A Travellerspoint blog

Pretty Perfect Pokhara

Our favourite place in Nepal


View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

We arrived in Pokhara after a week of farming, getting chased by rhinos and treacherously hot weather. It was definitely a welcomed change. We were fed up of Daal Bhat for every meal and ready to be tourists again. We don't know what hit us first; the beautiful scenery of Phewa lake set in front of amazing forests hills slightly hiding the heaven like Himalayas.. or the hustle and bustle of tourists searching for a bargain in the hundreds of souvenir shops.

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We shared our first two nights with our Canadian friend, Nicole, from the eco park. Our hotel was slightly more expensive with real mattresses and pillows and a duvet you could just bury yourself in. Not to mention the HD TV with football highlights.. Dan was very happy. This certainly was a little relief from the Flintstones style beds we had been accustomed to on the Eco Park.

We had managed to time our arrival to Pokhara very well as it was the Nepali new years eve, although you couldn't really tell apart from the funfair in the local park and every bar charging entry fees for the night proceedings. Our new years eve was spent in a local reggae bar listening to "UB40" while smoking Sheesha between sips of Gorkha (nepali beer). This took place over looking the beautiful lake whilst playing "yaniv" with our Israeli friend Uri.

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Pokhara, although a very touristy place, is the perfect location to just relax and unwind. With the beautiful lake being the centre point of the city, you can escape the manic streets and just walk along side it or even hire a small canoe and bob along for hours on end. Or if your not that much of a "water-boi" you can just chillax in a quirky bar read or just watch everyone else pass by.

The main attractions to Pokhara are the amount of trekking you can do. We didn't plan or even budget to do any which left us a bit down beat but we made up for it with all of the extreme sports we did instead. The first of which was the paragliding. We woke up a little anxious for the jump as we have already experienced the extreme feeling of falling from our experience of the rope swing and bungee. All of that anxiety was a waste of time as the worst thing about the jump was the drive up through the narrow winding roads next to a drop of a 1000 meters with nothing but the drivers profound bravery to stop us from falling down. Once at the top we felt so relaxed and just wondered at the influx of colours swirling above our heads form the tens of other para-gliders harmlessly swaying in the wind. When we got strapped in we had three commands to abide by ; stop , walk and run. we got strapped in one by one and was told to wait until the right wind came. The few seconds felt like mins as we waited for the shoot to take the gush of air and we ran down the hill from the command "run!". As i got closer to the edge of the cliff fear grew but in stead of a sudden drop my feet left the floor and I just sat back in my seated harness. it felt like something else. You just sit there and gaze at the unbelievable scenery and feel the altitude change with the different wind temperature and the gushes of wind as you bank left or right. As i was there just relaxing watching what looked like a massive post card the instructor shouted "acrobats yes? acrobats good". Before I had chance to say yes, I was basically up side down plummeting to the ground before he did another trick and span me around in circles before he brassed for landing. With my heart in my mouth, we literally landed on our feet. No stumble, no run, just perfect. We just waited for the shoot to fall as I looked over and saw Amiee's huge smile.

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As we didn't get to do any trekking we decided to climb the south hill of Phewa lake to the very top, where a Japanese Buddhist stupa lies, called the "world peace pagoda". To get there we got a canoe across the lake with Ant at 8 am. it was perfect timing as the clouds hadn't formed around the Himalayas yet the the view was breathe taking. Our driver was also a mountain guide and we asked him loads of questions about the mountains including the yeti. He managed to tell us where he lived how many times he has seen him and how heavy he weighs... Around 70 kg apparently.. and Ant replied "that's alright then, I can probably fight him". Crazy little Quebecer. We arrived at the shore of the hill and had to face the 1100 meter steep climb. It took us over an hour with many stops and a snickers break. Once reaching the top, the view was by far the most amazing view I have ever seen. The sight of the small part of the Himalayas was breath taking and made the city of Pokhara look like a small patch. a truly incredible experience.

