From diary 2, and
the cosy, small villages, I now reach Pokhara.
21/12. Another crisp morning above 1.000 meters. Everything below
is covered in clouds, and even the remote peaks seems a
bit misty. I try the Indian breakfast, which consist of either Puri
Bhaji or Aloo Paratha with curd, tea and juice. I go for the potato
combination, and it is real good: A pancake with potatoes and
I have seen what I came for, and it is time to head on for Pokahara (elev. 884).
I have to go back through Dunme, then it is a rather long drive
through a fantastic landscape - although I find it hard to stay
awake, mainly because I, as usual, having a hard time watching out.
I have joined up with a Kiwi and a Aussie, and we
only spend a few minutes in Dunme, before we get the three last
seats in the Pokahara bus. It is a three hour drive, but due to the
low elevation, most of the tour is without sun and generally in
mist. Just as we assent a hill towards
Pokahara, we break through the
clouds, and the sun shine bright. I notes several recruitment camps
for the famous Gurkhas, on the way into town. They are used for the
absolutely best of the best solders, Singapore police, Indian elite
forces and the sultan of Brunei's personal guard.
We share a taxi from the bus station to LakeSide Central, and say
goodbye. I try a hotel right at the place I'm at; Hotel Simrik, and they offer on a
nice room with hot water at 1000R, which is fine with me. Drop the bag, and
head straight out in the big and real touristed LakeSide. This part
of the city is along the shore of the huge lake Phewa Tal. Not fare
from here, the mighty peaks of Annapurna Massif raises. Mt Machhapuchchhre (6993m) look just like Mt Matterhorn, just half a
time higher, and it have never been climb. Next to it is Mt Annapurna
(8091m) with her siblings.
I'm heading out south, towards Devi's Falls and
World Peace Pagoda. The guy at the hotel offered me to arrange a
taxi for 2.000R, and he would throw in a few other sights. I rather
walk and see what is on the way. At first, it is mainly tourist
shops. Here are a lot shops with i.e. North Face clothing, and I
start hunting for a real warm jacket. It is the right brands (not
the prices are not that good. Finally, I find a shop which is going to
close, and I get 25% off what others have offered. I tell him; I'll
be back! I do not have any use for it this afternoon!
It will be a long walk, and I figure, I better fuel up, while I have
the chance. A rooftop restaurant offers brownies, tea and a
magnificent view to the mountain. On a lower peak, closer to the
city, numerous paragliders spins around and around.
I make a short walk along the lake, before I enters another part of
town, free of tourists. It starts to be a bit dull, and I get a 200R
taxi. That way, I feel confident I'm actually heading the right
I'm kicked off, right outside Devi's Falls. Only locals inside, and
I'm not impressed! The entire area is gravel, and a creek has cut a
deep crack through the years. Here should have been some nature, but
I kind of more observe the trash in the creek.
Back in the city, I try a local marked. In the back, some sort of
temple is in a cave, deep down. Music is coming up, but I stop at
the entrance. Out on the street, I ask for the prise on a taxi to go
to the World Peace Pagoda. 6-800R, because it is a bad road. Well, I
either walk or catch a bus. Black cows are crossing the road,
tractors cruising round and village-style taking over.
The city ends, and the farmland takes over. Tiny
farms on steep hillsides with tiny patches of rice, a few water
bananas and little else. After some busses have passed me,
I catch one, and get a 10R drive to the side-road, leading the the
pagoda. Well, at least, I didn't miss it!
It is a steep assent, sometimes on a real bad surface. I loose my
breath, bur surely getting the heat. The temperature reach 27C, and
I'm in the sun, most of the time. A few taxis and quite some
motorcycles passes me, some offering a lift. I decline; the nature
is way too interesting here. Loads of interesting plants, a few
birds, including distant vultures.
A small stand at a local framer's hut offers water and juice, and I
sit down for a moment. A bit further up, I finally see the white
pagoda. Then the road turns away, and the surface turns real bad. No
wonder the taxi drivers didn't exactly ask for this tour.
