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Himalaya

Day 49: Pokhara to Chomrung

Michael Palin - HimalayaFor now, the atmosphere is relaxed. We sit outside the hotel in warm sunshine surrounded by all the trappings of an English country garden: thickets of marigold, chrysanthemum and nasturtium, butterflies fluttering round hydrangea bushes. The trail up to Annapurna runs through the hotel and a steady stream of walkers comes by. Three Israeli students tell us they have been approached by Maoists and asked for 1000 rupees (about 7) each. They pleaded student poverty but the Maoists were insistent, and, as one was armed, they thought it best not to argue. They were dealt with very courteously and issued with receipts. An English hiker we talk to later said that he and his party were asked for 2000 each. The Maoists justified the price hike because the British, and the American, government supplies arms to Nepal (the very arms which the Maoists are probably using).

The guerillas don't like the Annapurna Conservation Area, presumably because it's a government initiative, and recently forced six of the checkpoints on the trail to close. The 1000 rupee fee that was levied to pay for conservation work they now take for themselves.

Nevertheless, Wongchu, so nervy yesterday, doesn't think we'll have trouble with the Maoists, who he refers to, dismissively, as 'Jungle Army' and, even more derisively, Long Noses.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 49: Pokhara to Chomrung
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Chomrung
  • Book page no: 111

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