LAST DAY IN KATHMANDU – goodbye bicycles, Freak Street, Yeti Travels, KC’s! 1976

[The Thamel quarter of Kathmandu had become home and I was already growing nostalgic at the thought of leaving the place.  But the group were melting away and it was almost time for Nikki and I to make our way to Delhi to find the elusive return tickets.  One more day of cycling the backstreets of the city, mooching around Freak Street, drinking endless milky coffees – and of course a visit to KC’s.

WEDNESDAY 29TH DECEMBER, 1976

“Di up really early – bus at 6.15.  Said a sleepy goodbye!  Said a second sleepy goodbye to Shirley a little later.
Morning – breakfast with Heidi at Shangri la – talked of education and interpreters!  Hired bicycles with Chris and Nikki and went to Yeti Travels – tickets to Delhi confirmed!  Signed away most of travellers’ cheques!  Gave us sweet tea.  Chris’s money come through too, so he treated us to coffee at the Ra Ra Restaurant!

Back on bikes – really good fun.  Lunch at Kathmandu Guest House with Heidi – had savoury pancake rolls.  Later set off on bikes again down narrow lanes – hair-raising ride avoiding cows, people, vehicles, gutters, porters with swinging poles of earth, dogs and babies!  No one gets out of the way – though we soon got the idea of ringing bells continuously!  No wonder Nepalese are addicted to bells and horns!

Went to Aunt Jane’s (parallel with Freak Street) for their lunch.  Very small restaurant upstairs – very famous – perhaps first of the ‘trendy’ places to go.  In Freak Street plagued as usual by boys with Tibetan books and people offering hash.

On way to Yeti Travels again, nearly got knocked over at roundabout – one of many near collisions!  Great fun though.

Had coffee and apple crumble at KC’s for last time – sob! sob!  After dark spent last of rupies on little presents eg Nepalese hats – shops are lovely at this time because still bustling with sounds and life and welcoming lights.  Know this narrow crossroads so well – on first night the bus got stuck there – quite nostalgic about leaving.”

SUNBATHING AND SHOPPING IN FREAK STREET – life of the Overlander in Kathmandu, 1976

[Sunbathing, shopping, eating out … No, this is not the Riviera; it’s the life of the Overlander in Kathmandu!]
THURSDAY 23RD DECEMBER,1976

Sunbathed on terracelovely hot sun but awful flies – felt virtuous because wrote letter and cards! Lay in sun for awhile – really hot – Little Chris had tent out (on concrete) – people made cracks about hard ground for pegs etc).

Went out later with Sally and Di to get embroidery put on skirt and jeans by this little man in tiny workshop in one of lanes between here and Durbar Square.  Then hunted round Freak Street for Nepali suits (baggy trousers and wrapover tops) and had some made up at little tailor’s.

Went to Utze’s again for another good meal – little boy with black fez works really hard there.”

KATHMANDU IN DECEMBER 1976 – spring rolls, Freak Street and Americans singing the Messiah!

[It’s Kathmandu – spring rolls, Freak Street, braid belts, rickshaws and ….the Messiah in tuxedos?!]

MONDAY 20TH DECEMBER, 1976

“Got up and went in by rickshaw to New Road – Nepal Bank.  Driver didn’t know where I meant and stopped several times – no one seemed to know where centre of town was!  9.30 got there to find not open!

Went for rip off coffee and toast in Crystal Hotel – dim lights, soft Radio 2 type music, was only one there – lots of waiters in white, all very polite.  Finally collected money so can eat again – relief because funds low.

Back to hotel (bought braid belt).  In again with Nikki to see if booked on Air India, can’t find out.  Lunch in Utze with Bread and Jam (Fred and Jan) – spring roll.

People lazing on terrace at hotel.  Shared cake with Heidi at KC’s.  I went into town on own again – a few back streets, then down New Road and Durbar Square (into Freak Street). Bought some cheap jewellery but on whole shops disappointing.

Early supper with Heidi, Bill and Shirley at Shangri la (lovely chicken and cashewnut) then piled into taxi and tried to get to Messiah concert at Lincoln School.  First taxi had no clue, so piled into second.  Went all over far side of Kathmandu looking for the place.  Eventually got there – Chris, Nikki and Anders already there.  Amazing to be among loads of diplomatic Brits and Yanks sitting in a school hall with choir in suits and long dresses.

Great evening, really amusing – electricity failed in middle of overture and organ wound down (we couldn’t help laughing).  All men singers were painfully bad, but choir sang with gusto and the Yanks all gave them a standing ovation!

Piled into mini bus going back – absolutely chock-a-block – knees crunched up together!  Chris almost disappearing out of door.  (Di trying to engineer something between Heidi and Anders!)”