Adventures in Pokhara, Pt. 3

Part One, Part Two

Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal. It is close to the Annapurna mountain range so is a popular destination for backpackers, trekkers, and other tourists. My girlfriend and I visited in November and fell in love with an area called Lakeside. We developed such a deep bond with the place that we decided to come back.

This blog series will be taking you through my time in Pokhara from April 9th-April 17th. This is the third entry in the series. We decided to take a spontaneous trip to Chitwan so that part of the adventure is also covered here, albeit in far less detail.

Wednesday 13 April

18
6pm. I intended uploading this blog series while still in Pokhara, but after a three hour nap and no photos uploaded, I realised it wouldn’t be possible. Gutted.
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7pm. We went back to get Landing Place for the super cheap large pizzas and the guy gave us buy 1 get 1 free cocktails just for coming back. In Lakeside, they really value loyalty. Most waiters will make a proper effort to try to get to know you and will give you all sorts of discounts and stronger drinks if you come back. This doggy thought that if he came back I would give him more of the chicken from my pizza. Silly doggy.
20
8pm. We headed over to Buzz, which was a place we had gone to in November when we first visited Pokhara. It’s alright. I like the concept of Buzz, but inside it just feels like something is missing. The food is pretty average and so are the drinks.
21
9pm. Still Buzz. It’s got nice artwork on the walls like this. It also has photos of Bob Marley plastered absolutely everywhere (as you would imagine).
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10pm. Chilling by the lake before heading to bed. Early morning the next day.

Thursday 14 April

6
6am. We got a taxi up to Sarangkot to watch the sunrise over the hills. When we went in November, the view was incredible. It felt like the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the sun rising over the earth. The mountains were mind blowing. This time, however, because of the pollution, it wasn’t quite as magical. I don’t regret doing it though. Sarangkot is a really nice hike.
7
7am. We met this guy back in November and he showed us around his farm at the top of Sarangkot. We got breakfast here and chatted with him for a while. He has some mental stories. He told us that one of his dogs had been taken by a tiger from the nearby woods and eaten not far away. He also told us that his cat had found a bunch of baby rabbits and eaten one so had a bad stomach. A proper character.
8
8am. We spent most of the morning chatting to the dude. This is the name of the place. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying here (I didn’t, but you know). But the people who live there are absolutely lovely. Give is some business if you’re ever up in Sarangkot.
9
9am. Hiking back down from Sarangkot took about an hour. It’s a really nice walk to the bottom. Would definitely recommend it to anybody who has a few days in Pokhara.
16
4pm. After another nap, we got our ticket to Chitwan sorted. It was official! We were going! It was a hard decision to make. We both wanted to stay in Pokhara (honestly, I could move to Pokhara and probably never get bored), but ultimately decided it was better to have new experiences than to stay in one place.
17
5pm. I took a photo from the balcony in our hotel. You can see the Peace Pagoda from here. This should give you an idea of the distance of the hikes we were going on. They didn’t take long, but the views were breathtaking.
18
6pm. Crappy photo of the sunset. I was a bit preoccupied at this time drinking because we were going to celebrate our last night in Lakeside. It was a sad time.

7pm. I had a photo for this one but have been advised it might be unwise to post it publicly. It was from a drinking game we were playing which I invented which, personally, I think is amazing. While I appreciate this game might seem a bit weird, I have faith that everyone else is just as evil as me at heart so I’ll share it with you. Basically, you go through your friends list on Facebook and every 3 people, you choose 1 to live and 2 to die. The other person then has to guess who you chose to survives. If they are wrong, they drink. If they get it right, you drink. Simple game but it’s pretty fun trying to work out who the other person would keep alive – both out of the people closest to them (as Facebook displays closest friends at the top of the list) and out of random people.

20
8pm. Stocking up on rum and coke like the real cheapskates we are.
21
9pm. Next we went to the last bar at the end of North Lakeside called Lotus Corner. The night before we had walked past it and saw a bunch of hippies completely zonked out dancing to hardcore electro so we thought we would take a peek. We got chatting with the DJ who was super nice. He remembered our names (something rare when you meet people drunk) and made sure to run and say goodbye to us after we left. This place also sold the best hummus in the world.
22
10pm. I sustained a critical injury getting this photo. Still at Lotus Corner, I wanted to take a photo of one of the cool lights on the fence. I have to paint you a picture. We were surrounded by hippies, an elusive type of tourist who we (for some reason) put on a pedestal in our heads. We were determined to get chatting to a group because we were convinced we would make some new really great friends, or meet a bunch of complete posers who would be fun to hate. So, yes, we were trying to look all suave and cool. Only thing is, I can’t really do that. When I went to take this photo, I walked to the other side of the grass patch, past a big bonfire with a bunch of people around it… and I tripped and full on fell on my face. My ankle was bleeding and hurting, but that pain was no where near as intense as the vacant hole where my dignity used to be. We left. We just left.
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11pm. We also had a bit of an accident when one of the bottles in my bag leaked. Not my finest hour(s).

