The mountains appear
04.10.1966 - 05.10.1966
When I got up this morning the cloud was almost gone and finally I had a superb view of the mountains. Only Annapurna itself was still clouded in, but the Lamjung Himal and Machapuchare (Fishtail) were tremendously clear in the early morning light. The great monsters had deigned to show themselves for a time and we took full advantage of it. The view was the best I have ever seen, especially of Machapuchare, which looked a perfect pyramid of a peak from where we were, being at the wrong angle to see the fishtail shape. I was not quite as dumbstruck with awe as I was on first seeing the Himalayas two years ago, but there was still this incredible power that they seem to have over you. After a few hours they were obscured by cloud once more.
Lamjung Himal in the early morning light
(above & below) Machapuchare finally deigns to appear
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Later we visited the new Tibetan settlement site. The building work they are doing there is progressing rapidly and looks very solid and sound. They are cultivating as much of the land as possible, and seem to be achieving results. We returned to the hotel for lunch and had the usual toupa - hot noodle soup with meat and onion. Dorka the waitress laid the table back to front as usual and spilt the tea again, all with a grin. We have become quite fond of 'Mary Lou' as we like to call her. The afternoon passed very slowly, during which time I finished reading Saul Bellow’s “Herzog”. At five, regular as clockwork, the clouds rolled up and it began to rain, followed by the daily storm a short time later. That passed, but then it rained all night.
It was still raining this morning so no chance of seeing the mountains again before we fly out this afternoon for Kathmandu. We have been out of London for 3 months as from yesterday. I think we will probably get home early in December.
While we waited for the DC3 in the late afternoon Ade bought a baby monkey for 3 rupees, to save it from the thoughtless cruelty of a group of young boys. We named it Wellington and considered taking it with us on the plane to Kathmandu, before realizing how impractical an idea that was. During the hour or so in our charge it was quite a handful. Cute as it was, it nipped and scratched and wriggled and pissed and never stopped trying to escape – just what you would do if you were a monkey. We tried unsuccessfully to give it to anyone who seemed even vaguely sympathetic, but in the end it slipped Ade’s grasp and scooted away into the banana grove. I am sure we were relieved. As we boarded the aircraft we caught sight of Wellington back in the arms of the boy who had so readily parted from him at the smell of cash – so much for simian gratitude!
Whether in the care of Ade (above) or me (below), Wellington looks for his chance to escape
After a hair-raising but spectacular 45 minute flight, strapped to canvas-slung seats in the Royal Nepal Airlines DC3, we came to earth again in the Kathmandu Valley. We were back in the magical city that had such an effect on us two years before, and spent the next week joyously reacquainting ourselves with Kathmandu’s many splendours and those of the surrounding towns. The atmosphere and ethos of Kathmandu back then, from a backpacker’s perspective, is well captured in Abode of the Gods : Travels in Nepal, which is worth a read if you can find a copy. We found the only real change in two years was an increased presence of young travellers like ourselves, which of course presaged greater change to come. The honey pot of Kathmandu was being discovered, and it was only a matter of time before the swarm arrived.
By DC3 from Pokhara to Kathmandu
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