A “Journey” by Boat

“I can’t wait to plan my next rafting trip, I am definitely doing this again” Mithila, the brain behind our Nepal tour exclaimed while recounting her adventure. This was her first rafting experience, and despite being an urbanite, a busy professional and a tech-savvy individual who can’t swim, her experience on the incredible rogue Trishuli River in Central Nepal was amazing enough to inspire her to do it all over again.

Harbouring the same emotion, other members of our group and I wished to turn back time just for a day. Only to relive the highs and lows of rapids the Trishuli River had to offer. For those who do not know, Rapids are sections of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient, causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence.

Struggling to be functioning adults, after a night of exploring ourselves, we ran towards the bus station hoping to catch it before it abandons us in the morning. Power walking through the entire way, with our backpacks, we were able to board the bus. However, lady luck was not on our side. One of our group members, Adity, left the bus tickets back at the hotel. She had one job! Wasting no time, we called our super-helpful tour operator Vyas Treks and Expedition, and the issue was mitigated in no time.

Needless to say, the power walk and the anxiety left us parched, which led to us purchasing enough water to keep the four of us hydrated for the entire day’s journey. Our destination was Pokhara, the land from where you can admire the Himalayan Range with your own two eyes.

Before we could witness the herculean view of the mountains on the horizon, we had one stop midway between Kathmandu and our final destination. The three-hour bus ride came to a swift end at our stop Charaudi, the place where we’ll experience rafting for the very first time. The bus dropped all four of us at the stop where our instructor and guide greeted us for the adventure which awaited us. The instructor began to lead the way towards the rafting camp, which was on the riverside of the valley. Our slow descent towards the camp under the scorching sun was excruciating.

After reaching the camp, we quickly changed into more breathable clothes and applied an ample amount of sunscreen. An hour or two later, we were taken to the bank of the river Trishuli which was our actual starting point of Trisuli rafting. The instructor gave some briefing on how to face rapids and whirlpools and how to use rafting gears such as rafting paddles or oars, helmet, life jackets and other safety measures. He explained that the front of the raft gets the most action. The middle section of the raft is usually the place where it is less challenging than the front row. The last row is for those who want to remain safe and cruise through the river with the occasional bumps.

Not being able to hold the question in any longer, the last member of our group, Rakib expressed his concern by asking, “Will we get wet?”

The instructor gave a long pause and was confused about whether Rakib was serious. He actually was. He was just not entirely clear about what rafting was. To him, it was cruising through the river on a boat. I kept my conscience clear by technically not lying to him. Rakib is still waiting for a response to his question to this day.

Back to the story. The first thing the river guides and instructors did was douse the scalding hot raft, baking under the sun, with the river water. Then we were asked to take our preferred place on the boat. Rakib and I chose the front row, Adity and Mithila took the middle and Lulu, our friend from China, whom we met at the camp, took the last row. Before we could settle in, we were drenched with freezing water thanks to the river guides. The river water was bitingly cold and my skin felt numb after the first exposure. Our instructor explained that our bodies needed to adjust to the temperature of the water before we start our journey.

After a short while, our raft was finally pushed into the river stream. Being scared deep down inside, I managed to drown my fear with the scenic view up ahead of me. I was in the middle of a valley, streaming through hills with heights of thousands of feet. “Oh my god look at that mountain,” Mithila said with awe in her face. Little did she know that those were hills.

Our serene experience came to an abrupt end as our raft stumbled upon the edge of a whirlpool. Thanks to the prior instructions, we knew exactly what to do. The only hiccup was, our paddling didn’t have any rhythm as a group, which was fixed within mere moments after adapting the military marching method. Not only did it adjust our rhythm, but we could also control our pace just by repeating One, Two faster.

In the first one and a half hour, I felt more alive than in my entire life. The constant excitement and the adrenaline rush makes everything move slow. For a second, everything fades, and all you can see and feel is the essence of freedom. After facing a rapid, the calmness of the river, with mammoth hills standing proud on both sides, will leave you out of words. The only words I could say out loud was, “I am alive.”
We took a short break, and we went on to complete the rafting route. Being confident as ever, we started facing the rapids with ease. After thirty minutes of doing so, a rapid with a height of over six feet came crashing down at us. Naturally, all of our shorts were already wet, so nothing unusual was noticed after the crash of the giant rapid.

From that point on, we all saw the real face of the Trishuli River. She was as ferocious as a lioness roaring with hunger. Six feet tall rapids to six feet wide whirlpool, we saw it all. And I specifically saw Rakib swearing at the river, Adity getting hit on her helmet with Rakib’s paddle, Mithila paddling the air with her tiny arms and Lulu paddling inside the raft with her eyes closed. Yep, I saw it all.

A few seconds later, both Mithila and I were hit by a rogue rapid from the side, strong enough to throw us into the middle of the raft. It legitimately felt like a tight slap a 70’s father would give to his daughter because she refused to get married, the kind we saw in the Bangla movies.

I wanted to curl up into a fetal position, as my initial response, after falling. However, due to the disbalance of the raft, both of us needed to get back to our seats. Working through our disorientation, we streamed down the valley and reached the endpoint.

Those last few minutes felt longer. Unbeknownst to me, I reevaluated my life. I realised that living life to the fullest is one of the ways of achieving true happiness. It was a beautiful feeling, and we all had the same look on our face. This is where we all agreed that we are definitely doing this again.