Published: January 5th 2010December 26th 2009
Harrow everyone and Happy Xmas and new year.
We were in Pokhara for just over 10 days before jumping on a bus to go south where Buddha was born in a place called Lumbini. Pokhara, we have both decided, is a cracker of a tourist destination and definitely our favorite “touristy” place on this trip so far:
The location is picturesque with snow capped mountains, huge blue lakes, perfect weather all year round and has a really laid back vibe. Other than every local Nepali scrote asking me if I want to buy hashish or “something else......?" its hard to fault.
We planned to stay a few days here before going back to Kathmandu to pickup our bags which we left there before the trek but landed an amazing guest house with really cool owners. Peace Eye Guest House is owned by a Nepali/English couple and we were looked after so well and included in family celebrations etc that we just didn't want to leave.
On the first day we hired a boat and did a few laps of the lake and also hired some bikes and went on a bike ride which was cool.
We found a steak restaurant that sold massive slabs of meat and decided to go there 3 nights in a row it was so good. Any weight we lost on the trek is definitely back on now thanks to over-cow-consumption.
Vanessa decided that she would try her hand at a meditation retreat to cleanse her mind body and soul (whatever) so booked herself up for 3 days and left me to fend for myself on my own - sniff sniff.
***Hi everyone, Ness here! The meditation/yoga retreat was good buuuuuuuuuuut a little boring. The lessons we’re pretty basic, my room wasn’t near the other rooms cause I went for the cheap room option and I was a bit lonely and cold at night. The “Ayervedic” food was tasty but minimal and after the chocolate cravings died down I wanted dumb stuff like unsalted peanuts or dried dates just for a sugar kick. Loser! Then, after the daily steam bath (now THAT was a highlight) we had four hours of down time, just sitting in the sun reading. I got through half the Half-Blood Prince in two days and it was costing nearly our whole daily budget each day
just for me to be there. Oh, yeah, AND they had a half hour session each day which they had the audacity to call Karma Yoga which basically consisted of the guests CLEANING the yoga room. So, unenlightened, missing Tom and dying for a banana I left after 3 days instead of 5 and walked back to the guest house and jumped into a warm bed with a boy in it!! I’d buy that for a dollar.***
Nepal has serious political issues and as result strikes happen all the time. They are so passionate about striking that they have different levels of strikes with different names. A Julus is your average run of the mill protest. Then there are Chakka Jams where all vehicles stay off the streets. Then you have your full blown strikes called a bandh. Ive heard of transport strikes or workers union strikes but in a bandh the whole country literally shuts down. Schools, shops, restaurants, all transport, internet cafes.......... you name it, everything is shut. Great! So Vanessa has left me and everything is shut. I think its time for a beer.
While Vanessa was vacuuming and trying not to fart in the
yoga classes I teamed up with a nice yank called Seth and found some decent mountain bikes and headed for the hills. We found a cool Tibetan settlement outside of town and then on the way back got lost trying to find the World Peace Pogoda. Because the country was striking or bandh'ing all the locals relax on the streets all day playing cricket or football. As we were riding our bikes through the groups of Nepalis, some of the younger kids found it funny to aim there ball games at the moving targets (us). If you have been to the golf driving range and seen the buggy navigate across the grass collecting all the scattered balls, you will know most golfers decide to try and hit the buggy with a 5 iron or driver. Well this was a bit like that. The next morning we got up super early and had a second attempt at finding the World Peace Pagoda. This time we took the easy option and got a boat across the lake which leads to a simple trail that goes uphill for 45 minutes. The views at the top were lovely and the pogada was awesome.
Then next couple of days were spent bumming around and trying to find places that served food. One dish that's served in a lot of the Tibetan restaurants which I mentioned in the Darjeeling blog post is Thenthuk. I just want to re-iterate how good this soup is. Its sooooo good.
After a few days Vanessa returned from her retreat bright eyed and bushy tailed and the bandh was lifted. I decided courtesy of the Cullington family to book a Christmas Eve paragliding session off the top of Sarangkot (a massive hill overlooking the town and the lake). Without knowing what to expect I “saddled up” with a slightly strange looking, pot smoking, ginger English guy and took to the skies. I very very rarely feel travel/motion sickness but this particular day the thermals had more testosterone than a teenager in a nightclub and so instead of taking 5 minutes to climb to the top of thermal it took about 15 seconds. After getting some advice on the most convenient place to puke should I need to (the tell tale signs of saliva were building up) my body adjusted and I started enjoying the flight. The views were
spectacular and a real adrenaline rush. There were around 15 other people also paragliding during our flight and that added to the fun of narrowly missing one another and playing para-chicken. It was a great experience but I was relieved to land and try not to show everyone what I had for breakfast.
On Christmas day we were treated to a really nice family Breakfast with the guest house and listened to Christian music (couldn’t get our hands on any carols) and watched the kids open their pressies. They handed our Quality Streets and chocolate scones. Ness got a bottle of wine and a book from me and the wine was gone before you could say “sauvignon plonk”. We had an authentic Thenthuk soup for lunch followed by more Thenthuk and Chowmein for Christmas dinner.
Boxing day meant packing our bags cause we were feeling far too at home. Pinky and Rishi from the hotel bought us some Tibetan prayer flags as a good bye prezzie and after breakfast we were on the road again.
There are more photos below