After 30 hours of travel I landed in Kathmandu on September 14th. The guide books call Kathmandu an assault on the senses, I’d say it’s more of an artillery barrage. Its colorful, crowded, dirty, loud, and chaotic. I got out of the city as quickly as I could. I plan to see a few sights there before my flight out of Nepal, but chose to start my stay in the lake town of Pokhara.
Bright and early on my first morning in Nepal I boarded the bus for Pokhara. Before departing one of the employees handed out some candy to celebrate their new bus, it was the maiden voyage. Pokhara is about 125 miles from Kathmandu and the bus ride is usually 7 hours. Think about that for a second.
When your “new” bus breaks down 4 hours into the trip it takes even longer. Fortunately, we broke down about a kilometer from a large roadside restaurant. After walking to the restaurant I grabbed a beer and chatted with an Australian ex-pat, Matt, who lives in Bangkok. Matt introduced me to his friend Shree who owns a trekking company in Nepal. I ended up getting dinner with Matt and Shree the next night in Pokhara, and Shree hooked me up with a guide for my Manaslu trek in October. All in all, the bus breaking down was a net positive.
After sleeping for 14 hours, I spent the morning wandering around Pokhara. The lakeside district is geared towards tourism and is quite nice. My eight dollar per night guesthouse room was also surprisingly good.
The north end of Phewa Tal in the morning.
With two days of short hikes around the lake in the bag and my trekking permits aquired I was ready for some excitement. I signed up for a cross-country mountain bike tour the next day.
I’ve always known I don’t do well in the heat, and I learned this lesson yet again mountain biking. A few hundred meters into the first big climb, in direct sunlight and 30+ Celsius temperatures, I had to hop off the bike for the first of many breaks. I definitely was suffering from some heat exhaustion most of the morning.
The view from a spot about halfway up.
The hill on the left is our destination, the top of Sarankot.
Paragliders picking up altitude in the thermal.
After what felt like a year we made it to the top of Sarankot village, which is 600m higher than Pokhara.
The view of Pokhara and Phewa Tal from the observation tower.
The downhill was very fun, but also really challenging because I was already exhausted. I took one small spill and miraculously sprung back to my feet no worse for the wear. After a stop for some delicious chow mein at a local place we pedalled back around the lake to the shop. Overall, biking was very fun but probably not the best choice two days before trekking.
On my last day in Pokhara I met up with my trekking partner Filipe. We got dinner and then headed to a local bar with live music. You haven’t really lived until you’ve heard a Nepali cover band play Michael Jackson and Rage Against the Machine in the same set.
Sorry about the sideways video, I’m posting from my phone and can’t be bothered to fix it.