The walk out to Swayambhunath from Kathmandu had me reaching for my Kodak instamatic. Here are some further photos of the rural route and the sights around the monkey temple of Swayambhu that compliment the previous post for Tuesday 21st December 1976.
[The spirit was with me in more than one sense on this day: fantastic climb to the Buddhist temples at Swayambhunath, mixing with the monks, worshippers and monkeys – then a high-spirited evening of Nepali rum and country liquor to mark the final evening of Aussie friends Pam (my room-mate) and Sue, who were heading back home. As ever, we ended up eating at KC’s]
TUESDAY 21ST DECEMBER, 1976
“Walked to Swayambhu with Chris and Nikki and Fran. Coldish morning – set off through back streets the wrong way, ended up crossing mud banks and planks over river. Lots of little people rushing around with huge baskets of earth balanced on poles across their shoulders. Saw moving haystacks with legs rushing along underneath! – must be very strong.
Got lost among intensely cultivated fields – lovely countryside – saw boys making mud bricks; kids playing, cowpat-type things drying on walls of houses. Walked up terracing on narrow ridges between fields and across pole over stream! Everyone very amused at little file walking about. At least we weren’t plagued by rickshaw drivers. “Hello, rickshaw …!”
Decided to rest before climbed steps up to Monkey Temple – very steep! Exhausted at top – loads of monkeys running about and whizzing down railings. Top was crowded with little shrines – pretty filthy everywhere; spattered with white and red paint. Saw ceremony outside shrine – people squatting, old man reading from manuscript while others poured water over flowers.
Various monks wandering round the big stupa (biggest in world) spinning prayer wheels, dressed in maroon robes, cropped hair. Nothing doing in temple (no horns etc) Found pie shop! Very reasonable prices.
Wandered back across bridge and back through main way – passed loads of washing. Got bacck and flopped on bed – went to sleep! (Shows really unfit).
Woke when Fran came in. Sue came and said Geoff taking her out to eat instead of group farewell meal – Pam fuming – Geoff make it worse by pretending he’d done nothing wrong. Pam calmed down. Hans and Little Chris came in – somehow started a booze-up! Passing round gin, rum, whisky and country liquor! By 7.30 we were all well away – “Pissed out o’ me skull” as Little Chris put it! Don’t know how we made it over to KC’s! Had great meal there – tomato soup and steak. Managed to eat it with bit of difficulty. Sat next to Mike who told me how he never drank anymore!
Back to room (after a “Night Life” – rum and lemon) – had great party – room packed with people. Chris had crashed next door – locked self in, so when Hans tried to get in, we were banging and shouting and chucking things through the window – finally woke him, though he doesn’t remember unlocking the door!”
Little Chris, Hans and Pam at Hotel Star party
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 temple – walked 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!)”
[It was goodbye to room-mate Neva who was returning home to Australia for Christmas – we’d shared many a delicious pastry and cake along the trail and a lot of laughs. Then our driver Geoff took us to look round the amazing medieval town of Bhaktapur – vibrant, squalid, artistic and mystical]
SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER, 1976
“Neva woke early – very excited, smoking like mad! We all went in convoy to airport (flap on because clothes not dry!) Tearful partings then we all shouted rude things as she walked to the plane – “Can we have some more music please?!”
Then Geoff took us on trip to Bhaktapur– one of 3 capital cities – medieval town. Big square with pagoda temple 15th century. Old run down brick and wooden houses – ancient carvings – museum full of them (various Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses and ghosts).
Art gallery full of rice paper paintings and wooden paintings – highly elaborate, colourful, intricate, often horrific paintings of gods – snakes with big gaping mouths etc. Collection of paintings depicting life of Krishna; one or two modern paintings of mountains and town (good). Old wall paintings of warrior figures – great costumes. Several artists’ impressions of Nepali kings (since 18th century) – all look the same – underneath is explanation of each one – rather interesting. Great praise for one who repulsed British influence – worshipped as a god.
Tallest pagoda temple in Nepal was a little beyond Durbar Square in smaller square. Very dirty and poor – dead dog covered in stones, loads of chickens, people pulling lice out of each others hair! Saw the outside of Buddhist temple – the horse of the temple was tied up outside – statue of god and goddess by small door, so all bow when go through it; 5 small windows for Buddhas (a young boy pointed all this out to me).”