I reach a ridge, offering a magnificent view over the city, the lake
and the mountains. And the World Peace Pagoda, sitting on another peak! There is
a path, leading way down, only to go up again. Well, I have seen my
share of pagodas anyway. I buy a cup of tea at the viewing point,
and I'm told: There is a path down through the jungle to the lake,
and boats across it. Or a bus passing here in well over an
hour. He sold the jungle right away.
The trail passes quite close by the pagoda, then
turns almost straight down towards the lake. I meet two women,
packed with greenery for their cow or goats. I ask for a photo, and
afterwards, the older one say money. Well, that is only fair, and
when I only have 50R, I get a few more photos.
It is a fantastic tour, through numerous interesting plants. Here
are at least eight different species of ferns, two species of
Selaginella, some Huperzia, two or three Bulbyphylloms,
Asclepiadaceaes in the trees, and at least two other genera
of orchids along with a Peperomia. I wretch my jacket,
climbing a tree, but at least I'm the right place to replace it. A
few plants are flowering, but all seems to be in growth.
A young man, with a helmet, sits alone on the
trail. He start talking, ask to see my photos - and see them through
twice! I wonder what that was about?
I spend a long time, descending this ridge, but it is a real
interesting tour. The last part of the trail is a steep, zigzagging
stone stair. When I reach the shore, I am asked to buy a ticked for
the rowing boat: 350R. I would have expected quite some more.
again, despite here are around ten men, I'm send out with a seven
year old boy. He do a good job, but I figure; if we have to reach
the other shore within suppertime, I'll better help.
Back in town, I go back to the hotel with all the
cloth I didn't need, and the water I didn't touch. Then, I head out
to find the jacked I made a deal on. While I'm there, I replace the
thin fleece I torn at the mountain. On the way back, I notes;
despite is is almost dusk, it is not as cold as it use to be at this
time. I re-organises, and take a bath - before everyone else use the
warm water. It seems like all "hot" water for showers are
Then it is about food. I passes a restaurant which, like most, had
their menu on the sidewalk. They offered pork with ginger and lime.
It turns out to be a blood-red,
transparent sauce with meat and
vegetables, rice and raw vegetables. Tasty and sufficient. I
can't feel a bit mocked: I have finally found a real, warm jacked, a
restaurant with actually glass in the windows, it is far the warmest
evening in Nepal I have had (17C), and they have a large, live fireplace
in the middle of the room! Then again, isn't that winning it all?
Reluctant, I head home to work. I'm glad I don't have to deal with
the flower photos from the other camera these evenings.
After hours of back-breaking work in the bed, I head out in the
not-so-cold city for a cup of evening tea. As no surprise, I end up
at the same restaurant, having the cosy fireplace. The city is only
starting to close-down, when I head home after ten.
22/12. I find breakfast as I
head out of
the tourist-village I'm staying in. A taxi brings me out to Seti
River Gorge. The entrance fee is a bit unexpected, but never the
lees there. It
is a small, park-like area with no people. A bridge, leading over a white river
in the gorge, make a viewing point down through the deep gorge. It
seems like it is 30 meters deep, and only two to five
wide. It even folds and twist, and it appears as it is a tunnel in
To my big disappointment, I can't walk along it, nor in it. It is
simply too steep, and the ends are sealed of by buildings. No
botanizing here. I can't even get a proper photos of it, it seems.
walk back to the old Pokhara centre, which its old houses, narrow
streets and even farm houses and plots in some areas. This seems to be real close the the
mighty peaks, covered in snow, but the sum makes is a nice day to explore - on the sunny
side of the streets.
Here are a lot of great motives, and I
even get some with people on!
Here are no signs of tourists at all, and the shops are a strange
mix of real old stuff and brand modern.
I find a glass of tea in a little joint, look at the weaved baskets
and burned, but else raw clay-work for the household. Here are even
old stone grinding mills, one-hand-use. I pass the rather large
bus-station, and start walking back to LakeSide. I noticed some
small nurseries on the way up here, and I will pay them a visit on
the way back.
