Rose at 6.30am, breakfasted by 7.15am, sat in reception by 7.30am waiting with the rest of our party for our transport. Slight hiccup when it came to paying my bill, I opted to use card, but Nepal is way behind most of the world with niceties and conveniences that living in a modern technological society affords. The little card machine tried and tried to connect to my bank but every line it tried displayed busy. We tried once more (at length) but again failed, the frustrated receptionist offered to try again in 10 minutes or so, but I kindly put her out of her misery and paid in cash.
We boarded the bus and set off on time with suitcases stowed away on the roof of our mini-bus. This was to be a long journey.
It took an hour to travel the 10km necessary to leave the city. The traffic and roads are truly appalling, as is the driving habits of the locals who refuse to give way and seem to revel in playing the game of chicken. The rule is: pedestrians give way to everything, mopeds and cycles get off the road when anything larger is on their side of the road, mini buses over take all except if an oncoming lorry might cause and inconvenience, and for some strange reason, cars drive slowly and are overtaken by all but lepers on crutches. Crazy.
Much of our route was being upgraded from UK class C roads status to K class B status, badly!! The Nepalese have mastered the concept of laying tarmac but have failed to understand that there is the necessity for a heavy roller to be used to ensure a smooth surface. Over 250 km, that amounts to a serious full body massage!
After numerous choruses of ‘The wheels on the bus’ had fizzled out we set about admiring the scenery. Truly inspiring. Through the diesel fumes, dust laden air, smut covered vegetation and shattered buildings we could see the germs of a traumatised society rebuilding for its future. The road was being worked on and improved, albeit in an apparently disorganised fashion. The population was building their homes from the bricks of the old and hopefully learning from the past. The fields appeared to be productive and absolutely everyone seemed to be ‘doing’ something.
However, we did have fun. First stop was a toilet and fuel stop. Second stop was a toilet and coffee stop. Third stop was for lunch and refreshments. Fourth stop was a bit of silliness, after passing numerous rope bridges crossing the river and gorge that we had been following for what seemed forever, it was decided that we should traverse one of these bridges. Our guide gauged that his tip at the end of the trip may be drastically affected if he didn’t comply and found one. Eagerly, we joined a few locals carrying outrageously heavy packs on their heads across the ravine. Photos were taken, jokes were made and we retraced our swinging, swaying steps back to the mini-bus.
Eventually we reached our goal, Pokhara. A ‘seaside’ resort in the centre of mountainous Nepal, alongside a beautiful lake. Finding our hotel we checked in and made our way to our room. A perfect top floor location affording views over the mountains and lake side. Sue made coffee.
Keen to discover the delights of Pokhara we set off to explore. Running short of rupees we found a Money Exchange booth and swapped some now pointless Euros for more useful Nepalese rupees. We found our way to the lake shore and stood awhile taking in the beauty of the place. Flat calm waters with brightly painted boats anchored randomly along the shore with that stunning, humbling backdrop of jagged snow-capped rocks called the Himalayas. How insignificant can you feel?
We wandered along the paved path winding its way along the shore with restaurants and bars invitingly lined up waiting for customers. We came across Jeff and Chris sat at one hostelry, they invited us to join them in Happy Hour. We complied. We were later discovered and joined by the two ladies from Hull. As the sun set and a bit of a chill set in we went our separate ways.
We made our way back to the hotel where Sue washed her hair before changing and venturing out again for our evening meal. We chose a balcony restaurant overlooking the main road. The food and drinks were good and we promised to return again. Yes, it was still Happy Hour.
Returning to the hotel we came across several of our party celebrating the 66th birthday of one of our members (Jim). We had more refreshments and talked way into the wee small hours before pressing some new pillows.