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Thread: Trekking in the old days

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Smile Re: Carrying your own pack

    There must be loads of old photos somewhere in the world of treks done in the 70s and 80s when trekking was fairly new. Before that it would have been all safari style things which is different.

    KTM at that time was the same as Patan is now and Baktapur except much bigger and better. Electricity was only for a few hours. It was really a Newari style city with lots of simple hotels, lots of gardens and magnificent pie shops. In the window of the pie shops you could see 10 or more large pies from chocolate to ones with pink or blue icing, you name it. Charas was still illegal but easy to find and easily sold in teashops in the candle light. No teashops used electricity. Candles were the most common or lamps.

    Everywhere there were bike shops and you would routinely rent a bike and head of for the 3 hours to Pashputinath through the countryside or way out of the city to the monkey temple. We stayed in Freak Street then or Lazimpath, Thamel was new. At night you walked in the dark passed candle lit houses and shops and often pitch black with a stick incase of the packs of dogs bonking and fightings. 20 dogs was very common. Barking all fucking night. Awful.

    New Road was a dusty road with 2 cars and on the way to the PO where everyone went and there were some really funky old cafes around there. The Post Office was a big gathering spot as was Durbar Square with its elephants and large areas used for threshing rice or wheat. There were NO cars in that area or motorbikes. There were no tall buildings. Bimsen Tower was really something.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Red face Re: Trekking in the old days

    I wish i was around in KTM in those days, sounds great (apart from the dogs).
    I was in KTM about ten years ago. I am returning very soon for the first time since then. I am beggining to wonder how much it has changed. Infact i am frightened it wont be as good as i remember it. I have such good memories of post trek drinking and partying.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by minialan
    I wish i was around in KTM in those days, sounds great (apart from the dogs).
    It was a Newar city. Initially, the foreigners stayed in Maruithi and Maru Dhoka, i.e, at the outskirts of the city in or near the butchers quarters. Then, they moved up to Jochen Tole (Freak street).

    Treks were longer. You started in Pokhara, or Trisul, or Lamosamgu.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    The first time I was there was in 1984. Open fields started from the North Field cafe and all Thamel buildings were one or two storeys lower. Generally the city has grown about threefold. KTM and Patan were not connected and between KTM & Bhaktapur there was a 8 km stretch of real open countryside.

    Taxi trips were 10-20 NRs everywhere.

    AC started from Dhumre and ended near Pokhara, lodges were basic or nonexistant, we had a tent and used that about 50% of the time, also slept in private houses and on the rooftops.

    Jiri road was getting its finnishing touches when we came to Khumbu -85. No lodges on the way to Gokyo from Namche and none between Lukla and Mera Peak. We slept in yak huts and bought food from the herders.

    And yes, photos were better: more prayer flags and NO POWER LINES!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    What a great thread! I love hearing about Nepal in the "old" days - although really it is not a long time ago at all.

    I bet a lot of the changes to Nepal occurred in the 70's and 80's when it was first opened up to significant numbers of tourists? I would have loved to have done that overland hippy trail in the 1970's, but unfortunately I was only 5 years old..

    I love reading old books about Asian travel. For a flavour of the "old" Nepal could I respectfully suggest

    Nepal Himalaya by HW Tilman - Travels to Langtang Himal in 1949, Annapurna and Everest in 1950

    The Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition 1951 by Eric Shipton - interesting account of travels in Khumbu

    First Overland by Tim Slessor - overland from London to Singapore in 1955 I think, in Land Rovers, via Nepal. Nice short chapter in the book about Kathmandu in those days.

    Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
    Annapurna South Face - Chris Bonnington
    Despite these being mainly about the climbing, there are some interesting parts about Nepal in general.

    Anyone got any other recommendations? Maybe travels by "ordinary" people rather than upper class twits or climbing expeditions?