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Within our remaining days in Pokhara, we booked to do ziplining and white water rafting. We didn't have these planned before arriving but we thought we'd join Ant on the zipline, and why not do rafting.. we're in Nepal.. one of the best places in the world it! Pokhara boasts the most extreme Zip line in world. "ZipFlyer" reaches speeds of 160 km/hour and is 1.8km long. It was a fun experience, flying through the hills, so fast we could hardly scream! We had to keep our legs stretched out wide to stop us spinning, and the brake system was worryingly a small rope we had to pull ourselves before we reached the end of the line! White water rafting was booked for our journey out of Pokhara, where we spent 10 days in total. We were to take a bus to the Trisuli river en route back to Kathmandu.. but more about that shortly. The rest of our time in Pokhara was spent relaxing in bars and restaurants, meeting up with friends for drinks, chilling out around the lake, and getting hooked on "The walking dead", which Nicole let us steal from her tablet.

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Boat ride on the Phewa Lake
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Our first rafting experience was amazing! We were a little worried about just how big the rapids would be and how difficult it would be to stay in the raft.. but after our safety briefing and a few games we were feeling up for it! We had to practice how to save people if they fell from the raft and how to follow the commands for the team leader whilst keeping in time with the other 6 people on the raft. The Trisuli river was for beginners, so although it flowed quite quickly, there was lots of time in between the rapid areas, where we could jump in the water and float along with the current. The rapid were such a rush, paddling fiercely through them, or holding on for our lives hoping not to be thrown overboard! After we made it past each one, we all put our paddles in the centre for group cheer! We stopped for a lovely salad lunch on the river bank and gave our leftovers to the hungry mountain children who came down from the hills to watch. Once we reached the end point of the rafting route, we changed into some dry clothes and hopped on the next local bus to Kathmandu. Thank god this would be our last local bus in Nepal. It was packed full, hot and sweaty, Nepali music was blaring so loudly, and as we approached Kathmandu the air got more and more polluted. We we very relieved when we reached our hotel room in busy Thamel!

Rafting - Trisuli river - Thanks to our friend Andre! (Sorry there are no action shots)
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There's not much to say about our last week in Nepal, because we both just so happened to get sick! Most of our days were spent in the hotel room feeling sorry for ourselves. Thankfully, we had seen the main sights of Kathmandu when we first arrived in Nepal, but we did manage to visit the famous monkey temple, meet up with some friends for dinner one night, and wait for it.. visit an international tattoo convention!

Monkey temple - Kathmandu

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International Tattoo convention - Kathmandu

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From not knowing what to expect of Nepal, we have fallen in love! We are already planning our next visit for more adrenaline activities and finally, some trekking! We can't recommend Nepal enough to those who love an adventure!

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See you again in the future Nepal.. next stop.. MELBOURNE!!!

Posted by amiee1992 23:07 Archived in Nepal Tagged mountains lake rafting paragliding pokhara adrenaline Comments (4)

We've been doing some counting..

Our travels so far.. in numbers

Countries visited: 2

Hours spent travelling: 116

Number of books read: 7

Cheapest hotel so far: £1.50 - Chitwan, Nepal

Number of hotels stayed in: 24

Cheapest journey so far: 70p for 100km bus through Goa, India

Number of stops: 18

Number of Skype calls: 26

Posted by amiee1992 23:00 Comments (1)

Chitwan, Nepal

Friends, farming and our first safari experience

sunny 33 °C
View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

The main reason we went to Chitwan was to volunteer on a small "eco farm" in this tiny little village called Maghauli.

