Wednesday, 9 June 1982

30 years ago: 3-8 June 1982, Kathmandu to Delhi

Thursday 3rd June 1982:  Kathmandu, Nepal
A lazy day in Kathmandu.  I got my expired visa extended for 150 rupees with no problems, although I had to leave my passport overnight.  I bought a copy of Newsweek and went to the British Council Library to catch up on news.  I ate quite a lot - Aunt Jane’s for breakfast and in the evening, lunch in Jamalay’s.  After dinner we went to the Casino but couldn’t get any free tokens at the door as we’d been led to believe and so we returned immediately (the idea being to gamble with free tokens and keep any winnings).  Colin and the others were also back from Langtang but had not seen anything surprising.  Good to see them again.  Colin was going back to the UK but some of the others were continuing on to the Western Himalayas.  Sticky heat at night made getting to sleep a problem.  Unfortunately the lone mosquito seems to have survived too.  Few birds seen.

Friday 4th June 1982:  Kathmandu, Nepal
We breakfasted and got bus tickets to Bhairahawa on Indian border (50 rupees) for the following morning.  I collected my passport, bought some cheap tapes and an airline type bag (Chinese made and looks OK - should be as cost 135 rupees).  Just what I want for travelling.  I’m relying heavily on leaving some gear in Delhi, though Carol Inskipp taking my films home removes a big worry.  Lunch at Jamalay’s and when Dave announced that we were we leaving we got a free brownie each.  Dave got a similar T shirt to mine for 15 rupees, less than half the price I paid, although mine was still pretty cheap.  I should have let him negotiate for me.  I changed another US$20, and my finances are down to US$100, £240 and IR100, the latter being part of the change from buying the bus tickets.  We made another abortive casino attempt which I gave up on at an early stage.  I’m a bit sad to be leaving Nepal, a superb time and it has been good to me with most of the birds I’d hoped for (46 new ones in just over 3 months).

Birds seen on 3rd and 4th included:  White-backed Vulture 6, Little Swift 20, Magpie Robin 2.

bag shop in Kathmandu

Saturday 5th June 1982:  Kathmandu to Gorakhpur, Nepal/India
We were up at 04:30 and on the bus soon after 05:00.  I was very comfortable.  A bit late leaving but we made good time to Narayargadh, arriving at 10:30.  It then took three hours to cross the Narayani River, a tributary of the Ganges, transfer to another equally luxurious minibus and get started again.  The river was flowing strongly and at one stage I was sure our ‘raft’ wasn’t going to make it across, but it did, ending up several hundred metres further down stream.  We arrived in Bhairahawa in light rain just before 16:00 and after walking a small part of the 4 kms to the border got a rickshaw for the rest.  Immigration on both sides of the border went very smoothly despite my putting today as my birthday.  Only the ywear was wrong.  I changed my last 150 Nepali rupees into Indian rupees at the border.  It was very muddy in Sunauli and after a lot of hassle we got a slow (3.5 hr) bus to Gorakhpur.  This was a terrible bus journey, very crowded and a leaking roof, pretty much over Nick who really suffered.  It was still raining at Gorakhpur where we were told at the railway station that the next train to Delhi was not until 10:30 the next day, great!  We found a hotel nearby (50 rupees for room for 3) and had some rather dubious food.  A bad night’s sleep despite a very comfortable bed.  Mosquitoes and the impression things were crawling up my legs were the problem.

Birds seen on journey included:  Asian Openbilled Stork 6, Woolly-necked Stork 1, Egyptian Vulture 2, Asian White-backed Vulture 5, Peafowl 1, Red-wattled Lapwing 8, Ring-necked Parakeet 20, Greater Coucal 3, White-breasted Kingfisher 1, Pied Kingfisher 4, Little Green Bee-eater 2, Indian Roller 5, Red-rumped Swallow 20, Asian Pied Starling 2, Baya Weaver 1.

Sunday 6th June 1982:  Gorakhpur to Lucknow, India
This had to be the worst day of the trip to date, and yesterday had been bad.  Who’s idea was it to travel from Kathmandu to Delhi overland rather than flying?  We couldn’t book a seat on the train so just turned up on Ghorakhpur Station at 08:00.  The train arrived at 08:30 and we got on and got seats, then the train filled up and was absolutely packed by the time it eventually left at 12:15, nearly 2 hours late.  Despite having a window seat I was very cramped and could hardly move my legs at all.  We arrived at Lucknow after a very slow journey at 23:00 (average speed 25-30 kph) to find the train terminated there (we’d thought it was a through train to Delhi).  When the Delhi train arrived there was a mad scramble to get on it.  We were evicted from the reserved coaches and there was only one general coach which was absolutely full, with loads of locals on the roof - something we certainly did not fancy.  After being thrown out of the guards van a friendly soldier intervened on our behalf and led us back down the train.  He got us into a reserved coach at the second attempt and from then on we had a comfortable journey.  I was on my karrimat on the floor most of the time.  The worry of eviction persisted for two hours or so until a guard appeared and we happily paid a further 8 rupees reservation charge.  I then got a few hours sleep undisturbed.  Those in the carriage were brilliant in accommodating us and the soldier who’d got us in there had really saved the day for us.

