Nepal - Pokhara

Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Greenline bus to Pokhara was half empty, thankfully with no screaming children on board. We passed a few accidents and followed rivers and tiered hillsides through the Nepalese countryside. We saw masses of school children on their way to school in their various school uniforms, some having to walk miles to get their education each day.
The bus actually ended up being great value. It was quite clean and comfortable and we were given a free bottle of mineral water each and stopped for a free buffet lunch halfway through the journey. We even arrived ahead of schedule and planned to return to Kathmandu via the same Greenline bus - much better than flying!
We had booked into the Shangri-La Hotel, an expensive one but we had managed to negotiate a great price of $60 per night instead of the usual $200. Unfortunately, although the hotel was nice to look at (PIC) it had some major drawbacks. There were no tea or coffee facilities, no fridge and no WIFI. Most frustratingly it was far enough out of town that we would have to pay for a taxi each way anytime we wanted to look around or even eat somewhere other than the expensive hotel restaurants.
We checked out of the Shangri-La the following morning and moved to a hotel in the centre of Pokhara. Although it wasn't quite as plush, the Barahi Hotel was only $40 and still had a pool, Sky TV and restaurant and it was walking distance to the rest of the town. We immediately took advantage of the pool, and the sunny weather, before giving the bed a test drive with an afternoon nap.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the quiet little town with its long main street of restaurants and shops. Unfortunately the backdrop wasn't quite as we had hoped, with low-lying cloud obscuring the Anapurian Mountains. Eventually, as the evening set in, the clouds parted to give us a view of the largest of the surrounding mountains, Macchupucchare (PIC). It was a spectacular sight with the setting sun shining onto the peak and lighting it up with an ethereal glow.
We walked down to the shores of Lake Phew, which borders the western side of Pokhara and the waning light of dusk produced some beautiful colours and shadows before us (PIC). We sat at a local café and enjoyed a leisurely coffee as the sun continued its journey beyond the horizon and out of sight.
Our days in Pokhara were exactly as we had intended...Lazy! We got up late, had slow, relaxed breakfasts in one of the many cafes and restaurants in the main street (a little English/Nepalese place called 'The Love Shack' was our favourite) and then wandered around the shops or lounged by the pool during the afternoon.
The Nepalese trick of an evening power cut disrupted Andrew's enjoyment of a Liverpool football match so we spent the evening watching the cultural show in the hotel garden (a nightly event) (PICS).
Verdi decided that she couldn't wait any longer and opted to try the hotel hairdresser for a long-awaited haircut. Unfortunately she later wished she had waited a little longer as the hairdresser decided to go against everything Verdi tried to ask for and gave her a fringe and chopped chunks out where the chunks should have been left in!
Andrew also decided to have a haircut, on his face! He had his very first cutthroat shave (PIC), which after Verdi's disastrous experience may not have been the best idea. Luckily it went without a hitch, or a stitch, and Andrew was left clean-shaven and massaged. Although the bloke did want to massage more and more of Andrew, no doubt expecting extra money. By the time he told Andrew to take his trousers off we threw him a hundred rupees and told him enough was enough!
 After five relaxing days in Pokhara we caught the Greenline tourist bus back to Kathmandu. We didn't quite get to see the kind of dramatic scenery we were hoping for in Pokhara as most of the mountain range was constantly shrouded in cloud and fog. Nevertheless it was a peaceful and attractive place that allowed us time to relax and re-energise before continuing our journey to China the following week.
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