Pokhara just a few hours after Saran and fixed to meet Ikue for a Japanese
meal, Saran hadn’t eaten Japanese before and my experience was limited. We had
lots of dishes all of which were delicious although bean curd has never been a favourite, we didn’t manage any sake. We talked so much that the restaurant people
asked us to leave at 9.30 as they needed to clear up – yes early closing if you’re
not on the main Lakeside strip. Arranged to meet Ikue after her English lesson
the next day and sleep like a baby waking to great views of the Himalayas and
Fewa Tal – the lake only across the road.
Saran and I
had breakfast before he headed off to Tansen and then home to Chaap, tough
saying goodbye for another year. After shopping and a much needed pedicure at
a ‘spa’ staffed by deaf and dumb people, I met Ikue for lunch at a very laid
back Israeli restaurant which has a sister restaurant in Kathmandu. I feasted
on hummus which I’d been dreaming about, baba ganoush and delicious focaccia bread.
We then went to a shop run by Ikue’s friend and sat for ages talking and
listening to Rajan’s amazing story of finding his father’s family in the
mountain area. His father had left home on his own, aged 12, and gone to India
for work. Rajan had been born in Assam and always wondered where his father’s
family came from. His story is as fascinating as that behind the film ‘Lion’
with Dev Patel and I have urged him to start writing. I told him that I would
check next year.
been no word on the plane ticket I had been assured would be delivered to my
hotel so I tried to get one on the internet – no joy. As it was 8 p m, I
frantically ran down the street and managed to buy a ticket for the 7.30 a m bus
to Kathmandu the next morning. I was so hot and bothered but very grateful to
the man in the travel agency, and went for a pizza and a beer to celebrate. As
I was leaving the restaurant, I was spotted by Martine and Quinton (Irish and
French) who had been guests at the homestay in Tansen, a lovely couple who left
their jobs and flat in Paris to go travelling for 6 months. They were with a
couple of Americans one of whom had been one of the first US Peace Corps
volunteers in the 1960s. He had some amazing stories.
I was up
early to get the bus and thought I had it all sussed but no staff were up in
the hotel at 6 and the big padlock was on the main gate so I had to rouse them from
their beds. Unusual for Nepal as nearly everybody is up by 5.30 busy getting
jobs done. A lovely taxi driver took me to the tourist bus park, put my luggage
on the bus, was so polite and didn’t charge me a lot. I was even moved to the
front of the bus, a relief as the journey was 7 hours and some parts of the main road are really bad.
I was so
surprised on the outskirts of Kathmandu, one because drivers were actually
observing a zebra crossing and two because of a big store named ‘Sales Berry’ –
not sure who they were trying to fool as no Nepali would have heard of
Sainsburys. A taxi ride took me to a lovely guesthouse behind the Krishna
temple in Pathan Durbur Square – quieter and less
touristy than the main Durbur Square. The guesthouse is a beautifully renovated
traditional property with spacious rooms, great hot water and lovely balconies.
The neighbours are ordinary people and even though it’s Tihar (Diwali), it’s
quite peaceful and pleasant. There was a 'cultural programme' for the festival with amazing dancing and singing, I watched this from a rooftop restaurant with the sun setting over the capital and its amazing temples.
|a view of the guesthouse courtyard|
|Chatting in the courtyard by a stupa|
|Tealights for Tihar|
On the other side of the square the next morning it was crazy as people were doing their last minute festival shopping in the bazaar buying garlands, nuts, lights etc. Ordinary shops were closed including the fair-trade shops I wanted to visit on Kupondol road so I ended up in touristy Thamel but it was quite quiet and I only stayed for a short while.
I was relieved that my flight to Oman was on time and didn’t have to long to wait. After quite a long stop over, the flight to the UK was through the night and on time so that I could get the coach home from Heathrow. Geoff was standing at the door, his five week wait was over, and so was my great visit.