As things do not run accordingly to plan here we decided to head to the airport a bit earlier than usual.
The domestic terminal wasn’t that big, like Cork City Bus Station really and in typical Nepali fashion we got put on the earlier flight so that they could resell our tickets later on.
There were 18 on our flight and we were all wedged into a tiny plane. The feeling was probably something similar to the opening scenes of the Flash Gordon movie, our tiny plane headed into the maelstrom of fog and mist. Only our destination was Pokhara and not the moon.
25 minutes later we landed with a thump and proceeded to collect our baggage off the landing strip.
Pokhara is located between Lake Fewa and the Seti River and has breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountains. Near the lake the town is clustered with bars/restaurants, Hotels, Guest Houses, Trekking Shops and German Bakeries. We chose a hotel up one of the side streets for our base for the next couple of days.
Arrival Day was to explore the town as the weather was looking shifty. We also took this time to look up some leads for trekking/rafting.
The next day we headed to the jetty and rented a rowboat to take us to the other side of the lake and the stairway to the World Peace Pagoda.
Built in 1973 this is the 71st World Peace Pagoda to be built worldwide in honour of the Buddhist message of peace. Unfortunately it was shortly demolished by the Nepalese government until it was finally rebuilt in 1999.
These steps were treacherous and at one point a Spanish couple who were also climbing them gave up due to the exertion needed to get there. At one point John almost succumbed to surrender but a timely Mars Bar gave him the confidence and sugar rush to make the summit.
The views were stunning and the Pagoda was quite a sight. We were glad we persevered.
On the way down Karen stopped to take one of her ‘Cultural’ Photos, 3 local mountain women at work. Enjoy the photos as they cost us some Rupees in bribes to be taken.
It was that same strength from the early Mars Bar that allowed John to talk Karen down the steps as the poor quality made her panic and refuse to move near the end.
Sure enough our boat was there when we got down and we made it back to Pokhara with hungry bellies from our exertions.
After some baked potatoes for lunch and John’s pitch black Nepali Toilet escapades the dynamic duo headed out to the Tibetan Refugee Settlement at Tashi Palkhiel, Pokhara
One of 12 Refugee Settlements in Nepal for the Tibetan Diaspora, this camp was founded in 1960 with the help of the Swiss Red Cross. Still in use today it houses over 800 people. For more information please go here:
The Monastery is home to over 200 Buddhist Monks and we managed to pick the perfect time to visit as it was Puja at the monastery and we were treated to chanting and music playing inside the main hall.
We were exposed to a bizarre mixture of zen like patience and control by the older priests with the high frolicks of the younger ones – sneakily eating chocolates and pinching each other at the next opportunity.
Oh and remember that Spanish couple? They made it here as well but managed to give up listening to the whole performance. That’s the kind of attitude that made them fall apart during the Spanish Armada in 1588.
After the Puja we headed back to our ride but first had to run the Gauntlet of stalls and shops. Karen’s stock response to the merchants is that:
“He won’t buy me anything. Meanie!”
That night we booked rafting and a 3 day trek for the next few days from one of the shops we canvassed earlier, RapidRunner. We had no idea how much exercise this would entail at the time.
Day 3 – Rafting
Rocky was the river we would raft.
Due to the low levels of water this time of year this would be a technical rafting exercise filled with boat manoeuvres, rock climbing and quickly coordinated rowing.
As well as two guides we also had two safety kayakers to rescue us if we fell overboard and to help map out our route. That was the plan. What happened was that the kayakers spent most of the time soaking us with their paddles!!
The views were spectacular behind us. Bridges dripping in Tibetan Prayer Flags overshadowed by snowy mountains. Alas we didn’t bring our camera.
Covered with aches and bruises (mostly from Karen’s paddle/elbow/foot catching me) and burnt alive from the sun John had to have an afternoon nap to recover in time for the trekking the very next day.