Pokhara 

After a peaceful night in our huge bungalow at the Castle Resort Hotel we were ready to conquer the world again. For Sylvia this meant to play golf this morning. Our hosts at this family-lead hotel were Sofia and Joe and both of them play. Since their golf bags were prominently displayed in the dining hall Sylvia couldn’t help herself but ask to whom these belonged to. It didn’t take much convincing from Sofia for Sylvia to say yes to a round of golf the next day. As usual she lived up to the challenge to play a new course with borrowed clubs by writing two pars and beating the hostess. What a show-off! IMG_1464IMG_1463IMG_1466IMG_1467 While Sylvia walked around the golf course I enjoyed a long and lazy breakfast, waiting for our guide who in the end never showed up. IMG_1277IMG_1274

Eventually the hotel organized a neighbor who toured the city with me. Kul turned out to be also our guide for the next two days so it was nice to get to know him. We went first to the local Peace Stupa. As usual we had to get out of the car below and walk up. IMG_1281 IMG_1282

From there we drove to Devis Falls, a small waterfall within the city. IMG_1302IMG_1292

Next stop was the mountaineering museum in Pokhara, my first museum on this trip. I would have loved to stay longer, there was so much to read about the 12 highest mountains and the first expeditions up there. Lots of Austrians were also involved which made me proud. Even the Yeti had a small section.IMG_1303 IMG_1307

Here Kul showed me how far up the Annapurna we would get the next day.IMG_1305

 

After the museum Kul wanted to show me some religious caves, but these were all closed due to the earthquake. And then it started to rain so a tour on the lake was out of the question. I rather returned to the hotel and had a rest. But upon arrival he asked me if I wanted to drink a cup of coffee at his place. He grew the beans in his garden and his coffee was totally organic. I was all for trying it and since Sylvia had already made it back to the hotel we walked the 10 minutes up to his place together. We got a great cup of coffee, black for me and with yak milk for Sylvia and then helped Kul to peel some beans. That’s a really long and boring work.IMG_1320 IMG_1322

We spent the rest of the afternoon updating the blog and lazy in our garden. Very relaxing not to do anything and just sit down.IMG_1325 IMG_1326 IMG_1333 IMG_1336

We had dinner at the Castle resort, a vegetarian Dal Bhat and something sweet-sour. Sylvia even took desert that evening and had an orange muffin while I rather finished my Everest beer in preparation of the hike we had the next day. Yours, Pollybert IMG_1341 IMG_1342 IMG_1346

PS: Sorry for the late update but the Internet in China doesn’t like WordPress. Also all formatting problems are due to my blogging with my phone. It’s probably best if you read it on your phone.

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Riding the elephant

Our last day at the Hermitage Hotel started again at 6pm. This morning there was no breakfast waiting but rather a cup of tea before we headed off to the elephant meeting place at the edge of the jungle.IMG_1097

Sylvia and I were the first to get on and the third person with us on board was an American Greenpeace worker from Peru. Our driver was clearly used to all kinds of tourists because from the first he started to entertain us. But not only that he also turned out to be gifted spotter and with his help I finally saw a rhinoceros close up in wild life (Sylvia, ever the sceptic, thinks that these rhinoceros are part of the show). We actually saw a lot of other animals too, but I figure that wild pigs, deer and wild chickens are compared to the rhinos not so interesting, plus the pictures didn’t turn out so great.IMG_1102
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And this was our elephant Sirkaly (or something similar).IMG_1226

And then it was time to move on again. After all the bananas were fed to Sirkaly we wanted to have breakfast as well. So back to the hotel to have breakfast and to pack our bags and on we moved. We were supposed to have a driver to bring us to Pokhara but he fell victim to the changed circumstances and our agency put us on the tourist bus. Which in itself should not have been a problem, merely a six hour ride instead of four. But that at the narrowest part of road a mountain slide happened and we would get a 10 hour stay on the bus in the end… this was a bit a of a downer. IMG_1241
Water became a rare commodity along the route and resourceful entrepreneurs started a cucumber business.IMG_1243IMG_1248

At least the scenery was beautiful and got only a bit marred by all these buses on the road.
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Eventually though we made it into Pokhara, organized a taxi and made our way to Castle Resort Hotel our safe haven up in the hills. Here we met the dutch people again whom we had already met the first night in Kathmandu and the Austrians from Chitwan. We had dinner, Momos for Sylvia and Dal Bhat for me and quickly called it a night. It had really been a very long day. Yours, Pollybert
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Exploring Kathmandu*

After our first highlight of the trip we arrived back at the hotel to get some breakfast and start with our guided tour. Our guide came to pick us up with Progress our organizer. Today we had the Stupa Swayambhunath on the program as our first stop. A short car ride later and we got out at the foot 365 steps to explore our first stupa. A stupa is closed on all sides and cannot be entered.
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Lots of little monkeys were all around the steps and the stupa. Once up at the stupa we saw that there were prayer mills all around. You have to turn them when you pass and it will cleanse your should (or so). Whatever the reason it felt good doing it. Like a mantra. So instead of saying “om” like the Hindus, one turns the mills.IMG_0473 IMG_0475

We slowly made our way around the stupa and sneaked a peek inside the temple. Lots of candles and a big Buddha statue were inside. Outside we saw people getting a Teeka, the traditional blessing on the forehead. All around were dogs, mostly sleeping and resting in the sun. As we would later learn the dogs here are sleeping during the day and barking all night long. Most of these dogs are stray but look well fed.

We finally exited at the main entrance, decorated with lots of buddhist prayers flags.IMG_0509

From there we drove to Patan, the second royal city of Kathmandu valley. There are three royal cities all in all founded by three brothers. Their positive competition is appreciated now by the tourists.IMG_0532IMG_0547

The kings by the way are always residing on top of a pillar overlooking their grand achievements. And here some more details from the buildings.IMG_0553
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Then it was finally time for short break and we had lunch in the garden of the Patan museum which was restored to its former splendor with the help of the Austrian government. We tried momos again and fried chili tofu. IMG_0574
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One last look at the Durbar square in Patan and then we were on our way back to Kathmandu. There we were let out at the Durbar square (all royal cities have their own Durbar square), paid our entrance fee (or rather the guide did) and we started with the last part of the day. Also very impressive and full of vendors and at the end of it all the house of the Kumari (a child goddess). IMG_0636
A quick peek into the house of the Kumari told us that she was not there and we moved on to king’s palace. The very popular King of Nepal was murdered by his son the crown prince and then his disliked brother moved onto the throne from which he had to abduct in 2008. IMG_0643
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Our guide asked us if we wanted to take another look around but we were tired after this super long day and ready for a break at the Tibet Guesthouse. We had a nap and then later went downstairs for tea and to meet Progress to get our trekking permit.
Although I wanted to go outside for dinner, Progress convinced us to try the local Dal Bhat at the hotel. It was an excellent choice and shortly after we fell exhausted into our bed.
Yours, Pollybert

*All pictured taken on April 23, 2015.