A mini-bus transporting about a dozen US and European citizens (and one Australian) arrived at the Kailash Home on the outskirts of Kathmandu, and was met with a celebrity welcome. A hundred children, from little kids of six to handsome and beautiful young men and women in their late teens, met the van with festoons of marigolds and khata scarves, songs and dance, and smiles as wide as the sky. Continue reading
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
- William Blake
In 1911, George V came to the Chitwan jungle in southern Nepal, near the border with India. He went out hunting with the local Raja, and they shot 39 Royal Bengal Tigers. These days, he’d be locked up for that. With only about 3,000 or so tigers left in the world, and Chinese traditional medicines still using ground tiger bones in its superstitious concoctions and paying big money to poachers, preservation of the tiger has become urgent. Continue reading
This post is a quick picture tour of the lakeside town of Pokhara in Nepal, where the tourist shops – and the tourists – still look like the hippies of 1970s Kathmandu. A laid-back vibe by the lake. But with cappuccino and the International NYT. Gotta go back to Pokhara. Continue reading
Overnight a good, soaking rain had hammered on the roofs and watered the gardens of Sanctuary Lodge. The morning dawned crystalline and dripping, and the Fishtail Mountain reflected the sunrise off its shard-like flanks. Our hardy band of Annapurna trekkers – five days on the trail now – set off in the cool of the morning for what was billed by our guide as “an easy day.” Adventures lay ahead. Continue reading
At Tiger Mountain Lodge in a hill above Pokhara, they have several reasons to visit. One is the unparalleled view of the Annapurna mountains, cunningly reflected in their swimming pool. Another is Colonel Jimmy’s Library. This small collection of mothball-scented books belonged to Lt Colonel James Owen Merican Roberts, MVO, MBE, MC. Colonel Jimmy had many accomplishments, but he is often remarked upon as the person who established trekking as a tourist or travellers’ pursuit in Nepal. In fact, although the word has South African origins, he more or less coined the term “trekking” for what so many people do these days in Nepal. Continue reading
Nepal, that small land-locked Himalayan country (no longer a kingdom), has the distinction not only of encompassing most of the world’s highest mountains (including Everest), but also of being one of the very few modern countries that has never been invaded and occupied by a foreign power.
The people of Nepal come from a variety of different ‘tribes’ or racial groups. In the north, many have Tibetan or Mongol features; in the Kathmandu Valley the Newar are known for their artistic woodcarving. In the Solokhumbu, the Everest valley, the famous Sherpas work at high altitude. But the largest group of Nepali people identify as Gurung, and these are the people you’ll meet in the Annapurna foothills, and around the town of Pokhara. They are principally Hindus. Continue reading
I’ve described the Annapurna trails in Nepal as classic “tea-house” treks, and this is true of many of them, especially those in the lower foothills. The walking there is below the treelike, in often steamy jungle, and through fertile rice and millet fields planted on terraces that cascade down the steep mountainsides. There’s hardly a stretch of flat land to be found. Continue reading