... just another shrine in Kathmandu city. Less than 1m tall and calmly tucked in at the side of the road between the shops.

 

The stupa of the Buddhist temple at Swayambhu, a representation of the Buddhist cosmology. This is perched on a hill outside Kathmandu, approached via a steep climb of 365 steps. It is where a miraculous lotus flower came to rest when Manjushri first drained the lake that used to fill the Kathmandu valley. By the same legend, Manjushri then cut his hair on the site, and the strands that fell to the ground turned into the trees that surround the temple and the lice became monkeys. You're not supposed to call this the "monkey temple", even though plenty still live there.

Why we went to Nepal - to sail 270km of the Sun Kosi river in a little rubber dinghy. This is a grade 5 rapid, where grade 6 signifies death in the event of mishap. There were plenty more like this over the eight days, but in the evenings there were beautiful white sand beaches and majestic eagles circling overhead.

Sunset over the Kathmandu Valley - see this after Naples and before you die ...

... but make sure first that you see it through until the morning, to be there for the sun rise over the Everest Himalayas. This is just after 5:30am, and a second before the sun burst gloriously over Kanchengjunga.

Just time to stop off in Moscow for a bit of literary pretentiousness. For fans of Bulgarkov's "Master and Margarita", this is the Patriarch's Ponds. The corner where the sunflower oil was spilt is on the left of the picture, though the turnstile and Berlioz's bits and pieces are no longer there.

Just a few unrepresentative snaps from October 1999 ...