It was a great start to the first day heading to Pokhara...I had to get up at 5am to catch the tourist bus, but after being at the bus for an hour the guy turns round to me and tells me my booking wasn't confirmed properly by his office. So they had double booked the seat and it wasn't me who was going to get it. In a nutshell, I was told I was going to have to sit on a stool in the aisle (for at least 3 hours on the winding roads. I was not impressed but glad to be getting on the bus). There is was, this unstable plastic stool and there was not a chance that I would survive all the windy roads on it. However, this lovely Nepalese family said their son would sit on his fathers knee so I could have a seat. I got chatting to the father and the 6 year old (nearly 7 he told me and his name but I can't spell it) who both had amazing English. The little boy had to write about a journey for a school project so I was being asked questions so they could write about meeting me which was quite a lovely compliment.
Finally arrived to Pokhara knackered and hot but it looked lovely with a big blue lake and surrounding mountains. Obviously luck was not with me as the hotel said they'd moved me because they were full, I asked if the new place was going to be as nice, he didn't answer so I took it as a no. I was right. Shanti Guest House...the 'dorm' was just so damp and the toilet and shower seemed miles away. Sod it, I stayed anyway it's only two nights I paid for and at $8 total, what did I expect? Granted it wasn't the value for money like Kathmandu and I was missing being there. Luckily that night I met up with Alice, who I met at the hostel in Kathmandu for a nice meal and a beer before her trek started.
The next morning after a decent sleep it didn't look as bad. Having breakfast in the sun overlooking the lake and mountains made it all worthwhile. Got chatting to Althea from China who was in Nepal learning the language, she'd been learning for 8 days but was sounding impressive. Went for a stroll around part of the lake and a random cloud caught my eye...looked again and realised a bit of cloud had lifted enough to see the peak of a snowy Himalayan mountain. Can't lie, I was bit excited and impressed by this! That afternoon went to Devi's Falls with Holly and Sammy, who I'd met at my hotel and ironically went to the same university as me (Brunel)! The waterfall is the biggest in Nepal and it wasn't overly impressive but at 30 rupees (19p) it was worth a look. But the walk through the paddy fields to get there was much more picturesque! (Thank you google maps!!!) Though we ended up with wet feet as the water from the paddy fields was flooding parts of the path. Then at dinner met this nice couple, who worked in the town along from where my mum and dad's house is back home...definitely a small world.
The following morning myself and Leonie (another girl I met at the hotel) booked on to a Qi Gong course at the Pokhara Buddhist Centre tonstart the following day. I wasn't entirely sure what it was or would be like, but as I was too lazy / unfit to do a trek figured this cultural option was more my style. That afternoon went for a walk and as I walked past a little community for the second time all the children shout hello and Namaste to me, so as I was carrying some colouring books and crayons (for such an occasion) I handed them about around the children. It was so cute to see how excited they were and their parents helped show the children the colouring books. After a big group photo and a lot of byes and waves I headed back, by which time the clouds had lifted to reveal the snowy Annapurna Range Mountains all lit up as the sun was setting...perfect.
The Buddhist thing was completely up my street, with a great teacher thanks to Lenore. The centre is a small and colourful place overlooking the Phewa Lake with a huge spinning prayer wheel. It was an introduction to yoga /meditation / Qi Gong. I have to say, I would be interested to learn more about this stuff (I'm not about to become a Buddhist mind)! But since I'm a passing thought kind of person, I probably won't.
After the end of the 2 and a half day course, myself and two of the girls, Leonie and Angela, I met there walked up to the World Peace Pagoda which overlooks Pokhara. No sun cover, a limited amount of suncream applied and midday heat made it a reasonable challenge. Now glad I didn't do a trek. However, the views from the top, overlooking the city and the lake was very pretty. Even if the cloud cover meant you couldn't see the mountains. The way down was easier, after negotiating a landslide, and getting a boat across back to the main tourist area. Even if I did return with some fancy sunburn patterns!
The next day (Saturday 10th October) Leonie and I decided to climb the 1500meter Sarangkot mountain which apparently delivers some great view points of the Annapurna Range (it does not fail to deliver nor of the views over Pokhara)! So after a lazy breakfast we set off on the climb up...with a little help from a random dog that decided to join us half of the way, he even took breaks with us and refused to leave us. 4 hours later and after stunning views all the way up, whilst sweating more than I knew possible we made the top and found a room for 300 rupees (£1.90 or 95p each!!!!). After some refreshments we found the viewpoint and despite quite a bit of cloud cover watching the sunset and the mountains was amazing.
At 5.45am the next morning, and being grateful that the cheap accommodation didn't contain bed bugs, we went back to the view point for the sunrise. Now that really was a wow moment with such clear skies whilst watching the sun slowly ascended and light up the mountain tops. Was certainly worth the trek up. With the descent upon us we made a quick breakfast call and I somehow ended up being mobbed by some young boys at the restaurant and playing 'guns' and war with them and letting them steal my phone to take (terrible) photos of foreheads. They didn't bother Leonie at all. I learnt that day to put my day bag on the floor and not on a bench when taking a photo, as I watched it tumble off the bench and off the mountain side with everything in! Luckily it was zipped up and stopped after a few meters thanks to the bushes, but the local shop woman refused to let me go and get it so off she went. My hero!!! After this, it only took a couple of hours in the heat to get down and then find a hotel and have a well earned shower. Followed by a decent curry with Leonie and Ella, also from the Buddhist Centre, for both their last nights in Pokhara.
For my last day in Pokhara I went to find the Tibetan settlement but despite using google maps and the lonely planet map I walked round the block it was supposedly at and found nothing to suggest it was a Tibetan settlement. But managed to walk down some 'streets' I don't think tourists go down which is almost intimidating but everyone is friendly and says hello or namaste. And I did find a very philosophical lorry which had 'life is a journey not a destination' written on it which I quite liked. Granted destination was spelt destilation, but still. Managed to run into two random people on the street I met in Kathmandu which was nice and met up with one of them that evening, in the pouring rain and temperamental electricity, for food and happy hour beers.
Wondering whether I should just stay in Pokhara as it is so chilled out but should probably see what else the country has to offer. So on to the next stop and hoping this time my bus seat won't be double booked. Let's see in the morning.