We had a full day to explore Pokhara, a very pretty town on a lake, with a large ex-pat hippie population. (What’s the difference between an illegal immigrant and an ex-pat? Money.)
The hotel we stayed in was an emergency booking because of the change in itinerary, so those of us who were staying another day would have to move hotels. Chris and I went out shopping for gifts, and had breakfast at a local cafe. The menu had an “electricity out” section, which turned out to be what we needed to order from, because the power was out. (No idea why the power is so unreliable in Pokhara, but our hotel had its own diesel generator, which ran frequently).
At noon, those of us who were staying transferred to a hotel on the lake (after our driver got lost and we helped direct him to it), and then Chris and I went out for a trip to the World Peace Monument, a Buddhist stupa on a hill above the lake.
We explored the area by the lake, which was beautiful.
After crossing over the dam, we got help from a local on what direction to take up to the stupa. This resulted in bushwhacking through the jungle for a while, where we saw a cool troop of monkeys (macaques, I believe).
After a surprising amount of climbing, we wound up at the stupa, sweaty and tired. We took a small tour around the stupa, which was in a nice location, but felt a little contrived. It had been built there by a Japanese group and it didn’t quite fit with the local environment.
It did have spectacular views of Pokhara. While we were up there a rainstorm blew in, and we sheltered in one of the restaurants at the top of the hill as we looked out over the city.
We decided to take the main (dirt) road down the other side of the mountain, to go find a cave that we’d seen in our guidebook app. We met some Nepali kids on the way down.
The cave was interesting; it was right next to the main road out of town, and it had been made into a Hindu temple; the stairs spiraled right down into the cave.
There was a stalagmite that was supposed to be the incarnation of the god Shiva (no photos allowed, pretty impressive though). Below the chamber where that was found, there was a cavern with a waterfall and light filtering down from above; pretty cool stuff.
After that, a ride back along the lake, and a beautiful sunset over the water, with a bit of a rainbow over the hills behind us.
We had a very nice dinner at a restaurant on the lake, which for four people came to $26 including dessert and beer. No wonder the hippies hang out here. After dinner, we went to a bar where there was a fire dancer and a trance band. We played some carrom board, which turns out to be really difficult. We closed down the place and headed off to bed.
The next morning we had a little time to poke around before our plane to Kathmandu. The sunrise was beautiful, with calm winds making the lake water glassy.
We saw a bit of the Annapurnas poking out of the clouds on our flight to Kathmandu.
We got a ride to the hotel in Kathmandu, where we dropped our stuff to be able to explore a bit. We walked most of the way across the city, mostly through local neighborhoods.
Our destination was Boudhanath, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been a Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage site for 1500 years. The winds blowing the prayer flags and fringes on the stupa made it feel almost alive.
At sunset, people come from all over to circumambulate (walk around) the stupa and spin the prayer wheels. You could feel the power of the place. We went up to one of the many rooftop restaurants and watched the sunset as the lights came up on the stupa.
It was a fitting end to the trip, a moment to reflect on the practices of Buddhism and how they are woven through the fabric of the place.
[flickr_tags tags=”unipal, posttrip” tags_mode=”all”]