Woke up this morning to a pretty good rainstorm. How lucky that we didn't book our helicopter flight for today! Today we were traveling to Pokhara, a small resort city northwest of Kathmandu and the gateway to the beautiful Annapurna mountain range.
|a rainy morning in the pretty hotel garden|
We had a fair buffet breakfast in the hotel dining room, then met a drippy Hari in the lobby. He had to walk from the bus stop to our hotel in the rain - poor guy - but he was still smiling. He would be traveling to Pokhara with us. We arrived at the Kathmandu airport by 8:30 a.m. for our 9:40 flight on Yeti Air (don't you love that?) Again we had to pass through security and a pretty thorough pat-down to get into the terminal. A large delegation of fit-looking Koreans waited nearby in the same small domestic terminal, a huge pile of equipment(?) bags stacked near the counter that had yet to open. The bags were labeled "Eurasian Mountain Tours," and I wondered if they were climbing mountains all over Europe and Asia.
It was a long wait to check in at the tiny Yeti Air booth, which wasn't much bigger than Lucy Van Pelt's service counter. Passengers couldn't check in until a sign with the correct flight number was hung on one side. We passed through yet another security scan and pat-down, and had another long wait at the gate.
A bus carried all the passengers for the flight out to the little 30-passenger plane, and with no overhead storage, all carry-ons had to be held in our laps. Once everyone was seated, the lone flight attendant pulled up the stairs, and came through the cabin with a basket of hard candies and cotton balls (ear plugs?). The pilot's door popped open, and soon the flight attendant was opening the main door and lowering the stairs. The pilot shot out of the cockpit, walked all the way to the far side of the tarmac, and disappeared down a cement stairway. The whole time he was gone, the flight attendant stood facing the door with her hands behind her back, avoiding eye contact with any of the passengers. The pilot soon reappeared, strode back across the tarmac to the plane, the stairs were raised, the door was closed, and without a word, we prepared for takeoff. Potty break??
|tiny plane full of people - very cozy|
|airport in Pokhara|
|Seat covers, Nepal-style, in our new driver's car|
From there we walked across the busy street to Gupteshwore Cave. It looked like a simple shopfront, with many small vendor's stalls, and a group playing traditional Nepali music in a little room off to one side. From here we descended many, many steps down into a cave; some passages had very low ceilings. It was quite warm and steamy inside, not what one would expect in a cave. Halfway down was a small temple to Lord Shiva, where people were offering flowers and incense. Continuing down the sometimes slippery, precarious stone steps, I couldn't help thinking about the fact that we would have to also ascend said stairs. At the bottom, you can look through a narrow gap in the stones to see where the falls enters the cave. Then it was time for the strenuous climb back up out of the cave the same way, squeezing by others on their way down. Not sure it was worth the effort, but it was definitely a good workout!
|you can see drops of water on our hats from the drippy cave|
|staff devoted to caring for the expansive gardens|
Hari waited for us to get settled, then we all went back across the lake to the Moondance Cafe on the main street near the lake. This was clearly a place that catered to western tastes, and we enjoyed some good pizza; the Everest beer, not so much. Power went out for a short time here as well. The best part of the lunch was another chance to chat with Hari. He is a wealth of knowledge and generously shared his views on anything that came up.
After lunch, we walked a short distance to a crowded boat launch, crowded with tourists and with boats. Hari asked us to wait while he went to arrange for a boat. After some time, he returned and led us to a long boat nearby. An older man with hennaed hair welcomed us onto his canopied boat, complete with a wool rug covering the center seats.
The gentleman conveyed the three of us to Tal Barahi Temple on a little island in the southeast part of the lake. It was busy with worshipers, both Hindu and Buddhist, along with many tourists. It was hardly spiritual, though, with lots of noisy kids running around. We took a short walk around the island, then headed back to our patiently waiting boatman. Unfortunately the storied mountain peaks were not visible today, but we still enjoyed a lovely, leisurely ride past green hills and little coves. It was leisurely for us, but not for our boatman, who only broke stride once for about fifteen seconds from the island back to our hotel. Impressive at any age.
We said good-bye to Hari around four p.m., and returned to our room, sending some much-needed laundry to be done. A housekeeper knocked on the door, handed me a little blue rectangle, and said, "mo-kee-toe." I must have clearly looked confused, as I had no idea what she was talking about. She pointed inside the room and said, "Mo-kee-toe. Ma-cheen." I still had no idea, but said, "Okay," and closed the door, confident that I figure it out. I looked carefully around the room trying to decipher the cryptic message, and finally found a little plug-in device, like a room freshener, in the wall between the beds. It had an identical little blue thing in it; apparently this was some kind of mosquito deterrent. I felt like a genuine Sherlock Holmes.🕵🔎