Our adventure to Pokhara is really two stories, one for the trip there and back and the second for the time spent there. Let’s start with the time there.

As I am still challenged by posting pictures to this blog, I am saving them up until I get back home and will then post lots all at once!  So we will have to be content with videos for now.  I’m so happy we got those up!

The change from Kathmandu to Pokhara is as if they aren’t even in the same country. Pokhara is lush, green, cleaner, wider streets (however, they still have pot holes which I am sure saves time and money in building speed bumps), and the local people seem more relaxed and happier.

 

Again, Ganesh was our guide and our group was made up of myself, Irish Peter and English Chris who traveled over by bus for the three day jaunt. The Aussies, Charmaine and Rachel who were on a tighter schedule, came by air for the second day and returned later that day to Kath.

 

Our first mission was to check into our hotel, the Traveler’s Guest House, where I had a welcoming committee! La Cock-a-Roacha foursome were performing while Senora Spider-mama, the size of Asia, kept time with all eight legs. Needless to say, I came back down all three flights of stairs at the speed of light stuttering, “S-s-s-s-s-p-p-pi-pi-d-d-er!!!” while making large circular motions with one arm and stuffing my eyeballs back in their sockets with the other.

 

 

 

Ganesh and a hotel employee came to the rescue with a can of spray and a taking apart of the bed: mattress, bedding and mattress board, to find them all in various hiding places. Thorough searching and many assurances later, I was told the place was ‘clean’. I couldn’t help but notice the one-inch gap under the door through which a platoon of spiders and roaches could march. Therefore I rolled up a welcome mat and stuffed it as tightly as possible against the offending ‘bug-door’.

 

Off we went to the Peace Pagoda before it got dark. Nepal has only two directions:

UP…and…DOWN! We taxied as far up as the road goes and then…yup, more perpendicular stairs, sweat, bursting lungs and a heartbeat to outrace Bobby Unser. I tell you, I’m coming home with Thunder Thighs!

 

 

The World Peace Pagoda was built by an English woman as a Buddhist monument to promoting its namesake. Without a word of a lie, we all felt an ‘energy’ about the place that was indeed peaceful and as we stood and looked down on the beauty of the lake, valley and city of Pokhara. One could just breathe the environment and feel more fulfilled.

 

Back in the hotel for the night, I glanced balefully at the door gap and went about finding anything I could use to stuff it full. That done there was nothing for it but to get into a bed that I first stripped searched and turn out the light. Within 5 minutes something brushed my arm and I let out a shriek and dove for the light. Hmmm, it was just the curtain moving in a slight, very refreshing breeze. Wishing I had duct tape for my mouth, finally slept.

 

Next morn, Ganesh picked up Char and Rach at the airport and the six of us went on a whirlwind of activity so they could see as much as possible in their few hours. First, the bat cave. Dang, couldn’t find the Batmobile or its driver, but did see one bat for sure and named it Robin. Those of you who know me well, also know that I am claustrophobic. I expect a huuuuge round of applause for I conquered that fear and went into that cave!! It helped that there were no tight spaces getting into the large cavern. We carried lamps but their beams did not reach very well to the ceiling, so many bats were figments of our imagination, I’m sure.

 

Next stop, Devi Falls, named thusly for a Swiss woman, who while swimming with her husband, was washed away by a flash flood some years back.

Incredible pictures are to come later of this strange phenomenaof the river when in flood and when almost dry.

 

At this time of year, the water is at it’s lowest just before Monsoon season and that allowed us to once again go underground into an area that is filled with water after the rains. Ganesh is so gracious with his clients. He carried my camera and my water bottle more than I did as I groped around in the semi-dark among the rocks, steps, water etc. to reach the centre. He sweetly calls me ‘mother’ or ‘mum’ and makes certain that I am safe at all times. He really earns his money while bargaining for taxi rates, etc. and without him we would be spending much more money!

 

Then we cab it again to the Mountaineering Museum. What a great place! And the most modern building I’ve so far seen in Nepal. They are very proud of their mountains and the history around them.

 

 

Now we drop the Aussie gals at the airport and the rest of us are free to do some serious shopping, wandering, lunching etc. until supper time.

 

 

Pokhara is hotter and more humid than Kath due to a lower altitude and more rainfall. That rainfall made our last day a bit disappointing in that we planned a climb (grrroan!) up to Sarangkot in order to see the Himalayas at sunrise. The clouds only rose enough that we could see just above the snow line so no spectacular pictures that morning. Again, we turned ourselves into optimists and found great value in the experience anyway. Peter and Chris had booked paragliding following the sunrise we didn’t see and that also had to be cancelled due to weather.

 

Instead, we took a boat and paddled out to a temple on an island in the lake. Very picturesque and photos look really good in a light rain. So did a group of about 25 men of the Nepali army on a physical training exercise in and out of the water!

Next blog I will entertain you with the ‘ride’ to and from Pokhara!! Never, never again!!

’till next time, Cherrio!  Lynn

N

One thing is certain about life…much as we plan, there is always something around the corner that could knock your plans askew.  Such as this…..I simply cannot solve the problem of not being able to get my videos and pictures onto this blog!!! GGrrrr!

 

 

I have a blog entry all typed and ready to go.  All that was left was to upload the pics and videos.  No go.  SO, that being said, I am going to continue to work on that and in the meantime I can at least send you more news and your vivid imaginations can visualize to the max.

