Travel Memoir of Walter Somers and Jenny Schroeven , March-April 1997
#1 At the car we meet up with Pathi, our driver for the next couple of days. Nima Tendi bids us a warm welcome in Kathmandu, and as is tradition, we are endowed with a colourful garland. On the way Nima Tendi asks us question after candid question while Pathi zigzags the car through the crowds in the narrow streets. Kathmandu is actually nothing of a ‘true’ world capital. With its meandering, unmetalled lanes, its townhouses and its many alleys, and a soccer court that forms a junction between two neighbourhoods, Kathmandu comes on as cosy, almost provincial even. Pathi pulls up at the parking space in front of Hotel Manang. The welcoming comité – yet another one – is made up of Jagat and three new faces: Jangbu, Krishna and Murad.
#2 We are strolling through Pashupathinath: making our way over the bridge that lies between the cremation ghats on the banks of the Bagmati River, watching a funeral procession pass through, climbing up to the Shiva Temple, halting for a minute to admire the many wonderful hues and dyes that a street merchant has on display, carefully walking by the people cooking, sleeping, or eating on the streets.
The beggar does not beg. The hawker does not hawk. I do not feel strange to these people, nor do they feel strange to me… Was I ever in Pahupathinath before?
When you leave a place that has left a deep impression on you it is like you are leaving a part of you behind. But here I discover a piece of me that was always … here.
#3 You buy chess game Sir? Five hundred rupees. Look, very beautiful, made of sandalwood. I give you good price Sir, four hundred!
Today is market day, like every other day.
I give you best price Sir. Two fifty.
I have seen these chessboard toys before! Ah yes, in Agra near Red Fort. For one hundred rupees. To be honest, I feel like buying one.
– No no, that is impossible, he laughs. Two hundred last price.
– Give me twenty-five more...
The merchant hesitates. It occurs to me much later – much too late – that I had been confusing Indian and Nepali rupees, the latter which are almost half the value of the former.
We continue our stroll towards Basantapur Square. The merchant catches me up, wraps the chessboard in a plastic bag and shoves it into my hands.
– Hundred ?
Yes, I sigh.
I hate this haggling business!
#4 Pokhara, 2 April 1997.
Kathmandu bathes in the morning sun. It is beautiful weather for a drive to Pokhara, the starting point of our hike to Poon Hill. We leave with Pathi and Nima Tendi. Halfway another group will join with us. There are no considerable obstacles to be expected along the way and so we hope to cover the two hundred kilometres down the Prithivi Highway in approximately seven hours time. However, the actual starting on our trip seems to be more problematic than expected. Despite the scenic morning weather condition, the downpours last night have for the most part flooded the streets. If you don’t mind your step, you are up to your knies in mud. And Pathi must especially watch out not to get the car stuck in the deep lorry tracks. At the edge of town we have a quick refuel. Quick, that is, if you don’t mind the half hour waiting, because the so-maniest power breakdown has paralyzed the pumps.
#5 Despite the flood this morning and the difficult climb we are nevertheless glad to find a homely lodge. Encircled by the dining-room, the private rooms and an oven there lies a small inner court. Upstairs are our sleeping accommodations: two small rooms, each the size of two beds. Toilets are at the end of the hall. It is already getting fairly cold. Fortunately there is a bit of a draught to dry our wet clothes. Our host bids us a warm welcome. Thee is ready for us in the dining-room. On the walls are posters with the most wonderful vistas of the legendary Himalayan summits. The many windows on every side hint at a stunning panorama which is now concealed by low hanging clouds. For the moment we have to content ourselves with the neighbouring hills.
A nice warm shower would do us all a lot of good. Let’s ask about that.
– Shower? Yes, yes, our host nods.
– Ah, solar heated water! Today no sun, today no hot water!
– More tea?
– Hot water after diner!
- No Trips in Shortlist