|Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty, situated at an altitude of 827m above sea level and 200 km west of Kathmandu valley.The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic.
A popular staring point for treks including the anapurna circuit.
In the centre of the Phewa Lake is the Barahi temple features a two story pagoda.
|Pay to use toilets are quite common in many countries, but this was the first time, I had seen one that used a “sliding scale” pricing system.
|Phewa Lake is the centre of all attraction in Pokhara.It is the largest and most enchanting of three lakes that add to the resplendence of Pokhara.
We hired 2 boats, and headed across the lake to visit the world peace pagoda.
|As we arrive, we walk up the hill, to the world peace pagoda.The hillside villages we could see, reminded me of Italy.
It was a special moment for me. Okay, it wasn’t a proper trek, but it was still hill walking, and to be doing it in the Himalayas’ for the first time was significant.
Realising this would be a special photograph, I put 2 pillows into my rucksack, so it kept its shape.
There is nowhere else in the world where mountains rise so quickly, within 30 km, from 1000m to over 8000m.
|The world peace pagoda is situated on the top of a hill on the southern shore of Phewa lake.It has four images of Buddha facing in four directions.
|As we walk back down the hill it starts to get dark.We met this “walking haystack” coming the other way.
I gave him a little money for agreeing to be photographed. He misunderstood and tried to give me some Marijuana !.
An interesting institution of Pokhara is the British Gurkha Camp in the north of the city.
It has been established as a recruitment camp for Nepalese as Gurkha soldiers. About 370 are selected annually in December out of a pool of over 20,000 applicants. About 140 eventually join the Gurkha Contingent in Singapore while the rest join the British Army.
|In the evening, we head into town for an evening out.I decided to have a T Bone steak. Delicious.
Our guide takes us to a bar/club called Paradiso It actually had vintage motorbikes and all sorts of memorabilia.
Once the ale started flowing, everyone reverted to type.
The arm wrestling competition begins in earnest.
|Devi’s Fall known locally as Patale Chango (Hell’s Falls) also know as Devins and David’s is a lovely Waterfall.The water from the Phewa lake converges into this small area and the force of natural energy is spectacular.
Legend has it that a trekker by the name of Davy, was washed away by the Padi Khola and mysteriously disappeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.
|But this was the Himalayas’, and I wasn’t here to see waterfalls.I desperately wanted to visit the world mountaineering museum. Our guide said it wasn’t on the itinerary, but arranged a private taxi to take me (he was able to give the driver specific directions, as its very easy to get lost).
The museum was enormous in size, had all sorts of authentic artefacts, pictures and articles.
|Some photo’s and diary entries by early explorers and mountaineers.To Celebrate 50 years since the accent of Everest, another section said the world owed grateful thanks to the following
Tensing Norgay Sherpa (first ascent of Everest).
Edmund Hillary (first ascent of Everest).
Two other interesting additions were:
Babu Chhiri Sherpa
Appa Sherpa (The plaque said 12 times Everest Summitter (he has since done it 5 more times)).
|Not everything in the museum was pleasing.A whole series of displayed showed some of the things that had been discarded in the mountains.
It was pointed out, that metal canisters like these would have taken more than 400 years to biodegrade.
|There were dozens and dozens of fantastic mountain photographs.Many of them, were taken by one of my Heroes, Doug Scott.
I actually have a copy of the same picture hanging in my home.
|This Jacket was said to have been worn by Morris Herzog.The French team, were the first mountaineers to climb above 8000 metres and Summit Annapurna
At the time, nobody knew what would actually happen to a human being at that altitude and they were subjected to medical experiments for years afterwards.
I have read Annapurna several times. In an era where politics, prejudice and money seem to contaminate every worthwhile endeavour, one quote from the book has always stayed with me.
When selecting the people for the trip, 20 men were selected. Herzog said simply “these were the best mountaineers in France. Nobody said otherwise even in private”.
|My Taxi driver takes me back to Pokhara, and I ponder what to do with the afternoon.It was here that I got the first hint of what Kathmandu would really be like.
I mentioned, that I wouldn’t rent a mountain bike today, but would rent one in Kathmandu to see it. He replied that riding a bike there, would be suicide. It was then I started to think that maybe Kathmandu wasn’t like Chamonix or courmayeur !.
I rented the bike, and had a great ride around the village and part of the lake.
|Pokhara was the ultimate adult playground.There were dozens of places where you could organise treks/trips/white water rafting/mountain biking. All the main Treks around the Annapurna ranges are run from Pokhara.
There were also tours running all around the region, and even an overland trip to Lhasa.
This previously couldn’t be done “on the fly” as it would involve travelling into a Chinese special administrative region.
|I wondered around to meet up with my friends, and saw Kingsley was having his head shaved.There were also loads of Cyber Cafe’s, bars and stuff like that.
It was here that I bought the excellent Jane, a torch, as astoundingly, she hadn’t brought one with here.
|We visited a Tibetan refugee camp and had a tour of their carpet factory.From 1959 to 1962 some 300,000 refugees came to Nepal from neighbouring Tibet, which had been annexed by China.
These camps have evolved into entire settlements.
Because of their different architecture, prayer flags, gompas and chorten, these can easily be distinguished from the other settlements in the area.
I quite fancied buying a rug, but they were pretty expensive.
|I saw this sticker on the window of the tea house.The Panchen Lama is the one of the two highest ranking lamas (together with the Dalai Lama) in the Gelugpa (Dge-lugs-pa) School of Tibetan Buddhism (the school which controlled Tibet from the 16th century until the Communist takeover).
There is a controversy about who is the true present (11th) incarnation of the Panchen Lama: the People’s Republic of China asserts it is Qoigyijabu, while the Tibetan Government in Exile maintains it is Gedhun .
Choekyi Nyima was arrested at the age of six years by the Chinese in 1995. He then became the world’s youngest political prisoner.
|I wandered around the village market and bought lots of presents.At one point word went around the stalls, that an idiot on a buying spree was “in town” .
I commented to one of the stall holders, that although I only had 1 wife, I had enough presents for 3.
|We woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise over Sarangkot.I went into the hotel reception to pay the bill.
It was then that I realised the the hotel staff, actually slept on the floor in reception.
It was humbling to see that the people who had worked so hard to take care of me, cook my breakfast and stuff like that, but didn’t actually have a room of there own.
|The best viewpoint of Pokhara is Sarangkot (1600m) to the west of the city.There was a small tea house, and I had some hot chocolate.
The the most stunning of Pokhara’s sights is the spectacular panorama of the Annapurna range that forms its backdrop.
|Stretching from east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna I to IV and Annapurna South.Although the highest among them is Annapurna I at 8091 meters, it is Machhapuchhre, which dominates all others in this neighbourhood.
The famous fishtail mountain is considered holy, so you need a permit to climb it.
Unfortunately, there was too much cloud, so this picture didn’t really work out the way I would have liked.