[Not even the discomfort of a cold night or sugar in the porridge could detract from the awe-inspiring sight of the sun rising over Everest and the Himalayas – and the sound of school girls singing through the dark. Not surprisingly, this magical memory has stayed with me and influenced a scene in my novel OVERLANDERS.]
TUESDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part One
“Banging on door at 6. No one felt like waking – pretty cold because only a few blankets and no bag.
Staggered out and up very steep hill again (Nagarkot about 6,000ft) View was breathtaking – mist rising out of valley – mysterious blue ridges, then dark blue ranges of the Himalayas, nearer ones snow-capped, waiting for sun to rise – great feeling of expectancy. Gradually deep pink light began to seep into valley and catch the peaks – snow really burning in dawn light. Then sun rose to the left of them all – brilliant orange light. Saw Everest’s blue peak clearly – little orange cloud above it. Group of girls chanting down the road – lovely sound.
Down hill again for breakfast. They put sugar in the porridge and the coffee! Not my lucky day!
Set off 8.30 down to Karapati again – met a little guide (in his pyjamas!) – thought Pam woul know an Aussie girl that he had the passport photo of, because she came from Oz! He pattered along beside me – english quite good, 11 years old. I gave him my passport photo (spare copy) and wrote my address for him – he looked at picture and said “very good” with a grin!”
[The strenuous puffing and panting of unfit overlanders that morning was rewarded with specacular views of the Himalayan range and Everest hidden in cloud that my Kodak Instamatic did not do justice to! Magic surreal moment was after dark sitting by cosy fire in candlelight, eating simple meal to the strains of The Eagles, at the Everest Cottage …]
MONDAY 27TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part Two
“Lovely view over valley and jungle to the right. Cay stop – sat on terrace step in sun. Reached top at about 4. Two vans up there at viewpoint – fantastic panorama of Himalayas – from Annapurna to beyond Everest (semi-circle).
Went for coffee at nearby coffee house – all really thirsty. Then rushed out to see sunset over mountains -lovely pink light and gorgeous blazing orange behind clouds over Kathmandu Valley with dark trees silhouetted on hill in front.
Then rushed around trying to find somewhere to sleep – eventually went down very steep hill to “Everest Cottage” – opened it up for us because no one else there. Lit a big fire in large room with hight matted ceiling. Candlelight in all rooms – sat round fire relaxing.
Then had Nepalese meal – plain but good fare – rice, little omelette, veg curry and dhal soup. Finished with Tibetan bread (like stodgy pancake). Sat round fire drinking Chris’s Country Liquor. They put on tape – Eagles.
In room with Chris and Nikki (Mark and Pam other side of partition) – wall to wall bed and nothing else! Mouse running above our heads in the roof!”