The easy way back

Trip Start Sep 13, 2009
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hotel Mandala, Pokhara

Flag of Nepal  , Western Region,
Saturday, October 3, 2009

Woke up at 6 with Nepali belly... It's nearly 7 now and we just heard the first plane take off. Ours is at 8.40. 
 Hello again, it's 10am and we are still at Jomsom - oh, our plane has just arrived! I ended up walking back to our hotel to get our brekky while we waited until 8.45 to check in - lol - I was gone until about 10 to 9 and returned bearing yak cheese and tomato rolls, a cup of hot chocolate for B and a REAL coffee for me. We finally got to check in at 9.30, went through the gender-specific pat-down security, and waited in the lounge. 
 Everything I've heard about taking off from Jomsom airport is true! There are mountains at the end of the runway and once we'd taxied and had turned to face them, the plane sat there while the pilot got the rev's up so we had enough throttle to get above them....that's how it seemed, anyway! Like a bull stamping in the build up to charging the matador.

We actually flew along valleys the whole 16 minutes to Pokhara - stunning views on both sides. We shared a cab with an Israeli girl Noa, who'd been waiting at Jomsom since 7am and had no hotel booked. We hadn't booked Mandala either, and the place has really busied up since we left 16 days ago so I wasn't confident we'd get anything. Thankfully they had one double room left; it's in the front building on the street but we are grateful, and it has a fan, loo and shower too.

Brenden has just returned from an experimental expedition; he has a 180 ml bottle of whiskey, purchased for 185r, or about $2.60. Two issues - he wasn't questioned in any way, and it's ridiculously cheap. No wonder there is such a grave alcohol problem in Nepal. Oh, and it's 42.8%. So anyway, after getting our room and wishing Noa luck we went to look for the Shankin Cafe, recommended by Ziv for milkshakes. Couldn't find it so just went back to The Newari Kitchen.
After a leisurely lunch we exited the N.K. and saw Noa on the street; she'd found a room and picked up her bag and was happily on the way to have a shower.

I had bought a book back in Jomsom when I bought brekky, Into Thin Air, so B went back to the room to read and I went on a mission for sandles and another book. I happened upon a different book shop to the one I was actually heading for and met a man there named Deepak who found me a Tim Winton and another book he'd decided I'd enjoy. I was 250r short but he didn't mind; we had a chat about meditation and he said to come back any time to do some reiki or meditation together, and he also invited me to read a massive book he'd written on these and other spiritual practices. After leaving the book shop I spotted  a jewellery shop, with a bracelet in the window like the one I didn't get in India. The young girl inside offered it to me for 350r but I declined; we then sat and talked for an hour. She taught me Nepali words for hair, mouth, eye, nose, ear and leg, and some phrases. Her name is Khusi, pronounced Kushi which means happy. She is a very animated 15 year old, turning 16 on November 3rd. She wants to take us to pujah tomorrow then to the markets, then to dinner with her family. B is not comfortable with all this when not invited by the parents so we'll probably just go to temple.

When I got back from my mission B has showered and we went down to the garden to play chess. And who was down there reading, but Heinz! He and Daniela had been back for 6 days, having done the pass and most of the way to Tillicho Lake as well. They didn't get all the way due to rough, steep terrain and a lost pack because of it - scary. Was great to see them but we declined when invited to eat with them - we wanted to eat at The Everest Steak House in case Ziv and Yael had arrived. We didn't even finish our game of chess in the end; too distracted by the little girl and boy of the hotel family touching the pieces and providing running commentary. The guitar played by some other guests relaxing in the garden was nice though, and the kids were very cute! We decided to pack up and head out for dinner, getting some cash from an ATM on the way.

We had an amazing steak dinner; medium rare steaks of course, mine with a brandy sauce and B with mushrooms, garlic and onions, both with veg (cauli, beans and carrots) and chips. Mmmmmmmmmm. Lots of other trekkers arrived as we ate, celebrating the end - hurrah! No Ziv and Yael though. 

On the way home I spotted a nice-looking woman in a clothes shop - that is, I got a good feeling about her - and stopped to look. Finally, after all the choosing and trying on and bargaining I bought some pants, a singlet, a cheesecloth top and a scarf for 1700r.....I have clean clothes! Also on the way we ran into Anna, sans Mark who had gotten too drunk or whatever so they'd parted ways - Anna had sprained her ankle on the way down from the pass and it was infected as well - the blisters - so she is having treatment every day. We'll go see her at her hotel tomorrow or next. B is booked to play chess with Heinz tomorrow, then we're having dinner with Heinz and Daniela tomorrow night. They plan to be in Oz in a month, so we'll exchange addresses and make them welcome when they come. We are still considering rafting to Kathmandu with Ziv and Yael, something I really want to do (rafting), and practical as in we need to get there! B seems keen but hasn't really decided yet so we may end up taking the bus which is ok too. It's 20 past 9 now - gonna read some before sleep - subha ratri. Good night!

I turned the light on again after about an hour - all the coke I drank has kept me awake I reckon. Wrote some postcards and read some more. I've not written anything much about the temple at Muktinath! Lots of pilgrims; the older ones being motorbiked up the hill, which was very steep. (who'da thunk?) Fake sadhu's from India at the gate getting rupees out of the unsuspecting. (this whispered to me by a local) One asked to look at my sunglasses then said I'll have these! I swiftly took em back, saying I'd made my donation in the box at the gate. The group of them were big, healthy and clean with lovely bright orange wraps - very slick. Inside the grounds was very interesting - at the top (the temple is on a hill) people were bathing in pools of river water that flowed through the grounds - holy water. It was beautiful. Bells rung every few minutes. Hot. Dusty.

Some addiction-help resources:

**Ric Rose; Birendra Chowk − Kathmandu − Tel: 001-1-4992744

**Control Addiction Nepal (CAN) Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centre
Treatment Centre
Godhawari, Kitini -2
Lalitpur, Nepal
Phone: (+977) 016923209 , 015560013 ,015560805

**The Recovering Group
Phone no: 4351870
Banasthali, Balaju
Kathmandu, Nepal
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