Well, I’ve been here a week already and have already been “Nepalified” so chilled I am horizontal!
I have had the most amazing week so far. My friend Asim met me at the airport and took me to my hotel, where all the staff immediately burst into big beaming grins to welcome me “home”
Time for a quick shower and change then headed off to Cafe Gaia for my long awaited Momos and Everest, even the waiter there recognised me!! Never has beer or food tasted as good as they did – don’t think they touched the sides! Back to my hotel for an early night and much needed 10hours blissful sleep!Next morning started with breakfast with Bhim (who was our cook at Base Camp in 2012) then we went to Iswari’s office to pay my bills and sort through the boxes that had safely arrived so Bhim could take the ones for his school and let them start their journey by road and porter. I gave Iswari’s team their boxes then headed back to my hotel with my 2 boxes of clothes for Pokhara.
As soon as I got back, I had a text from Namgel who was at Iswari’s office, so quickly ran down to see him and have a coffee and catch up.
Met Asim for lunch – pizza at Fire and Ice, then we met up with his friend Rishi to go and get our bus tickets for Pokhara.
Another early night with left over pizza as Asim was coming to get me at 6.30 the next morning to catch our bus. Well the early night was the plan, but I tossed and turned and soon it was 1.30am and Man Utd were kicking off – what a waste of time staying awake through that was!!! So, 2 hours sleep and I was on my way to Pokhara!
7 hours on a bus through the countryside wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Sometimes it was like an episode from the Worlds Most Dangerous Roads, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Breakfast and lunch stops en route added to the excitement!!
So we arrived in “Pokhara Pokhara Pokhara” (that’s one for my EBC2012 buddies!) It was one of my first memories of Nepal (and not in a good way) but I can’t believe it took me 2 years to make it here – WOW!!
The air is so clean, the roads are in such good condition, a distinct lack of traffic compared to KTM means not much noise either! Its amazingly calm and relaxing!
Momos and Tongba were on the menu in a bar frequented by mainly locals. Tongba is the local brew made by fermenting millet with yeast and fruit juice then after a couple of days its ready to have hot water poured on it and drunk through a straw – sounds hideous, but tastes not too bad!! Tiny bit of shopping then off to bed ready for a day in the hills distributing clothes.
After watching Rishi and Asim stressing over breakfast in the rain as they weren’t sure we would be able to go to the village due to the weather, a jeep was suggested rather than bikes. Thank god!! By the time we had driven round the lake and started up the track up the hill I was very grateful for the jeep, I would have been terrified on a bike!
After at least half an hour climbing the winding track up the hill we arrived at the village, Damdame. Stunning place perched on top of a hill in the middle of the hills!!
A quick hello to our host family then Asim and Rishi took me to the school. It was closed today because of holiday but one of the teachers opened up for us and some of the students came in to show us their newly acquired computer skills. Asim and Rishi’s Foundation has managed to have 4 computers sponsored for this school. The village has paid for internet access and they have wifi!! I logged into the wifi, but unfortunately the internet connection wasn’t working – I was nearly able to update my Facebook status!!
Then I kicked myself when I caught sight of the “library” there were a few books left by trekkers and some reference books – but my abiding memory was “Gone With The Wind” probably not the best choice for a Nepali school library!
If only I’d thought, I could have taken 2 boxes of books with me, I was heartbroken – I had concentrated so much on the clothes I hadn’t even thought! Texts flew between Roger, Namgel and I and 2 boxes were secured – I would tell the boys later over dinner!
Back to our host family for lunch, Dal Bhat of course, served up with a glass of the local brew – looked and smelt like vodka, didn’t taste like it but was strong! It would have been rude to my hosts to leave it so I struggled through!!!
Then some of the villagers turned up and we started distributing some of the clothes I had collected. It was awesome seeing the smiling faces of both the kids and the mothers and of course lots of pictures were taken.
All too soon it was time to leave the tranquillity of this beautiful village. As we were driving down, Asim pointed out another village on a neighbouring hill that they hoped to support next. Well they already have an abundance of clothes they can distribute to start!
When we got back Asim took me on a tour on the back of a bike. We went up to the Japanese Peace Pagoda and had awesome views of the valley, then back down for a ride round Pokhara as the sun was setting. Bonfires were being lit everywhere for Shivaratri and I thought the kids were throwing firecrackers, turns out that lighting sugar cane and throwing it into the road has the same effect!
Back to same place for momos and Tongba when I told the guys about the books, they were overwhelmed!! Excellent night ended up with us being joined by 4 of Asims school friends and partying until the wee hours!
Next day was another 7 hour bus ride back to KTM, loved seeing the countryside this way. Time for a quick shower before Bhim picked me up to take me to his room for dinner with his beautiful family – no chance of losing weight on this trek – Momo’s, fried chicken, dal bhat then chocolate cake all washed down by 2 large beers!!
Back to the hotel ready for an early night – 7am pick up ready to fly to Kangel tomorrow.
Week one of my latest adventure over and done with, tomorrow I start to see even more new places and people!
Over and out from your extremely chilled Saathi (friend)