 

 I’m up to my eyebrows in monklettes!  I have two classes in the mornings after I have sweated and puffed my way uphill for most of 5K to the monastery lugging my school books and feeling like a pack mule.  On arrival I am soaking wet and my face is the colour of a profoundly embarassed tomato from the heat and exertion. I’m celebrating today (just starting my third week in Nepal) because I actually had my very first bandaid-less day for my feet!

 

Irish Peter and I teach at the same monastery (Sangye Goling Gompa) at the same times.  I start out earlier than peter because I like to stroll while Peter strides.  He is tall and lanky (built like my son, Dan and younger than him).  We walk back to the hotel together and discuss our classes, what worked, what didn’t and what was hilariously funny that day.

 

The monklettes all have colds and barking coughs (change of season from dry to wet) so Irish Peter and Boston Mike both got colds.  I haven’t and the only reason I can give is that I use a hand sanitizer at least 6 to 10 times during every class and keep my hands off my face. 

 

 My first class is 6 to 9 year olds.  Soooo cute in their little monk robes. They see me coming and hoop and holler “Good morning, namaste” and run into the classroom, set up my chair and tiny table, turn on the ceiling fan (bless them!) and sit cross-legged on the floor in anticipation. Anywhere from 16 to 26 can be in the class.  Completely uncontrollable!  When finished an exercise in their scribblers, they yell ‘finished!’ and swarm me trying to get their book into my hands first to get the much coveted drawing of a star from teacher. All the while hollering ‘Lynn, Lynn, Lynn!’ until I take their book.

 

 

After that class and two aspirin, I make my way to an older class of 15, 16, 17 year olds and the change is like rain to sun.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the wee ones. Again, someone runs and gets the board eraser wet, cleans off the board, another dries it and we are off. This class is ready for very basic grammar and is anywhere from 12 to 30+ on any given day.

 

 

There is one thing that makes teaching monks a bit different.  They learn all their Buddhist teachings and prayers by repetition memorization.  Thinking for themselves is a foreign concept and sometimes feels like giving birth, just to get a conceptualized answer or response! But we are getting there what with my antics, funny faces and cajoling. They are a great group too.

 

School aside, I think I’ll share with you some of the things I would never get used to if I lived here until I am a hundred.

 

1. Spitting.  Everyone spits on the streets! It is considered very normal.  In fact, if they see a foreigner blowing into a tissue they are repulsed by it!  Picture this….a very lovely woman dressed in  a beautiful sari is walking toward you and you are full of admiration.  Then you begin to hear a sound akin to an old junker trying to rev it’s worn out motor.  You look around wondering what this noise is and where it is emanating from.  As she comes closer you realize this lovely woman is the source and you think she must be in distress until she finishes with a drawn out ‘haawwk’ and promptly deposits half a lung at your feet.  Thus the local warning to newby’s “Watch out for the oysters on the streets”.

 

2. Flying water.  As you dodge traffic and other pedestrians, watch for oysters, doggie do, etc., be ready for a bucket of dirty water to be flung out a shop doorway into the street.

 

3.  Street children. Due greatly to the political mess in Nepal, many young children (boys) come into Kathmandu to be safe from being kidnapped by the Maoist soldiers in their villages.  They find there is no way to make income and live on the streets.  They  become hooked as glue sniffers and beg for money. We must never give them any and if you give them anything else they will simply sell it for cash to buy glue.

 

You see these filthy children sleeping on the street on filthy old blankets and most times are cuddled with stray dogs.

 

4. And that brings me to the street dogs.  My first day walking to the monastery I arrived in tears.  Diseased and injured stray dogs are aplenty. Rabies is known in Nepal so we must not approach or touch them.  But as I look in their eyes I see such misery.  So I have taken not to looking in their eyes and simply give them love and blessings as I pass.

 

On the other hand there are many pet dogs I see on leashes and others with collars that show they belong to someone. They are as loved and well cared for as those in our western culture.  We have one in our hotel that belongs to a staff family which lives in the hotel.  Her name is Shessy, she looks like a cross between a tiny polar bear cub and a teddy bear.  A pure white fluff ball with bright eyes with whom I have fallen madly in love.  I can hardly wait until I can send you her picture.

 

5. Horn honking.  Constant, varied squawking.  Absolutely no traffic control in the way of signs or lights.  Honking is considered polite because they are letting you know that they are coming and if you don’t get out of the way be prepared to be road kill.  I am about to buy my own damn horn and blast people and vehicles out of MY way!

 

This past weekend, Irish Peter and I attended an all-day retreat at the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre.  A quiet oasis just 5 minutes from our hotel, hidden away down a side street.  We did an hour of yoga, were served a wonderful breakfast in a quiet garden, listened to a venerable monk speak on Buddhism, were served a lovely lunch, watched a DVD, had a tea break, another talk by the monk, another tea break, then a meditation practice. A long, but wonderful day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

 

This weekend I will finally get out of the city into the real Nepal.  Myself, Courtenay & Rachel (two Aussie volunteers who have just arrived) Irish Peter and our guide, Ganesh, are going on a day trek into a forest reserve and hike to the top of a ‘rise’ which will take about 3 1/2 hours and return (2 1/2 hours). The following weekend we are taking 3 days to go to Pokhara (a must-see I am told), 6 hours by native bus (ho  boy!). I will definitely visit the Peace Pagoda among many other things while there. I will tell you all about these excursions in a future blog.

 

I shall keep working on the visuals. Stay with me here!

 

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Cheerio!

Lynn