We arrived from Kathmandu by taking one tourist bus that dropped us into Narayanghat where we was abruptly dropped off to find the local bus to Maghauli. We searched the streets and asked lots of non English speaking locals for the bus. It eventually came, well all 6 ft of it. It was possibly the smallest bus I've ever seen and it was obvious that the bus had seen better days. Any who.. with our new found travelling bravery we got on, even though the bus boy just nodded when we mentioned the little village. Once squeezed on the hot bus with Hindi music blaring at full volume we made for the little village. The semi smooth concrete road quickly disappeared and turned to mountain like terrain as we where thrown around the bus with no room to swing any kind of cat in. Our knees were battered and bruised due to the little leg room available as more and more locals stared at our uncomfortable faces. After an hour on the bus we soon realized that we have no idea of where to stop but luckily enough the elderly Nepali gentlemen next to us was the neighbor of the park owner. And it seems the only white people who get on this bus must only be going to the eco village.

We got off the bus around lunch time to find this derelict house in the middle of nowhere and was told to walk around the back to the fields where we could see a number of small huts in the distance. We were quickly greeted by a young Nepali boy called "Divash". Little did I know that he would turn out to be one of the most annoying kids I have ever met! The farm consisted of 3 small huts, a slightly larger circular hut and a kitchen, set around a garden which had more concrete mounds than plants. We were greeted by Bishnu, the Nepali man who ran the project, and the team of volunteers. We weren't expecting there to be so many, which was a nice suprise when we found out we would be joining a group of around 8 people from various countries. After a quick walk around the farm and our first of many servings of daal bhat, we spent the afternoon getting to know the group and watering the plants.

The following day was a Saturday, so we joined most of the group on the 3 bus journey to Sauraha, the small town where Chitwan National Park lies. The weekend was spent relaxing on the riverside where the elephants crossed, taking dips in the water to cool down and playing frisbee in the fields.

Local children taking a dip in the river
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Elephants crossing where we were swimming
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When we all returned back to the eco farm there were even more new arrivals waiting to get to know the group. The day to day life on the farm was pretty chilled out. It was so hot in Chitwan that we could only work 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the late afternoon. The rest of the day was usually spent sleeping, walking into the village, or playing cards with the group.

These two local kids wondered onto the farm and woke us up every morning chattering away so loudly in Nepali
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Dan and Ulri having a kick about
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Some of the volunteers were slightly confused by the project because certain aspects which were advertised online didn't exist, such as a children's library where volunteers could help out, women empowerment projects and sports programs. When we asked Bishnu it was difficult to communicate our points because of the language barrier and from what we understood, the crops we were harvesting only fed his family rather than the community. We had heard many stories of volunteer projects which aren't quite what they seem here in Nepal. Despite this slight negativity within the group, we really enjoyed our week on the farm. It made us appreciate indoor plumbing, electricity, and gave us a passion to be more eco from now on. If there's one thing we've learnt since travelling, it's that the world needs a lot more looking after!

Our camp highlights would be telling stories around the campfire after making dough balls, cooking a non daal bhat meal all together, and dancing with the Tharu tribe women. But the people were really what made it! So many different characters from across the globe, all with a passion for travel. We already miss hearing Bishnu reply "YES PLEASE" every time we called his name, but we do NOT miss Divash noisily devouring every packet of biscuits we bought!

Having a lesson on how to build a fire from Ant
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The local Tharu people came to perform a traditional stick dance
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Making bread on a stick over the campfire
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Judith's Harry Potter impression
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Us, Ant, Giles, and Uri around the campfire
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Seeta (makes the best Daal Bhat in Nepal) and Divash (cookie monster)
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Upon saying our goodbyes and leaving camp we returned to Sauraha for a weekend in the jungle before leaving Chitwan. A small group of us rode the roof of the bus out of Maghauli village and spent the weekend together. This is when we did the jungle walk, realising we had best do some kind of safari activity before leaving. Our hearts were set on seeing a rhino but we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for! We went into the jungle via an hour long canoe ride with our friend Nicole from the eco farm, and two jungle guides with decades of experience. For 2 hours we seemed to be walking around in circles spotting only deers and tonnes of rhino poo! Then we heard a loud crashing and the guides looked startled. It was mating season for rhinos and apparently very dangerous to be in the jungle (love how we wasn't warned when booking!). There were rhinos fighting nearby but we could only hear them through all bushes and trees. Our guides started gesturing for us to climb up a nearby tree which was not in any way, shape or form climbable! Before we knew it everyone turned in the direction of what sounded like the trees being trampled getting louder and louder. Everyone's eyes were popping out of their heads in fear as the guides screamed "RUNNNN!".. We both ran for our lives of course, but Amiee was way in front close to the guides in survival mode, as Dan seemed to be holding back the giggles behind. At that moment of time he was thinking.. "Yesterday we were planting radishes and today were being chased by rhinos through the jungle"... the beauty of travel!

