The seven hour bus journey from Kathmandu was by far my favourite so far. Not only was it well-organised, but the scenery was absolutely breath-taking. As tired as I was, I managed to stay awake for most of it.
I was met at the bus station and swiftly driven to Mountain House. My first impressions were positive: the staff are welcoming and helpful, my room is spotlessly clean, spacious and bright, and they make awesome lassis. It was also located about a the minute walk from the waterfront. Due to a mix-up, I ended up with a deluxe room, so I have a double bed and two singles to myself.
After chilling out for a while, I took a walk down to the main street in search of an ATM and food. I tried one ATM, and my card was declined. I tried another; same thing. After about five attempts, I assumed something was wrong. So, what's a girl to do when she has 250 Rupees to her name and no means of obtaining cash? Buy some momos and fruit juice of course! So, I enjoyed my food and walked back to the guest house to call Barclays Bank
and find out what they were playing at.
After a few mishaps (due to the poor wifi signal), I got through to the bank and discovered that they'd blocked my card on suspicion of fraud. Two months down the line. Nice one, Barclays! I had contacted them prior to my trip to inform them that the card would be used in several countries, but we all know their reputation for being about as useful as a chocolate tea pot. Anyway, they unblocked my card and that was that. Until next time....
The electricity was out (a regular occurrence in Nepal, it seems - eight hours per day, if my calculations are correct), and a strong wind blowing outside, so I opted for an early night.
At around 10pm, I was awoken by a buzzing noise and flashing light coming from the direction of the windows. Immediately assuming an alien invasion, I jumped out of bed, and when my eyes focused, I realised it was just the power kicking in and the light above the balcony door coming on. Phew! And so, I went back to sleep.
I woke up bright and early on Sunday, and lazed
From Kathmandu to Pokhara
Sometimes, it's more about the 'getting there' than the arrival...
around for a bit before heading down to the main road to ensure that Barclays had fulfilled their promise. They had indeed, and so I found a quiet little restaurant and ordered a veggie fry-up. As one does in Nepal. I did have a lassi with it, too. None of the lassis I've had so far are even half as good as the one I had in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, so I've asked Ram to pre-order me a jug of the stuff for my return!
Later, I wandered to the lake, treated myself to a much-needed foot scrub, then chilled out in another restaurant. Just in time, too, as the heavens opened up. I stayed there for a couple of hours and drained their lime juice supply. Then, when the coast was clear, I walked back to the guest house for yet another early night. I'm becoming such a good girl, these days! Me in bed before 9pm was unheard of a few months back!
On Monday morning, I woke up at 5am to an ice-cold shower, then took the five hour bus ride for white water rafting. It was very poorly organised, from the make-shift seat on
the overbooked bus, to the packet of biscuits and banana I was given in place of the packed lunch they'd forgotten to prepare. But let's not dwell on the negatives.
I was put in a boat with two British guys, two Chinese guys and our instructor. I saw the looks the men gave me when I arrived, clearly not impressed with having a woman on board. I like to think I held my own though, and did just as good a job as they did.
We got a very brief introduction before setting off down the Trishuli River. We passed through the first set of rapids pretty smoothly. The second, not so much. None of us fell out of the raft, but I face-planted the seat in front of me so hard that i felt like a bruise was coming up on my cheek. I didn't realise until sometime later that I'd also stripped some skin off my left thumb. Nothing serious, though, so I powered on.
Our guide was awesome! He had us all sit at the back of the boat, then paddle toward a really tall rock. The boat slid up, and we were almost
vertical against it! After sliding back down, he asked if we could all swim. We said yes, then he tipped the boat and in we went. In between rapids, we jumped in, had a swim and a splash around. He told us some time later that the river can reach depths of up to 25 meters! We also played various games and had water fights with other rafters. One of the Chinese guys even pushed the instructor overboard!
The group I was with were really nice, and the Chinese guys always helped me back in the boat and held my hand whilst moving around. They didn't speak much English at all, but we all managed to communicate just fine.
At one point, one of the Chinese guys put his hands on his knees and asked me "ok?" I thought he was making an enquiry regarding my welfare so I smiled and said yes. Next thing I knew, he'd whipped his trousers off! I could see the British guys laughing, but I struggled to do anything other than stare at this dude standing there in his wet (and thus, practically see-through) white y-fronts with 'Italia' across the arse! Still,
I wasn't offended in the slightest. He seemed more comfortable, so fair play to him. I wasn't so comfortable, however, when he helped me back into the boat a bit later, and my face came within an inch of his not-so-concealed package. I'm sure I caught him tucking himself back in after a rather rough set of rapids, too.
At the last set of rapids, the guide said we could get out and float through. I declined, but I regret my decision, cos the two Brits said it was great. Next time, I won't be so chicken. And there definitely will be a next time.
I'm not sure how far we rafted, but we were going for about three hours. We passed through various rapids and whirlpools (Ladies Delight, Monsoon and Upset, to name but a few) rated grade 3 at this time of the year. During monsoon season, they can push to a grade 4. I'm not sure I'd be confident enough to do any higher graded rapids just yet, but I plan to work on that. The whole experience was just so exhilarating! We whooped and cheered after we'd cleared each set of rapids, and there was a real sense on team spirit going on.
The journey back was by local bus, and damn, do they play their music loud! Even with my iPod on full-blast, I could still hear it! I flopped and was thrown around like a rag-doll for about four hours, before finally reaching Pokhara. Good ol' local buses.
That night, I walked in the rain and darkness to get some food (veggie momos, of course!), then chilled in my room. I washed my hair in cold water, as I assumed there'd be no hot in the morning, and a cold shower at night is the lesser of two evils. Then I turned in for my latest night in Pokhara - 11:30pm. Wild child.
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