Unfortunately, they do most in pre-grown
vegetables, pretty flowering plants for the garden and a few
collectors-items from Africa. Most are grown in transparent plastic
bags with a shitty soil. Only the third is keep nice, but I fail
learn anything here.
After a long walk back, I find my self at the lake. Plenty of room
for tourists, and even a few to be found. The locals are washing
their cloth at the shore, boatmen try to get customers and the
waiters from the restaurants look long after the few potential
I returns to the hotel to let my legs rest a bit, while I work. I
have seen what I came for, but it is too late to enter the long
mountainous road to Tansen by now.
After an hour, I ventures out
again, following the northern road out of town. From posh tourist
shops and cafés, it turns into paraglide shops, the the sealing of
the road disappears, and the shops are a bit more "hippie-like". The
lack of sealing gives a lot of real fine clay dust, and the parsing
trucks share it generously.
I finally make it out of town - kind of - following the lake-side.
To the other side
of the road, a real steep forest stretches upwards, and
despite my efforts negotiating the steep climb, I fail to find any
interesting plants. The other side of the lake, on the other hand,
had so many to offer yesterday. I reach a small plain, but farmers
small lots have spoiled the nature too much for me.
I returns by the path along the lake. Numerous
restaurants are lined up in the swamp, few having a single customer.
In the lake, several species of South American floating plants are found,
shadowing the cichlid-like, small fish. Some boys are catching them -
or feeding them with bread; hard to say.
I have a look out to the island with Varahin Mandir temple, but I
have seen temples enough for now. I walk slowly down through town,
looking at the tourist shops. Not for anything particular, but I am
amassed so many shops can have so many things, just alike. There are
perhaps six different shops types, each group just alike each other.
Even the prices seems to be fixed.
and religious stuff, weaving and cloth, travel gear and cloth,
drugstore conveniences, books, maps and papers and that is about it.
I return to a real nice, hot shower, and then try to find some
roasted pork. One place has it on the menu, but not in the kitchen.
To my surprise, they look surprised when I leave. The next place has
a fireplace, and despite it is 17C, I can eat anything next to a
contraption like that. After a real nice meal, I figure I better
head home before I doze off in the restaurant. Work for several
hours at home, before I head out for a cup of evening tea. I find
yet one more fireplace, and have to share it with the employees.
A standard question is: "What country are you
from?". Then, some in restaurants and young people ask: "What type
of beers, do you have?". They all seems surprised that we have Tuborg
and Carlsberg too. It is, without any doubt, the two
biggest brands in Nepal. San Miguel in as third and the local
cell-phone company forth. I got a feeling;
they think of them as Nepalese (they are actually Danish).
The plans for tomorrow are made, now I hope everyone involved will
play along. In to the bus-station and on the right bus towards Tansen,
on the praised Siddhartha Highway in four hours.
I get up earl - a bit too early it seems. Finding breakfast is a
challenge, and I end up right next to my hotel. They are open, but
it take forever before a moped brings the toast for my real good
English Breakfast. I don't complain; I sit in the sun, and I'm not
really in a hurry.
An ATM is next, then a taxi to drive me to the bus station. Five
minutes later, and a rather nice bus with me, sitting in my
favourite seat, leaves for Tansen. The seat is in the middle of the
bus, in the shadow-side and the window can easily be opened for
My bag-pack is a bit stuffed by now: The excellent imitation of a
Michelin-man costume I bought for a jacket, does take its room. But
I won't feel bad for NOT using it.
It is not actually to get to Tansen, more the road leading to the
town: The Siddhartha Highway from Pokhara to Sunauli. It serpentine
its way through some astonishing mountains in the southern, central
Nepal. In general, we follow a river, but around 50-100 higher up,
on the almost vertical mountain side. If the valley is wide enough,
there are mainly rice patches in it, if the slopes aloud it,
terraces with rice clings to them.
