Funnily enough, I often thought of this hippie era in Kathmandu and on the way to Pokhara as well. And I wondered if this looked similar to Dal Lake in Srinagar? And then I thought I’d give these blogposts all song line headings. So here’s something from Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco”.
So I set off early in the morning for the tourist buses to Pokhara. They are not that expensive and within walking distance and very very numerous. There was a long queue, taking in people (not just tourists) and then the ride started. Or rather the sneaking. Kathmandu is the biggest city in Nepal, Pokhara the second biggest, the distance is 200 km – and the road is so bad that it took us 8.5 hours including breaks. The route was not really beautiful either, green hills, a bit like lower Uttarakhand, but more inhabited. So superficially I thought I was in India and grumbled a little to myself that Nepal continues to make it difficult for me to get excited.
What was different was that there were stops about every 2 hrs for loo and some food. Toilets were plentiful, rather functional, not as dirty as in India and food was more or less buffet style – everything was ready, you paid a lump sum and took it.
There were 7 Australians ladies in my bus who wanted to do 2 weeks of volunteering in a hospital in Pokhara. I don’t know about the others. But what still irritates me: all these western travellers. I haven’t had that for a while.
Here are pictures from the trip (because the light was so dull during the day and the area seemed uninteresting to me, I only took pictures at the beginning):
I find the Chinese influence more obvious; I hardly notice the Indian influence because the writing is also the same. But this bus did catch my eye:
So I arrived in Pokhara, got ripped off by the taxi driver because I didn’t realise how close the accommodation was and was happy when I arrived because it’s really very nice and cheap. Actually, according to my calendar, Holi should take place on 8 March, but here they were already celebrating on 6. I wasn’t really in a celebratory mood and there wasn’t that much celebration visible to me, but in the park I did see some colourful people.
The park was at Fewa-lake, so I also watched the water.
And later there was also water from above incl. thunder.
Pokhara seems quite nice and pleasant for tourists at first – but it is also very touristy near the lake. And everything is a bit more chic and tasteful than in Kathmandu. At least the obvious. I wonder if hippies really used to hang out here.
Apart from that, I continued to struggle with how to go about trekking, where exactly to go, what to do there, where to be flexible, where to commit myself – and then a bit of apprehension as to whether I would be able to do it. I would love to – but I’m not sure. And yes, I definitely want to go it alone. It’s sensible to be able to turn back at any time and to look from day to day to see what happens next, but still. I have now packed so that I can theoretically be on the road for 20 days, hoping to have enough for cold, for rain, for sun, for accidents.
This morning I saw the huge mountains for the first time. That already looks enormous…. But then it got hazy again and I didn’t took a photo. I went to the office for the paperwork, which cost 36.50 euros and let me be flexible, although they actually wanted exact details. Anyway, it was done in a friendly manner and quite quickly. And yes, again many many western faces – but there are so many different routes to go, all belonging to the same office.
And then, with the help of Maps.me, I went to the Shanti Stupa, here called Peace Pagoda. But it is from the same “association” as the one in Leh, Vaishali, Darjeeling, where I had already been. Maps.me led me uphill through the forest and I didn’t meet anyone for ages, which was a bit strange because the path wasn’t super clear either. Now this wasn’t a big stretch and from 800 m only maybe 2-300 m uphill, but it was still nice to walk around again for a bit. From above, I saw how insanely Pokhara spreads out. But again, due to dull skies etc, few pictures were taken. Here they are:
Here’s something else about toilets. In Pashupatinath there were 3 different entrances: male, female and tourist. Here there was a Buddhist quote about death on the wall (and a boy who had to go in but didn’t really want to).
And then, to finish the post, a story from Kathmandu. I went into a shop for passport photos. A slightly older Italian followed me and asked if he could take a photo of me too. Why??? I would look like his uncle that way…..
And now there will hopefully be a long blog break because I’m going trekking without my laptop and hopefully I won’t be back so soon.