back and remember how most commodities were transported by people trekking two days (including things like cement and LPG cylinders). Where were you exactly when the earthquake struck? Had you passed Ghoratabela on the way back? I had actually befriended many of the people at the lodges, and I'm heartbroken to hear about Langtang village. Do you know how Kyanjin Gomba faired?
Edit: I hadn't read his entire post first.
I was about 7kms into the track, before Bamboo.
From what i've heard, Kyanjin Gomba faired better than Langtang or Ghoratabela.
I've never been in a notable earthquake so could you explain what you are thinking as it happens and what everything around you looks like from the beginning of the earthquake to the end? Thanks :)
I'm from Malaysia, we have no earthquakes there so no prior experience.. but the only thing i was thinking about was how to avoid falling rocks and where would be the best place to hide.
check out the imgur post, there's more info there.
Do you know anything about this woman? I live in Maine and this was in our paper today...family desperate and she was thought to be right where you were.... http://www.pressherald.com/2015/05/02/missing-in-nepal-augusta-hikers-kin-keeps-vigil-and-raises-funds/
View HistoryShare Link