Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Telluride of Nepal

Pokhar was more touristy than Thamel! I yi yi, everywhere you looked you saw westerners and Nepali tourist loading up their shopping bag for their big trek. This land is the trekking mecca of Nepal. If you come to Nepal, most likely you either hike Everest Base Camp or trek in Pokhara. The feeling of this little town nestled between a lake and a mountain range is that of a ski town in the summer. Everyone is very outdoorsy and did I mention there’s a whole hell of a lot of tourist.

Pokhara is also the most distinctive spot where tourists meet the native Nepali people. The mixing between the two cultures is purely water and oil. The tourist walk past and slyly gawk while the natives continue on their their normal life. The most interaction is in shops and trekking guides. The kids do not follow their parents way. They wave and yell hello to you. Often time they approach you and want to hold your hand. This is all fun and games until you hear "give me candy", "give me money",  "give me chocolate". It sometimes seems like your running from zombies. The street children are even worse. They pop out of nowhere and demand everything. It has become a game for them: How many things can I get from the tourist. They ask for your bracelets. They ask for your water even when a spigot is 10 feet away. They try to annoy you so much that you give them stuff just to go away. The worst thing you can ever do is give these kids sweets or money. This keeps the street children and village kids on the streets. If they can make three times the average person by begging, why would they go to school, get a normal job, or stay in programs to get them off the street. Parents in villages also hate when tourist give the kids things.
Completely shaken and blended together, but mix as well as water and oil

While we were Pokhara, we wondered through the town, spent a day biking, and, of course, trekked. The trek was three days and two nights. After talking to other travelers, we discovered it’s not uncommon for one or two of the three days to be very short without a lunch on the last day, no matter what time you arrive in Pokhara. Through the grapevine, we found our guide which turned out to be about half of normal cost. Ya, I’ll take that ; ) First night we stayed in Sarangot to wake up to an amazing sunrise. The sky was clear and the Anapurana mountain range laid right in front of us. A sight I couldn’t forget even if I tried. The next day we hiked along the ridge, down to the creek, and back up the other side to spend the right in Dampus. Here we met our new American friends. They are a fun, middle aged couple working in Antarctica. Six months of work and six months of play, not too shabby! Suzie, Sheila (our new friend), and myself had “girl talk” until lights out. The next day was an easy 2 hour hike down the ridge to a crowded bus which took us back to Pokhara. Overall, it was a good hike, and now it was time to bike!

So, let me first remind you of Suzie and my previous bike rides. We tried biking the bumpy road from hell in Vang Vieng, and then we had our pitiful attempt to go fishing in Pai. Not learning from the past, we took off bright and early at 11am with bikes, helmets, a map, and a few snacks. We biked around the lake, stopped for tea, as per usual, and ventured across a bridge into somewhat no man’s land. We figured if we kept biking towards Pokhara around the lake at some point we’ll either hit the highway or town! Perfect plan right?? It was a lovely bike ride up and down small hills and weaving closer and further around the lake to avoid croplands. After ignoring a warning from a local, we continued our joyful biking. The trail narrowed and soon we were pushing our bikes instead of riding them due to the steep hill and loose dirt. At first, it wasn’t so bad since there was a mix of places to bike and places to walk. We ate lunch with a spectacular view and continued up the mountain with a general idea of where we were on the map. Half an hour of walking turned into two hours of walking. Yep, I was defiantly over it by now! Suzie, on the other hand, wanted to continue up. “Grrrrrr. Bikes are for riding, not walking,” I barked! Finally when we asked someone how long until Pokhara, he said it wasn’t too far but he could help us hoping to gain a few bucks. Finally we found out what “not too far” meant. My ass where we doing this for another 3 hours!!! It was now time to turn around. Let the fun times begin! Wahooooo! It took us half an hour to get down what took us two hpurs to get up. We took a shortcut back and got to cross the river with a homemade pontoon. On our way back to town we stumbled across a lakeside restaurant with the best dal baut we’ve had! Ok, I’m happy now : )

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