Journey Through Nepal - Travelblog episode 1
Over the years since I started writing historical fiction I've been blogging occasionally about my travels. Travelling to South East Asia, India and Nepal has been a huge inspiration for my writing since I first travelled to Thailand and overland (mostly) to Bali in 1985.
To co-incide with the launch of The Fortune Teller of Kathmandu, I've decided to post extracts from my 1987 travel journal and my photos from my trip to India and Nepal that year, together with a few more photos from much my more recent visit earlier this year.
Reading my1987 journal again made me realise how much things have changed in Nepal since then. In the mid-1980s, Kathmandu still seemed remote and quiet with the magical feel of a medieval city - there were no vehicles in Thamel. Pokhara was a small town beside Lake Thal with hardly any hotels and trekking in the Annapurna range was not big business. Trekkers were mainly backpackers on a shoestring, and we met many quirky characters along the way. Since then of course, Nepal has withstood revolution, huge political upheaval and a a devastating earthquake in 2015. Many of the most sacred and beautiful temples in the Kathmandu valley were destroyed and are now being carefully and lovingly restored to their former glory. Now, in contrast to the 1980s, tourism and trekking is far more developed with many villagers making a living from it rather than from farming.
Here are some diary entries from my 1987 Journal - relating a journey from the Indian-Nepalese border (where I'd been laid up with a stomach problem for two days) to Pokhara in Nepal (Pokhara features in The Fortune Teller of Kathmandu). It was journeys like this one that inspired descriptions of Chloe's bus journeys in the book.
Wednesday 15th November
Up early to catch the bus to Pokhara. Prime position - seats right up in the front window. Refused the kind offer of sitting on the roof! Bus v crowded and stopped 4km on for half an hour. This was repeated throughout the journey. V slow and stopped for locals at every village.
Journey was spectacular. Up mountain passes - views back down over the Indian plains and into the foothills of the Himalayas. Ravines, waterfalls, hairpin bends and precipices. Driver v careful but still frightening at times. Loud music from the 'sound system' forced us to wear earplugs. Arrive v late (10 hour journey). Usual rigmarole at police check posts.
Arrival at Pokhara - besieged by hotel touts. rip-off taxi to Solitary Lodge. Managed a very small amount of food Stomach still odd.
Up early. Looked around Pokhara. Delightful little town on the edge of a lake.
Wonderful, cosmopolitan food. Lovely views of the Annapurnas and Fishtail Himal. Everyone very friendly and we discovered a German Bakery.
In the afternoon we hired bikes and rode around the town. In the evening we met Karlos, a Belgian ex-physicist who buys hammocks in S America and sells them in Asia. Seems to lead a nomadic life and to have travelled everywhere.
Lovely morning on rooftop of hotel. Then hired bikes and went to get trekking permits for trek up to Ghorepani and Poon Hill.
Hired boats on Lake Thal and spent afternoon on lake reading, writing and listening to music. Beautiful weather. Home to hotel and packed for trek. Early night ready for early start in the morning.