And so, with heavy hearts, we bid Pokhara farewell and set off into the unknown flat lands of the Terai. Specifically, we were headed for a guest house just outside of Chitwan National Park, the first national park of Nepal. It was established in 1973 and became a World Heritage Site in 1984. In sharp contrast to the valleys of Kathmandu and Pokhara, the Chitwan area is completely flat, very hot and humid, and contains a huge jungle full of a wide range of animals. It is probably not my most natural or comfortable place to be, but I figured it was a once in a life time opportunity, so I should definitely check it out.

The photos I took in Chitwan were not taken as disciplined as once an hour like in Pokhara because I spent most of the time there just sweating and trying not to suddenly blacken and turn into a a bag of kettle chips. I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy it; I absolutely loved it. Here are some photos.

Friday 15 April

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3pm. It was a six hour bus ride to Chitwan and we stayed at the Chitwan Safari Camp and Lodge. Would definitely recommend. While we were a little skeptical at first that the guys there were trying to overcharge us (the reception at the tourist bus park had been taxi drivers and guides pressuring the poor, hot, tired tourists into their guest houses), we soon learned that they were some of the most lovely people we had met in Nepal. They had a genuine passion for the nature that was all around them and clearly loved the jungle. When they showed us around, it didn’t feel like they were just doing their job (which they must have done every day), it felt like they were friends showing us around their neighbourhood.
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4pm. This is a typical scene in Chitwan. As you can see, completely flat. Not a valley or hill (and certainly no mountain) in sight. I found it so strange that in one country you can have some of the highest peaks in the world, and such flatlands extending for miles around you.
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5pm. One of our guides took us for a walk around the village outside of the National Park to watch the sunset. He didn’t charge us anything for the tour. The sunset was absolutely beautiful, as you can see.
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6pm. This river forms a natural barrier into the park itself. We had to canoe across several times to get in and out. Exhausted and hot, we collapsed into bed soon afterwards.

Saturday 23 April

8
8am. We went for a short walk around the jungle and saw the cutest little rhino bathing in the water. We also saw another one with its kid just chilling, but I didn’t get a decent photo of that.
9
9pm. Our guides were extremely competent. They gave us instructions on what to do if we were confronted with the dangerous animals in the jungle, which included rhinos (climb a tree or run in a zig-zag), sloth bears (gather in a group and make loads of noise – aim for the nose), wild elephants (just hide in a bush and pray), and, of course, tigers (stare at it directly in the eyes). After being sufficiently freaked out, we moved on.
10
10am. We walked through the jungle for a while with a small group of other tourists. We didn’t see much apart from some monkeys and lots of poop (belonging to rhinos and bears), but we didn’t go very deep in.
12
12pm. We came back to the main river in time to see people giving the elephants a bath. Not sure how I feel about it really. Some of the elephants were spraying water on themselves/the tourists unprompted, but this particular one was being jabbed by the guy to the right of the photo. I feel lucky to have been able to see lots of elephants up close (they are truly majestic creatures) but the ethics does niggle at me.
14
2pm. We went on a jeep safari for four hours deep into the jungle. One of the first things we saw was this rhino grazing. When the jeep approached, it came out of the grass and started staring us down. It was honestly one of the most terrifying moments of my life. Everyone was sitting around snapping photos (this was taken before it started considering whether it wanted to kill us), and I was sat down cacking it. We even asked the guides if maybe we should go, but a jeep started coming up behind us so there was no where to even reverse to. Remembering the scary safety instructions from earlier in the day didn’t help. Luckily, when the jeep came up behind us it just ran off.
15
3pm. A pretty peacock sitting in a tree. We saw loads of wild peacocks. It was awesome. We even saw one fly – I didn’t even realise they could!
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6pm. After a very long day, we saw the sunset over the jungle. It was a lovely end to a lovely trip. I am very glad I went to Chitwan (even though I’m now literally covered in mosquito bites). It was an incredible experience. It’s so life-affirming to see animals up close and in the wild like that. You always think that it can’t be so much different from seeing it on TV or pictures online or whatever, but it is. It so is.

 

Thus concluded the trip to Pokhara and Chitwan. Two places that will forever have a special place in my heart. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to be in Nepal until August and I will be taking full advantage so maybe I will post more of these kinds of blogs in the future. Over the next week, we will be back to the normal schedule (Wednesday and Saturday) and then I am off to do Annapurna Base Camp which is going to be insane. I will be covering that in the same fashion as this series. See you on Wednesday!

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