12.09.2012 - 20.09.2012
Getting to pokhara in Nepal was a rather painful 2day journey....
We took a 6hr sleeper train from Varanasi to Gorakhpur and then from Gorakhpur a local bus to the boarder town of Saunali. The bus was supposed to take 2hrs but it took nearly 4. It only cost less than 1 pound each but it was a horrible bus ride. It was extremely hot so being squashed in amongst the locals while pouring with sweat for 4 hrs was not pleasant but we survived!
The border crossing was rather simple, we got our passports stamped on the Indian side then walked accross to the Nepal side where we had to get a visa. We chose to get a 15 day visa which was USD 25.
From the boarder we took a taxi 30mins to a town called lumbini. This town is famous for being the birth town of Lord Buddah but besides for this and a few random monasteries there is nothing much there. The only hotel in the town with AC was USD100 for the night so we stayed at a little guest house that had a fan for USD 5 but the fan didn't work!! It was so unbearably hot that we didn't sleep at all that night and it didn't help that we were sleeping on plastic sheets. The next morning we were hoping to get out of Lumbini as fast as possible but there was a strike. This happens all the time in Nepal, the government announce a strike and no one is allowed on the roads. 3 Italians and one American guy who also stayed at the same guest house were in the same boat as us. luckily they came to call us when they saw a bus that was apparently going in the right direction so we all got on however it stopped every 10mins. After 2hrs we got off and at that point we had had enough so we threw money at the problem and got a taxi all the way to pokhara. The thought of another 6hr local bus was making us feel desperate. The taxi took 5hrs and was rather pleasant considering the roads are very narrow and windy! Getting to pokhara and checking into our hotel with AC was the best feeling. The next day we bumped into the italian guys and they looked miserable. They said the bus took 11hrs, We were so happy we payed the money for a taxi!
Pokhara is geared for tourists that come for the trekking season so there are lots of western restaurants and little shops so we spent the next day drinking coffee and hunting around for the best deal for a 6day trek. When we felt satisfied we had found a good deal we payed the money and secured our trek that was going to leave the next morning. We hired a guide and a porter and were set to go. We also bargained at the "trekking stores" and bought some socks, rain jacket/ponchos and some zorts ( pant that zip off to shorts...). I never thought a joburg girl like me would own a pair if north face zorts and a columbian floppy hat,so nerdy!
The trek we chose to do was a 5night 6 day Poon Hill (3120m) trek Around the Annapurna region. We averaged about 5hrs of walking a day, some down hill and some steep inclines.It was a moderate hike and the highest point we reached was 3120m so the altitude does make you slow down and feel a little out of breath sometimes.
I wished that it wouldn't be too hot on our trek but You have to be careful what you wish for because we got solid rain for 6 days. At night the rain woke us as the corrugated roof amplified the rain and then it just never stopped. Because of the rain and the heavy mist we unfortunately didn't have any view of the amazing himalayan peaks for the first 5 days but on the 6th day we woke up to the most beautiful view of Machhapuchhre or Fish Tail (6997m.), Huinchuli (6441m.), and Annapurna (7219m.) south. We saw the sun rise on this amazing mountain range which made all 5 days of walking in the rain very worth it.
Walking in the rain
With the rain comes LEECHES (lychees as Byron called them). These horrible little creatures were everywhere and they cling to your shoes trying to bite you all day. On the 2nd day I was taking off my zorts to have a shower and I found one on my thigh sucking away. It had crawled from my shoe to my thigh without me noticing and was drinking away. I bled for hours after taking it off, it was horrible. Byron also got bitten by one on the 4th day when we counted 30 leeches on us. They don't like heat so at lunch time we spent ages taking them off our shoes and watching them shrivel on the fire!
burn the leeches
Our guide, Prem and our porter were awesome! Prem spoke great English and was very keen on his birds so he pointed out lots of pretty birds along the way. The accommodation was very basic but clean and most places had western toilets and hot showers. I only showered 3 out of 5 nights because the showers were far from the rooms and walking back in the rain didn't seem worth it!
Sitting by the heater at night. Trying to dry clothes
All the guest houses had the exact same food menu so were got to know the choices backwards! The food was ok, for breakfast we had muesli,porridge or toast with honey and for lunch and dinner we had a lot of tomato spaghetti, veg noodles, dal baht and the odd pizza with many cups of tea and coffee followed by all the chocolates and haribos we stuffed our backpack with!
We met some lovely people along at the guest houses. Germans, Dutch ( felt like we were back in the dam), Danish, Americans,Singaporeans and a awesome guy from Canada. Pat from Canada was 72yrs old and the most hilarious interesting man. He had left his wife behind and come to Nepal. The night after we had dinner with him he was going to have a hash pancake in the mountains, what a guy!
On the last day of our trek we got to a village called Phedi and from there we had to take a bus back to pokhara. When the bus pulled up it was packed so our guide told us to hop on the roof! I never imagined riding a bus in Nepal on the roof! We had the best view but had to hold on tight! Ha ha, I can't believe I sat on top of a bus.....
despite the rain and leeches we had the most amazing experience trekking in the himalayas! Next time we will do everest base camp!!!