Despite this is a "Tourist only-bus", I'm the only
pale, in a else full bus. Almost every time a local set next to me,
they ask for the window seat. I decline. They tell me, they get
car-sick. I offers a plastic bag. To be fair, the locals do really
suffer for motion sickness - window seat or not, and this road is
made for it. I hardly notice it; the
scenery outside is so amassing,
and each corner reveals a now scenery. We passes through villages,
some real tiny. I try to capture the idyll and people, basking in
the sun. We do a single, longer break passed noon, at a single
diner, on a remote hill-side. I do a walk, find some orchids and
dwarf bamboo, before I get a milk-tea to-go.
After six hours of intense sceneries - and me
being awake the entire time, I'm kicked of at a tiny junction. The
local taxi drivers agree on 500R to get me up to Tansen - I don't.
They do have some huge 4WDs, but I can walk - or be lucky with a
bus. I don't get long, before I get a 15R lift with the local bus,
to the square of Tansen (elev. 1372). It appears to be a slightly
larger village, nothing else.
a hotel in mind, but I'm not going to pay 600R to get to it.
Later, I figured they might have thought I wanted to go to the local
tourist site: Ranighat Durbar. I find a nice hotel round the corner:
and considering how late is have turned, I head straight out on
The city is build on a series of steep slopes. The narrow streets
are steep and many of the houses real old. Some appears to have
grass-roof, but I think it is the old tile roofs, which give home to
the grass. I don't see a single pale in the city, despite I do most
of it. Here is a "famous" kettle factory,
I get enough from outside. The temple is being restored, but the
lovely old houses are it all worth. Some old houses have modern
shops inside, with a second facade inside - nice detail! A short
tea-break, and I do a big loop out in the wild-side. Nothing really
sticks out, until I see the huge fruit-bats, flying around a fig
tree in the
centre of town. When I get to them, they have settled
down again, and not even a persisting crow can change that.
The sun is setting, and the temperature dropping
fast. I head back to, what I had hoped would be a warm bath, but at
least some more warm cloth. I might as well eat at the hotel: I have
never figured why to look around, when you are unfamiliar with it
all anyway. It might be the busiest kitchen in town, and the Butter
Chicken Masala is absolutely delicious! I have brought my computer,
and start working after the dinner, in the restaurant. As no
surprise, many of the photos, taken from the moving bus, are either
blurry, out of focus, of the trees along the road or not justifying
the vast landscape at all. They just look alike.
The waiter who
bring the endless line of milk-teas, wear gloves, and it
white butler ones; it is warm ones! I figures
Pokhara and Tansen will make a
nice slideshow together.
When I look outside at eight, it seems like here is a power failure,
but I'm told; that is usual. People head their beds early here too.
I did plan to see Ranighat Durbar; "Tai Mahal of Nepal", but after
having learned, it was stripped, and the picture of it just show a
average country house, I decide: I can do without.
My room is 15C, although it feels significantly colder. No duvet,
but two large and rather thick blankets must do.
24/12. Danish Christmas Eve, and as a
curiosity, I'm going to visit the birthplace of Buddha: Lumbini.
Besides from that, it is in the southern lowlands, and I kind of
look forward for it, just by that. Despite people seems to go to bed
early, they does not seem to raise early. I wait quite some for
breakfast - before I skip it.
I jump the first bus, as it turns out from the square, and we head
out through the first morning sun. First the short stretch down to
the Siddhartha Highway, then further south towards Butwal. I fare
from got a desirable seat, but soon, the mist spoil most of the view
anyway. It seems to be just as magnificent as the first stretch,
although it might seems a bit warmer here. Well, the vegetation
does, it fare from feels that way.
After an hour and a half, we reach the dusty, busy and not really
interesting city of Butwal. I hoped for some breakfast, but I'm
delivered right into the next bus, which departures right away. I
have to run to it from the stand I buy some biscuits at.
The mist and general misery gain strength, and it is not really
worth the effort to pull out the camera. Both windows I sit at, are
opening by them self, leading in some real cold wind. I had hoped for
some warmth, going both down and south, but that turns out to be a major
A short stop and change of bus in the just as un-interesting city of
Bhairahawa, and I reach Lumbini before noon. I can't figure where I
am in relation with the city or the site of Buddha's birth, but it
seems to be in-between. I get a hotel: Mahima Guest House, with hot water- on the sunny
days, which it isn't.
