Pokhara is currently in the middle of Monsoon season and is one of the wettest places in Nepal. With this in mind I decided that we should try and cram everything into the first dry day we get. The day we turned up it was dry, and so I didn’t have much hope for our second day. Alas, we woke up and it was bright and sunny. I had in mind a few things that we could do and so in order to cram it all in I did what any person in my situation would do – Hired a scooter. It cost 500NPR which is about £4.40. I asked for directions to Sarangkot which is a village high up in the mountains with the best and uninterrupted views over the Annapurna massif. I was completely naive and no sooner had we got on the winding steep roads up to Sarangkot and the bike was struggling. It couldn’t get up and so I had failed. We returned back to the bike shop and I explained it had no power and he suggested I take a 500cc Motorbike. Having never ridden a road bike with gears before I was sceptical and explained I was clueless as how I even started the thing. He gave me a quick 30 second lesson of how to do the gears etc and after trying and stalling it a few times we sort of chugged away hopeful I would pick it up.
After about 5 minutes I was awesome and we ripped up the mountain roads. As we got higher the road got slimmer and steeper and suddenly on our right it opened up. A massive drop thousands of feet straight down, but flanked in the immediate distance by the snow capped Himalayas. There was cloud cover and so the whole massif wasn’t in view, but I can’t explain how amazing it was – The three of us, struggling up a mountain in Nepal flanked by some of the world’s tallest mountains. It was like a dream.
As we meandered further up the mountain Charlie let out a scream and I quickly spun my head round to see what was going up, there was a hefty snake on the ground and no sooner had I seen it and I got a smack in the side of the head by the floor. I must have hit a rock and the bike fell over. I looked at both kids who were getting up and as I struggled o lift the bike up we were all laughing. Charlie has broken his helmet and so I only wonder what might have been if he weren’t wearing it. We carried on regardless and eventually got to the village of Sarangkot and witnessed the so called ‘religious experience’ of the views. The kids were completely spellbound by the sheer height and ferocity of the mountains. I was like them, excited and completely overwhelmed.
The Ghurkha regiment is a regiment of the British Army that is manned by Nepali men. They are renowned the world over as being completely fearless and having being privileged enough to have served and lived with a Ghurkha soldier I can tell you that their commitment and heart is second to none. I am not entirely sure on the pass rate but it is something like 2% of all men that apply to be in the regiment actually make the cut. For the Nepali men that wish to join it is a prestigious and important process. The average daily wage in Nepal is 120NPR (about a quid) whereas in the British Army they will start on around £43 per day. It is a life changing amount of money and upon completion of their 16 year service they will then be given a pension and thanks to the European Court of Justice they will (quite rightly too) be offered British Citizenship. The selection process is understandably arduous. It culminates in a run up a massive hill carrying a basket of rocks. The directive is clear, the first however many to finish proceed to the next step. Well basically that training and the British Camp is just outside of Pokhara and so we went on a mission to find it. With a poor map with only 1% of the roads actually on it and no one knowing where I was talking about It wasn’t long before we admitted defeat. Instead we stumbled upon a Tibetan village. Basically what happened is that when it kicked off in Tibet many decided to do a midnight flit and somehow ended up at the other side of the Himalayas in Pokhara. The village is littered with prayer flags blowing in the wind and monks are roaming round doing their thing.
Back in Pokhara we decided to head to ‘Devi’s Falls’ It is basically a waterfall which goes into a cave in the ground. I personally wasn’t that arsed about it but the kids seemed up for it. Legend has it that some Swiss guy brought his bird here in the 70’s and she fell into the hole and disappeared hence the name ‘Devi’.
So, as we were bezzing down the road to where I thought the falls should be I spotted a police checkpoint. I am 99% certain you need an International Driving License to drive anything in Nepal and am 100% certain I don’t have a motorbike license. So we did quick U-Turn on the sly – Obviously I stalled it right in the middle of the road. We got going again and so yet again we registered another fail for the day.
Despite things hiding from us and the Nepal Police scuppering our efforts we have had a fantastic and memorable day. I will say, one thing that is annoyingly the norm in Pokhara and quite frustrating is the wifi scam. Every restaurant claims to have wifi – But when you get in and sit down it just doesn’t seem to be working. When you moan at the staff that there is no Wifi suddenly free drink appears which isn’t so bad, but when you plan on using the net and you can’t it’s mildly frustrating.
An update on the kids health and well being – Both are completely fine. No illnesses so far, both are managing to stay hydrated and whilst Nepali food is particularly spicy they are both managing with it really well. Abi has had her moments but whilst back in the UK she won’t try anything different, here she has tasted Buffalo, Curries and loves her rice and chowmein. Charlie like usual will eat absolutely anything and is loving the street food such as fresh samosa’s. I just asked how they both felt about the trip so far and particularly Nepal. Both said they are having the time of their lives and from what they said I have a sneaky feeling they too have fallen in love with Nepal as much as I have.