Monday, November 5, 2012

Visiting Pokhara

Pokhara was our next destination and we took a coach directly there from Chitwan, in a journey supposed to take around another 6 hours. So we settled in for the long haul, expecting similar circumstances to last time, but it wasn't nearly as bad and we were rewarded throughout with stunning views of jungle-covered valleys eventually giving way to the vista of the Annapurna himalayan range in the background.


My first visit in Pokhara was to Blue Sky Paragliding, for reasons I will explain later. But while I was sitting outside, a familiar face strolled past - it was Keith, one of the party of other volunteers from our school who had been in country longer than us and had used Dashain week to take an 8-day treck in the Annapurna region. They'd just got back, and Keith had gone for a shave and massage, and our meeting was a happy coincidence which led to us sharing a drink and a shish with Donnie, Vida and Keith later that evening.

We also went out for dinner at an amazing restaurant named Boomerang. I ordered steak, not quite believing that it would be beef, rather the much more common buffalo, which is used as a substitute for consuming Nepal's national animal which is also sacred in Hinduism (and carries a hefty fine if you kill one). But no, it was proper cow steak, probably imported from India! I felt a bit bad about this. But it was damn tasty anyway - and accompanied by a delicious brown gravy and, bizarrely, apple and banana salad. Which was a surprisingly good combination.

The following morning, our tour of Pokhara commenced with a lunatic taxi drive up to the nearby mountain, Sarankot, to view the sunrise along with about 500 other toursits. The sunrise was fairly sunrise-y and we had good views of the mountains, the city and the lake that link the two.


From here, we were driven straight to the lake, where we hired a boat with the guide and glid slowly across the millpond to a curious temple-on-an-island in the middle. I was able to take what is so far my favourite photo of Nepal so far:

And of course Alfie managed to spoil every photo of the rest of the boat, this is the best one I could find!

So we then explored the temple-on-an-island which was full of Hindus (celebrating Dashain) and tourists (photographing the aforementioned devotees). I guess it's true that there are 3 religions in Nepal - Hinduism, Buddhism and Tourism. Clearly I belonged to the latter group as much as the people I was taking fun of. We did, however, witness the very odd sight of a man bringing a cage with a couple of pigeons inside to the water's edge, washing said pigeons, then putting them back in the cage afterwards! Most odd...


After breakfast, we went to see a waterfall from both above and below (via a long cave in which photographs were prohibited!), which were neither over- nor under-whelming. 

The entrance to said cave was worthy of note, however, as it was very sub-complete in true Nepali fashion. Look carefully at the collision of staircases in centre left of the picture...

Next we went to see a gorge and aquaduct. Our guide made very little effort in explaining these to us, so we just took some photos of the monkeys and went on our way.

Afterwards we were taken to explore 'the old Pokhara' which seemingly consisted of us walking 100m along a deserted street and then being picked up at the other end. Completely pointless, especially when unaccompanied by any sort of explanation. Our guide probably wished he was with his family for Dashain but still was quite inadequate! We carefully tipped him just enough to go away when we got back to our hotel. After which we decided to hire bicycles and just explore on our own!!

We cycled past the airport to the National Mountain Museum, an impressively modern building featuring many exhibits on the beginnings of mountaineering in the Himalayas (a surprisingly modern sport here) and also the ascents of many of the highest mountains. It was a pretty good museum actually!


Alfie found a 3D model of the Annapurna region and is pointing out the area we'll be visiting in a few days' time... More on that later!

Finally, we admired the Hotel Of Doom-esque climbing wall before returning to Pokhara to deposit the bikes and then go for dinner - pizza this time, at the most hilariously-bad service restaurant who gave me bacon instead of baby-corn on my pizza, and Alfie just raw bananas instead of banana fritters! I think it went too many times through bad translation between waiter and chef, but come on...

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  1. Need a sunrise count, CJ - need to know if you've overtaken your offshore sailing count or not....!


  2. Great boaty-photy by the way. Great colours. Really exudes peace and quiet