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Pokhara... breath of fresh fresh fresh air

Written on: Thursday June 4th, 2009

A journal entry from: In the spiced Indian air....

This one's going to be tough to keep short, we have had a jam-packed week in and around Pokhara, Nepal.  This city of 200 000 is kind of like Banff, it's at the foot of the Annapurna mountain range which has a peak over 7000 meters and several over 5000.  People come here to trek the Annapurnas and do other various activities like paragliding, white water rafting and canyoning.  Overall the town is nice and quiet and plenty of fresh air, especially compared to Kathmandu.

The first day I had another bout of whatever sickness I have contracted here so I wasn't able to enjoy the cool rainy weather... but the following day I felt a little better and Jennelle and I went to see a few of the local sights including Devi Falls and a cave that water from the falls has carved out.  The next day we hired a row boat to take us across Fewa Lake to hike up to the World Peace Pagoda.  I really needed the exercise to combat my growing buddha belly that has been a result of rich indian curries, hot indian weather that makes exercise impossible, and relaxing indian beaches. It took a full hour of rigorous uphill and the view at the top was amazing!

The next activity was a two day hike that would lead us up 1000 meters to one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Annapurna range.  Panchase (where we hiked to) is outside the Annapurna Conservation Area so we didn't need to apply for an expensive permit or travel too far from Pokhara to reach the trailhead.  The first day was one incredible view after another, as we wound upwards through forests, remote Nepali villages and farm lands. Our arrival in the teensy village at 2000 meters was much anticipated, our legs were very tired from climbing the uneven rocky trails.  The serene feeling of the village was complimented by a panoramic view of one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. We stayed in a very simple clay building and ate Daal Bhat (rice and lentils) for dinner and Millet pancakes and Omlete for breakfast. One of the village women cooked all the food for us over the fire.  We could have stayed in that magical village for a lot longer, but we had other plans for Pohkara. The way down was steep and intense and my knees and calves really paid the price (still sore today - 3 days later).

We also went paragliding above Fewa Lake and Pokhara, although it was too cloudy over the Annapurnas to see them, the rest of the view was amazing.  We had tried a few days in a row to go, but the weather conditions weren't exactly right so it was cancelled twice. We were lucky yet again when the last possible day for us to go, it cleared up and the wind was just perfect. We drove up to Sarangkot, a popular hilltop to view the Annapurnas, and were strapped on to our guides.  After a good gust of wind and three running steps toward a cliff-like drop we were airborne!  It was amazing how high these gliders can fly, following the guide of birds using thermals to ascend.

The last two days were spent on a more unpopulated side of Fewa Lake, up on a remote hilltop at a Yoga and Meditation Retreat.  We learned the basics of meditation and yoga, and although the guru here does not identify with any particular religion, the techniques are taken from Hindu practices.  We met lots of friends there and had a great time relaxing, learning and eating traditional Nepali food (daal bhat, masala milk tea, chapati).  I haven't practiced much yoga back at home, but from what I have done, I definitely like the western style of yoga much better.  Here, we did some very 'interesting' breathing and stomach techniques designed to stimulate the mind and body. I wasn't too fond of the feelings they induced but I can see how they can be good for you.  I also found it hard to sit still and keep a clear mind during meditation, but of course I can't expect to be even close to perfect at it being so new to the practice. I will definitely take some of the things I learned and apply them to real life, but a daily practice of formal meditation and yoga are not in my future.  In any case it was a very nice and relaxing ending to our time in Nepal!

Tomorrow we take a bus back to Kathmandu and the following day a flight to Delhi where we will spend 3 days seeing the city before we leave this beautiful part of the world!!!  I can't believe our time in India and Nepal is coming to a close. We will be so very sad to leave!!