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Passing time in Pokhara

NEPAL | Friday, 9 September 2011 | Views [515]

Since the previous report we have taken a 6-hour busride (or actually a bit longer with all the slow-creeping traffic on the road) to Pokhara, a smaller city to the west of KTM close to the Annapurna range. Because of its smaller size and lakeside setting one traveler we met compared it to Wanaka, but that was after he had traveled in India. Compared tothe NZ Wanaka it's more vibrant, noisy, colourful , humid and messy.

Cleanliness here is defined by having no dirt in your house or in the garden, the common road looks more like one stretch of dumped plastic. Recycling takes place by skinny men with bikes or hand trolleys, laden with plastic bottles, cardboard, glass bottles and more. The omnipresent cows and buffaloes strolling through town (and also over the main highway) convert any edible garbage is cow patties, randomly dropped on the sidewalk or on the road. Complaints on dog pooh in Amsterdam are valid, but these droppings are much bigger!

Up in Pokhara we arranged a trekking permit, so we are OK to visit the real mountains. The views here are still restricted because of the monsoon season, with low hanging clouds and the occasional drop of rain. One early morning we had a glimpse of the impressive Annapurna range from the top of our hotel, but the following two days walking on the Royal Circuit Trek we only knew they were there.  This Royal Trek was done by Prince Charles in the early 80-ies but has fallen into disrepair, partly because the tourists go elsewhere, and partly because many new roads have been bulldozed in the area replacing part of the old foot trail network.  The locals would love Princess Kate to come here and bring the area back in the spotlights.

Also interestingly the accommodation options shown on our map had disappeared, so at the end of day 1 we stopped at a small village square, bought a lemonade and asked if there was a guest house in town. The response was positive, but would be another two hours walk, and the offer of a home-stay was quickly accepted. Between buffaloes, chooks and roosters, goats, a pig there was a welcoming family who provided a decent bed, a shower, some good food, and off course they received some banknotes in return.

Day 2 of the trek (also the last) saw us grinding up the slopes (hot and humid) and slowly getting down; in particular the age-old mossy stones were slippery as!  A period of rain learnt us we can capture roof run-off water in an upside down umbrella to refill our water bottles. Add a iodine tablet and you've got perfect drinking water!  The most exhilarating part of the track was actually the drive back to town over roads where a 4WD would be handy, however the sturdy Tata bus managed to crawl through, as it does probably 4 times a day. Back in Pokhara life is easy, with a cold beer and good facilities, until the power cut out at 8PM yesterday evening.  Interestingly, within a minute several generators in restaurant backyards were started up so the business could go on!

As for the next plans: this Friday 9th is a lazy day in Pokhara, then a early start tomorrow for the bus back to KTM. Once there we'll meet the other volunteers, and slowly Mika and Hans will separate their paths to meet up again in Macchermo. Before then we'll try to upload some photos, however internet is slow and unreliable so fingers crossed!

Cheers, H&M



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