Thursday 15 November

We don’t need to make a particularly early start for the canyoning, so it is another relaxed morning. Our instructor begins by showing us some basic abseiling next to the administration building. Arnie, who is supposed to be my safety man drops me when I let go of the rope. Fortunately, we’re abseiling on the level here, but he is most apologetic.

We get kitted up—fleece, wetsuit long johns, spray top and harness—and then make the short but hot walk up to the start of the descent. We abseil down some of the drops, but on the longer ones, our instructor lowers us. The water makes the rock very slippery and it is not always possible to see where I am putting my feet. When I slip, I am rewarded with the full force of the waterfall on my face. A couple of times, I end up facing in entirely the wrong direction. It is not entirely what I expected. We don’t get to do any jumping or swimming—it’s simply descending on ropes down the course of a modest waterfall until just short of the Bhote Koshi river at the bottom.

By the end, it is getting quite cold and I am glad to get out into the sun, even if it is a stiff climb back up to the resort. There’s time for a cold shower and a late lunch, before boarding the bus back to Kathmandu.

We are not far into the journey when the bus pulls to a halt—we have a puncture. The driver and his mate don’t waste any time getting the wheel changed, but the bald tread of the tire that is going on does not exactly inspire confidence.

Night falls, and just after crossing a small col, we come to a halt again in a small village behind a queue of other buses. We learn that there has been a hit-and-run road accident—one small boy killed—and that the angry villagers are not letting anyone past. We have no idea how long we will be here for.

It is about an hour later when things start moving again. The convoy of buses begins to wind its way up to the Kathmandu Valley rim, and every few bends, the order changes, as bus overtakes bus and is overtaken back again.

As we enter the heart of Kathmandu along Kantipath, the bus begins to coast. We roll to a halt just near to the Ratna Park—out of diesel! A general groan of resignation goes up from the passengers, and we all pile off. It is only a fifteen minute walk into Thamel though. I dump my bag at the Mustang Holiday Inn, and go for a late dinner at Omei’s, a Chinese restaurant opposite the hotel. It is a quarter to nine, and there is only one other customer left in the restaurant. I sit upstairs by the window and watch the Diwali festivalities in the street below to the sound of firecrackers. Gangs of teenagers make their way down the street chanting ‘Diusire’ outside each establishment and asking for money—something like a Nepalese form of ‘Trick or Treet’.