From Pokhara to Kathmandu
After five trekking days in the Annapurna Area, I had to relax and recover in Pokhara for one day. I had no idea where I was going to stay until my departure from Nepal. In this case, I took advantage of the luxury from Pokhara’s Lakeside for the rest of the day. I ate at my favorite Tibetan restaurant, lay on a sun bed among flowers on the lakeshore, and bought a few traditional souvenirs.
I had a great victory when I managed to withdraw cash from the only bank machine that accepted my Romanian card. For lunch, I tried the delicious buff sukuti (dried meat) and masala papad (crispy Indian bread – papadum with tomatoes, onions, and spices). In the afternoon, I dared to go to the travel company that had arranged my Ghorepani Trek and ask for Salia’s mobile number. I was hoping to see my former trekking guide again when I was going to Gorkha.
The following day, the owner of the Lotus Inn Hotel from Pokhara got a good taxi offer for me, at half price compared to the offers I had gotten from the street corner taxis. In Prithivi Chowk bus station, the taxi left me right next to the bus for Bandipur. The bus helper took very good care of me. He climbed on the rooftop of the bus with my backpack and didn’t let me buy a ticket from the counter. Consequently, I accepted to buy the ticket from him because he had a decent price and always smiled. Unfortunately, I shivered from the cold for the next eighty kilometers to Dumre. I put the hood of my jacket on my head and tried to avoid the cold air current formed by the bus always running with an open door.
In Dumre, I had to change buses and wait inside another bus for almost one hour until it filled with people. Around me, people spat seed peelings, screamed, and ate strange dishes from different bags with their hands. After that, they licked their fingers and threw the garbage out of the bus window. However, the road to Bandipur had spectacular views, was very narrow and snaky, and went up into small mountains with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
From the bus stand, I walked only 50 meters until I reached the first guesthouse, the Bandipur Village Resort. I bargained for a room with shared bathroom, quickly had a traditional chicken chowmein to appease my hunger, and went out for a walk in the town.
Bandipur had been an outpost on the route between Tibet and India until the construction of the new highway. The current bazaar had just one street with Newari houses from the XVIIIth century lined up on both sides. Most of the houses had been turned into hotels, with cafés facing the street, colorful flowers at the windows, and balconies with woodcarvings.
From the main street, I went down some stairs toward Mahalaxmi Temple, surrounded by banana trees with purple flowers. Next, I went to the main square where the Bindebasini Temple had elaborately, colorfully painted woodcarvings. From there, I went uphill to Khadga Devi, another Hindu temple. Afterward, I went toward Tundikhel, the town’s football playground that had a precious touristic view of the Himalayan Range.
I turned back to the bazaar along another road and abruptly climbed to the Thani Mai Temple. There, pilgrims spun and rang bells around the small stone shrine, which also had a place with red dust paint for tikkas. While I was looking at a new Himalayan view, all the Nepalis wanted to take a photo with me. This time I turned all of them down. I descended from the small temple and went to the bazaar for the third time that day. I sat on a terrace in the street and benefited from the last sun rays.
In the morning, I went to the first bus leaving from Bandipur toward Dumre. I had to wait for an hour until it filled with people and left. In Dumre, I stayed at a terrace for two hours as the owner told me that the Pokhara-Gorkha bus should stop there. Eventually, he recommended I take a bus to Abu Khaireni, though. In ten kilometers, I had to change the bus again and find the Abu Khaireni – Gorka bus. When I finally arrived in Gorkha, I could celebrate the new Nepalese record: 50 kilometers, 3 buses – 5 hours!
From the Gorkha bus station, I walked down the main street and went directly to Hotel Gorkha Bisauni, the only one that seemed acceptable from the Lonely Planet Guide. I checked and negotiated several rooms with the receptionist, all of them a bit too dirty for me. The hotel had a garden with trimmed grass and panorama of the town, though. We finally agreed on the price of a room because I was hungry, but the receptionist was in a flirting mood and invited me on a bike ride. However, the toilet didn’t work in my room, so I had to change it and ended up in a more clean and modern one.
Saila didn’t answer my messages, so I presumed that he already was in the mountains with other trekkers. In the afternoon, I walked through the town center and discovered some Hindu temples in the oldest neighborhood. The Gorkha Museum was closing when I arrived there but I managed to get inside and was almost locked in the vast garden by the guards.
The following day I climbed the Pilgrims Stairway all the way up to the Gorkha Durbar. Gorkha Durbar is an important pilgrimage place for the Newars and a religious complex. It comprises the former palace of the shahs, a mausoleum, and a wooden temple dedicated to Kalika goddess. At Kalika Temple, Nepalis sacrifice goats every day. When I got there, they even invited me to watch their bloody rituals.
Goats are sacrificed inside the temple. After that you can see only the pilgrims carrying them cut in pieces and bleeding in bags badly sewn. I had to take off my shoes to go inside the religious complex. When I entered the temple’s courtyard, I had to find my way among the goats’ blood. I empathized with an innocent goat that smelled me and waited for its turn to the temple.
Besides goats, the temple courtyard was full of pilgrims who circled four fires and recited mantras, saddhus who blessed pilgrims for money, and a few strollers who sang anything for money. Pilgrims who didn’t have money for a goat brought chickens to the temple. The chickens were carefully packed in special pouches of wattle or cartons with holes.
