Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nepal - January 7, 2009 - Pokhara

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Today the weather was beautiful. We started off right on time, but an hour down the road our bus was stopped in a roadblock having something to do with a labor dispute we know nothing about.

People came up to our stopped bus trying to sell water, apples, oranges, roast corn, and a local snack food something like very spicy Cheetos. The Canadian girls, Alison and Alicia, found some children and gave them stickers, hair clips, and finger traps. Eric got off the bus several times to try to talk to people, and other people got off to take pictures.

However, things got more and more tense, angry shouting, blocking of all traffic, even rickshaws, instead of just trucks and buses. Right outside our bus, I saw one man threaten to hit another with a board, but the fight was broken up by army officers. After that Bupendra told everyone to stop taking photos outside the bus.

After 2 1/2 hours a cheer went up, the log across the road was removed, and traffic attempted to move forward. The problem: on the other side, both lanes were solid with traffic facing us. I'm sure that behind us people had done the same thing, making it virtually impossible to move in either direction. The tailback went on for miles, but our stops to get our lane cleared grew fewer as we went along.

It was a very bumpy, uncomfortable ride through beautiful scenery. Rivers running through canyons of increasing depths, terraced farmland, and eventually the Himalayas rising in the distance. We stopped at a pretty restaurant for a so-so meal (for consistency of good food India beats Nepal hands down), then watched the sunset turn the mountains pinky orange as we finally made our way to Pokhara.

We are staying at the Trek-o-Tel, which is actually quite a lovely hotel. Hot water--ah, bliss! I had the best shower of this entire trip. Cable came on at 7:30, with HBO, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, a Japanese news station in English plus a couple in Japanese, a few sports channels in different languages, plus the usual Indian and Nepalese fare.

Tomorrow morning begins with climbing to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, but Lois, Eric, and I have decided we are not up to climbing mountains in the dark. So we will start our day with breakfast at seven, pick up our plane tickets to Kathmandu, and then hire a taxi to take us to a cave and a waterfall.

Our tour members have broken up into groups now, and go their own ways more and more. Kyle has made friends with one of the younger women who came on the trip alone, and now rarely hangs out with us old fogeys. Some of the young adventurers are going paragliding. We're going to see some of the local sites in this resort town.

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