    I first went to Nepal in 1992 and I don't think it has fundamentally changed a lot since then. A lot of small things maybe, but nothing huge. Most of the changes I don't like. I think it is really sad that Kathmandu itself has become a bit of a polluted concrete monster. I used to love just wandering about the city aimlessly, now it is a real hassle with all the bikes and cars. A lot of the open countryside near town has been built over for ever, so now Kathmandu sprawls all the way to Bhaktapur and Thimi, Bodhnath joins up with the main part of the city as well. When I first went, these places were separate.

    On a positive note, staying in Nepal and trekking is a lot simpler now. Visa extensions were a major hassle, requiring exchange receipts etc etc. A separate trekking permit was needed for each area, along with a park permit as well in the same areas as now.

    PS I never did see the attraction of these famous Kathmandu pies!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    When Oli and I trekked together a couple of years ago I read a fascinating book of his about a Japanese guy who trekked the Annapurna region in the 60's. The photos were fascinating, particularly the ones of Pokhara which showed Lake side as being very rural. Even in the short time since I first went (2000) I have seen a lot of changes on the trekking routes (more and bigger lodges, internet, TV etc). I suspect the increase in tourist numbers will see even more being built in the next few years. The increase in numbers must be a relief for those that have invested heavily in building work over the last few years.

    I have copies of a couple of oldish climbing films - Everest SW face and Everest the Unclimbed Ridge. The former has some interesting footage of the Khumbu in the 70's. Looks familiar but completely different at the same time. Both Chris Bonington's and Doug Scotts coffee table photo books of their climbing careers have some interesting pictures from the early seventies of the Khumbu and Annapurna regions as well as other Himalayan regions.

    Here are some old photos of Nepal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclingpaul
    I love reading old books about Asian travel. For a flavour of the "old" Nepal could I respectfully suggest....
    Anyone got any other recommendations? Maybe travels by "ordinary" people rather than upper class twits or climbing expeditions?
    "A winter in Nepal" by John Morris. An account by a British visitor to Nepal in 1960. He lived in Kathmandu for a few months then went on a bit of a trek. Not a literary masterpiece nor the most exiting adventure, but I enjoyed it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Escher, I was in in Pokhara in 1978 and from memory we had the option to trek in the Annapurna area but we didn’t join in as we were travelling overland to Europe. We’d taken a dilapidated local bus loaded with chickens and packages on a hair raising journey to Pokhara from Ktm. As no one spoke English on the bus we didn’t know when there might be a ‘comfort’ stop and my partner, who had tummy troubles threw away all inhibitions and squatted in line along the side of the road with the best of them on the rare breaks. In Ktm we had to find our way back to our hotel in pitch darkness – I remember candles but no Honda generators!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    For old photo, one cannot miss the LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

    Try nepal, or himalayas, there're old photos without details.

    For example, this one seemed to be took in Nepal; or, this one, with Ama Dablam as background, I would guess it's Tengboche Monastery.

    For book, I highly recommend In the Shadow of the Himalayas, precious photos of the past, with interpretation.

    Well, in 1986, when I took the bus from Tibet to Kathmandu, or a few months later, took the bus from India back to Pokhara; I though that Nepal is paradise. Unfortunately, I didn't trek that time, instead, I just walked around Pewa lake in the morning, rowed a boat & looked at the fish tail in the afternoon, then chatted with other tourists at the evening, in a restaurant.

    Quelque fois, I ate "special cookies". Nothing to do, and nothing to worry.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Did two treks in 72. I was in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Kathmandu was the most fascinating place I'd ever been. Grubby, but fascinating. Went to Jomsom- that was all that was allowed at the time in the Annapurna region. Came back in 78 and 79 for more Annapurna (Kali Gandaki: still no circuit- it wasn't open until 80, I think), Sanctuary, Khumbu, Helumbu, Langtang. Still primitive and wonderful. Got totally snowed in in the sanctuary, bivouaced under a rock and didn't see a damned thing. It was a tough haul to get in there, and hardly any place to sleep. I keep returning, most recently last fall. Finally got to the Annapurna Sanctuary- it was great! Been to Nepal about 9 or 10 times now over the past, uh, 37 years [hard to believe], and still love the place. I'm planning a 60th birthday trek this coming autumn - probably Manaslu. Nepal gets under your skin.

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