Birds seen from train included:  Indian Pond Heron 10, Asian Openbilled Stork 10, Woolly-necked Stork 1, Lesser Whistling Duck 10, Egyptian Vulture 2, Asian White-backed Vulture 10, Peafowl 15, Sarus Crane 5, White-breasted Waterhen 2, Pheasant-tailed Jacana 2, Bronze-winged Jacana 2, Red-wattled Lapwing 10, Ring-necked Parakeet 20, White-breasted Kingfisher 1, Pied Kingfisher 2, Little Green Bee-eater 10, Indian Roller 5, Jungle Babbler 1, Asian Pied Starling 5.

Monday 7th June 1982:  Lucknow to Delhi, India
We arrived in Delhi at 09:00 and got a motor rickshaw direct to Hotel Bright (87 rupees for a room for 3).  It was expensive but looked good and they were happy to look after our gear for the rest of the trip.  We visited the tourist office, Ariana Afghan Office (where we got reservations on a flight home on 25th July with no problems) and three banks before I was eventually able to change £160 of traveller’s cheques at Thomas Cook.  Hopefully this will be enough to last until my return.  Nick and Dave went to the Kashmiri Gate bus terminal to book a bus to Simla.  I returned to our hotel via ice cream parlours (excellent strawberry ice cream for 3 rupees) and a shoe shop where I bought a pair of size 11 plimsolls for 165 rupees.  Expensive but they look to be good quality and what’s more they actually seem to fit, if a little on the large size This satisfies last of the conditions I set out on 21 May for continuing in India!  Bumped into Tim Inskipp in Connault Circus (Carol had gone home with my films), and had a good meal with him in the ‘standard’ mixed grill for 22 rupees.  We arranged to meet Tim the following morning for some birding.

Birds seen, mainly from train included:  Indian Pond Heron 10, Black-shouldered Kite 1, Egyptian Vulture 4, Brahminy Kite 2, Asian White-backed Vulture 10, Peafowl 10, Pheasant-tailed Jacana 1, Red-wattled Lapwing 5, Indian Robin 1, Asian Pied Starling 2.

Tuesday 8th June 1982:  Delhi (Lodi Park and Yamuna Bund), India
Up at 05:00 having slept through the alarm at 04:30.  We went round to Ringmo Guest House for Tim Inskipp and got a taxi to Lodi Gardens and spent an hour there (05:30-06:30) seeing some good birds, including Oriental Green Barbet.  It was very popular with jogging and constitutionalizing locals.  We went on to the Yamuna Bund, arriving at 06:45, where we boosted the day list considerably.  It was very hot even by 07:30 and smog from the steelworks opposite was quite unpleasant so we left soon after 07:45.  I spent the rest of the day lazing in ice cream parlours and milk shake bars interspersed with a look around a few book shops.  I had an excellent meal in a local coffee shop and drank 4 500ml milk shakes and ate 4 ice creams at total cost of 16 rupees without apparent ill effect!

Birds seen included:  Little Cormorant 1, Purple Heron 2, Spot-billed Duck 6, Black Kite 10, Asian White-backed Vulture 10, Black-winged Stilt 20, Avocet 6, Little Ringed Plover 1, River Lapwing 4, Red-wattled Lapwing 10, Gull-billed Tern 2, River Tern 2, Black-billed Tern 1, Little Tern 20, Whiskered Tern 4, Collared Dove 20, Red Turtle Dove 5, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon 2, Alexandrine Parakeet 5, Ring-necked Parakeet 50, Common Koel 2, Spotted Owlet 1, Pied Kingfisher 1, Little Green Bee-eater 10, Hoopoe 4, *Oriental Green Barbet 1, Coppersmith Barbet 2, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker 2, Crested Lark 2, Indian Robin 2, Ashy Prinia 2, Graceful Prinia 4, Common Babbler 2, Jungle Babbler 15, Golden Oriole 2, Bay-backed Shrike 3, Brahminy Starling 6, Bank Myna 4, Baya Weaver 3, Black-throated Weaver 15, Avadavat 3, Indian Silverbill 2.

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