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Day 58: Kathmandu to the Chinese border

Kathmandu, Nepal 
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Women are prominent in Nepalese rural life. In the Himalyan foothills, a woman carries home scrub for cattle feed.
Michael Palin - HimalayaThe road that winds its way northeast from Kathmandu is called the Arniko Highway. It's appropriately named, for Arniko was the Nepali architect credited with introducing the pagoda to China and the road that bears his name leads to the only crossing point between the two countries.

It is quite likely that there was more contact between Nepal and China 600 years ago than there is today. The road route from Kathmandu to Lhasa has only been open since the 1980s.

The landscape at first is unsensational, the highway rising and falling over undulating, terraced foothills. A string of tourist hotels with names like Snow View Resort and Himalaya Lookout carry the promise of great things to come, but sadly fail to deliver. The mountains ahead of us remain undetectable behind a layer of sluggish low cloud.

This concentrates the eye on more intimate views: villages of brick and thatch houses and tiny plots of land, ploughed by hand, with nothing much to suggest anything has changed in the last few hundred years. Verdant, fertile country, but rural life is still on an intimate scale. At the bend of a river a mixed team of cows and donkeys is being turned in tight circles to thresh the freshly cut wheat. Milk churns are carried on bent backs.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 58: Kathmandu to the Chinese border
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Kathmandu
  • Book page no: 134

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