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A day of disappointments


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large_5550_14526783275281.jpgAnnapurna range hiding somewhere behind the haze and clouds as seen from Sarangkot.
My days in Pokhara [Pokhara-travel-guide-1138426] had been hazy so far. For that reason, I opted not to make the effort to go to Sarangkot [Sarangkot-travel-guide-1323015] to see the sunrise illuminating the Annapurna range. After breakfast, it was obvious I needed to fill in some time. I kinda thought it would be a waste of time/money going there, but I’d go just in case.

One taxi driver at the stand quoted NPR3000 (about USD30) to go there and back when my old guide indicated around USD12. One of the drivers Prakash pulled me aside and we agreed on USD15, which is good considering the fuel crisis (due to borders being closed with India which means that most fuel is blackmarket).large_5550_14526783302500.jpgDisappointing view from Sarangkot.

It was a 30 minute drive through the older part of town then uphill to near the paragliding jump-off point. We parked and climbed another 30 minutes to reach the viewpoint to see, errr, nothing really. Views of Fewa Lake was hazy and not new to me. The Annapurna range was obscured by the haze and if it wasn’t for the haze, we would have seen clouds in the distance covering them up too.

Prakash explained that since the earthquake, tourism has taken a downturn The skies off the hill used to be full of paragliders but now there are much less (still plenty by my reckoning).

The excursion killed the morning and provided a taxi driver some income. We agreed on a price of USD16 for going to the Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement at 3pm. Taxis (and eating too) are expensive in Pokhara unlike in Kathmandu.large_5550_14526783337236.jpgTashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement.And I agreed that Prakash could bring his wife and 3 year old along.

After my first lakeside lunch and a rest, Prakash picked me up. He added a couple of stops for me at no charge. First was a Buddhist and Hindu temple along the way, and the second was a long suspended bridge.

The monastery was a disappointment. It was a modern building. Fortunately it was prayer time and I managed to take my shoes off and stand inside of the entrance of the prayer hall to watch them chant, beat the drums and blow the horns.

But having been to the Tibetan highlands only a couple of months ago, the monastery and Pokhara just doesn’t compare. To make it worse, my parahawking experience was such a highlight the extra days that followed have been non-events. I needed to allow the extra time in case of bad weather postponing the parahawking.large_5550_14526783361713.jpgMonastery at Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement.I wish I could leave early but there were no flights I could take to Hong Kong in order to connect back to New Zealand.

I treated myself to a very good thin pizza tonight. It was what I was craving for, rather unusually. I needed to look respectable for the return journey, so finally had a shave at the shop which I had been invited in many times. It was about USD2 for a shave but the man proceeded to do my massage neck which I thought was a little extra but when he continued down my back, I thought ... hhmmm, how much extra will this be?

When he finished, he pointed to the price list which showed about USD14. I protested to his boss who told me not to worry about it. I paid for the shave and tipped the guy about 40 cents and that was all sorted. It was disappointing to be reminded that even though Nepal is more honest and straight forward, people do try it on every now and then.

I did a quick estimate of my spend for tomorrow and cashed some extra money. Nepal is a good place to make small exchanges as there is no fee, minimum fee or commission. I cashed up my Chinese Yuan and UAE Darahim (plural for dirham in Arabic, rather than dirhams!) a couple of days ago. I had held on to them for a while as I would have lost a fair chunk to fees elsewhere.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Nepal

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