Flew from Varanasi to kathmandu, the overland option just looked too tortuous (& we got a glimpse of Everest!) Stayed in Kathmandu seeing the sights, mostly old temples and palaces, and we saw a living goddess. We enjoyed staying in the touristy Thamal area of the city, with lots of bars, restaurants, tourist shops and tourists. Nepal is cleaner and more western than India, a nice change after 10 weeks. The people are really friendly and happy and local men use toilets, rather than any outdoor space!!
We transferred from Kathmandu to Pokhara by road, a seven hour trip to cover just 150 miles, shall try to remember this when back home and complaining about our roads or traffic!
Pokhara is a very touristy place, founded in the 70's as a hippy hang out it has developed into a trekking centre for the Annapurna region. Lots of restaurants, Chinese, Korean, Italian, etc, and shops selling everything from walking socks to sleeping bags. We set off for a 6 day trek with our guide Denish and porter Raj the day after arriving in Pokhara. The trek went well for the first two days although it was quite hard going, we climbed 1200m on day two alone. Craig has a cold and it started to cause a problem at about this point. Day three started at 5 am with a climb to the top of Poon hill, taking about 1 12 hours to see the sunrise over the Annapurna mountain range. The view was awesome and made the early start worth while. The rest of day three was a further six hours of trekking, climbing higher and seeing more fantastic scenery. The overnight accommodation on the trek is in teahouses, simple rooms with a separate shared toilet and bathroom. As we have ascended it has become colder and Craig's cold has got worse, having trouble clearing his sinuses and chest. Day four was a lovely descent through the rhododendron forests and deep river gorges. The day finished with a 800m descent down a steep stone "staircase" of differing sizes. This was hell on the knees and really took its toll (& they call this an easy trek!) Day five and six were a lot more leisurely walking beside a river until we arrived at our start point. We had a great time and the guide and porter were great fun while being proffessional, they made the trip. We had fun playing Dobble with them (a picture card game that doesn't need a common language) whilst enjoying the local wine 'ruksi', and tried our hand at the Nepalese game of Karum with the locals (a cross between pool and table hockey). We learnt a lot about nepal and saw some awesome scenery.
We returned to Pokhara for a couple of rest days, went boating on the lake and watched the paragliders jumping from the surrounding hills. Enjoyed the views from our balcony of snow capped mountains.
After our rest we set off on a two day rafting trip on the Seti river. Two of us and three crew in a inflatable raft with all our gear, our luggage, tents, food, kitchen etc. After about five hours of rafting with a lunch break we made camp at the side of the river, idyllic. Then along comes a local who tells us he's the barman! Would we like beer, Pepsi, sprite? What an entrepreneur! Our raft "captain" is also a professional chef so dinner was fresh veg soup followed by veg curry and lentil dhal, with rice, chips and poppadoms! All made from fresh ingredients over an open fire. We slept in a small tent while our crew made a shelter from the raft and a poly sheet. Camping was fun except we both found the sleeping mats a bit uncomfortable, and Vanda wasn't keen on the hole in the sand toilet (although it did have a tent over it for privacy). The rapids were great fun, getting soaked by freezing water, Craig nearly fell out once and we got stuck on a large boulder in the middle of a particularly torturous bit.
Love Craig and Vanda.