Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nepal : Journey to Pokhara

Rise and shine! Early start today. We checked out from our hotel at 6am. Then took the taxi (small Suzuki car - Kancil size), with a friend of the driver hitching a ride with us. Luckily it was a short ride, less than 5 minutes. We were charged 200 rupees.

The security guard from yesterday was right. All the tourist buses were seen parked by the roadside of Kantipath road. We scanned for our bus and found it shortly. We immediately boarded our bus after showing our tickets. A confusion ensued when another (Mat Salleh) tourist also had the same seat no. as us. Since we were already seated, the Mat Salleh agreed to take another vacant spot.

I had already done some research on the bus ride, but forgot to bring my notes with me (it was in my luggage which was already stashed in the bus luggage compartment). To get a good view of the river, we should be sitting on the right side of the bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and on the left side vice versa. Because our bus conductor asked us to sit on the left side, we just followed him. We were seated right at the back of the bus. Oh well, better luck next time.

At 7am, we were still waiting for passengers who haven't showed up yet. We finally departed around 7.30am, but we were moving slowly as the was a traffic jam. All the buses were departing at the same time. The journey to Pokhara is only about 200km, but the journey took us about 8 hours! This is because the road conditions were bad - no highways, winding, narrow, potholes and uneven surface. We stopped 3 thrice - the first one was a quick pee stop - which if I could have endured, I would have skipped it. But alas I had to release it - so it was. The toilet was just a confined space with a hole. No water, tissue or flushing. Of course I brought water with me. The men's loo was worse - it was like entering a poisonous gas chamber!

poisonous gas chamber

Next we stopped at Peace Heaven restaurant for a 30 minute stop. Didn't eat anything here although it did smell good! There is a river just behind the restaurant, but is not visible from the roadside. You'd have to down the ravine. When we started to move back on the road, you could see the river. There were people kayaking and white water rafting. At Manakamana Mandir, you could take a cable car ride crossing the river to the hills for a fantastic view of the river valley terrain.

hill view from the bus

We stopped again next at about 1 hour and 45 mins later at the Highway Restaurant at Gunadi for another 30 minute break. Didn't eat here as well, just went for the loo.

Highway restaurant

We finally arrive Pokhara at almost 4pm. We were dropped at the Pokhara bus station. Then we took the taxi (the small Suzuki car again) to our lovely hotel at Silver Oaks Inn near the Fewa lake. Taxi costs us 400 rupees. It was about a 5 minute drive away. Later we realized it was possible to walk like the mat salleh did, but  preferably using a backpack instead.

After checking in, we walked about 5 minutes (had to cross the road) to the Fewa lake. It was majestically beautiful! From there we could see the peaks of the snow capped Annapurna range of Annarpurna I to IV, Annapurna South and Machapuchare. Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. Read more about Annapurna here.

first view of snow capped mountain

I was already so excited to see the mountains. That night we had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant - Punjabi restaurant as there was no halal food around. We had cheese naan, rice, palak paneer, aloo ghobi and masala tea for 885 rupees. After dinner, we discussed with the tour desk of our hotel (we forgot the hotel manager's name - he was really great, everyone was really friendly and tried to talk with us although some with limited English) on our Pokhara day tour. It was agreed that we would go for the sunrise view at Sarangkot, Davis Fall, Seti River K.I. Sing pool, Gupteswar Mahadev cave which is just opposite the Davis Fall entrance , old Pokhara and the Tibet refugee camp for USD35. What a bargain! The guesthouse at Kathmandu offered us USD100 for a Pokhara day tour (but not sure what it covers).

night view of city

Time to sleep then. Tomorrow would be another early start at 4.45am for the sunrise view at Sarangkot!



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