Tuesday, 23 September 2008

22-23 September 2003: Arriving in Nepal

Leaving Varanasi at 1am, we travelled the 6-hour journey to the end of the trainline at Gorahkpur. On the train, we were astonished to see a policeman armed with a submachine gun. Were we travelling through bandit country? Was it really necessary to have such a powerful weapon on public transport? What would happen if he was over-powered?

The border was a further two and a half hours by bus. The journey was distinctly ncomfortable, and we were packed in like sardines. Big sweaty men pressed themselves against your seat. Everyone jostled for any available space.

The border was a ying-yang experience. The Indian side was crowded, bustling and packed with touts. As we walked over to the Nepalese side, the tranquility washed over us. At last we had escaped. The 3km journey to the bus station by cycle-rickshaw was serene: people smiled, women walked freely along the streets and birdsong filled the air.

The 8-hour bus journey to Pokhara was pleasant, with the bus riding smoothly along wide, well-built roads which followed the valleys. Occasionally, we crossed a suspension bridge over a deep gorge or a wide river. The environmental beauty was striking - even better than we had imagined! We arrived in Pokhara around 9pm, and after booking into our hotel, we rushed to the local pub for a pint of 'Everest' beer - what a fitting name and a good taste. We also had our first taste of momos, a Tibetan snack similar to Chinese dim sum.

On the recommendation of a friend, we're staying at the Butterfly Lodge near the lakeside. Eating our breakfast this morning, we glimpsed Annapurna III and the Fish Tail Peak. Jen caught Andy with a big smile, looking extremely happy for the first time in ages.

This afternoon we spent with our new found friend, Sushil, who took us boating across the lake and up to the World Peace Pagoda.

We had our first encounters with the local wildlife. We saw two snakes by the fittingly named Snake Temple along the path to the pagoda. As we returned to the lake through the dense forest, we both got a leech (‘iilimato’ in Finnish) on our feet. We didn't feel or see a thing, but noticed patches of fresh blood inside our sandals. You can't come walking to Nepal without getting a leech...

We went straight back to the pub tonight for more Everest beer and momos, and we're going back for more after this internet session. All in all, Pokhara has stunning scenery, and it's very relaxing, quiet and clean here. We are in paradise.

Tomorrow we'll make plans for trekking.


David said...

Nice foot picture.
Do they get rid of your verrucas too?

St John said...

do you need somebody to carry your bags?? Glad you both have good kharma, enjoy your road to enlightenment.

auntie Liz said...

Nice smile Andy!

Uncle John says the beer looks very good.



auntie Liz xx