December 4, 2013

Changing Pace in Pokhara

For the rest of our lives I think Christian and I will always randomly say to each other: "Hey! Remember that one time the Nepali taxi driver said there might be gas bombs thrown at cars? YAY ADVENTURE!" Let me start from the beginning...

Once we arrived in Kathmandu, we were ecstatic--yay we're in NEPAL!

We spot our taxi driver and pile in his tiny car.

Small-talk ensued and he asks what we will do during our 16 days in Nepal...

"We will be here for a few days then will head to Pokhara by bus sometime next week...then who knows Pokhara nice?"

He says: "Oh yes very nice! But maybe you not take bus"
Us: "Oh is it a long ride?"
Taxi driver: "No, no...but there is election. Election is crazy. Sometimes gasbombs...throw at cars...very very easy to make!"
Us: " what?" 
Taxi driver: "You bombs, they throw at street. Army will protect bus...but fly is better."
*I'm thinking--wow this trip sure started off on an adventurous note, didn't it?*
Us: " we won't take the bus??!!"
Taxi driver: "Plane. Plane safer."

Fast forward to after check-in, in our room...

Over the next few days we contemplated how realistic this threat of gasbombs where in and around Kathmandu. What were the odds? I'm suuuure the bus will be fine! We tune in to BBC/NBC/Fox News/each of our Embassy websites, ask our hostel, ask tour directors, ask a random hotel. All of the people we asked said take the plane ("Roads very dangerous! Even Nepalis fly!"). And news sites were definitely mentioning 'car bomb explores in North Kathmandu' or 'Election violence increases as Nepali election nears' and similar. 

Were we in fear of our lives? No. Nepalis showed ZERO hostility towards us...even the extremist group behind the gasbombs said they would not target tourists. Did we think we might get caught up in political rally accidentally? Mmmm maybe. Afterall, we were taking a taxi around the Kathmandu valley every once in a while. 

Eventually we wandered into another tourist office, asked yet another source for advice and 10 minutes later we walked out with 2 tickets on Buddha Air bound for Pokhara. 

As my friend Rich said "any money spent on a precaution is money well spent" and with that we felt we made the right decision. We even got out of Kathmandu a day early just to escape the craziness of the elections (Kathmandu is pretty crazy...but we heard from a fellow traveler who was on his sixth(!) trip to Nepal and said it was crazier than normal). 

So...we were off on a quick and easy 25 minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Pros: Himalayan views! And bragging rights to say we flew on Buddha Air hehehe 
Cons: We paid a hefty $90 per ticket...WAY beyond our $70 per day budget!

And then once we reached Pokhara...paradise :).

Pokhara is a beautiful little hippie town nestled at the foot of the Himalayas. Boats teeter in the lake, the main street is riddled with yoga studios and bars with super long happy hours and the absence of the beeps and noise in Kathmandu was an (unexpected) nice relief.

While we initially had plans to possibly do day treks into the mountains...maybe some overnights...we got lost in the peacefulness of Pokhara. Not only did we arrive a day early but we extended our stay by FOUR MORE NIGHTS...making it a full 8 nights spent in this small oasis.

Those hikes we planned to do? Didn't do them. We were almost TOO chilled out. We mountain biked to a Tibetan village in the hills, went to $5 yoga classes at Himalayan Yogini, enjoyed $1 plates of Nepalese momos (like curry dumplings!), enjoyed fresh banana chocolate cakes and coffee each morning, sipped on tea at Jiva Cafe & Spa, floated around on the lake, slept in each morning at our $6/night guesthouse, walked around the lake and ate the most delicious butter chicken, garlic naan and Everest beer each night. A couple days we literally didn't do anything except relax in a cafe by the lake. 

At first we thought: shouldn't we be...doing...something or...something? Then this is where we decided that changing pace (albeit slowing waaaay down to how we were used to traveling) might do us a little good...and then we ordered another beer...and maybe another plate of momos :).

We love you, Pokhara!


Unknown said...

Holy shit, cat bombs?! You would think Buddha Air paid them off saying that! Ah well, you got safe!

Oh man, that pace...... very nice!