Next stop on our Nepal adventure was in Pokhara where we were meeting some friends Michelle and Hamish, who are on a four month trip through Asia, and luckily for us our itinerares matched up. James met Michelle while they were both backpacking through South America. When you throw in two reunion visits to New Zealand and Australia, they have now travelled together in seven countries across three continents. Which makes for a pretty cool friendship and excellent travel buddies.
Michelle and Hamish had just finished a five day trek to Poon Hill when we met them so it was fun to take shelter from the nonstop rain and catch up over lunch and hear all about their adventures so far. Pokhara is a central hub for trekking, rafting and other adventure type things which makes the town quite touristy but means it is filled with some of the nicest restaurants we have seen on our whole trip! Its also filled with travel agents so we ducked in one to book our trip to Chitwan before having a wander around the main attraction – Phewa Lake.
The lake is the hub of the city and is filled with cute little colorful row boats lined along the banks opposite the Lakeside restaurants and bars. Flanked by mountains, when the weather is clear you can see the tops of the Himalayan mountain range poking out the top which makes for some stunning scenery. We didn’t get to see any in Darjeeling so we were pretty happy we could see the snow capped peaks from here. Lakeside was quite busy and as we wandered we saw any of the women dressed up in very sparkly and bright saris and it wasn’t until we cut back into the main boulevard that we realises there was some sort of festival on. We watched people dance and sing in the street in little gathering along the road. It was a great vibe as we slowly wandered back to our hotel, picking up a few drinks along the way for beer o’clock while we watched the sunset from our hotel balcony.
Dinner that night was at another great restaurant with two for one cocktails and because it was targeted to tourists the ice and veggies were safe to eat. With a few drinks and a delicious dinner under our belt we decide to check out the local nightlife. Across from our restaurant was a Bollywood club and we wandered up the stairs hoping to have some fun dancing Bollywood style. Well it turns out the only person dancing Bollywood style in that place was the stripper on the pole near the doorway. We quickly exited and moved on to the next place. As we were decided where to go next we ran into a bunch of merry Chinese tourist who invited us a long to the lake side for a drink. We had fun sitting near the lake, drinking beers and trying our best to keep up conversation with some quite tipsy people. It was a good laugh and fun company to finish off a great day.
The next day we were lucky to have good weather so we decided to do a walk up to the peace pagoda. To get there you had to take one of the little colorful row boats with a boatman. It was fun gliding along the water looking at the island temple from afar but we did think it would be more fun to row ourselves. Once we got to the right side of the lake we started the slow ascent to the top. It was mostly steps and a bit of a steep climb for an uncoordinated and unfit ametur like me but once we got to the top totally worth it. The view over the lake and the rest of Pokhara was gorgeous and the Pagoda had some interesting statues. After a sit down in the shade and a chat to fellow travellers we decided to make our descent a different way down.
And it all went downhill from there – literally and figuratively. This path wasn’t paved and due to the monsoon the muddy clay was pretty slippery. About five minutes in I had a pretty big stack resulting in a sore bum and muddy trousers. Thankfully Hamish had a walking stick he had lent me and I soon learn to use that to make it down some of the more hairy bits. They way down was also leech territory which meant that every few minutes or so we had to stop and check none of them had snuck their way on to us. I caught a few of them climbing up my shoes ready to pounce, but overall we got away without too much blood loss. Apart from the slippery track and the leeches, it was a really scenic walk down the hill. We got to the bottom and as we passed rice fields we realised we were at Damside. We had to cross a rope bridge to get across into town and even though it was very sturdy and only very short I felt like an intrepid explorer – Indiana Jones style.
By the end of the day we were all pretty sweaty, sunburnt and exhausted. I enjoyed the hike but have realised that as a hobby its not my favourite. I’m glad to say that I did some sort of hiking in a place so famous for it but I am also glad I didn’t sign up for anything longer. Saving all my adventures for Chitwan – where I will get to see some elephants!