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Thread: Trekking in the old days

  1. #11

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by Escher
    Am I right in thinking the Annapurna region has only been open to official trekking since 1979 (I think maybe the AC)?
    It was open in the mid sixties for a while. Then, the Chinese occupation power in Tibet put intense pressure on the Nepalese to close all areas near the Tibetan border to foreingers. There were some Chinese incursions in Mustang and the Chinese made various threats. At the time it was virtually impossible for the Nepalses state to police the border, and there were Khamba war camps all along the border. So in 1969 or 1970, they closed trekking north of Jomosom and north of Khudi (part of the reason for closing of Marsyangdhi was that there was an armed feud between Manang and Braga!).

    Then, a lot people trekked to Jomsom. It was perhaps the most popular trek. In 1974 they shut it completely in June, and I think it was shut for a year or two. Behind was Nixon´s new China policy. Without western backing the Khambas war camps became a lethal threat to the Nepalese. So they were asked to leave and when they did not the Nepalese army went up to disarm the Khambas. They had a "fort" near Tilicho. They failed miserably to disarm them, the Khambas simply took off. As virtual all locals sympathized with the Khambas the area was shut for while.

    I think they opened, or rather reopened, the hike to Muktinath and Managn in 79, but I am not quite sure. The first time I went north of Jomosom and to Manang was in 1981.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    I have this friend with whom I was supposed to go to Langtang in October (a couple of months ago) and who fell ill unfortuantely - so we could not go this time...
    He went in Nepal in the seventies and did the AC. He's got a cople of photos, but he told me once he can hardly remenber anything. He was under a countinuous cloud of hash, and with a Swedish girl in tow. Neither of them really conducive to the appreciation of the finer points of the Nepal Himalayas. Or maybe that was what the Nepal Himalayas were all about in those days...
    I will try to see if I can get his account of that journey.
    Last edited by yakshaver; 12th December 2008 at 10:17 AM.
    yakshaver

  3. #13
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    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!

  4. #14
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    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.

  5. #15

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by yakshaver
    I have this friend ... He was under a countinuous cloud of hash, ... maybe that was what the Nepal Himalayas were all about in those days...
    Yes, and no, Kathmandu was the hippie capital, lots of youngsters came to feel free, the traffic from Istanbul via Kabul was lively, private buses and vans and cars were always parked in Basantipur offering rides for a few dollars to Delhi, Kabul and Istanbul.

    However, these people rarely went trekking.

    The colony of ‘freaks’ between Swayambhunath and Jochen Tole generally avoided physical exertion as much as possible, being constantly stoned does not go well with strenuous hiking, so they tended to go trekking mainly for visa purposes. Of course some of them made minor treks, but generally trekkers were a different type of people. Not much different from today.

    When you look at the locals there is a fundamental divide in Nepalese society between people who drink (Matwalli) and teetotallers (Thagadhari, twice born). The former rarely use cannabis products, prefer various types of booze, whereas the latter use cannabis, often ritually, e.g., when singing bhajans (religious songs).

    In the trekking areas people are generally drinking castes. Even before it was criminalized for foreigners there was no sign of cannabis in any form (except as weed) on the Evererst trek, the locals are really into various beers and distilled stuff. Same went for the Langtang trek and the Thak Khola. The only area where the locals were into using cannabis was just outside Pokhara. The population there is mainly Bahauns, i.e., high caste teetotallers that think it is a sin to drink alcohol. They smoke dried hemp of certain strains, known as ganga, rarely if ever charas (hashish).

    The use of cannabis is almost non-existent among Sherpa, Tamang,, Manangi, Thakalli, Gurung, Jirrels, Magars, Sunwar. An exception is the Kham Magars that grew and produced charas as a cash crop. Newars also belongs to the drinking castes and the only context I have seen them using ganja is for singing bhajans. Some might interpret it as an adaptation to high caste Chetri and Brahman behaviour.

    Whereas rather few people use cannabis in Nepal its usage is much more widespread west of Nepal. Right west of Nepal people are Parbatya (high caste mountain hindus) all the way to Kashmir where people are muslim, and to many alcohol in any form is a larger sin.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    {QUOTE}The use of cannabis is almost non-existent among Sherpa, Tamang,, Manangi, Thakalli, Gurung, Jirrels, Magars, Sunwar {QUOTE}

    so in the old days would you say it was the people from Tibet who did not use cannabis and those who did mostly immigrated from India?

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Even since 1997 I reckon Nepal has changed heaps. Back then it was such a pain in the ass to get trekking permits - lining up for hours to submit applications and then coming back at a specific time to pick up the permits in the late afternoon. These days it is so quick and easy.
    Lodges so much better on the AC or Khumbu, electricity everywhere now, yakburgers in Namche - it was dal bhat mostly in '97.
    As Petrus said - no lodges on the way to Mera back then - tents all the way or yak huts.
    But of course this relates to the more popular routes - trekking in the far West wld be more like trekking in the old days I am sure - or even the Makalu region.

  8. #18

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    so in the old days would you say it was the people from Tibet who did not use cannabis and those who did mostly immigrated from India?
    Of course one might get completely wrong generalizing, but it is fair to say that the people of Tibeto-burmese origines generally prefer to drink and only rarely if ever use cannabis. In the old legal code there was a clear distinction between drinkers and twiceborn, different laws applying to each caste.

    The Hindus, especially the high castes, on the other hand worship a God, Shiva, that is said to be very found of ganja and charas. On the other hand they don´t drink at all and think it is a sin to drink. Of course values have changed with colonialism and not least in the eighties with Nancy Reagan´s and her croonies campaign. But it is still around and it is used as a sacrament to Shiva.

  9. #19

    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by kegarne
    Even since 1997 I reckon Nepal has changed heaps.
    Yes, I trekked in 68, 72 and 74 and 75. Individual rooms were exceedingly rare, as were hot showers, etc. I think the only place where I had my own room was in Ghorepani and Tatopani. A dal bhat would cost 4 rupees. A sharpai (stringed bed frame) or a matress was included. Often it was kind of smoky from the fire and chickens running all over. Though less comfortable there was also a certain intimacy, a friendliness, I enjoyed.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Trekking in the old days

    Quote Originally Posted by kegarne
    - trekking in the far West wld be more like trekking in the old days I am sure - or even the Makalu region.

    I think you are right Kegarne, there must be places as yet where tourism has not got a hold. I know when we went off the beaten track we came across little villages that went about their daily lives and I felt that toursim had not yet advanced in them.

    It is very interesting to read everyones tales of past treks/visits to Nepal, I hope we get lots more.

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