Pokhara…or Poky as the locals call it!
We left Kathmandu at 6.30am hoping to miss some traffic…lol…
It was just as busy at that time of the morning than at any other time of the day…….
Pokahara is 200km west of Kathmandu (Capital of Nepal). The journey should take about 6 hours…..
Fighting our way through the traffic was one thing but the potholes was another especially when cows, goats and people are also on the road!…. not to mention the people on motorbikes slowing right down to take photos of us on the bike and getting in our way and almost making us fall off the bike!…
We needed to get fuel but the power was off (what a surprise) so the attendant had to pump by hand….i don’t think he was too impressed when we told him to fill the tank up! the poor guy worked up quite a sweat filling our twenty litre tank…..not the usual one litre the locals buy…
Finally out of ‘town’….we hit the ‘main’ road to Pokhara which was heavy with trucks, buses, and cars going both ways, the roads aren’t that wide enough to cope with the volume of traffic and when someone breaks down it can be a nightmare!
So dodging the traffic and potholes, we head down the dusty twisty roads at first the scenery was nothing special, dry pastures waiting for some much needed rain.
But didn’t take long till we saw breathtaking views of the Himalayas and lush green fields, wow its a beautiful country…
A few miles out from Pokhara the land became flat and the rivers were a cement grey colour…. not sure if it was because there were some big quarry’s close by or what, but the locals didn’t seemed worried, some where washing their laundry in it!
Finally we arrived in Pokhara….
A busy little town that once was the vibrant trade route that extended between India and Tibet..
We pulled up at under a massive jacaranda tree by a lake, and I head off on foot to find The Orchid Hotel (a sister Hotel of the Access Hotel in KTM that we stayed in)…
The sign with the hotel name directed me up a narrow broken up road, the street looked like a bomb had gone off, some buildings had their fronts ‘chopped’ off (we later found out that the road was being widened and so anyone’s home/business that was in the way, had to be removed…by them selves of course)
Finding the Hotel, I did the ‘deal’ and we moved in…. later we did the usual thing of exploring the town of ‘Lakeside’
The streets were quiet, only a few tourists shopping in one of the many gift shops….
Down by the lake we expected to see the snow capped mountains that we had heard so much about, we weren’t in luck 😦 because of the haze and clouds we couldn’t see any….
We walked along the foreshore Fewa Lake, which is the second largest lake in the kingdom, about 1.5 km by 4 km.
The lake was like a millpond, with many coloured rowing boats gently ‘bobbing’ in the gentle breeze, there were also some boats taking people to the Barahi Island Temple which is the most important religious monument in Pokhara, on Saturdays Devotees will carry male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity!
The island is just a 5 minute boat ride from shore….
Walking along the shoreline and trying not to trip or break an ankle on the uncompleted cobbled stone path was quite a challenge!
There’s lots of restaurants and cafés that back onto this path….
We couldn’t help but notice that there was a cafe called the Pumpernickel…we thought we had better give it a try and see if its as good as the one in Kathmandu…
We found a shady spot under the young Jacaranda trees….and sat in the stunning little garden filled with all kinds of scented flowers…it wasn’t long before our order of coffee and Apple Pie with Ice-cream arrived…oh boy it was good…i think this will be another town thats not going to be kind to our waist line!
Upon opening our bedroom curtains the following morning we were greeted by the overwhelming view of snow capped mountains through our window…WOW….
So the mountain that looks like Everest must be the Fish-Tail (6,993m) it’s stunning.
Amazing unfortunately it didn’t take long for the clouds to materialize and hide these beautiful mountains.
After breakfast we walked down to the lake, as today we were going to go to the World Peace Pagoda, which is a massive Buddhist stupa and is situated on top of a hill.
So we board the rowing boat, noticing that there was only one life jacket on board, I asked the young guy rowing who was that for? He said for him, as he can’t swim!!!
After about 15 minutes we arrived to the base of the hill, which we had to climb to reach the Peace Pagoda…
It didn’t look that steep from the other side of the lake…lol
Armed with water we started our ascent …gee it was hard…
We were puffed out after 10 minutes!
Thankfully most of the climb was under the canopy of trees…. stopping ‘only’ to admire the view and have a drink of water!!!
After about an hour or so we made it to the top of the ridge we were soon greeted by the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda. Which was almost blinding in the full sun, Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organization constructed the Pagoda.
After checking out the Pagoda we relaxed for a while and enjoyed the view across the lake, just making out the ‘Fish Tail’ mountain peaking through the clouds.
After a quick drink at the café,with a awesome view over the lake (ran by a group of teenage boys!)
We hit the road or rather the dusty track to make our way back to town…
The first half hour took us past quaint hillside homes with paddy fields full of sweet corn and wheat growing, it was picture postcard….
