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Himalaya

Day 58: Kathmandu to the Chinese border

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe only significant modern intrusions are regular police checkpoints (not a purely Nepali phenomenon, we've learnt to expect men with guns everywhere in the Himalaya) and the bizarrely large number of whisky adverts on the side of the houses. Names like Matador, Pied Paper and Bond are so ubiquitous they give the impression that much of rural Nepal must be on the bottle.

The only other product that is so obviously trumpeted is education. They're proud of their schools here and it's common to see crocodiles of young children, in matching uniforms, ties and backpacks, emerging from establishments like The Golden Future High School or The Wisdom Academy.

After lunch at Barabhise in the valley of the fast-flowing Bhote Koshi (Tibet River), the countryside narrows into a deep, forested gorge. A bridge with a bungee jump incongruously attached rises high above us and a little further on we pass a heavily guarded hydroelectric power station. Just as everything seems to be getting steep and claustrophobic, the walls of the gorge widen, quite abruptly, to reveal, high above us across the end of the valley, the white-stacked rectangles of a mountain city. My first glimpse of Tibet.

Nepali immigration is in a large bare room decorated with three framed pictures of King Gyanendra, his queen and Ganesh, the elephant god. Having had our names laboriously entered on a Departure Record, we walk up a dirty muddy road towards the border crossing on Friendship Bridge.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 58: Kathmandu to the Chinese border
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Kathmandu
  • Book page no: 134

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