I am now safely back in England, suffering a terrible cough (I swear it’s Kathmandu flu again), and I am trying to catch up blogging the rest of my adventure.
After we finished our volunteer work in beautiful Chitwan we hopped on a bus to Pokhara. I think the journey was something like 6 hours. All I remember is mainly feeling quite ill, I think I had been drinking magic hot chocolates the night before 😉 I wasn’t alone in my travel sickness either there were a few of us feeling rough and one of us even laid in the aisle.
We drove into Pokhara in the evening and got to our hotel. It felt SO much colder than in Chitwan. Our room was smaller and we had a very unusual bathroom. The worst bathroom of the entire experience in my opinion, including trekking! The shower head was above the toilet and the drain was on the other side of the room behind the sink.
The process of showering was as follows:
- Use one big bucket to collect freezing cold tap water to prevent feet from getting too cold.
- Use tiny jug to collect moderately warm water from shower head.
- Try to avoid cold sprinkling leak.
- Turn off water to prevent being gassed to death from heating system.
- Tip full bucket of cold water down sink.
- Use tiny jug of water to begin wash…..and so on. It was a long and uncomfortable process.
Anyway we went out to explore Pokhara. The main street there is crammed full with shops selling “North Face” clothing and anything you might need for trekking. There were also plenty of shops selling yak wool scarves and Pashminas. It was a nice area though, full of chilled out people who had either been trekking or were going trekking. There were also bakeries…which means to my delight, there was also cake! Pokhara was a great place for tasty snacks and drinks.
We were only there for a few days but wanted to make the most of it. We went out to explore Phewa lake, the best way seemed to be by boat. Me and my chum hired a boat, and life jackets of course, and embarked on our mainly embarrassing and difficult journey across the lake. We had heard there was an island so that was our goal, a lot of people pointed and laughed at us whilst we rowed, but we held our heads high and made it to our destination.
…Well not quite, there were a lot of other boats and we hadn’t quite mastered steering so we looked at the island from the boat and turned back. Some friendly folk took photos of us and some even proposed a race…although they had an engine so it didn’t seem fair. We made it back to shore alive Hurrah!
Rowing along Phewa Lake we could see a lot of paragliders spiralling around in the sky, which is exactly where we were heading that afternoon.
We went to an office round the corner from the hotel, paid our money for the paragliding and then piled in a bus which took us higher and higher and higher up a big hill (Mountain). The view was amazing, Phewa lake beneath us, the himalayas behind us and the sun shining brightly. Some people were feeling more nervous than others. Lynda couldn’t wait to run off the mountain and was fitted in her harness before we could blink. I watched several people go and then it was my turn. Suresh called me over, he looked super cool in his dark outfit and sunglasses, and he put my harness on and told me all I needed to do was run, just keep running. I asked of course “what happens if I don’t run enough?” and he replied “we will fall over into the bushes”. It didn’t sound too bad.
He also added, that there is a plastic bag on my shoulder strap in case I need to be sick. I took his comment on board, and then felt slightly offended when I realised nobody else had had the sick bag pointed out to them, he obviously thought I looked like a vomitter. (With my recent run of bad luck, I did start to wonder myself if I was going to get ill. I’ve never done anything like this before, how would I know!) I didn’t have time to question his judgement of me, we had to run towards the edge of the mountain.
I’ve never run so hard and gone such a short distance, it was a very strange sensation having the wind hold you back, but we made it!
Whilst airborne Suresh got out his selfie stick and go-pro camera and was snapping pictures, then he started doing this interview session. He was trying to get me to talk into the camera, for quite a long time. I hadn’t planned for this and didn’t really know what to say, so now I have a dvd of me looking a bit awkward for about 5 minutes, then Suresh points out the Annapurna mountain range. At the end Suresh got me to hold the selfie stick into my abdomen and he proceeded to do tricks…it was freakin’ AWESOME. I loved it. Suresh could keep that plastic bag for his next customer because I didn’t need it.
Our next day in Pokhara was spent obtaining the last few things we needed for the trek, which meant shopping. I was not particularly excited at the idea, but it had to be done. I got a bit grumpy but my chums kept me smiling and encouraged me to make good purchases…like neon blue thermals…..matching thermals. I just can’t shake this Smurfette look!
One of my favourite memories of Pokhara was going into a little old ladies shop looking for backpacks and fleeces. She had her smartphone out and was watching what I can only assume was a bit of adult entertainment with the volume on the loudest setting available. We didn’t make eye contact with each other, or the peculiar lady, knowing we would laugh and cry and not be able to stop. We tried to continue our browsing but the noise was relentless, the woman did not seem to mind us listening to her entertainment. One of us cracked, we ran out and cried laughing in the street for about 5 minutes. It was very strange. I guess it says more about me than perhaps the old lady, that this was one of my favourite memories.
And then we bid farewell to Pokhara for several days of trekking…