Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Off to Pokhara we go

We ended up spending 2 days in Kathmandu, and I have to admit that it was more than enough for me. It's such a busy place with lots of noise, pollution, and the crazy traffic on the roads is like a death trap; I had a close call with a motorbike or so I thought. There seem to be no traffic rules except for the fact that you drive on the left hand side of the road, and I found the use pedestrian crossings quite funny as they just seem to be a waste of paint; the trick is to just walk out in to the road and pray that all the vehicles will just manoeuvre around you.

We decided to take the tourist bus to Pokhara which had air conditioning and was of a good standard. There were also other options such as either flying (too expensive), or taking the local micro bus which we had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that it would be cramped and bumpy which didn't seem too appealing for a 6-7hr journey. The route to Pokhara was simply stunning, or some may say scary if you don't like heights. The roads were quite narrow and windy, and run along the cliff edges from which you can see vast valleys and mountains filled with lush vegetation, streams, and terraced hills for farming; it makes you feel like an ant. I recommend that you don't look out the window or sleep through the whole journey if you get anxious at heights. Along the way you have breaks and you even stop for lunch at a roadside restaurant with great views and pretty good dahl baht (the main Nepalese dish).

Pokhara is the second biggest city in Nepal, and is rather tourist orientated as it's mainly a place where the adventurous come to rest before trekking the Annapurna mountain ranges of the Himalayas. It is laden with tourist shops selling an array of things- handmade clothes, ornate jewellery, hiking gear, travel and sport agencies all trying to make you go trekking/white water rafting/paragliding... with them them. In addition there are soo many restaurants catering to all types of cuisine other than dahl baht. There is one main road lined with these shops and it runs parallel to Phewa lake, hence it's name 'Lakeside'.

The guest house that we are staying at, Karma guest house, is a 5-10min walk from the lake, and is perfectly located as it is near to all the action yet far enough away that you don't get caught up in all the bustle. Also the best bit about Karma is that it feels like I'm living at home; the family who run it are so friendly, warm and welcoming, and that includes their very adorable dog named Muno. Our room is simple but nice and I can't fault it for the price we are paying.

On the first day in Pokhara we went to visit Phewa lake (what the photo is of) but it took us over 2 hours to get to as we were enticed into every shop along the way. You can't visit Pokhara and not go see the lake- it's soo stunning, especially during sunset when the sky has warm orange and yellow hues and you can see rays of sunshine through the clouds. I could spend hours by the lake just watching ripples on the water, seeing the boats go by and capturing the views of the hills it's enclosed by. I'm so glad that I decided to do my elective placement in Pokhara as opposed to chaotic Kathmandu which I would get fed up of in a few days. Pokhara is pretty green an on good days you can see the peaks of the Himalayas as you stroll along Lakeside and even right behind the hospital I work at; nature
at its best.

p.s. I've been posting these travel updates on my iphone when I get time and wifi so bear with the delays in updates. There is soo much I want to share but just havn't got time to write it, so watch this space.

A post from Fullest of Life

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Adventure Begins

It's been just a week since I have started my holiday or I should really be saying 'elective'. I somehow ended up in Nepal. At the beginning when I was told that I could go anywhere in the world to do a medical placement in what ever department I wanted, I was stuck for choice as I wanted to literally travel the whole world. I tried sorting out placements in places around the world but they didn't work out, so when my Nepalese friend suggested going to Nepal I thought to my self 'why not?!'. I've never been there and I've always loved the idea of visiting the Himalayas. We managed to get another friend on board after mentioning the idea to her; we'd be the 3 musketeers. So after a few days of planning the trip together spaced over several weeks, we ended up here.

We arrived in Kathmandu not knowing what to expect, and of course we were greeted with a power-cut; the start of many yet to come. The first thing we did was to get a local sim card at the airport. Did you know that they require a passport photo, a photocopy of your passport, your parents' and even your grand father's name, topped of with fingerprints?! I felt like I was signing my life away with all that information, and I found it rather funny how it was soo much easier and quicker to get the Nepalese visa than a plain old sim card. I would highly recommend a hotel pickup at the airport to avoid all the taxi drivers bombarding you, and it's also really nice when someone is there expecting and waiting for you. The first thought that ran through my head as I sat on the car ride to the hotel was how much like India Nepal looked, just with Nepalese looking people instead.

We stayed in a budget guest house and you could tell; I learnt my lesson of not sticking my hand into a tap before letting the water run, as the water can come out brown. Other than that I not really one to complain of petty things and the place wasn't that bad for the price we payed.

We ventured the streets of Thamel (the tourist and backpacker district) on the first night. I absolutely loved the buzz in the air, the narrow streets crammed with little shops, the vibrant colours of all the knick knacks and clothes being sold, and how everything was alive with lights amidst the darkness of the evening. It definitely felt like the beginning of an adventure. We found a little hotel restaurant to have our dinner, and just as we were sitting outside to eat, it started raining accompanied with lightning and another power-cut. However this didn't ruin the meal, as I loved the fact that we had a candle lit dinner in a little thatched hut; it felt so far from home but in a good exotic way. Our first meal was the highly recommended chicken momos, which were basically like wontons with a tomato dipping sauce; you can't leave Nepal without eating a momo.

That night we also experienced our first ever cold candle-lit shower, again due to the power-cut; no surprises there. It's amazing to think just how normal it is to have power cuts, as life would pretty much come to a stand-still back at home if a power cut occurred and people would go into a panicked frenzy. One of the things I like about this part of the world is that people just accept obstacles that may occur, and life just goes on as normal around them.

A post by 'Fullest of Life'