The rest of the walk took us two hours of eating dust thrown at us by passing trucks on their way to a quarry…
Finally we came to the road, and as we were near Devi’s fall (also known as Devin’s or David’s) we decided to take a look…
There is a modern legend that says that a foreigner named David was skinny dipping in the Pardi Khola (a river close by) when the floodgates of the dam were opened, sweeping him into an underground passage beneath the fall, never to be seen again!
The water level was very low so the flow was not as good as it should be, the rock formation was really unusual…
Oh well back on the hot road again, hoping that a taxi would stop and pick us up, we weren’t in luck…when you don’t want one, they are everywhere…. after walking a few klm’s, a bus stopped and said it was going our way…great…we hopped on, and what a ride it was like being on a roller coaster, we were bouncing around like a couple of kangaroos, I don’t think we have ever had so much space between our butts and the seat before…
The driver definitely ‘drove it like he stole it’ lol
Feeling exhausted we made it back to the hotel to catch up on some ‘blogging’ then off for a quick ride to Sarangkot as we were hoping to catch the sunrise the next morning, so we wanted to know where to go…. while up at the lookout we noticed a couple of familiar faces heading towards the lookout…. it was Ben (who we are traveling through China with) and Fern!
That evening we set the alarm clock early hoping that there would be clear skies in the morning…. morning came and so did the clear skies, we got on the bike and rode to Sarangkot hoping that we would be able to see the spectacular views of the Annapurna range…Gee it was a bit chilly that early in the morning.
Riding round the twisty lanes bypassing locals going for their early morning walks…. we could see the sun coming up, suddenly the mountains turned a stunning orange, but we hadn’t got to our destination yet…
NOOOOO…. even though we had missed the best part of the sunrise we still carried on up to the viewing point…. blast 10 minutes earlier we could have got some great photos….The clouds were already starting to cover the mountains 😦
So we headed back to the hotel for breakfast feeling rather disappointed….GRRRR 10 minutes!….after breakfast we did some sorting out of clothes that we were and weren’t taking with us on the Annapurna Circuit, then off to go and get entrance permit for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) at a cost of NPR2,000 each which is about 22.50 AU (if you enter the area with out a permit and get caught its twice the price). Getting the permits was a quick process, just as we were leaving it started to rain…but not that heavy….we stopped at a German bakery for a coffee, getting off the bike just in time…
Holy moly the heavens opened up well and good, the drains were soon overflowing and the road was like mini river, the buffalos just sauntered on through the middle of the road like nothing was happening…lol….
Boy did the temperature drop I was freezing … So while it was raining we sat and enjoyed a coffee, with a piece of Hot apple pie topped with ice-cream!
Once the rain had subsided we went back to our hotel, to finish packing and try to get an early night.
We left early to see how far we could get up the annpura circuit.
As soon as we turned onto the track it got really rough in places but the scenery made up for it.
We stopped in a small village had a couple of bananas and a cold drink and headed off again…
We came to a steep hill and full of large boulders, with one large rock we couldn’t avoid and we bottomed out and we toppled off the bike, with Chris picking up a very large bruise on her leg.
With Chris being a tough old bird we up righted the bike and set off again with the track following a gorge with the road high above the river.
The road also went down level with the raging river under a over hanging rock cliff…..
The track was getting tough on the bike and us, so we decieded to stop and find a guest house for the night.
The only option was a room above the village shop run by a lovely couple who didn’t speak English.
The hallway was used as a shortcut for their goats!…
The sheets were a bit suspect so we slept in our silk sleeping bags and it turned out to be a comfortable night.
We took a walk over a wire suspension bridge and when we got to the other side we noticed that some of the metal planks missing, and had huge dents in them plus wires frayed where there had been a rockfall on it recently!…..
We walked the long way around back.
After our cup of tea , the landlady wanted photos of us all together, she gave us her address and wanted us to send the photos to her, no email or internet out here….we said our good byes and set off back to Pokarha.
Later that afternoon we checked back into our hotel exausted, making plans for India.
We had a few days still left in Pokahara and thought we would use them to explore the surrounding areas, first was a ride up along sarangot ridge that overlooks Pokhara lake, it’s just a dirt road that goes through the hillside villages, on the side of the hills were terraces, only a few had rice growing in then, but the rest had sweet corn and wheat crops growing, it was like going back in time when all farming was done by hand or animals ploughed the fields…
We Stopped and made a cup of tea and a group of young children came and talked to us, one of them could speak English and translated to the other kids. They have a very simple life but they seem very happy and were talking about school and what they wanted to do in adult life, mostly they wanted to be farmers like their fathers.
On our last afternoon we knew there was a track around the lake so we decided to go for a ride and check it out, it was a beautiful afternoon riding past the small community of houses and shops, soon the roads became too dusty and it was getting so hot plus the road had turned into one giant pot hole, so we decided to turn around and head back into town …
The next morning we were up early heading towards India….
Pokahara is another crab pot town, easy to get in but hard to leave….