So, 0730 flight says Dhana- you've got to be up at 0530, breaky at 0600, airport at 0700 is the schedule. OK- got that. Dutifully up at 0530, packed and having the usual at 0600. It is still dark, the sky is that beautiful colour before the sun emerges and there is not a cloud to be seen (damn). Breakfast is a very quiet affair. Ready to head to the airport at 0615- and it is only a 50 metre walk down the road- I am ready to now just get it over with. Dhana insists that we should have some more tea- Why??? Dhana knew something we didn't. (It transpires that the first plane has been cancelled and now won't leave until 0930). We say goodbye and thankyou very much to Santos and give him his tips- he has been such a great porter for us and we have really appreciated him, he is catching the bus back to Kathmandu and is looking forward to going home. Dhana continues to encourage us to hang around the hotel a bit longer- Nope - I think we should just go. We actually get to lug our own bags for the 50m to
the airport. The gates are closed at the airport. Hmmm.
Gates are then opened- we obviously look eager. Proceed to the "Departure Lounge" - the open air courtyard out the front, to sit in the still weak, early morning sun. Take a few final photos and encourage Stephane to make a start on his day- he is continuing his trek by road to Pokhara. Stephane says no, he's going to stay until the plane gets in. We wait. Dhana tries to teach Mary a chant. Wait some more. All the while I feel that we should still be walking, it's all a bit agonising. It is true that you develop a rhythm for walking after a few days and this walk, for me, feels incredibly incomplete. However, when making arrangements a year ago back in Perth who would have predicted??? Finally, plane arrives (we think it's ours). Dhana is catching the plane to Pokhara with us. We say goodbye to our new best French friend, we have all become very close. Head inside and "our" plane takes off- actually, not our plane after all.
Do all the airport type things with bags and Security, Security Person determines that
all foreigners require searching so we get searched. Then we wait. Tara Air leaves with us and our bags at 0930. All 19 seats are occupied. We have the most amazing views of the mountains, it is an incredibly smooth 20 min flight over the flowering red rhododendron forests. It has taken about 2 hours to finally get my eyes to stop leaking. I can't believe how sad I feel. We get a cab to the Hotel Barahai and have a super early check in. Culture shock sets in- TOO busy, TOO many people, TOO many Westerners, TOO much everything.... Then, after some coffee we have to say goodbye to Dhana. My eyes start leaking again. Dhana has been awesome, I don't think we could have gotten a better "fit" for Mary and I. We tell Dhana how much we have enjoyed his company, his wisdom and his skill- he is our new Nepali best friend.
OK, enough sentimental stuff. The room is big, it has toiletries and it has a BATH and a shower with extremely hot water. What to do with hot water- hmmmm, that would have to be some laundry. The bath is soon rimmed in
brown/black grime and we pull out all stops stringing up a washing line on our balcony. The washing line has 8 strings- concocted through removing all the drawstrings in our stuff sacks and the available shoelaces. Therapeutic indeed- I'm not going to shed another tear for the entire trip! The hotel summary is at- http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g293891-d506314-r127849976-Hotel_Barahi-Pokhara.html
Now in shorts and t shirt we decide to head out and have a look around. The afternoon is taken up with shopping, mostly in book shops. Amazing range of books with mostly fiction and literature titles around $10. Decide to kill the souvenier/gift shopping and buy lots of tea, prayer flags, calenders, paper stuff, hats, Druks green chili sauce and assorted scarves,etc. We rediscover coffee at Mekhs Coffee Shop- nice Illy coffee and carrot CAKE (1 vege serve). We decide the hotel's not so bad- it's in a good spot, very close to the lake, close to food, etc. It will be fun to go for a big walk tomorrow.
Early night after another long, hot shower. 28th March
We decide to walk to Davis Falls, only an hour and a half each way- yeah right!
So, have breaky and head off- bloody hot and humid. Walk along the lake with the lake on the RHS, navigate past the many Tibetan shops. The hotel gave us a map but within 500m we have lost it, we just ask the locals for directions along the way- that'll work. Streets are hot and dusty, lots of litter- predominately plastic- plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic icy pole tubes... We seem to be getting into the less touristy areas and the streets are now lined with fruit and vege shops, plumbing supplies, tailors, barbers and electrical repair shops. Stumble upon the Eye Hospital and decide to see if we can have a look around (I am thinking that maybe eye clinics might be a good volunteer opportunity). Parvati, Admin Officer, obliges with a tour. It is a 50 bed hospital with an ED, kids ward, pre/post-op ward, theatres, clinics, optometry unit/dispensary and a pharmacy. They also run 9 satellite clinics and bi-monthly surgical clinics. It costs 20 NPR for a public patient consult/ 150 NPR for a private patient. They do a standard cataract extraction for 3500 NPR or 7500 NPR for a superior, less invasive Phaco extraction (with local
or Indian oil or foreign oil, but that costs double). As a nurse this is all very interesting to me. We sign the visitor book and continue on.
Finally arrive at Davis Falls, also known as Patale Chhango or Devi's Falls), 20 NPR entry. It has taken us 3 1/2 hrs due to eye detour and serious 'lostness'- thank God we had a guide for the trek, we never would have gotten home otherwise- abysmal sense of direction! Anyway, Davis Falls are underwhelming and we are in and out in 10 mins, the cafe across the road serves us up a great omlette chappati and tea for 2 for 200 NPR- we deserved it! Now on our second wind we find the Gupteshwr Mahadev Cave, it's a huge, damp cavern leading past a Hindu Shrine. Many worshippers here, somehow, but maybe not surprisingly, we end up in the cow shed! Descending down the steps we get down to the rock pool and have a very impressive view of the Falls from the backside.
Our intent is to catch a boat back via the lake. Despite lots of instructions from the locals we end up walking all the way
back into town. We have racked up about an 11km walk by the time we do find the boat hire place. We take the pontoon over to the Fishtail Lodge just for fun- very exclusive, very expensive, very excellent toilet stop. We hire a boat and driver and spend a very serene hour on the lake. It is grey and overcast, and the green of the lake is just stunning- incredible how water can take on so many hues. Lots of butterflies and birds- happiness is returning. Eat a great Indian meal at Ghurkas (still maintaining vegetarianism) and head back to the hotel. Our luggage that we had left in KTM has arrived with Raju the driver (he is taling us to Chitwan the next day) and we revel in the fact that our pre-trek clothes are falling off- we think we look pretty damn good having shed 4-5kg each. Happiness factor rachets up another point. Get an overpriced coffee at the hotel and after nearly 3 weeks rediscover the IPad and WIFI. I still wish I was walking to Pokhara. Pokhara Summary
- a necessary reimmersion into society
- beautiful lake
- one trip was
enough, wouldn't necessarily come back
Chitwan in the morning.
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