Stefano Lattante / My first trip in Nepal has been Pokhara, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Pokhara is a city 200 km far from the capital, Kathmandu. In Pokhara I would have spent in total four days of which two of them trekking. Indeed, Pokhara has one of the most famous track here in Nepal which is the Annapurna circuit. Our two days would have consisted on reaching the renowned Australian Camp for the second night, to then moving down to Sarankot for the second night passing by Kande and Kaskikot and eventually go back to Pokhara the third day to relax before catching my bus back to Kathmandu.
Alarm at 6.00 and I’m ready to set off to Pokhara. Heading to the Inner Bus Station, I see the real Kathmandu waking up, people on the street setting up their little shop, people going to work and others already at work, in a nutshell, people everywhere. Arrived at the station, in front of me there’s a big queue of buses ready to leave Kathmandu. There are few people selling tickets and others trying to sell chai, bottles of water and snacks for the travellers. I get a cup of tea and some biscuits before getting on the bus. After having checked that I got in the right bus, we leave. In few seconds, I realized how it will be impossible to get some rest. Indeed, the roads, especially in the first part of the trip are pretty rough, making the bus shacking, not allowing anyone to get some rest, read or write. All three things that I wanted to do throughout the six hours ahead me. So, I kept closing and opening my eyes for a good half an hour to then discover why sleeping wouldn’t have been a good idea.
Even though I was on the wrong side of the bus (if you are doing or planning to do the same trip, try to find a seat on the right side from the driver view, not the left side as I did) the view from the window was unbelievable. The famous 174 km long Prithvi Highway, constructed and finished with the help from the Chinese government in the 1974, goes along steep cliffs which gives to the unfortunate travellers ready to sleep all the way amazing views of a series of deep river valleys, rapids and rice terraces which will make you postpone your sleep for the way back. The journey includes four breaks in junctions where it is possible to stretch, have some coffee or tea and, if hungry, also some food. During the breaks I also got to know other people that, like me, were heading to Pokhara. In particular two Australians volunteers and an Israeli guy. At the end of the journey we exchanged contacts in case we wanted to have food or drinks together once arrived in Pokhara where, all of us, didn’t know anyone.
Once arrived in Pokhara, I immediately went to my hotel. After a quick shower, I settled all my stuff in the room and went exploring the town. My hotel was in the lakeside, the more touristic part of the town. The Phewa Tal, the name of the second largest lake in Nepal, is in fact the main attraction of the city. Indeed, the lakeshore is where you will find hotels, hostels, restaurants, cafes, shops and pubs. Even though the lakeside is the area where tourists tend to spend most of their time, Pokhara is divided in two main parts: the lakeside and the old part of city. The lakeside was founded in the 70s by a group of hippies that stopped there during their trip in Asia for its laidback and peaceful atmosphere. This led to a transformation of this part of the city into one of the most touristy part of Nepal. On the other side, the old Pokhara, although I haven’t had the chance to visit it just for a matter of time, is a big complex of old Newari houses and temples which will give you a taste of what Pokhara really was before being invaded by tourists.
Once on the lakeside, it is impossible to not remain stunned by the peace, colours and the mountains around the lake. Just walking around the lake made me forget about how tired I was after the long journey. Walking by the lake, I bumped into the guys that I met on the bus. So, we all stopped by one of the pubs beside the lake enjoying the view and cold beers. All curious to discover more about the city, after a couple of beers we decided to go in the city to discover what this touristy town could offer. Indeed, if the lakeside is perfect for relaxing in the afternoon, the numerous pubs and clubs in the main street of the lakeside gives a big range of choice of things to do. From live music to techno clubs and from Irish pubs to fancy restaurants, Pokhara delivers a good night out reaching the taste of basically everyone. Although the night could have last longer, the alarm for the day after was set at 6am again, so I left my new friends and went back to my hotel room.
What a pleasantly surprise Pokhara has been! Definitely exceeded any expectations that I had before going there. But now it was time to focus on the main part of this journey, trekking! Once got back in my room I started packing up my small backpack with the essential for the day and gather the energy for my two days hiking. This long day full of events where I’ve had a real taste of the real Nepal from the seat of my bus, took pictures on and of the lakeside, had some drinks in the city with people that I just met and now was finally the time to fantasize about my two days trekking, main part of my trip in Pokhara.