From time to time, I receive a surprise in the form of postcards sent by people who have read this blog. Today, I received perhaps the biggest surprise to date when an envelope arrived from Kathmandu, Nepal. Sent from the city’s main post office just one week following the massive earthquake of 25 April, the packet contained two postcards illustrating different places in the country. I’m shocked that Nepal’s postal service is back in service so soon after the quake and that it took just two weeks to arrive here in Thailand.
The stamp on the rear of the envelope portrays Patan Durbar Square situated in the center of Lalitpur, just to the south of Kathmandu itself. Heavily damaged in the 25 April earthquake, the square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes the ancient royal palace where the Malla Kings of Lalitpur resided. The first of these kings came to power in the Kathmandu Valley around 1200 and the dynasty lasted until 1769.
The first of the two unused postcards shows those mountain peaks in Nepal that are higher than 8000 meters (26,247 feet). There are a total of fourteen mountains in the world that soar above this level and eight of them are on this card. The first recorded successful ascent of an “eight-thousander” was by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, who reached the summit of Annapurna (pictured middle-left) on 3 June 1950. In order of height, the mountains on this card are: Mount Everest (upper left and center) is 8850 meters or 29,029 feet tall (however, it is estimated that Everest is now an inch shorter due to the earthquake); Kangchenjunga (top center) at 8586 meters or 28,169 feet; Lhotse (upper right), 8516 meters/27,940 feet; Makalu (middle-right), 8485 meters/27,838 feet; Cho Oyu (lower right), 8201 meters/26,906 feet; Dhaulagiri I (bottom center), 8167 meters/26,795 feet; Manaslu (lower left), 8163 meters/26,781 feet; and Annapurna I at 8080 meters or 26,444 feet.