Friday 9 November

Today we have the luxuary of a lie-in until 7.30 am. There are cornflakes and delicious scotch pancakes for breakfast, but my tummy is feeling too delicate. As we are finishing, Ray and Simon return from a last elephant ride in the jungle with tales of tigers, leopards and great adventures.

We return to Kathmandu along the winding Trisuli valley road. We pass over the same landslides as we met on the way out to Pokhara, but this time we are on the valley side of the road, with the wheels supported surely only inches away from disaster by mere loose earth and rubble. Quarry trucks grind up the hill in first gear, belching choking black smoke into the atmosphere. At one point, in complicated multi-manoever, a stone truck, a gravel truck, our own bus, and another tourist bus behind us manage to completely reverse order around a series of blind hairpins, all this while at the same time a car and a lorry manage unaccountably to thread their way through the scrum from the opposite direction.

The black diesel fumes from the lorries form a dense and overpowering smokescreen, and the constant jolting and turning makes my already delicate stomach distinctly queasy. As we finally cross the col into the Kathmandu valley, I can think only of arriving back in the tranquil oasis of the Royal Singi Hotel, and a visit to the bathroom.

I decide to skip dinner that evening. A couple of bouts of diarrhoea are followed by a second viewing of the noodle soup I had eaten for lunch. I feel incredibly ill. The oral rehydration drink I manage to mix together and down does nothing to help, and is immediately and forcefully ejected. I eventually drift off to sleep, woken briefly on James’ return.