K is captivated by Kathmandu, Kildare and Kavieng


I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which). Today’s “K” post mixes long-ago family history with recent family history and travelogue.

K is for Kathmandu (Nepal)

Kathmandu © P Cass 1977

Kathmandu was on my husband’s bucket list long before the expression had been invented. When friends and colleagues from Port Moresby got a posting to Kathmandu to work at the airport, he was quick to take advantage of their offer of a visit….something we’d have been unlikely to do otherwise with a six year old and a four year old in tow. We tacked the detour onto the kids’ first trip to Europe and as the plane came into land amidst lightning and murky wet season weather, we were very pleased to know our friend was in charge of the airport’s electrical systems.

What a fascinating place Kathmandu was, not on the 1970s hippie trail, but as parents with small children. Our friends made it so much easier being able to have good accommodation, safe food and triply-distilled water. All of us were overwhelmed by our couple of days in New Delhi with its crowds, begging and understandable confrontational style. Our main regret is that jet lag and culture shock meant we didn’t have the energy to do a day trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal as we’d hoped.

Kathmandu craftsmen -tinsmiths or silversmiths (I can't recall) © P Cass 1977.

Life tough for the Nepali people but they seemed somehow more happy and less aggressive, and mostly we enjoyed Kathmandu. Leprosy and deformities were rife: confronting sights even for those accustomed to life in Papua New Guinea and not a first world country.

Pashupatinath Kathmandu © P Cass 1977

The sights and memories are many: the little cubbyholes in which people worked at tin or silver smithing, or sari-making; Durba Square; the toothache shrine, the nearby smell unbelievable; a man reading the newspaper to a crowd of men sitting on the steps; the sacred cows everywhere on the road; the  monks and faithful spinning the prayer wheels at Boudhanath or Swayambunath; monkeys in Pashupatinatheven seeing a cremation by the river there. Our friends encouraged us to let the children watch and they seemed quite mesmerised and not at all traumatised by it.

The Himalaya from the air: meringue mountains. © P Cass 1977

Our friend’s work took him to various outstations and we were able to travel with him in the truck to sightsee. I clearly remember driving through a village where the grain was laid out in the street to be threshed by the passing vehicles running over it. Far too often for my liking the vehicle was far too close to the precipitous edge of a road due the narrowness, not the driving.

We even managed a tourist flight to Mt Everest despite bad weather cancelling our first planned flight. Special memories of a truly unusual place and one we were privileged to visit.

K is for County Kildare (Ireland)

Ballymore Eustace Catholic Church, Co Kildare © P Cass 1992

My Denis Gavin, who you’ve heard about lately, says he was from Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare. Mind you he’s also stated on his second marriage certificate that he was born in Dublin. On his immigration record[i] he said that his parents were Denis and Mary Gavin, that his father was dead but his mother was in Kildare. You can see there’s some ambiguity here for family history research.

Nearly 20 years ago I tried to resolve this problem by visiting the parish church at Ballymore Eustace looking for his baptism circa 1834 (his age maths tends to be a bit arbitrary), but got no results. I thought I’d struck it lucky when I found a Denis Gavin listed on the Griffith Valuations and with a probate entry, but apparently not. That particular Denis Gavin was a single man with no family other than a sister to whom he left his estate. I keep checking the indexes (IrishGenealogy.ie or RootsIreland.ie) but to no avail.

Where does this leave me? All these years later I’m still uncertain as to whether Denis came from Co Kildare or Co Dublin or where his family had lived. I’m not quite willing to call it a brick wall but it is something of a commando-standard challenge. Perhaps I’m too close to it and can no longer see the genealogical woods for the family history forest.

K is for Kavieng (Papua New Guinea)

Legur Beach, Kavieng © P Cass 1973

Kavieng, New Ireland Province, is where my husband’s parents lived in the early 1970s.  I’ve talked about how we swapped our fresh veg for their fresh crayfish, a winning exchange in my book. We visited them for a long weekend (possibly Easter) and enjoyed being able to swim in the sea after a few years in the Highlands, though it was a long walk out over the crushed coral to get far enough into the water to swim. Neither of us has many memories of the place, other than that it was quite flat, with a lot of coconut plantations and we saw war-time wreckage and bomb craters as we flew in. Mr Cassmob’s comment when asked for inspiration: Em tasol – sori long lusim tingting (Pidgin for that’s all, sorry I can’t remember).

K is for Korea

McDonald's Corner at the start of the Kokoda Track © P Cass 1976.

