LAST SUNRISE IN KATHMANDU – goodbye to Swaggies, KC, backstreets and friendly puppy, 1976

KC, restaurant owner, Thamel, Kathmandu

[Last sunrise in Kathmandu – goodbye to last of the Swaggie friends and final breakfast at KC’s before Nikki and I flew away from the snow-clad Himalayas.  Chrispin waved us off – he was heading off to do more travelling around India, so I took his large suitcase home and leant him my backpack and sleeping bag not thinking I would have need of them again for a while … bad call as it turned out!]

THURSDAY 30TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part One

“Up very early because Heidi leaving at 6.  As she went I could lie and see the sunrise out of the door.  Lovely winter morning – dark clouds with orange-pink light seeping into sky behind.  Hils dark behind and trees in foreground full of the noise of birds.  Streets quiet for once but dogs already beginning to stir in hotel courtyard (big black one and little black puppy that looks like a baby bear and plays with my tatty jeans!)

Waved off Heidi, Pam and Mark – fresh cool air of early morning.  Met Chris and Nikki and went for breakfast at KC’s – he was still asleep on the chairs!  OK and KC helped get us breakfast – fried eggs, toast and lovely milky KC coffee.  Back to hotel after KC wished us happy journey – amused when I said I’d see him in Scotland.  He has a saying that: Chinese food is best food, Japanese women best women, Nepalese dope best dope and Scotch whisky best whisky!

Taxi waiting for us.  Frances saw us off – Adrian still sick in bed.  Went to airport via narrow lanes – last glimpse of narrow streets inhabited by cows and dogs.  Our into fields then airport.  Chris organised us into right queues etc trying to cheer Nikki up.  Customs nosed around in cases – opened my souvenirs.  Body search – girl helped herself to coconuts and Nikki’s cigs!  Walked out to small Nepalese plane – Chris waving us off from terrace.  From plane, Nikki noticed that he lit up cigarette (she was always trying to control his consumption).  Waved us off even when in the air. 

Circled over Kathmandu – saw terraced brown fields and houses for last time growing more distant – picked out the Boudhnath Stupa.  Great white range behind us, slightly clouded; then left Kathmandu Valley and on into smaller range of hills with roads winding through them.”

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BOUDHNATH, KATHMANDU – bowled over by Buddhist temple and bonny boots, 1976

SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part Two

Back in Kathmandu after lunch – at Utze Restaurant – really good, cheap Chinese food and quick service.  Then out to Stupa at Boudhnath – big solid white dome with steps up and ledge round to walk on, then layered pyramid with face on and streamers of rice-paper flags strung from top!  Extraordinary.  Like a pagoda except solid not hollow.

Saw inside fascinating Buddhist templewalked round with mouth open – up left and right were benches with four boys chanting very quickly – then banged huge gongs and clashed cymbals – very stimulating.  Pillars with strips of material hanging down; candles being lit at the back, bowls of water; golden images behind glass cases in centre and one to side full of little Buddhas; smell of incense strong (took shoes off).  Quite amazing and bewildering place.

Bought some cloth boots – rather good. 
Tickets still not here [for return home].  Had gin and orange with Pam to celebrate her sister’s engagement!  Then she, me, Fran and Sally went down for something to eat.  Went into Shangri la for meal (jam pancakes!)

Talked to American couple from another tour – hassle at border – lost 4 days because some had tried to smuggle pistachio nuts into India.  They’d had good weather.  All fascinating to compare trips.  We seem to be only group who’ve stuck together once in Kathmandu (we’re all at the same hotel!)”