Pokhara is, compared at east to Kathmandu, a quiet relaxing town on a beautiful lake. Though being on the tourist trail, it also is full of cheesy bars, shops, restaurants and hotels, although for the most part, the place still keeps its charm. Overall, a pretty relaxed week here, aside from the mild excitement caused by the earthquake the first evening… It happened right near the India/Nepal boarder on the far east of the country, and it turns out, we weren’t on a bus as I had expected, we were eating supper, but didn’t feel a thing.. although later that night, when we heard about it, the staff at the bar we stopped at told us they had things falling off shelves, and bottles clanging together. Strange that we felt nothing, but overall, glad it wasn’t bad, several people died in Kathmandu as a result of collapsed buildings, although it could have been much worse.
Anyway… With the monsoon sticking around a couple weeks longer than usual this year, theres been a bit of rain, and the epic views of the Himalaya have been almost entirely blocked, although we’ve had a few moments of clear skies, and the mountains are incredible! Last week we made the four hour hike along rice paddies and up through dense jungle climbing up to the ‘World Peace Pagoda’, a monument built on top of a small mountain outside of town. After meeting up with two English guys, Rich, and another whos name escapes me, we get lost several times as trails seem to end suddenly, and we’re forced to backtrack and sometimes make our own. Once we near the top, we find a proper trail, and some military patrolling the hill tell us that we shouldn’t have done the hike, as many bandits attack travellers making the trek, and the bus is a much safer option. Oh well, too late now, and we had made it without trouble. Beautiful views of the lake and surrounding countryside made the hike completely worth the effort.
A couple days later, we hop a taxi to the mountaintop village of Sarangkot, about a 30 minute drive out of town. The ride drops us off, and we have to walk another 45 minutes, with our packs, up a long, steep rocky ‘road’, before coming to a Y. Because of the map,we know that both roads will get us to the village, but a long and even steeper stone staircase switch-backing to the top of the mountain, although more difficult, will get us there sooner, and we were tired, hungry, and impatient.. so the stairs it was. Dropping our stuff off at the first guesthouse we find, at about $4.50 a night, we wander around the tiny village. Now, the main point to come here is for the mountain views at sunrise, but due to the clouds, this didn’t happen for us unfortunately, although the clouds themselves ended up giving a quite unique experience of their own. The village was just above the cloud line, so while at times it was almost clear blue sky above us, looking down, it was just clouds, and occasionally the clouds engulfed the whole mountain top… to the point where you couldn’t see more than 40 or 50 feet in any direction, and the clouds passed right through the town. Even though we were so close to the main town below, that feeling of isolation made it seem as though this tiny village was the only civilization for a thousand miles. The most surreal part of all was during the first night, during a thunderstorm, we stood on the edge of our guesthouse and watched the lightning below us! Although we didn’t get the sunrise views we had hoped for, the experience was perfect, aside from the rat in our room the second night… that strangely woke us up just in time to see a very large, very dangerous looking caterpillar climbing up on the other bed. Haven’t been able to find anything online about the bug.. but for all I know, that pesky rodent might have saved our lives.
Now the story many of you have been asking about for the last couple days. I would love for it to be the epic event I had planned on, but we’ll all have to settle for something a little simpler. See, the reason we went up to the cloud village, was so I could propose to Kylee, my girlfriend of 6 1/2 years, at the sunrise. But because the late monsoon clouds stopped that, I chose to wait until we were back into Pokhara. We went out for a relaxing drink and some snacks in the afternoon, played some chess, then out for supper at a restaurant Kylee really enjoys here in town. Long story short, after dinner, I got sappy, and told her how much I loved her and how I wanted to keep travelling with her forever (she thought I was drunk), and I went down on one knee and got engaged to my best friend. Giving Kylee the ring that I had made her out of wood this past summer, finally letting her know what I’d been doing all those long evenings in the garage. Quite simply, bringing a proper engagement ring around in this part of the world is asking for trouble, so I had figured that making something by hand would be a nice touch, with a proper ring to come when we get home.
For the next few days, we’re leaving Pokhara and heading through a few small villages to the south on the way to the Indian boarder, when the relaxation ends, and the chaos begins! I can’t wait.