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Thread: Trekking in the old days

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Tokyo
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    380

    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
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    24

    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
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    Mar 2008
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    Espoo,Finland
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    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
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    188

    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
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    England
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    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.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Escher

  7. #7
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    Apr 2006
    Location
    Germany
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    30

    Talking Re: Trekking in the old days

    I donīt want to put a damper on all the nostalgia. I was in the Khumbu in 83 and again spent about 4-5 months in Nepal in 85. We met a lot of trekkers who were or had been suffering from all sorts of ailments such as typhus, amoebic dysentry just to name a few. Everybody got some sort of servere case of the sh...ts. Kathmandu was kind of cooler to hang out in. You could see the snow mountains clearly from the park near the post office, KCs was the only place in town where you could eat a fresh salad without regretting in and having to make a major investment in toilet paper.
    We always took a couple of tins of sardines on trek - you just didnīt get any protein. A good meal in Namche consisted of boiled potatoes with a bit of salt.
    Even in those days Pokhara was paradise - food wise.

    After a longish break I eventually got back to Nepal again in 2000 and I was very favorably impressed with many changes. Food is better & more hygienic, lots of reforestation (compared to 85 Jomson is a lush topical sort of place - no, I am not smoking any funny things), transportation is quicker & safer - buses & trucks in the 80s were the ones that failed to meet roadworthy tests in India. I guess I loved the place then and still do - just need to look for the pros.

    I asked a bus driver on the route to Manda Pokri (or some such - road to Jiri ended here) why he had an old shoe tied to his front bumper. His reply (with a straight face) was " when the shoe touches the road, the bus is full"

    Happy trekking.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    England
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    561

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Reading your tales of trekking in a differennt era is great whether good or bad situations! It helps to transport you back there when you have never been in those times, so it's good. And exscusing the pun, I hope we get a lot more posts on here over time!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by Escher
    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.
    It was. The first time I was in Pokhara was in december 1968. Then, there was no road to Kathmandu. There was a road connection to India but hardly any traffic.

    Trekking to Pokhara was one of the officialy recommended treks. I flew in on an an ancient DC-3 which had really simple seats, one sat more or less right on the floor.

    Pokhara was very rural. There were no hotels by the lake, only three by the airport on which cattle was grazing. Planes only came som days. It was really slow and laid back.

    I went trekking to Charikot, and stayed there some days. Did not venture further as I had no trekking permit.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2005
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    England
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    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by Per
    It was. The first time I was in Pokhara was in december 1968. Then, there was no road to Kathmandu. There was a road connection to India but hardly any traffic.
    Am I right in thinking the Annapurna region has only been open to official trekking since 1979 (I think maybe the AC)? Before the first expeditions in the '50's it was a closed country. So there must have been very rapid development in places like Pokhara. Don't suppose you have any pictures from those days Per? They would be great to see.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Escher

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