Another early morning with breakfast at 7am. Porridge toast, boiled eggs and a spicy savoury potato dish with coffee.
Group photos on the lawn and then we set off for Pokhara. We stopped after 5 minutes because there was a Maoist demonstration. We wanted to check it wasn't on any of our roads out. It was, but an inspector came aboard the bus to verify we were all tourists and let us through. So off we set.
The journey to Pokhara took us up 1000m in altitude. Roads were treacherous, narrow and extremely bumpy. I could hear yelps from the other passengers as we were occasionally thrown completely out of our seats. It's safety first for me so I always wore a seat belt. I figured out they had been fitted to the bus incorrectly so I fixed mine. All this meant was that I wasn't thrown quite as far up as the others but my bum still left the seat! Oh, and if the coach decided to join any of the hundreds of coaches that had taken bad turns and rolled down the hill, I'd be the only survivor!
After 2 hours we stopped for a rest break near a large bridge. We walked along down to the river which was a beautiful opaque turquoise colour, probably due to the high mineral content in the area. The sand was light grey but it glinted like diamonds. On closer inspection there were lots of tiny flecks of quartz mixed in with the sand. Butterflies fluttered next to the water's edge. When they were grounded they were jet black but when they took off they revealed bright cyan colours under their wings.
The other guests on the tour had nicknamed me the Pied Piper because all the children seem to migrate towards me. I think its because I'm the tallest in the group, or they associate better with odd socks or it's some kind of morbid curiosity; I seem to be the one they hassle first for sweets.
Back in the coach and continued the journey. I sat in the cab of the coach for a few minutes and saw the driver's eye view. It was extremely frightening, hurtling around blind corners on a mountain pass at 30mph, but after a while you kind of got used to it. It was all about watching what was on the road ahead and remembering it - a bit like driving in the countryside except that if you make a mistake it was a 500 meter drop instead of hitting a bush or tree.
As we travelled through a small village we saw a film crew. It looked quite interesting so after a straw poll we decided to make a stop here and have a nose around. Pabi said she recognised the policeman character but didn't know the rest. We later found out that the policeman was the lead character in a TV cop show and, by all accounts, was a bit of a heart throb in Nepal. This went a long way to explaining why the stop was sudden and unscheduled and why Pabi was practically drooling while we all watched what was going on. Elsewhere on the set there was a barber complete with posters of dolly girls stuck to the walls of his shack. Nepal is a bit religious, so all the dolly girls were fully clothed and properly presented; no Page 3 here!
Finally made it to Pokhara at about 5pm and checked into the hotel. This was a real hotel with an en suite bathroom. As usual I was sharing with Jon again who had been a bit unwell over the journey and so was the first to try out the facilities. The toilet didn't flush properly so he had to do some DIY to fix it.
I'd been stuck on the bus all day and was gasping for a pint. Went for a wander to find somewhere to have a drink. Pokhara feels a lot like one of the Greek Islands: a central strip with tourist shops selling tat. Every other shop was a camping shop pushing knock-off North Face gear at rock bottom prices. Most of the people where white or Chinese and I can't say I liked it as much as the other places we had visited.
Found our way on to a platform which extended out into the lake. Unfortunately there was a haze that spoilt what would have been a wonderful view. After admiring the haze for a bit we continued our search for some amber nectar. Found a nice place with some good trance tunes and plenty of shade. Had a couple of beers with Rob and watched the sun set.
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