Friday, October 06, 2006

Popping down to Pokhara for a day or two!

Oct 6th. Wow.... even for me this was early. Met by Bishnu's driver ('member my Tibet trip contact!), so off we then went to pick him up. Normally it takes over 8 hours to get to Pokhara but as Bishnu was going down to meet clients early today, he asked if i wanted to go with him and get there in less than 4 hours .. by private car no less! Nice guy, didn't think he was going to sell me to the slave trade or anything, so said, yes, no probs esp. cos i only had a day or two to visit as I needed to head back to Kathmandu to begin my Tibet trip.

Had a great chat on the way down.. and arrived around 9ish.....but before i get into my exciting adventures i need to tell you exactly where i am! Pokhara is one of the key places to visit when you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu for a few days.. its also the base for many people to begin their fabby Nepal trekking experiences... with the beautiful Annapurna range right at your feet (ok so i didnt actually get to see them 'cos of all the cloudy weather but that wasn't going to stop my fun.. i bought a postcard instead and was quite happy!). Once i got to Lakeside, the main area for backpackers to hang out - and chill out - I went to look for my long lost Swiss friend Oliver, who had been trekking for a few days and had just arrived back to town....and would you believe it! Walked right past him in a cafe having breakfast with another lovely Swiss girl he had met, Sandra! Yeah - that was easy! So i headed off to check into the guest house they were staying at - Lovely Jubbly - great name eh! then went to meet them. Lovely relaxed atmosphere here on Lakeside and we just sat and chatted for ages over chai and coffee...ahh this is the life. Think Nepal is definitely good for me!

But alas no - i had to make a move, eventually! Went for a lovely walk around the lake and up the hill, where, guess what! Yup, i sat and drank more chai and looked out over the amazing views and just felt so lucky - again - at being in this lovely place! Very, very nice. Had a wonderful Tibetan meal with Oliver and Sandra.. so delicious! Then home - phew long day but fantastic!

Oct 7th. Oliver and I set off today, despite the cloudy weather (again!) to take a lovely, relaxed boat ride across the Phewa Tal (Phewa Lake to you and I) to climb up to the Peace Pagoda. On our way we passed the island shrine which was squished full of pilgrims, with more just waiting in boats to get across. Don't think any more would fit tho'! Gorgeous to see all the crazy colours of the ladies saris as they waited patiently for their traditional ceremonies and of course, the ritual slaughtering of goats that takes place during certain festivals every year ..well, that's what Oliver told me. Not sure if that was true, but didn't fancy checking it out myself! As i said, we were a wee bit disappointed that it is was still so cloudy; not seeing the fabulous Annapurna Mountain Range but what can you do.. oh yes and have i mentioned the monsoon rains that fall for about an hour every night around 7pm (quite on time its amazing!).

Phew - realise i really an a complete blob now and hence some heavy breathing as we climbed to the top....but phew i did make it - anyone could make it up here, seriously its not something to shout about! So yet another gorgeous stupa here! Fab views of the countryside although a bit misty again, oh well! Didn't realise just how big Pokhara is (think it is Nepal's second biggest city but as us backpacker types only stay in Lakeside, which feels like a wee village, we dont usually check out the rest of the city, so interesting to see how far it extends to, from the hilltop view!). On our way back down after a refreshing Fanta or two (thank you Oliver!), we passed some lovely water buffalo just hanging out in their little swimming pool, enjoying the warm weather. Too funny. They just sit there watching the world go by; not bothered at all at the daft tourists taking pics of them! Unfortunately, and probably due to the fact we were just chatting up a storm, we ended up getting completely and utterly lost (but i had no fear, i was with a trekker extraordinaire; yes, i have to admit, alone, i would never have found my way home!)... so, in our quest for the right track, we passed some pretty massive monkeys jumping into a lake and swimming around; we also got attacked by leeches - so gross, there was blood everywhere, all over both of our ankles and my wrists too; and just to make things perfect, I got attacked by a bunch of red ants that decided to take a walk up my legs - ahhh! But no fear, after a number of dead ends, we found some hill people (phew!) who pointed us in the right direction and we managed to make it out (yes, im describing this as if it was were stuck in the Himalayas for weeks; it was only a few hours.. but you know me, i like to be a tad dramatic wherever and whenever possible!). So we made it down and had a good giggle about it afterwards. On our way back to the guest house, we saw this incredible contraption in the street. I would probably call it a wooden Big Wheel, and there was such a crowd around it; everyone was clambering to get on it and it was pushed by hand around and around! So clever.. and lovely to see! Oh yes; we stopped for a fresh juice and chatted to the juice guy and his wife who ran the fruit stall for a while. Did i say everyone is just lovely and chatty and happy to talk to you! And so to more pottering, more chai, another great dinner, and some fab chats! Aahh... the good life

Oct 8th. Wow, actually felt a bit tired today! Sandra and I decided to rent some bikes and cycle along the lakefront; Oliver was off to the National Mountaineering Museum so we decided to meet him later. Another beautiful day - wow, it was hot! Away we went, with the wind in our hair... well, for a good 10 mins anyway. Nah, a wee bit longer than that.. then we decided we deserved a ...."you got it"... nice cup of chai. Sat at a beautiful cafe overlooking the lake and just chatted away. Amazing the conversations you have with new friends; just fab! Then we felt we needed to do a bit more cycling so off we went.. and low and behold, it was time for lunch (about 15 mins later hahaha).... some more great views, and more chats! Then down to town again, potered around the shops, and decided to buy a fleece for my upcoming Tibet trip (apparantly its really cold there - bummer as i'd sent all my cold clothes home ages ago and not looking forward to leaving the nice heat of Nepal.. oh well!). Another great dinner at our Tibetan restaurant - yummm love the thugkpa soup with noodles and buffalo - yummmmyy... then off to pack as its back to Kathmandu for me tomorrow - talk about a whirlwind trip. Have had such a lovely time with Oliver and Sandra tho'... again, everywhere i go i meet the best folks. Lucky lucky me!

Oct 9th. Damn - saw every hour on the clock AND was bitten alive by a pesky mosquito in my room....Left at 6am for my bus back to K. Loved the ride back on my local bus..lots of gorgeous children .. played with one little girl most of the way; so good and smiley and sweet! Of course the bus took over 8 hours to get back - phew it was soooooo hot! Off to get ready and very excited to start my Tibet trip tomorrow! Yah stay tuned!!!


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