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Kathmandu & Pokhara - Nepal
Thursday, 16 December 2010 21:36

Nepal 21.04. – 13.05.10

Kathmandu and Pokhara


After a short visit to Hong Kong it was time for yet another flight, this time to Kathmandu. We were at the airport hours ahead of time(yep, my fault) and enjoyed one of the more modern airports of the trip. As we were boarding we were suddenly told there was aproblem and where was our e-ticket? I showed him the printout and was told in a very unfriendly tone that it was not an e-ticket. Funny,as we had been travelling on it for the last 9 months. After a frantic phone call including the word urgent the steward was sweet andlight all of a sudden. A course in how to treat your passengers might not go amiss.
Our friend Inigo worked in Kathmandu for a while and recommended a guesthouse run by his friend Bimal, the Family Peace Guesthouse. After retrieving our luggage from the pile at the end of the conveyor belt which was just getting bigger and bigger instead of conveying, we met Bimal outside and set off into the city. It was late at night and pitch black but even if we could not see the potholes in the road we could certainly feel them! We had to spend the first night in the hostel next door and our small room with an ancient bathroom was a far cry from the modern hotel we had just left in Hong Kong. But after such a long day all I wanted to do was sleep which I managed to do despite the hard bed.
Kathmandu is noisy! And there are lots of power cuts or to be more precise there is only electricity at certain hours during the day so unless you have your own generator you have to do without for most of the day. This was the start of getting used to charging every appliance as soon as the power came back on and sitting in the dark with a torch which was often very annoying.
After researching which trek we wanted to do we booked our bus ticket to Pokhara to leave in a couple of days and then set off to explore a bit of Kathmandu without getting knocked down. The tourist area of Thamel has no pavements, the streets are narrow and full of taxis and motorbikes which nearly scrape your ankles as they go past. A relaxing stroll was not on the agenda but we braced ourselves for the Lonely Planet walking tour and set off into the backstreets towards Durbar Square. There are no street names here so don’t bother trying to find them!
Walking around the backstreets or Kathmandu is like being transported back in time and then seeing a cash machine in the middle of it all. The narrow streets with their wooden houses and temples look like they could tumble down any minute. The smell of incense and food being fried on the streets filled our nostrils and the sight of the pilgrims with their painted faces was a tad scary. I willingly paid to have my picture taken with them (yes I know it is a tourist trap) and when I didn’t have quite enough rupees some street hawker nearby said, “OK, ok that will do”. Seems the pilgrims have business managers here. :)








On the way back we had intended to get our trekking documents in case we didn’t have time in Pokhara. We were then told it was too late and we could only get one of the two documents you need. In case you are reading this before you go on a trek, just sort it out in Pokhara where it can be taken care of a lot more easily, you need 4 passport pictures and cash. We decided to take a taxi back to Thamel and call at a shop also recommended by someone we met travelling. We haggled the driver downto what we were told was a normal rate and then wondered how he could possibly make a living if each journey was so cheap? As we moved into the several lanes of chaotic traffic and horn blowing our driver started shouting at the other drivers. We asked him what he had shoutedto which he replied, “not enough discipline”. I very much doubt that is what he said but even so, talk about the kettle calling the pot black! After a white knuckle ride through Kathmandu we reached Thamel but our driver could not find the shop we wanted although we had the exact address. To be fair the driver stopped and asked just about everybody (including police and several shop owners) which caused a roadblock each time. After half an hour we started to feel a bit sorry for him and just got out before the poor guy ran out of petrol scouring the streets of Thamel!





After a delay because of a bus strike we could finally head to Pokhara and set off for the station at around 6 am through the deserted morning streets. Unfortunately, Heiko’s usually great sense of direction took us the wrong way and we ended up getting a taxi to save time which then decided to go the wrong way on purpose. Sometimes you literally do get taken for a ride! The roads and the driving style were terrible, we saw a tractor which had gone over the edge of a cliff and it took 8 hours, a lot of emergency braking and a detour to go the few hundred kilometres to Pokhara where we would start the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. I was so knackeredthat I went to bed at 9 pm and fell asleep listening to the noise from the disco next door. Tomorrow we would be heading for them therehills!


After the discomfort of the last ten days we decided to move to a nicer hotel and moved to the Lake View Resort where I could even do a bit of sunbathing whilst watching the hotel staff cut the grass with shears and take a VERY long time to do whatever else it wasthey were doing. It was also high time we got some washing done – 6kg – and Heiko was badly in need of a shave and haircut. Just around the corner was a barber shop which also offered massages. Stupidly we decided to have one without agreeing on a price in advance or seeing the massage room. Bloody hell what a mistake. The massage itself was ok (although it was torture as everything hurt) but the ambience left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately we have no pictures but it was a backroom which smelt of petrol and the “bed” had holes in it. I don’t want to think when the sheets had last been changed!


We made it out of the barber shop alive after

a close shave and painful massage.



We relaxed for the next couple of days, buying souvenirs, watching the sunsets over the lake and arranging our trip to India where we would meet Joslyn and Carsten. Another adventurous journey of mad drivers and bad roads lay before us.