Monday, 23 October 2017

Final Days in Nepal

Arrived in 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.

There had 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.

posh bathroom
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.



No comments:

Post a Comment