The monsoon is just over the horizon in Kathmandu so the heat is starting to build. Although two tourists just arrived from Delhi told me it was 45 degrees there, so the weather here was pleasantly cool in comparison. Still, the muggy conditions make packing food and gear into barrels hot work, but if it keeps the dust of Tibet out of our supplies it’s worth it.
Prem looked equally hot and bothered when dropped by with a progress report. He managed to get a zip sewn back onto Julian’s tent at a local mender’s for about three quid.
Packing is, however, boring, so I’d sooner write about lunch, which involved a quick trip down to Patan, south of Kathmandu, also known as Lalitpur, one of the tiny kingdoms that dotted the Kathmandu Valley 500 years ago.
People there are getting ready for the Red Matsendranath festival, which involves pulling an effigy of that deity in 40ft-high chariot through the streets of Patan. People were touching their chests and foreheads as they passed, and making small offerings to the priest sitting aboard. Matsendranath is association with wealth, and it’s an ill omen if the chariot topples over, as it last did in 1995. Especially, I assume, for the people standing underneath it.
Then we spent an hour or so in the stunning Patan museum, a palace beautifully restored in 1997 by a joint Nepali and Austrian team that houses some of the finest Buddhist and Hindu iconography produced by the Newari culture that dominated the Kathamndu valley.
Tomorrow we load our gear and supplies aboard a minibus, and head for the Tibetan border.
Ed Douglas – next update Kodari and The Last Resort
Read Ed’s background on the trip