27.09.1966 - 27.09.1966
By the time we rose in the morning Kham Bir had already been examined and had been given some pills to deal with what had been diagnosed as ‘wind’. He seemed to be feeling somewhat better and had agreed to go on to Pokhara with us as promised. Crisis over. The Stuarts had been very good to us and would only accept R10 from each of us to cover all the food, accommodation and medical assistance with Kham Bir. We had a look around Tansen in the morning, made our farewells after lunch, and walked off down the trail at 2pm in high spirits. Everything seemed fine – all our problems solved - the Stuarts had given us loads of information about what to expect on the trail ahead, the porter was still with us, we could see the great white peaks in the distance, and we strolled along, singing as we went. I cut myself a stick just before we began the first stiff climb, and writing now, two days later, I can honestly say I could not have got along without it.
As we approached the top of that first hill we could see Kham Bir waiting for us up ahead. Shortly afterwards our spirits were dashed - the crisis wasn’t over. Kham Bir had decided that he was still having stomach trouble and would not go on after all. Our first reaction was one of anger at this sudden reversal, but his attitude more or less convinced us that he was genuine, and we had to accept the situation and deal with it as best we could. He didn’t just abandon us; he found someone else to take the loaded basket, though the new man wanted R85 from Tansen to Pokhara. Once we had agreed on this, Kham Bir handed over his rice to the new chap and then would accept only R10 from us in payment for the work already done, plus his medicine. He then said his ‘Namaste’ and disappeared down the trail. We were very sorry to see him go.
The new porter was a strange kettle of fish - hardly said a word - never smiled. All the arrangements were made by a man who appeared to be travelling with him, and who we nicknamed Terry Thomas because of his gap toothed resemblance to that actor. He spoke about a half dozen words of English, among which ‘gwang’ (going) was the one he used most frequently during the next couple of days. We did not like the way he pushed the porter about and could not work out the relationship between them. Obviously he had some hold over him, but what it was we didn’t know. We quickly formed a distinct dislike for the fellow and his overbearing attitude, but unfortunately we seemed to be stuck with him. He did us for rupees here and there for cups of tea and so forth and would stride along, umbrella in hand and small pack on his back, being our self-appointed guide and deciding when we should stop and when we should go, where we should eat and where we should sleep. We did a good deal of walking by moonlight that first evening out from Tansen and made it to Ramdighat, on the border of the province. We ate, then slept on the verandah of a bhati and I had a hell of a night’s sleep; I sweated all night – almost in a fever. I was convinced I was being eaten alive by bedbugs, but there was no evidence of such in the morning.
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A view to make us sing as we left Tansen in high spirits
Onwards to Pokhara - me with porter number 2
Ade passing through a village. There must have been a porters' smoko on somewhere
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