Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kathmandu to Pokhara

After spending time in the very interesting Kathmandu, it was time to head to another area of Nepal, the lakeside city of Pokhara.
Annapurna Range, seen from Pokhara

We had been staying in the amazing Mi Casa hotel in Kathmandu, and the owners were just amazing. So friendly and helpful!
So when it came time to leave, they helped us. We arranged a car, rather than a crowded bus, as we had a couple of stops to make along the way.

The route (stops not shown):


Stop one: White-water rafting!

Ready to go!

I had never been rafting before, so this was something I was excited to be doing for the first time in a new country.

We got the rafting for $35/p. Pretty good, considering I'd seen it advertised for over double that price.

The company doing the rafting, Eco-<something>, could have been a little better organised.
When we got to the meeting point, we had to ask several times where we were supposed to be and who was in charge.
It didn't help that this was the meeting point for several rafting companies..

But eventually, the group was assembled, and we got a prep-talk from the guide.

Well.. he talked, but his accent was so strong that I could only pick out about 25% of what he was actually saying. I figured he'd yell if I did something wrong, so I'd just go with what I heard and use common sense for the rest.

This worked well. No-one else understood him, either, so we all just tried our best.
The group was the two of us, plus a German couple and four Chinese. One tall Chinese guy told us, while we were waiting, that he was a bit scared as he can't swim! Brave guy to still go out on the water! I told him the life-vest would keep him safe.

The German couple weren't very chatty, and were the only ones in the group to do the two-day rafting package, which means they were camping by the river. When we saw the tent at the end of the rafting, we were glad we weren't joining them. As much as I enjoy camping, it didn't look too pleasant. Apparently, there was an option of 'camping' in a cabin, too, which we would have chosen, if we did the two-day tour.

Limbering up? Or just excited?
We had lots of fun, getting soaked in the rapids and in water-fights, both with other rafts and each other. The guide had a bucket, which he'd use liberally to help cool us off.. When I was feeling hot, I'd deliberately splash him to get him to splash back. Refreshing! The Chinese girl in between us didn't seem to enjoy the splashes quite so much, though.. oops..?

Obviously, we had to pack our phones and camera away while on the water, so we don't have any photos (hmm... maybe time to get a GoPro Hero3 with waterproof case..?)

Afterwards, it was time for lunch (included in the price!). Simple fare, (especially as we chose not to partake of the chicken), just rice, vegetarian curry and daal. Delicious and filling. Needed after burning off calories paddling!
Hungry? Or holding the photographer's plate, too?

Stop two: Cable car

We'd been told that the cable car at Manakamana was worth a visit, so we coughed up the 2x $20 for the tickets and headed up.

The view was certainly breath-taking,
but when we approached the top, we saw the long queue of people waiting to go down, and decided we didn't want to spend an hour or more waiting in the hot sun, so we stayed in the cable car, rather than getting off.

A (slightly surprised) local family joined us in our previously-private cable-car for the trip down.

Their young boy, about 2 or 3 years old, was a bit scared at times, and actually grabbed my pants-pocket for moral support. I gently extricated my pants from his grip a couple of times, but it was amusing for everyone.

We enjoyed the views, but it wasn't really worth the $20/p, in my opinion. Maybe we missed something by staying on - there might be more spectacular views from the other side of the hill..? Leave comments if you've been there!

After the cable-car, it was time to get back in our car and complete the trip, arriving in Pokhara safely in the afternoon. Tired and happy after a big day.