Needless to say, we managed to escape the angry rhinos and later saw two more from a safer distance, along with crocodiles, monkeys, snakes, and lots of strange bugs. The only signs of a tiger were paw prints and poo, but after the rhino incident, we questioned if we wanted to cross paths with a tiger anyway!

Some snaps from the Jungle Safari
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Posted by amiee1992 22:07 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

A border away but a world apart

Week 1 in Nepal - Kathmandu

sunny 28 °C
View Our adventure on amiee1992's travel map.

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Namaste from Nepal!

Albeit ready, we were both a little sad to be leaving India. Expectations of Nepal were that it wouldn't be far off the Indian culture. Its only a 2 hour flight away, right?

We applied for a 30 day visa on arrival into Kathmandu airport, purchased a local sim card and took our airport pickup to the hotel. We could immediately notice our arrival in one of the world's poorest countries, as the car struggled on the rickety roads. The whole city was in darkness, as there is a limited source of electricity throughout Nepal, and the countries capital city was not a patch on the busy streets of New Delhi.

Our first day was spent exploring Kathmandu by foot, passing small temples where chickens were being sacrificed, numerous small dental clinics, and crowds of VERY smiley elderly Nepali men wearing Dhaka Topi's (traditional Nepali hats). We explored Durbar Square and managed to see "The Living Goddess" as she sat in her courtyard. The living goddess, also known as the "Kumari Devi", is a young girl who lives in the building known as Kumari Bahal in Durbar Square. The living goddess must be chosen from a certain class and be between 4 years old to puberty, as well as fitting 32 strict physical requirements. The selection process involves suitable candidates being placed in a dark room where they're subjected to a series of terrifying noises and masked men. An incarnation of Durga is known to remain collected, so the young girl who is most calm during this process is selected as the living goddess until she reaches puberty. She must appear in the window of her courtyard for a certain period of time each day for the visiting of tourists and locals, however photos are forbidden.

Kathmandu - Durbar Square

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Patan - Durbar Square

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Whilst in Katmandu, we also visited Pashupatinath. Here is Nepals most famous Hindu temple on the banks of he famous Bagmati river where cremations take place. It was a beautiful place home to many elderly and hundreds of Sadhus (men who devote their lives to Hinduism and achieving enlightenment whilst practising yoga and meditation)

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Bodhnath Stupa, the most famous Buddhist stupa in Nepal, was also phenomenal! It was gigantic and very bright in colour next to the deep blue sky. We watched from a rooftop cafe as hundreds of Buddhist monks took their daily walk around the Stupa, spinning each of the prayer wheels as they passed them. This small village was alive with Tibetan culture and the shops sold lots of authentic handicrafts. We spotted a number of western monks, draped in maroon robes, who had converted to Buddhism.

