Pokhara: small town by the lake
Trip Start Oct 15, 2010
27Trip End Jan 11, 2011
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The lonely planet describes the bus journey as a potential 'trip from hell' and many of the accounts I had read confirmed this. I have to say though, that either we struck it very lucky with a sensible driver and good traffic, or we are just more used to roads with steep drops on one side than travellers from other countries. And while the traffic here operates on completely different rules it is by no means without a system. Vehicles freely overtake those that are travelling slower, tooting loudly to alert everyone that they are coming through. Trucks and buses are often fitted with customised horns that announce their presence with a cheerful tune. It seems like every action requires a kind of amicable negotiation with the other vehicles/people/animals using the roads.
Our bus trip took about seven hours, quite possibly a record time. We were unable to stay in the guesthouse we had booked for the first night as they had given away our rooms. We were instead sent to alternative accommodation for the first evening, and promised a room the next day. I was a little irritated, as this was also the company with which we had booked our trek, and we had paid a large deposit for the whole package. However, in the end I realised it didn’t really matter and there was no use getting upset about it
We spent the following day wandering around Pokhara and getting organised for our trek. Pokhara is a lovely little town on the edge of a lake. It’s funny that you can picture a place for such a long time, see so many photographs and still end up being completely surprised by the reality of it. The lake is much smaller than I imagined, as is the town itself. The tourist strip is mainly one street that runs along the side of the lake. The town is larger than this – we haven’t had time to explore the local area but we came through it from the bus stop – and even so it’s quite small. Pokhara really is a tourist hub, kind of a Nepali version of Queenstown (although the comparison is a big stretch in a cultural sense). The Lonely Planet says that ‘Despite what Kiwis will tell you, Nepal is probably the word’s greatest outdoors destination.’ While this is not welcome news to our ears, there certainly are similarities in the activities on offer, including rafting, kayaking, paragliding, canyoning, mountain biking, climbing and of course trekking. We are to primarily take part in the last of this list, and are in fact this morning setting off to trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary, also known as Annapurna Base Camp. As a result you won’t hear from us for the next twelve days or so, but I will provide an update shortly after we return.