Lying along the Dudh Khola river at 3720m, Bimtang is surrounded by two great mountains, Larkya peak at 6249m and Manaslu Himal at 8163m. It is the first village where porters and trekkers, coming from Larke pass (5220m) can spend the night and relax while having basic food and drinks. Bimtang can only offer lodges, camping facilities, great views and its remoteness. The nearest village, Tilje is about a 7 hour walk and it is easier for the locals to get to the Tibetan border than the busy city of Kathmandu. Here there is no noise pollution and only the song of the crows flying around the Tibetan cemetery and the whistling wind. In the peak season, around ten inhabitants share Bimtang’s quietness and the joy of welcoming trekkers and cooking some basic Dal baht for them. In the winter only one person, Ryalbo Lama, a Tibetan refugee, lives in the emptiness of the dramatic environment of Bimtang. Busy saddling his horses, he is about to go down to Tilje, taking a tourist suffering from altitude sickness to safety. This is also the path that he takes when going shopping to Besi Shahar, or further to Kathmandu, about three times a year. The journey to Kathmandu is a 10 day round trip from his house.
Ryalbo was 9 when his parents fled the Chinese Cultural Revolution and ended up in Bimtang. His father was a trader, making a living from trading material and clothes bought at the Tibetan border and then sold or exchanged for rice and food in Kathmandu; a harsh life which regularly took him over Larke pass before following the trail down to Samdo, at 3800m. This village of Tibetan refugees was always a welcome break before crossing the Tibetan border just four kilometers from Samdo: a short journey from Samdo but a hard climb up to 5000m in order to reach his native country. Once the goods had been bought, he had a long walk down along the Buddhi Gandaki river to Arugat before going to Kathmandu.
Ryaldo didn’t follow his father’s path. Nowadays, he mainly lives from the small income from his guesthouse, restaurant and shop. Like many other Nepalese people, his livelihood relies heavily on tourism. When the winter comes, he lives in complete isolation from the rest of the Manang District.