This turned out to be a welcome break from the normal tourist grind. Sure, we went to one of Nepal's biggest tourist attractions, a real resort city far from the hustle of the big city and monasteries, temples and stupas. We didn't even think about Shiva, Dharma, Buddha, gods, demigods or their various manifestations . . . Well, almost.
Instead we traveled by Deerwalk van along with Jeff and 11 of his fellow Deerwalkers to Pokhara, a small resort town on the shores of a lake, Phewa Tal. Instead of a professional tour guide we traveled with folks making the trip for their own enjoyment, some of them returning to their home town. It's always fun to see a place through the eyes of someone who has lived the place for most of their lives.
Which is not to say that Paras, our weekday professional guide, isn't good at giving the "what's it like to be a Napali" view - he does a great job that way and as someone who can deliver a wealth of information clearly, with feeling and with a sense of humor. But this was different. The nine guys and two gals went out of their way to make us old folks feel part of a decidedly young crowd. Jeff, it turns out, is one of the oldest members of the Deerwalk team on this trip. Even when the joke was delivered in Nepali the laughter was loud and infectious. It felt good to be included in a group that clearly knows how to enjoy themselves.
The van ride took six hours to travel 200 Km/120 miles plus an hour of stops for breakfast at a very pleasant roadside cafe and at a cable car station that takes pilgrims over two mountains to a Hindu temple. Lots of folks were there for an outing on a beautiful Saturday morning. The road was actually pretty good, excepting a few rough spots and fairly heavy traffic for the first half of the trip.
We checked in to our hotel and met the group at a downtown pizza parlor. The pizzas were excellent and the beer . . . It hit the spot after the long ride.
By 3 PM we were ready to start work. We visited the very interesting International Mountain Museum that provides exhibits of the Himalayan mountains and the people who climbed them.
Next, the Guptashwor Mahadev Cave, a cave system that extends fairly deep underground to waterfall, perhaps 20 - 30 feet high. People tell us that the falls are quite dramatic in the rainy season. Here's the Hindu angle: not that long ago (less than 10 years ago?) a local Hindu monk was visited by Shiva, the destroyer god. Shiva told him to dig beneath THIS spot and he would find a cave. He dug and he did find a cave and now the cave contains a temple to Shiva and the usual lingam (don't ask if you don't know: NSFW). Across the street is the above-ground portion of these falls.
Sightseeing done, the van took us through town and around the lake to a small lakeside restaurant, arriving at sunset. We spent some time down by the lake, talking, joking around and watching fishing boats and paragliders.
When the sun had set and the temperature began to drop we went up to the restaurant and sat on the floor of the restaurant's front porch overlooking the lake. We were served endless rounds of small dishes of fried vegetables, duck, even a whole rainbow trout - the Nepal version of Spanish tapas. And of course beer. A most relaxing and enjoyable evening with good food and a great group.
Tomorrow will be our second attempt to see the Himalayas at sunrise, which means the wake up call will come at 4:45 AM for the third day in a row . Tourism isn't for the lazy.
Love to all,
Jon and Judy