As we pottered north along the winding road to Pokhara, we got our first glimpse. Between the diesel particulates and the roadwork dust, we saw the jagged white tooth nudging the clouds apart. This was the unconquered Machapuchare, still covered in snow and ice even though the sun shone strongly upon it. This was where we were heading; to the big mountains.
Pokhara is relatively low down, on a large, tranquil lake. Fringing the far side of the lake are hills and behind the town are more hills boasting stunning viewpoints. I’m calling them hills, where in some countries you might call them mountains. That’s because the real mountains are behind the nearby hills. When the clouds lift you can sit on the lake edge and admire the string of white peaks across your field of view. Pokhara is a great spot and is well set up for the smelly human traffic that marches through it; usually after a two week trek around the Annapurna Circuit. We had other plans, however.
We hired a “rowing” boat for a day and cruised the lake in a squiggly pattern, finding it hard to make the boat go in a straight line. We moored up and climbed to the Peace Pagoda which overlooks the town from across the lake. We swam in a waterfall plunge pool and ate yak cheese sandwiches whilst afloat. Then we picked up some cold beers and drifted with the sunset. We managed this all without getting burnt to a crisp under the stark blue sky.
Next up was the outdoor cinema which afforded a perfect lake backdrop before the sun set. As the projector rose, the big screen comfort was a welcome relief from bad Indian and Nepalese soaps.
After getting all this relaxing in, we headed to another nearby lake slightly out of town. Here we stayed with a lovely family who taught us some useful Nepalese and cooked us some amazing fish from the lake. Nickiy scoffed as much homemade hummous as she could physically manage, then we’d swim lazily and soak in the sunsets. With one eye we watched the weather. The monsoon was a guest that had overstayed it’s welcome. We knew the road we were about to venture onto needed to be dry. On our day of departure we woke up to rain. We stayed another night. The next day as we left, it began to drizzle. This would be our undoing…