Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pokhara to the Peace Pagoda, an adventure and a half

Today started with monsoon clouds enveloping the Pokhara valley. I knew they would burn off so i decided to start my day early. I started my stroll down the main strip and stopped to purchase a really low quality North face rain jacket for $20usd (which has since been a blessing), and a fresh pomegranate juice. I tried to follow the directions in the Lonely Planet book on how to do the scenic hike to the Peace Pagoda and managed to meet two very interesting girls. One from China, the other from Bhutan. The girl from Bhutan is actually the duchess of Bhutan and wise and calm beyond her 19 years. Either that or she's secretly recruiting for the sex slave trade. She has accomplished a civil engineering degree she started when she was only 16 in Kathmandu. As we weaved along the Dam, through rice patties, and people homes, we started our ascent through the jungle. I don't know why i thought Nepal was going to be a cooler climate, it definitely wasn't cool today. It is supposedly the end of the monsoon, when people say its the end that doesn't mean is a gradual cool off, it means it's still happening. From the bucket loads of Indian novels i have read over the years, supposedly one day the monsoon will end and it won't come back and you can tell by the relief in the air. There is no spring or fall like in Canada, just monsoon or no monsoon. Dripping in sweat from the heat, we climbed up the hill, until we realized leeches were attaching themselves to our feet. They even made their way through my running shoes cloth through teeny tiny holes into my shoes. After removing my socks and going through my shoes i couldn't find them though, i still don't know where they went. My chinese friend was loosing it because she worse open toe sandals and the leeches had easy access to her feet. At that point we where almost running up the hill. I was able to ask many interesting questions of my new friend from Bhutan. She loves Nepal because she is able to enjoy a real life here. In Bhutan she has security guards a little access to the public because of the 'celebrity' status that comes with being in a monarchy. She invited me to join her in Bhutan and she would be able to take me across the border without a visa because of her monarch powers. I would be her guest, and than she would bring me back to Kathmandu (a 36 hour bus ride each way). I would LOVE to go to Bhutan but 72 hours of bus in one week is really not attractive enough to me. Plus we would have to cross India and i don't have a visa for that either. After many freak outs from the leeches, mosquitoes, falling on the wet washed out ground, and hiking uphill for 3 hours (Lonely planet says it takes 2 hours?!) we made it to the top where the views are stunning. We relaxed and realized that we just had an adventure of a lifetime together. We also had one pissed off bull almost charge us which i haven't had happen before. Dirty, sweaty, and seemingly not covered in leeches! Hurrah! Then comes the decent that says it takes 20 minutes in the Lonely Planet book for the quick route. It took 45 minutes and we took steeper shortcuts. This walk isn't for the unfit, and not reachable by vehicle. I was surprised that motorcycles didn't offer their services because it seems like this would be a good business, even though the 'shorter' road is rough. In the 45 minute walk down i managed to give myself the worst sunburn i have had in years. Usually i cover up, but when i left it was cloudy and so unassuming. On returning i visited the Olive Cafe which was recommended to me by my friends Jen and Jon who where here recently. I indulged in the ice coffee which was so refreshing (or i was just dehydrated), i even ate the ice cubes as well. Now it's time to relax and meet up with some couch surfing friends. What a day!

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