A restaurant next to it offers pasta, and I go for it. Then I get my
bearings, and head in to the complex. It is called Lumbini Develop
Zone, but "religious" or "archaeological" site would be more appropriate.
It is a fenced, 2x5 kilometre big area, with the archaeological site
and some temples along with a huge, undisturbed area.
The mist still dominates everything, and despite
the area might be interesting on a summer's day, I find it a bit
hard to enjoy. The square, white building, protecting the actual
spot that historian and scientist agree is the actual spot, Buddha was
borne, is in a no-shoe-area. After I have deposit my boots, they ask
me to go way outside to buy a ticket. It is a vie cold for my
A few facts, which seems to be historical correct: Buddha was borne
Siddhartha Gautama, son of the ruler of Kapilavastu: Suddhodana and
Maya Devi, around 563 BC. The legend has it, she gave birth on a
specific boulder, and it is within the building, on its original
The area soon attracted interest, but then it got destroyed and
forgotten for years. Later, excavations have revealed the historical
buildings and even a monolith, erected in 249 BC by Indian emperor
I had expected the area, and especially the special site, to be real
crowded, but beside from a sleepy guard, I have it all to my self!
No photo inside, and I get yelled at, when I take one from outside.
In the park-like area around the building, several Buddhists groups
are praying and sinning. I see the pond with turtles, the ancient
brick ruins, the pink sandstone pillar, left by Ashoka and the area,
filled with praying flags.
Before I looses my toes, I head out, and do a
loop around the inner park. A large snail is the only real
interesting the mist reveals. A long path go though the Developing
Zone, and a few things have been started. A golden statue, sponsored
by Thailand, an eternal flame, a big bell and a long pond. I take a
quick look at a few of the temples and stupas, but to be frankly; I
appreciate the tea in a small sheet more.
I find my way into the undisturbed part of the Zone, and despite I
eagerly look for interesting plants, the only ones I can find are
three species of Cucurbitaceaes. A single, strange ant's
nest, made-up by what appears to be cow dung, and a singe butterfly
make up the zoological discoveries.
I'm back at the starting point, in front of my
hotel. It seems like Lumbini is formed as a tiny T, one road made up by a few
hotels, some primitive restaurants and some small
The other has a few more hotels, some workshops, some Tharu-like
huts and a few shops. The locals are sitting around tiny fires, and
it seems like everyone is freezing, not only me.
Just at the end of town, a small but lovely marked with vegetables
and a few freshwater fish are found. It is real nice crops they
display, and I just wished the sun would join in. I do several
loops, till it get a bit embarrassing. Then I see the
rice-processing area outside town, and the barren fields.
Back through town, downing several milk-teas, while I watch
the people pass bye. It seems like I have made an error this time:
Lumbini does fare from have anything to offer beyond three hours -
and surely not twelve! I have a hotel and I have bought a ticket for
the morning's luxury bus at 6:00, but what to do until then? I find
some "breakfast" for tomorrow morning, realising none else will be
up at that odd time. More walking, more tea, a
real cold shower and
The diner next door offers one of the few tables, I will set my
computer at, and despite it is 12C like the rest of the town, I work
there till I'm out of battery. A restaurant with a central fireplace
would be a major hit, I think. Despite the lack of sunlight, I am
thrilled by the photos I have managed to capture today, mainly at
I start with a couple of mixed spring roles, and when I still feel a
bit peckish, I try the other local specialities, which are great.
Despite my skiing underwear, my knees turn dead, and I can't recall
last, I had any feeling in my fingers.
It is only while I go through my photos, I realises I actually have
seen some pale tourists today. I guess many has been Buddhist
other Asian countries, but they are a bit harder to recognise.
I can't recall a Christmas eve I ever have gone to bed before nine,
but this is it. No battery on the computer, power failure, a city
that has gone to bed and I'm freezing. Next day, I make a slideshow
It is now time to return to Kathmandu and the
surrounding valley - in diary 4.