After I left the religious precinct, I went up to a lookout with a small statue carved in stone. From there I saw the former palace complex and the Himalayas in the background. While I was sunbathing at the lookout point, other Nepalis wanted to take photos with me. When I returned to Gorkha, I had a late lunch at one of the few tourist restaurants – the customary spaghetti to appease my hunger.
The rest of the day, I stayed in my dark hotel room, with cold shower and a working toilet. I had to treat my new sinusitis gotten on the Pokhara-Bandipur bus, which had run with open doors all the way. For the so-called dinner, I avoided the local eateries and gorged myself with chips, bananas, and biscuits.
The return to Patan
I decided to spend my last two days in Nepal at Ashnu’s home in Patan. I had met her on the couchsurfing platform a month before, and we had kept in touch during my stay in Nepal. She could host me for two nights, and it was also her birthday – a festive ending for my travel, too. However, Ashnu wrote to me a message that she had just turned from the hospital because she had a kidney crisis. She insisted that I could come, though, and was looking forward to seeing me again.
In the morning, I took the minibus from Gorkha directly to Kathmandu. Before leaving, the minibus stopped at a house where three men loaded big bags. At the exit from Gorkha, the bus helper talked and even convinced people on the street to come with his minibus to Kathmandu. The minibus filled with people, and we crammed with chickens cackling in cartons with small holes. All the minibus windows were open, the door too, and the passengers constantly had to spit somehow outside. I monopolized my window and kept close to it, though. I had to protect my sinusitis despite the complaints of the passengers who desperately needed my window open – to spit outside the minibus. As usual, the minibus stopped to pick up or leave passengers from anywhere. For lunch we had a break at an eatery along the road.
Before entering Kathmandu, we had to stay in a long queue for several kilometers along the tangled highway. In Kathmandu, the minibus made a detour to unload big bags and another detour to load new big bags. I saw the dusty ring road of Kathmandu out of the window, and I was eagerly waiting for the promised Ratna Park bus station. However, most of the passengers got off the minibus after countless loadings and unloadings. In the end, the bus was almost empty, and the bus helper told me to get off the bus too, in the middle of the ring road.
On the Kathmandu ring road, I talked with the first taxi driver and showed him where I had to go using my GPS. The driver and a police officer studied my phone for ten minutes. After that, they smilingly told me that I was on the ring road, and then just left. I saw another taxi, showed the GPS with the address to him, and asked the price for a ride. I negotiated the price right away, and surprisingly he accepted it immediately. We crossed shabby neighborhoods with unpaved streets and just when we reached the river, we found concrete roads. Eventually, I talked with Ashnu on the phone, and she explained to the taxi driver where to go.
In the evening, I enjoyed the charming Jasimkhel, the expat neighborhood from Patan, close to the British School. Ashnu was with her boyfriend, Brij, who had come for her birthday twelve hours from India. There was also a Belgian from Airbnb, Jene. I quickly had some dhal bhat as I was starving. Then, I unpacked my backpack in my new room facing a tiny garden, and spent the rest of the evening talking with Ashnu and Brij.
Patan, Jasimkhel (at Ashnu’s home)
For lunch I went out to the Patan Labim Mall and in the evening, I met with Ramesh and Elen, the editor of Inside Himalayas.
My last day in Nepal, I walked through Patan in search of a Nepalese top (the dress that the women wear over the trousers). I bought one with red flames and small beads. It wasn’t very Nepalese, but it had a universal model that I could wear in my country, too. Then, I quickly came back to Anshu’s home where Brij offered me a double spicy portion of noodles. I called Raju, the recommended taxi driver for the airport, but it was impossible to negotiate the price on the phone. I had cash left only for a normal ride to the airport.
In that moment, I got angry, went out with my entire luggage in the middle of the street and stopped the first taxi passing by. Brij insisted on talking with him, although he was too gentle for a tough bargaining. After I left, Brij ran after the taxi and stuffed 100 Indian rupees into my hand (almost one US dollar). He thought that maybe I would need some extra cash at the airport. However, at the airport I still had to bargain with the taxi driver because he had understood something else from Brij. I gave him all the Nepalese rupees I had left and went to find my flight for Doha, Qatar.
I passed all the controls from the Kathmandu airport without any problem. At the gate for Doha, my key chain with compass and thermometer was confiscated, though. I wasn’t in a mood for quarreling. As I looked back, I saw the bodyguard putting my compass into his pocket. During the layover in Doha, I tried to sleep on the rigid and inflexible chairs from the quiet rooms for several hours. Some women were chatting though, and I had to explain to them what quiet room means. I heard Romanian at the gate for my Bucharest flight, after two months of traveling throughout Nepal. I didn’t know whether to be happy or not, but my life passed through Romania at that moment.
From Pokhara back to Kathmandu is my last travel diary from my two months trip to Nepal (find the version in Romanian at ‘De la Pokhara inapoi la Kathmandu‘). And here are all my Travel Diaries from Nepal (12x).
Have you been to Pokhara or Kathmandu or plan to go there? Leave a comment below this post and tell me what you liked about Nepal or what you’re interested to see there.
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