Ok, let's deal with Jeff first. Being a resort town, Pokhara offers several resorty activities including paragliding. Ever since zip lining in Mexico Jeff has had a need for thrills, especially thrills with altitude if not attitude. Lisa said "go for it" and, after the sunrise mountain viewing, off he went. Purely by chance, we are told, he drew a gal from Bulgaria who's been doing this for six years in Nepal. She reported having to pull with all her might to maneuver a big guy like Jeff. In fact, Jeff's legs are so long he had to be the one to run and jump off the cliff - her legs didn't touch the ground. If it makes you feel any better, Lisa, she had a pretty beefy looking boy friend looking after her.
But back to the beginning: up at 4:45, in the car at 5:15 and at the road construction site a little before six. That meant a 20 minute hike to the spot our driver said would produce good views without hiking to the tippy top of the hill. And right on schedule the sun, the Annapurna peaks and Fish Tail Mountain, among others. Breath taking, despite fairly strong haze. Well worth the early alarm clock call.
The hotel car got us back to the hotel in time for breakfast. Some of the Deerwalk guys showed up and took us for a walk to the lake. Jeff left for his date with Destiny (or whatever her name was). The remaining seven of us hired a boat - actually two canoes with a platform connecting them - to take us for a ride on the lake with a stop at the Hindu shrine located on a small island not too far off shore.
And that leads me to my cultural experience. Inside the temple, which is sunken below ground level, was a Hindu priest administering Tikas to all, including tourists, including Jon the Lutheran. Lonely Planet says that the Tika is a mixture of yoghurt, rice ands sindur (a red powder) applied to the forehead. It represents the all seeing, all knowing third eye and an important energy point. It is an acknowledgement of a devine presence at the occasion and a sign of protection for those receiving it. You see lots of folks with the Tiki sign on the streets of Kathmandu and elsewhere.
After the ride we walked the lakeshore for a ways and then called the van to take us to the landing site. Jeff alit about 15 minutes after we arrived.
Lunch was next, a "set" Nepali meal consisting of rice, a curry dish (mutton today, but chicken, goat, wild boar or veggie are possible), daal (lentil soup, sorta) and a veggie (cauliflower seems popular) plus pickle. You mix the daal into the rice with your fingers and dig in -utensils not required (Westerners can use forks and spoons if necessary). Good eats even if the service was a bit slow.
Then the ride home. Six hours is a long time to sit and watch the scenery pass us by. The road is in pretty descent shape but suffers, as do most summertime tourist roads in this area, from steep hills and lots of road construction. Nepal has an interesting driving culture. Horns are tooted slightly less frequently than the gas pedal is pressed; motorcycles, of which there a lot, apparently don't come with brakes. Riders speed up and shoot the gap rather than slowing down and waiting for oncoming cars to pass. But we made it back and can't wait to sleep late tomorrow (we're due on the van at nine).
Love to all,
Jon and Judy