AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Altitude:Ngadi = 900m Climb: 370m Time: Bus = 7hr Walking = 1hr 15m Daily Cost: 3,850 rupees ($40/£23) We had booked the bus from Pokhara to Besi Saha (the traditional start of the Annapurna Circuit trek) a few days earlier through the company where we booked the porter. This was a journey of about 110km (68 miles) and was expected to take about 5 hours. But, we were feeling fine about the bus, it was a tourist bus and not the usual crowded local bus. The bus departs from the tourist bus station at 6:30am and cost us 400 NPR (£2.40) each. We had arranged for our porter to meet us at the hotel at 6am. But, at just turned 6am we went down and no-one was around. We sat in the garden in front of the hotel and waited. 5 minutes passed and no porter. Then 10 minutes passed and still no porter. We were getting worried so I tried to ring Guru, the owner of the company that we hired the porter from, but his phone was engaged. We were quite nervous as Guru had told us a story a few days ago about someone he’d employed in the past who had become an alcoholic so he’d let him go, but after a while he’d given the guy another chance so long as he cleaned his act up. Very charitable of Guru, but we didn’t know if this was a random story or whether he was talking about the guy we’d just hired. It was almost quarter past and still no porter, our worst fears seemed to be confirmed. We’d hired an alcoholic porter and he was late on the first day, possibly meaning we’ll miss the bus and be delayed. Finally, 15 minutes late and with only 15 minutes before the bus was due to depart our porter arrived in the taxi, ready to take us to the bus station. As well as his own small rucksack he had a huge ice axe and pick, a menacing looking piece of equipment which seemed a little bit of an overkill for what is in reality just a long walk! At the bus station we quickly found our bus. We jumped in whilst Harry (our porter) jumped onto the roof to secure the bag. The bus had only tourists on it, which is a good sign, no nightmare local bus journey! As the bus started up and got ready to leave Harry was not in sight, he’d gone off into one of the buildings dotted around the bus station and hadn’t reappeared. The bus started to drive across...

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Pokhara: Peace Pagoda

Posted on Apr 9, 2014

It’s been 9 days since we arrived back in Pokhara after trekking to Poon Hill and Base Camp, almost the same length of time as the trek, and we haven’t done any walking. In fact, we haven’t done anything noteworthy at all. So we decided it’s about time we stretched our legs. Especially as we start the longest and possibly the most difficult trek in a few days time. Overlooking Pokhara is the World Peace Pagoda. It sits on top of a hill which can be reached by walking around the bottom corner of Phewa Lake or by rowing across. We decided to take a rowing boat one way, climb the steps to the stupa, then walk down through the forest and back into Pokhara. This was also the first clear view we’d had of the mountains in about 3 or 4 days. The haze has gradually got worse as the temperature has climbed, but often big, white, fluffy clouds just sit on the mountains anyway. Pokhara had experienced a torrential downpour the afternoon before, 30 minutes I’d extreme rain and a massive thunderstorm. Overnight another two huge thunderstorms had rumbled through, along with a lot more rain. All that rain had emptied the clouds and reduced the humidity and removed the haze which had blocked our view for so long. As we left the hotel the air temperature was about 26° but because of the intensity of the sun it had a real feel of 33°. Hot! Getting the boat one way means we had a ‘rower woman’ to row us there and bring the boat back. This would have been great if she hadn’t nagged us quite a few times for a ‘dollar tip’. I kindly informed her that we’re British and don’t use dollars. We’d already paid 400NPR ($4/£2.40) for the boat so either she wasn’t getting a fair cut of the money, which isn’t my problem (I think that giving tips to low paid workers just exacerbates the problem and condones poor wages and treatment, anywhere in the world!), or she was getting a fair cut and just wanted more of my money. Either way, she understood what we really meant… which is more than Annemarie who was sat at the far end of the boat taking photos and didn’t understand what the woman was saying. From the shore to the stupa is about 1,000ft (330m) and is almost all steps. We’ve done this trip before, the day before we trekked to base camp, but it was about 10° cooler then. This time the heat made it a horrible experience. We were panting, dripping and...

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There are more than 20 tourist buses that ply the road to Pokhara in addition to mini-vans and taxis. You can fly instead for around $100 and it only takes 35minutes. This journey would take 7 hours including a breakfast and lunch stop to do 200km. A big improvement on the 9 and a half hours to do 130km to Langtang. We booked the bus via the hotel to secure a seat and it cost $10; the real price is probably around $7. We read that in the low season or the second season you can just turn up at Kantipath around 6.30am and choose your bus; with some negotiating you can get a ticket for around $5.50. There were many buses and most were not full. Also, don’t worry about breakfast as the Nepalese have this covered. You can buy drinks and food on the street by the buses, with many vendors selling pastries, water, etc. The buses leave for Pokhara at 7am, (apart from the Greenline, which leaves at 7.30am from near The North Face Store on Thamel Marg) and arrive in Pokhara at 2pm around 2km from the main hotels. There are fixed priced taxis waiting. 200rupees for the Lakeside. We took Metro Inn Travels and Tours. It was a very new bus with the luggage stored at the back rather than on the roof. The luggage space was also clean, so the bag didn’t get covered in grease and oil like it has on many other buses in Asia. We were given a bottle of water each and had comfortable reclining seats and air-conditioning. The journey was pretty good and the road for the most part was paved. The start of the journey through Kathmandu took a long time and then the bus had to wind down into the valley bottom. Don’t worry the road is fine and the tourist buses go slowly. It may be painful on the ears as the brakes like to squeal. Once down this one steep section the rest of the journey was in the valley. It is windy and it is bumpy but there is enough room for two vehicles and no real drop of the edge. The bus nearly had a bump 3 times due to local buses and crazy drivers overtaking on blind corners. Luckily, the tourist bus goes slow and reacted to these, always stopping in time. The view from the window was a good one. The water in the river was a huge contrast to the polluted, rubbish-infested river in Kathmandu. By the river’s side the road was lined with tall trees in Autumnal colours....

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