DAY 40 - BUTWAL/POKHARA
We arose early and, after having to wake the hostel manager up in order to open the front foor, walked the short distance to the bus stand. From there, we climbed on to the 6am bus to Pokhara, relieved that we were finally on our way to our destination. The bus journey itself was very scenic, as one would expect from Nepal, magnificent hills dotted with village life rising up around us as we ascended. We were quickly reminded that it was the first day of the two day festival of Holi, multi-coloured children launching dyed powder at the bus as it passed, me and James unfortunately getting a fair dose of it due to the fact that our window on the bus was missing. One unfortunate circumstance followed another - about 40km or so from Pokhara, our bus ran out of fuel. After waiting on the roadside for a while and watching a small crowd of fellow passangers embark on another bus, however, our patience eventually paid off and a couple of men returned with a fresh barrel of oil. We arrived at Pohkara in the early evening and walked for about 40 minutes to the backpacker lakeside area. Once there, we took some money out, settled in the very nice 'Nepal Guest House', and had an equally nice meal at a nearby Italian-themed restaurant. We quickly noticed how much more backpacker friendly the town was than any other that we had visited. It was much more focused on adventure activities and sports than sightseeing and was aimed at a more mainstream market that were looking for good accommodation, good food and something fun to do. Although it didn't have the cultural richness that India had, we welcomed the change, relishing the chance to get our teeth into some more adrenaline-fuelled activities.
DAY 41 - POKHARA
After a good, meaty breakfast (Nepal doesn't have the same restrictions on meat-eating), we decided to indulge in some Kayaking on the lake. It was a unique experience paddling under the huge hills and mountains in the distance, passing thick, heaving forests and lakeside beaches as we traced the circumference of the lake, occasionally stopping off to relax, skim stones and enjoy the fantastic scenery. After a while, however, a small storm began to pick up at great speed, creating waves on the lake that splashed into our boats, threatening to capsize us. We decided to paddle to one of the beaches and wait for it to calm down. Our patience got the better of us, however, and we eventually decided to head out and brace it. We managed ok, although it was much harder work and we struggled to make much ground. Either way, the weather quickly picked up and we leisurely made our way to shore after an enjoyable few hours. We spent the rest of the day relaxing about town and enjoying its chilled vibe and great views (a highlight being the sunset over the lake), before briefly venturing out in the evening to get a taste of its nightlife, which was surprisingly good despite its small size.
DAY 42 - POKHARA
Our 42nd day was to be another relaxing one, right from the morning, which was spent watching the Champions' League match in bed, to the evening, which we celebrated by having a few drinks and enjoying the energy of Pokhara's bars and cafes, one particular bar, 'The Busy Bee', providing us with a fantastic live band who proved to be the highlight of the night. We did, however, walk a fair distance to the trekking registration centre in the afternoon, where we filled in the relevant forms in order to depart on our chosen trekking route the next day. Aside from that particular excursion, and the packing and preparation that followed it, we spent the day enjoying ourselves and taking a breather before the physical activity which was to dominate the next few days.