Dear Ron & Val,
I loved reading your tale of India in the Dec Newsletter and it prompted me to email you with my
recent travel tales.
I have just returned from a month in India & Nepal.
I travelled with a friend from Sydney who had only ever had a week in Delhi & Agra as a stopover
en route to Europe when Qantas offered Pacesetter Fares in the 1970’s.
Di had always wanted to go back, asked me if I would go with her and of course I said YES.
An amazing journey, I put an itinerary together and Exotic Destinations in Melbourne made it happen. Our itinerary included Nepal, Northern India, Sikkim and a 3 night stay in Darjeeling staying
at the Glenburn Tea Estate looking out at the beautiful Himalayas.
So many wonderful experiences, a few of which I shall relate here.
In 1976 Garry and I along with our group had Christmas Lunch at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu. One of the passengers had taken a photo of Garry & I reading out all the comments the
pax had made about us on a huge card. Lots of laughs as you can imagine.
I took the photo with me and we called into the Yak & Yeti for old times sake.
The welcome we received was absolutely amazing, before we knew it we had the Restaurant
staff, the Head Chef and the General Manager surrounding us.
I think they were amazed that someone who had visited in 1976 was still alive.
One of the older ladies on duty in the Restaurant came forward to say her husband had worked
there back then.
Many photos were taken and Di & I decided to go back for dinner that night.
Up to dessert, deciding if we would or wouldn’t indulge and the decision was made for us.
Around the corner came a tray with a small Mud Cake beautifully iced wit the words “Welcome
Back” written on the top. I promptly burst into tears, once again, many photos were taken.
Sadly the Blue Star is no longer operating. As we flew into the airport my eyes widened as I
looked at all the airlines now flying in/out of Nepal.
A highlight was the scenic flight over the Himalayas, you felt as though you could touch them,
once again, many photos taken. One thing that really stood out was the high rise buildings that
now dominate the skyline.
Sadly the Hotel de Paris in Varanasi is no longer operating as a hotel, the beautiful lounge entrance area I remember is now filled with offices. I fondly remember Garry Peterson picking me
up one time and whirling me in the air as I walked in.
I had made enquires to see if Eugene Pram was possibly still working as a Tour Guide in Jaipur.
The message came back that he had passed on, but his daughter, Varsha would be our guide.
Varsha met us on arrival, Varsha was only 12 when we last travelled through on our way home to
Australia in 1979.
I passed on my condolences to her re Eugene, she looked at me in astonishment, no Jan, he is
still alive, he has just “passed on” from tour guiding, so we had the pleasure of spending the day
with the family, Eugene, Sheila, his wife, Varsha, her sister Toni, who was only 10 way back then
and their brother Ajay who was only about 6 or 7 at the time.
Varsha has 2 daughters, Angela, studying English Honours at Uni and Vanditta in her final year of
High School who has plans to be a Shoe Designer.
I understand that through Colin Davidson, Varsha has reconnected with Sundowners. This is great
as I think it would be wonderful to let our network know if they are travelling to Jaipur to engage
Varsha. Sadly Ajay contracted Menengitis about 3 years ago and is still currently bedridden, there
is hope that he may regain the ability to walk at a later stage. He is so much like Eugene, has that
sparkle in his eye and wonderful sense of humour.
Domestic Tourism is on the rise with the middle class travelling with their families to show them the
amazing history of the land they were born in. Di and I attracted much attention, Di with her dark
red hair and yours truly with her silver mane. We were asked many, many times if we would pose
with families for a photo and we obliged.
Our time in India coincided with the Diwali Festival, the Camel Fair in Pushkar and the start of the
Wedding Season. We walked for about 6 hours while experiencing the Camel Fair, so colourful, so
Our grand finale was our time at the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling. With the majestic Himalayas watching over us I burst into tears as we alighted from the 4WD.
While there we did an 8 km walk with four English travellers from the Estate down to the glacial
The roads are so broken up after the monsoon rains that it was a real challenge, but well worth the
picnic lunch by the river at the finish line. I have often watched marathon runners, walkers when
they are almost at finish line. Trust me I now know that feeling, but I gritted my teeth and made it
to the finish line. Fortunately the jeeps were there to take us back up.
I am sure as soon as I hit the send button I will think of more anecdotes I could have included
here, but I shall sign off for now.
I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas 🎄and hope that 2020 will be a year of good
health and great times for all.
It is 3 years tomorrow since Garry passed away, but the wonderful memories live on.
Love to All