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Next we headed to The Last Resort, three and a half hours from Kathmandu by bus, where we did a tandem swing together and Amiee did her first ever bungee jump. The bus journey and the nerve wracking time spent waiting to jump gave us time to befriend the small group, and we all offered to support to each other. The 165m high rickety bridge hung over a huge canyon gorge with a fast running river deep at the bottom of the valley. This was the only place in Nepal to do a bungee jump, and also the second highest in the world after one in New Zealand! As we had booked to stay overnight in one of the resorts tent rooms overlooking the valley, we decided to do the tandem swing first so that we had each other for company! We we harnessed together and attached to a long rope which hung from another wire out in the distance. Fitted with a go pro camera, Daniel shouted a few typical phrases like "This ones for you Salad Fingers!" and "Go on the Walliams!" whilst Amiee was stupidly close to chickening out! We did a bunny hop after shaking with terror on top of the platform, and experienced 7 uncontrollable seconds of free fall before swinging through the valley like Tarzan and Jane. Dan was even screaming "AHHHHH AHHHH" from the huge harness wedgie! We watched the rest of the group do their jumps and our fear grew for the bungee the following day. Dan was up in the night and awoke with food poisoning, whilst Amiee was petrified and convinced she couldn't do the bungee. With Dan not well enough to do the jump and the following half an hour steep hike back up the valley with no water, Amiee had no choice but to woMAN UP! There was no refund for not jumping and there was no way both of them could walk away without the experience. Thankfully that days group of jumpers were awesome, and Amiee didn't feeling alone waiting on the bridge for her turn. She told the bungee master that he may have to push her to stop her from chickening out as he fixed the rope to her feet. Unaware at the time, she reluctantly edged herself forward until her feet hung over the edge and waited for the countdown. 3..2..1.. bungee!!!! It was the most petrifying but unbelievable feeling ever experienced! Dan was always the one who was keen to do a bungee jump whilst Amiee was always unsure if she could do it. Looks like we will have to do another on our trip so Dan doesn't go home disappointed.

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The rest of our week in Katmandu was spent browsing the what seemed like millions of handicraft shops, stuffing our faces with steak and chip butties!!!, and chatting to some lovely people. We are very much in love with Nepal. It's been lovely to meet locals who actually want to practice their English with you as apposed to just wanting your money, to see the childrens beaming smiles, to witness the families who live in the remote mountain villages, to learn about the Buddhist religion from the relaxed and patient Nepali people and to not hear "RICKSHAW RICKSHAW RICKSHAW" with every step!

Posted by amiee1992 00:43 Archived in Nepal Tagged temples buddhist kathmandu bungee Comments (3)

Reflecting..

The end of our time in India

all seasons in one day
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We can't believe two whole months have almost passed since we packed up our flat, dumped our things at Dan's Mum's,  said our emotional farewells and jumped on a plane to India! It often feels like only yesterday, and sometimes feels like a lifetime ago.

Our last few days in India were spent in dreaded Delhi! But it didn't phase either of us one bit, proving we have grown more accustomed to India, and so we should have after two months!

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After thinking we had both survived food poisoning whilst in India, Amiee got a case of 'Delhi belly' which meant much of our sightseeing was rushed. We still managed to see the National Museum and the Ghandi museum where he spent his last days.

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But the memories of the atmosphere in Delhi are what we will take away from that place. We stayed in the popular budget area of Paharganj, where the streets were rife with backpackers, beggars and street kids. Our time in India prepared us for the poverty we witnessed on these streets but it also got us thinking over our travels so far. We just so happened to bump into our good friend Sam who we partied with in Palolem. He was also near the end of his stay and we went for a drink with him where we all reflected together (and broke hotel decorations).

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We've spent time in the breathtaking backwaters of Kerala, the golden Goan beaches, colourful Rajasthan, and most difficult of all, the hustle and bustle of Uttar Pradesh. India may be one country, but it's a thousand world's. Hugely diverse in not just landscapes, but religions, ethnicities, language and classes.

We came to India to experience the culture. The colours, the food, the music, dancing, and to get an idea of what it means to be Indian. While in one sense we feel like we've achieved this and so much more, have we just been watching from behind the glass? As we walk past those who are poverty stricken and reside in the comfort and safety of our hotel rooms, will we really ever understand?

India is definitely not for the faint hearted, but we can't recommend it enough to those up for a challenge! Our emotions have been up and down, and of course there have been days when we've missed our home comforts and can't bare the thought of another sleeper train, but what an experience which has fully prepared us to take on the rest of the world together!

"Everyone in the world was Indian in at least one past life"

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Posted by amiee1992 09:01 Archived in India Tagged delhi Comments (1)

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