Mountains And Massages.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Splendid View Hotel

Flag of Nepal  ,
Sunday, January 30, 2011

Argentina had spoiled us with quality bus travel.

Our 7 hour bus ride to Pokhara was definitely NOT an Argentinian style bus!

Although we had booked a "Tourist Super Deluxe" bus, it was a pretty ordinary with no on-board toilet, and not a western tourist in sight. As it made lots of stops instead of going direct, we knew that the people on board were locals getting from A to B - not tourists. We had paid for an included lunch which was supposed to be at a resort along the way but it was at a roadside stop and was quite inedible. What was wonderful though was the scenery along the way, which made up somewhat for the discomfort (the window behind us wouldn't even shut so we had chilled necks). Mountains soared above us and deep, deep valleys were below the road with fast flowing crystal clear rivers, crisscrossed with swing bridges.

Our booked hotel had us picked up from the bus arrival place, and immediately we could see a different Nepal to Kathmandu as the taxi took us past the beautiful and serene Lake Phewa Tal and to our hotel called “Hotel Splendid Vew”. The “view” was to the Mountains and although we were 4th floor again (no lifts of course!) and had a beautiful balcony there was no view other than cloud. We could imagine the Annapurna mountains there, almost see the outline but the clouds thwarted the view.

Whilst Pokhara is the starting place for a lot of treks, this being the trekking “off season” there were not many travelers around. Massages were cheap and easy to come by so we indulged on our first night, then on the next day we had massages at the “Seeing Hands Nepal” where blind Nepali are professionally trained in massage to give them an income and some self worth and independence.

Pokhara is also famous as the base for the Nepali Gurkha soldiers. History has them placed as one of the toughest fighting forces in the world and they are still deployed around the world. We took a taxi to the Gurkha museum and enjoyed learning about the history of this elite fighting force. The force has won 13 VC medals to date, and no retreating to fight another day here, the Gurkha moto is "It is better to die than be a coward"!!.

Pokhara’s lake, Phewa Tal, has colourful row boats and rowers to take you to any place you want to go. No motor boats are on the lake at all and there is a real feel of serenity as you sit in the row boat and all you can here is the gentle lapping of the oars. We were rowed across to the other side of the lake to a set of steep steps that led up to the World Peace Pagoda, a large brilliant white Pagoda built on a very high hill by some Japanese monks to promote world peace. It was quite a strenuous climb but a wonderful view from the top.

One of the “activities” usually done in Pokhara is to get up before dawn and catch a taxi to Sarangkot a village some 45 minutes away to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Mountains. Now we had not seen the mountains due to cloud cover for our whole time and debated the effort required to do yet another very early morning, when it may well just result in an early morning view of clouds. Decision finally made in the positive, we were up and bundled in our warm clothes in the freezing air and in the taxi by 5.30am. Well, so glad we did! We had the best and most amazing display of sunrise and the shafts of light hitting the white mountains were breathtaking. (see photos). The sun turned the white mountains a golden yellow and all we could do was gape and take more photos.   

There was just time after getting back from our dawn trip to admire the view that could now finally be had from our balcony of the "Hotel Splendid View", do some shopping (Pokhara is full of quite good and extremely cheap “knock off” brand name travel clothes and some of ours were getting shabby), and a hearty breakfast before heading off to the tiny airport for our flight back to Kathmandu. The airline was called “Guna” which we found a bit disconcerting! Are they “Guna” get us there?? It was a tiny plane, with free seating but we knew which side would offer the best view from asking and grabbed seats on that side. We weren’t disappointed the visibility of the morning remained and all the way we had fabulous views of snow capped mountains. 

Footnote: WA soldiers have won 18 VC medals (source Sunday Times 6/2/2011)
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