Monday, 29 April 2013

Pokhara by Plane

Our plane ready to go!
We were awake by 5am, keen to check out the weather and see whether we would be flying to Pokhara. The airport was a stone’s throw from our hotel so we made it in plenty of time and discovered that most importantly there was no wind and our flight was scheduled to depart. We breathed a sigh of relief, paid our departure tax, had our bags thoroughly searched (as well as our bodies) and then waited excitedly to board our small plane.

The incoming flight landed at 6.30am and in an extremely efficient process, all incoming passengers disembarked and we boarded in about 10 minutes flat. We both got seats on the left hand side of the plane, the best side for the view apparently, although on such a small plane the view from both sides was awesome. It was a short but spectacular flight over the massive Annapurna range and we flew quite close to the high mountain tops as we made our way to Pokhara.

A mere 20 minutes later we landed and caught a taxi to town and began the hunt for a room. We decided on the 3rd hostel we looked at, Future Way Guest House, as it had free Wi Fi and a private bathroom, then we sat around for half an hour while they prepared our room. It felt strange as it was only 7am but we felt that we’d done so much already in the day!

After dumping our bags in our room we headed out for a leisurely breakfast and found ourselves a nice café overlooking Lake Phewa. We quickly noticed that Pokhara had a much higher density of ex-pats than anywhere else we’d been in a long time. It seemed a lot people chose to spend a prolonged amount of time in Pokhara, we could see why. 

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of fruit salad with curd, omelette and Dave also satisfied his long standing craving for a ‘pain au chocolat’, which, even though it did fall short of the French variety, was thoroughly enjoyed after such a long trek without such luxurious foods. In fact it’d been such a long time since we’d had real coffee (sorry folks, but we don’t class Nescafé with condensed milk as a real caffeine hit –  its more a nice tasting sugar high…) our cappuccinos actually made us both quite jittery!

Before going under the knife
After breakfast our next task was to buy tickets for a Sunday bus back to Kathmandu, we weren’t looking forward to another all day bus ordeal but since the price was reasonable for the ‘tourist’ bus we decided to do the return trip in a bit more comfort than our previous experience. En route we passed a barber and Dave asked how much it would cost to shave his overly long hair completely off, and for 400 NPR ($4.50 AUD) we said we’d be back after we’d sorted our tickets.

Bald but still shaggy...
Upon our return Dave negotiated 300 NPR for his shave and the work began. And it took a long time! According to the barber Dave had a hard head, whatever that means… when they were almost done Sarah inquired about whether they knew somewhere she could get her hair cut as this particular barber was clearly for men. Instead of recommending a hairdresser they called a friend and within minutes Sarah was also under the knife. We’re pretty sure some Nepalese woman/man is now wearing Sarah’s hair as they put it in a ponytail and cut that off before beginning and laid it very carefully to one side.

Sarah's hair, now a donation!
In the end Dave had a completely bald head, but still a shaggy beard, and Sarah had an army style short haircut, not exactly what she was after but not as bad as it could've been, and it was exactly what was needed with the heat. We were both a little shell-shocked with our new looks and went straight to our hostel so Dave could lose the beard and Sarah could wash and restyle her hair a little less army-like.

It was easily past lunchtime and we remembered seeing a small mo-mo restaurant near where we’d eaten breakfast so we headed directly there. It turned out to be someone’s small kitchen and smelled badly of sewerage. The beef mo-mo’s we were served up were the worst we’d tasted, and combined with the toilet odour, it made us feel physically ill. The ‘chef’ however was keenly watching us eat our lunch so we had to force down six pieces each before kindly declining a second serving and quickly making our exits. We quickly made our way to a shop to buy a drink to wash down the lingering flavour of the sewage mo-mo's.

Post-haircut! Yep, just a little bit of a shock...
We spent the arvo strolling the lake, exploring the town and even doing some shopping since our wardrobes were quite limited as we only had the clothes we’d taken hiking. Before we knew it it was dinnertime and we chose the ‘Oxygen Bar’ for it’s lake views combined with it’s 2 for 1 cocktail deal and it had been a while since we'd enjoyed a drink. We sipped on ‘Sex on the Lake’ cocktails while we waited for our dinner to be cooked, and it was definitely worth the wait as the fish from the lake was delicious and one of the nicer meals we’d had in a long time.

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