Lakeside Holiday

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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What I did
Sarangkot Pokhara
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Chitwan National Park

Flag of Nepal  ,
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Time for a change in scenery, I made the lakeside town of Pokhara home for the next two weeks. Best known as the starting point for the Annapurna Circuit trek, it is the perfect place to chill out and do absolutely nothing. Lakeside is broken into south side, center point and north
side. Southside caters to the higher end tourist while north side is notorious
for attracting the true hippie and stoner crowd.

I started my stay in the Ganden Yiga Chozen meditation center for a weekend introduction to Buddhism. Led by a monk Losang Yeshe originally from Philly, he was a little too confrontational and sarcastic for most but as a novice it was helpful for me to have his Western references as we discussed renunciation, learning about Karma and reincarnation. The yoga
component was basic stretching combined with a little guided meditation. Many westerners have tried Sidhana Yoga here in Pokhara and raved about the nose cleanse, mud baths, food and asanas. 

Right after the weekend the rain arrived in the form of torrential downpour for the next five evenings. This basically meant plenty of time for eating and doing a whole lot of nothing, which was as much as I could handle at this point.

In a nutshell, Pokhara became my vacation from my vacation. Most mornings started with "set breakfast" at the Himalaya Café. Sitting right on the lake, they serve the best deal in town. Set breakfast includes two eggs, potatoes with onion and tomatoes, 2 pcs of toast, banana
lassi, muesli with yogurt, and tea or coffee; all for the equivalent of $2. Needless to say, this quantity of food would be fine if I were doing one inkling of exercise but quite the contrary, when all I do is sit on my butt.

Pokhara is also a perfect place to meet fellow travelers. Via Travbuddy, I first befriended Caroline, a well-traveled, adventurous French woman. Together we visited Peace Pagoda by boat, hiking, hitchhiking and bus and a few days later we cycled uphill through the city to enter a dark, dingy cave lined with hundreds of bats. Then Niamh, who I met in Kathmandu, arrived
and we spent a quality five days just shopping, dancing, playing cards, hopping from one happy hour to the next and trying out every eatery in town. In between I met Jessica from Belgium and spent sunrise at Sarangkot with Elie from Dohar. Honestly, sharing the experience with others makes everything more enjoyable.

And finally the day I had been waiting for—sunshine. I had my heart set on seeing the true beauty of Pokhara and to paraglide. I immediately called Stefan, an American pilot from Seattle that I was introduced to, and scheduled an 11:00AM flight. I was jazzed to hop in the open air jeep with a few other die-hards and head up to the infamous Sarangkot for take-off. Prior to flight, I was quite confident that I wanted to do some acrobatics but sadly taking photographs of the Annapurna peaks while spinning circles in one direction into the thermals didn't quite agree with my stomach. Luckily I aimed out and down, and missed hitting Stefan, but boy was that an embarrassing moment.

The better weather provided a whole new menu of activities which I managed to squeeze into one day. Starting with a 5:00AM wake-up call I joined Elie and 200 other tourists for sunrise at Sarangkot (1,592m), before taking a three hour drive to Bengas Lake on the back of a motorbike with a one of the employees from Funky Salsa restaurant.  And I still made it back in time for a half-day rafting trip on the upper Seti that Jessica and I booked through Paddle Nepal. One tip about the vendor, although an efficient company owned by a Canadian woman and her Nepali husband, we were a little turned off by the husband’s disapproving manner out on the raft. Obviously focused on safety first, which I appreciate, he ruined our experience by barking orders and getting really angry if we didn’t paddle correctly. Let’s just say, it was a good thing that the
scenery was straight out of a movie with the perfect amount of rapids crashing on the boulders and the snow-capped mountains as the backdrop. I would just suggest requesting another guide if you choose Paddle Nepal.

I could’ve easily stayed in Pokhara for another week or so but when I connected with Frances, an American CS friend in Kathmandu who I met through Erin Weston, and she invited me to stay with her at the Hyatt for a couple of days, I couldn’t resist. She didn’t have to sell me on the idea, but knowing that I would have access to the gym, a buffet breakfast, luxury accommodations and the joy of her company, I jumped at the opportunity. The Hyatt, located a stone throw from Boudhanath is an absolute sanctuary amongst the chaos and noise of Kathmandu and the perfect remedy to prepare me for the next leg of my journey.

 I wrapped Nepal up with a weekend trip to the jungle. Anything to get out of Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park was relaxing, although uneventful. Even after a seven hour walk through the jungle, we failed to see a tiger or a rhino, crocodile or elephant for that matter. Still hopeful I went back into the jungle the next morning on a 1000 ton transport with no wheels. But even on top of an elephant all we saw were a few deer and monkeys in the tree. I guess I’ll have to wait until Africa for a real safari.

Off to India!
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My Review Of The Place I've Seen

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Dot on

Great to read about what you have been doing since we last saw each other in Ktm and glad you decided to go to India.. looking forward to following the rest of your journey. A pleasure to meet you..Best wishes

imranhussain on

The article which is posted by you is always exciting, and I prefer to read quality content, so I am happy to find so many good points here in an article, thank you very much for the blog that you have posted here.

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