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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KING OF NEPAL’S BIRTHDAY – truck loads of screaming kids: ‘Hello, bye-bye, Kathmandu!’ 1976

[This turned out to be a mega day – it started with a spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas and then dropping down into the Kathmandu Valley we found ourselves swept along in celebrations for the King’s Birthday.  My battered overlander’s shoes were not keeping pace – I was picking up blisters as well as cheerful children along the way.]

TUESDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part Two

“Lovely walk down – soon became warmer.  Little lad pointed out jungle to left.  Another kid joined us waving a palm type leaf, dressed only in grubby shirt – asked my friend if this was a friend of his and he said no firmly!  His school began at 11 but he’d set off down because his school was going into Kathmandu for the King’s Birthday.

At village we saw 2 truck loads of screaming kids set off shouting, “Hello, bye-bye, Kathmandu! Kathmandu!” Truck over-brimming with them!

Walked to Bhaktapur because minibus not there – it passed us just as we entered town!  My feet and Nikki’s were blistered from loose shoes coming down hill, so hobbled painfully to nearest cay shop!  (They make it with boiled milk and water in the same pan like Indians).

Through Bhaktapur – passed dead animals, potter spinning big stone wheel with a long stick.  Bought little cake things.

Caught trolley bus – whole of Nepal seemed to dash for door as soon as opened – nearly trampled in the rush!  Then there was loads of time before it left and everyone had a place so it was futile to begin with!  Don’t think there’s a word ‘queue’ in Nepalese!  Imagine the indignant looks and tutting that would receive such enthusiasm in ‘respectable’ Britain!

As bus progressed more and more piled on until it was almost impossible to ever get off!  Chris was complaining about rubbing shoulders with a frenchman and bottoms with a Nepalese!  He and Mark were swinging from the bars.  Pam was worried about the kid next to her with a plaster on his face in case he had chicken pox and also about the dead chicken in his mother’s string bag! 

(A mother was feeding her baby on the bus even after the baby had fallen asleep!)”

EVEREST COTTAGE – Tibetan bread, roaring fire and Eagles (Californian variety!) NAGARKOT 1976

[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!”