My father’s cousin went missing in action in Korea, aged 22. His family were devastated and over the years continued to try to learn more about what happened to him. I told his storylast year in an Anzac Day blog post. If anyone reading this post is related to his friends on his final patrol I’d love to hear from you.

K is for Kokoda Track or Trail (Papua New Guinea)

The Kokoda Track/Trail[ii]was a pivotal battleground of World War II in PNG and is now something of a pilgrimage site for Australians. When we went to Papua New Guinea soon after being married, my husband took me for a drive out of Port Moresby to Sogeri, where he’d lived for a while, and McDonald’s Corner, the southern gateway to the Track. I found it quite sobering to stand at a place which had become famous in Australian folklore.

A to Z Challenge suggestions:

You might fancy a dip into Italy with Lady Reader’s Bookstuff or Someone has to say it on intellectual property rights for books or a heartfelt post by A Common Sea.


[i] NSW Board Immigrant’s Lists for Fortune 1855, microfilm 2469.

[ii] The terminology has been hotly debated. The Australian War Memorial explains it here.

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18 thoughts on “K is captivated by Kathmandu, Kildare and Kavieng

    • We used to talk about it more when they were younger but now life is busy with families and jobs not so much. Will have to put it on the “agenda”. mind you they’ve had some grand adventures of their own. When we lived in PNG, with no TV, we used to have in-family slide shows and movie nights which reinforced the memories and events.

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      • The film nights sound great fun. Of course it is not just your children sharing their memories with you, but also how those experiences will sound to your Grandchildren!

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      • Julie perhaps you can help me here. when you leave a comment do you have to go through word verificTion/CAPTCHA? it may be that you don’t as you’ve had comments approved but it would be helpful to know. I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn it off to no avail. I go through the login, two word dance when I comment in blogger and I know it’s tedious but at the moment I can’t get around it. Blogger also won’t let me comment as wordpress any more either.. Also tedious.

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      • Hi, I don’t have to go through any captcha data as I log in using a WordPress account. I assume you have no problems accessing mine. I have captcha data turned off as it drives me nuts completing it and even when you do, it often says its wrong! I can the same comment from Rebel… A few days ago. Blog press are doing some upgrades so this might be the problem. Can you leave comments on my blog using openID? In the meantime, I have a WordPress blog & we explore & see if between us we can solve the problem.

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      • I just added a comment to yours to check what happens. I even logged in with my WP ID and it worked quite happily. So that’s a few of us with no problems. I would like to be able to still screen my incoming comments from newbies, but Akismet should catch most of the spam.

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  1. This discussion about the difficulty commenting on blogs that are not WordPress ones resonates with me. I’ve also found it extremely difficult to comment on Blogger–and sometimes it just says over and over that I’m incorrectly entering the letters in the “word dance.” I find that I’ve given up commenting on some Blogger blogs because it’s so tedious. Thank good we’re both WordPress blogs. It makes it so much easier.

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    • I really believe the issue with WordPress bloggers commenting on blog press blogs is a technical one controlled by the institution themselves. My own blog has the catcha feature turned off. I have tried the settings with post as openID & allow annon postings and still I can not post when I log out of my blog press account & in with my WP account. That said Blog press are undergoing some changes & hopefully that might resolve the issues. Fingers crossed!

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    • I agree Sheryl, being able to comment on a WP blog is heaven after the laborious process of getting into a blogger blog. Mostly I make the effort but sometimes if I’m time-pressed I just go with a Like or G+. I’ve got around the blogger issue partly by using my Google profile which I then made sure had my blog site on it. At least then all I have to do is deal with the word dance once, not circle eternally.

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  2. I have no problem commenting on any of your blogs. I’m sure because I have a wordpress.org blog. I do sometimes have a problem with the capcha’s, not because I get it wrong but because it’s just such a pain to do it at all. Most blogs I visit regularly don’t have it. Sepia Saturdays when I go visit other people is when I run into capcha’s most.

    You have visited so many interesting places! I’ve traveled around the US but the only other countries I’ve been to are Canada and Norway.

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      • hi Julie, thanks for your help with this. The only consolation is that I seem to have to do it on almost all the “blogger” blogs I read..but then there are more of them than on WP.

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    • Thanks for feedback on this Kirstin. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this via the WP forum (Did you know they’ve “temporarily” removed support for the freebie wp.com blogs?). I’ll see what eventuates from there. Canada and Norway would have been great places to travel. Canada is still on my bucket list. It’s the eternal conundrum and balancing act: time vs $$

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